Posts Tagged ‘2012 Election’

Virginia, Virginia, Virginia?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for President Obama, starting with the anemic jobs report, continuing with the Wisconsin recall, and culminating with the continuing coverage of his gaffe about the private sector. Along with the stumbles has come a tightening of an already tight race.

A close look at the polls shows an interesting trend. While Obama’s support seems to have slipped a little bit, Romney has been thus far unable to pickup those votes. It almost seems like the jobs numbers have caused a few people along the margins to reconsider their support for Obama, but not quite bring themselves to make the jump to Romney.

While Obama still maintains a lead in the Electoral College, the President has begun to see some swing state slippage. For the first time this year, Romney has pulled ahead of Obama in two Ohio polls and one poll even showed him winning in Michigan (which still seems very doubtful to me).

By contrast, the president seems to be maintaining his lead in Virginia, which could turn out to be key to his re-election. To understand why, let’s begin with the Al Gore’s 2004 map (you can follow along at, giving the president the Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan, Gore’s Northeastern states from DC to Maine, then throw in New Hampshire (which went for both Kerry and Obama) and New Mexico. This gives the president a base of 257 electoral votes. Now give him Colorado and Nevada (both of which show tight races,  but also bucked the national trend in 2010 mostly on the strength of Latino voters). This gets Obama to 272, and a win.

But let’s suppose that Romney makes inroads in one of the Midwestern states, or that Obama can’t pickup Colorado or Nevada. Virginia gives him the cushion to lose both Nevada and Colorado, Wisconsin, or some combination of Iowa, New Hampshire or the Southwest states. In short, Virginia could provide the insurance that Obama needs if he finds his easiest path blocked. Of course, if Obama wins either Ohio or Florida, it’s pretty much over for Romney and vice-versa for Obama in Michigan.

Scott Conroy breaks down the Virginia race in Real Clear Politics this week, noting that growth of Fairfax county as a suburb of Washington DC and a recent influx of immigrants that came with it has made Northern Virginia look more like a Northern state and proved fertile ground for Democrats (Obama beat McCain 61% to 39% in Fairfax County on the way to a 6 point victory in Virginia). Obama seems to have the early edge in organizing and ground game, but Republicans are hoping that the new turnout model that propelled Governor Bob “Trans-vaginal Ultrasound” McDonnell to victory in 2010. A tight Senate race between George Allen and Tim Kaine also promises to drive turnout and keep the focus on the state.

All reasons that, on election night, it could come down to Virginia, Virginia, Virginia.

Gingrich Keeps It Interesting

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Here’s Newt Gingrich’s Iowa “concession” speech in which he basically declares war on the Romney campaign along with MSNBC’s analysis of the statement. I love Howard Fineman’s quote that a wounded Newt Gingrich might be more dangerous to Romney than a winning Newt Gingrich. Obviously Gingrich took the deluge of attack ads that Romney’s surrogates dumped on him over the last few weeks a little personally.

Gotta say that I was waiting for the vindictive SOB version of Gingrich to emerge. I’m afraid that he might have shown up a little too late for Newt’s candidacy, but between the debates and the media appearances, his emergence should make the next week interesting.

Herman Cain on Libya

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Similar to Rick Perry’s embarrasing performance last week, this is actually difficult to watch.

This guy’s in way over his head.

Everybody Hates Mitt

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

A few weeks ago, when Chris Christie dropped out of the Republican race for President and endorsed Mitt Romney, I was going to write a post called “Republicans Fall in Line,” talking up how the Republicans, true to form, were finally falling in line behind the front runner.  Two weeks later, it’s not clear that this is not what’s happening. Despite the fact that the Republican establishment increasingly thinks Romney is the best candidate to take on Obama, the Republican electorate hasn’t got the message. And if there is a main theme of this contest it’s this one: Republican voters don’t like Mitt Romney and they’re not yet ready to fall in line behind him.

This repeating pattern has to be frustrating for Romney: challengers keep emerging, then fading away, and then, just when Romney thinks he’s gaining some momentum, someone else steps up. For the past…well, really…four years, the media and the base were focused on Sarah Palin as the likely challenger to Romney, but it became increasingly evident that she was just taking advantage of the media’s fascination with her to increase her brand image and make more money. Michele Bachmann looked like she was going to grab the mantle of “real conservative” against Romney’s moderate conservatism when she won the Iowa Straw poll, but then Republicans took a closer look at her, realized she was crazy and moved on. Perry was the next to step up, but his inability to form a coherent sentence proved an impediment to the nomination. The last domino seemed to have fallen when Chris Christie officially announced that he wasn’t running and endorsed Romney a few days later.

The next round of polling brought yet another surprise: pizza magnate Herman Cain surged ahead of Romney. Cain is an interesting candidate. He has a very impressive resume: humble beginnings, Masters Degree in Mathematics, worked for the Navy as a ballistic missile analyst,  Vice President of Pillsbury, President of Godfather’s Pizza Chain, Chairman of National Restaurant Association, Kansas City Federal Reserve President(!). After a career as a business executive and running a lobbying organization, Cain joined up with liberal boogeymen the Koch brothers in 2005 and ran their Americans for Prosperity organization, which eventually provided significant funding and organization for the Tea Party Movement.

If you haven’t been around a TV lately, Cain has been hawking his “9-9-9″ tax plan which basically abolishes the current income, corporate, social security and Medicare tax structure and replaces it with a 9% income tax, a 9% corporate tax and a 9% national sales tax. Cain never misses an opportunity to promote the plan and has been such a shameless salesman for his plan that Republican challenger John Huntsman quipped that he thought it was the price of a pizza.  

The main problem with the 9-9-9 plan is what’s actually in it. Under the original plan proposed by Herman Cain, 84% of Americans would receive a tax increase. Cain announced recent changes in his plans under which people in areas of high poverty would receive exemptions from the tax increases he is proposing for the rest of America, but this still leaves most people in the beleaguered middle class getting hit with new tax increases. To top it off, Cain provides a new revenue source for the Federal Government, which actually isn’t such a bad idea, but which Republicans see as anathema, citing the history of the income tax itself, which started as a 7% levy on the top bracket in 1913 and five years later at the height of World War I turned into a 77% tax. 

As Cain has received more media scrutiny he has begun to stumble as well. In what can perhaps best be described as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week, Cain stumbled in a number of interviews last weekend. On Meet the Press, he struggled to explain the basic questions about the net sales tax costs people would be paying under his plan, didn’t seem to understand the term neo-con, and disavowed as “a joke” a statement he had made just the day before about putting an electrified fence at the border. Soon after, this cringeworthy interaction between John Stossel and Cain emerged, where he gives such a convoluted explanation of his position on abortion that he leaves his co-panelist open mouthed on the set next to him. I still can’t tell what Cain’s position is, but I’m pretty sure he’s pro-choice, even if he doesn’t say so officially.

On ABC’s This Week, George Will gave an answer to the question that a lot of pundits who are paying close attention to the race have asked: is Cain actually running for President or is he just trying to sell more books? Will’s response was that

we’re having a kind of Andy Warhol primary where everybody is leader for 15 minutes and Cain’s turn today but it’s not clear that Cain has staying power. He’s not running for president, sort of strolling for president without an infrastructure. It’s pretty and cute and nice but whether or not it works we can be doubtful.

In fact, political pundits have noticed that Cain seems more interested in promoting his book than in winning the Republican nomination, noting that he hasn’t been to Iowa since August while the other candidates are blanketing the state.

With apologies to Hagen Dazs Black Walnut, it is clear that Herman Cain is just the latest guy in this field to benefit from not being Mitt Romney. The only question I have is who will the flavor of next month be, Rick Santorum?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be making any predictions (I was sure it would be Hillary vs. Giuliani in 2008), but I’m pretty positive Romney gets the nomination. Republicans almost always fall in line, but if last week’s debate was any indication, this could be an ugly process for Romney. The other candidates smell blood in the water and they hammered Romney last week. Meanwhile, Perry looks dead in the water, but his campaign is sitting on $15 million at last count and he could still win some primaries, especially throughout the South where he has natural advantages. Bachmann is trying to re-caputre her former spot as most likely challenger and  Santorum, who some say landed the best shots on Romney last week, feels like it’s his turn to be the not-Romney candidate. Meanwhile, Romney has nothing but nice things to say about Cain, because he feels confident in a two way race against him. 

I thought Romney turned in another good debate performance last week, but Perry did get under his skin enough for him to come up with what may be the line of the campaign so far “I can’t have illegals working on my property…I’m running for president for Pete’s sake!”  Even if Romney continues to turn in good debate performances, an extended campaign means that he will increasingly be pulled to extreme positions as the process continues, and more contentious debates give him more chances to stumble, making him a weaker general election candidate.

Obama’s gonna need a lot more than that to win re-election, but a Republican electorate so against voting for Romney that they put Herman Cain in first place is a good start.

Lawrence O’ Donnell Skewers NBC Entertainment and Trump

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

The Front Runner

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

What a Country!

Trump-Bachman 2012!

Vote for Sleazy and Dumb as Rocks!

It’s been enjoyable to watch Trump make an ass out of himself and embarrass the Republican party, but Laurence O’ Donnell reminds us how bad for the country it is for Trump to continually be on TV fanning the fires of intolerance.

Joe Scarborough Rips Sarah Palin

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Finally, a Republican (besides Barbara Bush) stands up to Sarah Palin.

Joe Scarborough, in a scathing opinion piece in Politico (and later on his show), ripped Palin:

Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private.

Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.

and later:

this is one Republican who would prefer that the former half-term governor promote her reality shows and hawk her books without demeaning the reputations of Presidents Reagan and Bush. These great men dedicated their lives to public service and are too good to be fodder for her gaudy circus sideshow.

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Here’s a clip from his show where he defends the article:


Let the Republican Civil War Begin

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

The cracks in Republican unity are already beginning to show.

Even before the election, Politico reported that the Republican establishment was working to try to find a viable alternative candidate to defeat Sarah Palin in the 2012 primaries for president.

Increasingly, it seems that Palin would have a good shot at the nomination, starting with a win in Evangelical dominated Iowa, followed by a tougher, but not impossible race in New Hampshire, and then another good chance in South Carolina. But John Heilman’s recent piece on how she could actually win the presidency relies on the idea that New York mayor Michael Bloomburg would run, split the electoral college vote and send the election to the House of Representatives (where the Republicans would elect her president, even though she failed to win the election outright). The fact that he needs to rely on so many “ifs” for Palin to win the general election shows how difficult this would be.

Sister Sarah fought back hard on the Politico article, using her favorite Republican tactic of blaming the media, calling out Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen by name and telling them to ”man up.”   The woman’s a treasure.

Meanwhile, another intra-party skirmish has broken out in the wake of the Republicans underperformance in the Senate elections. To be sure, a 6 seat pickup is nothing to scoff at, but there’s a clear case to make that two more Senate seats (in Delaware and Colorado) would have shifted to the Republican column and a plausible case that Sue Lowden could have succeeded in Nevada where Sharron Angle failed, effectively tie-ing up the Senate and elevating Joe Biden’s official role of presiding over the Senate to more than ceremonial duty.

The day after the election, the divide was in full effect, with prominent Republicans Lindsey Graham stating the obvious:

Candidates matter,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “It was a good night for Republicans but it could have been a better one. We left some on the table….If you think what happened in Delaware is ‘a win’ for the Republican Party then we don’t have a snowball’s chance to win the White House,” he said. “If you think Delaware was a wake-up call for Republicans than we have shot at doing well for a long time.”

An anonomously sourced “high-profile” Republican senator was even more direct, saying of Senator Jim DeMint, the biggest supporter of GOP ideological purity, “It’s like you’re on the five-yard line ready to score and the quarterback calls the play and some member of your team tackles one of your members and keeps you from scoring…We came tantalizingly close to a majority.”

Fox talking head Mort Konracke was just as withering, pointing the finger at Palin and DeMint specifically:

The people who got slapped the hardest in this election — besides Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama — are Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin…Jim DeMint and Sarah Palin are responsible for the fact that the Senate did not go Republican. They’re the ones who are responsible for Christine O’Donnell. They’re the ones who are responsible for Joe Miller in Alaska. They’re the ones who are responsible for Ken Buck in Colorado. They’re the ones who are responsible for Sharron Angle in Nevada.

Kondracke also said of Palin,  ”She’s a joke even within her own party. The idea that she would be the presidential nominee is unthinkable.”

The fight between the old country club Republicans and the Tea Party nuts is going to be a fun side show over the next couple of years.

It’s Way Too Early To Write This President Off

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Republicans have been positively giddy about President Obama’s falling poll numbers and probably every week and half my conservative uncle sends me a screed about how Obama is a failed president and America has irreversibly lost faith in him. This week it was this Op-ed from a columnist for Britian’s Telegraph.

We’ve been hearing this from the Right since a few months after Obama took office and it always reminds me of the parallels to the early 80′s when the shoe was on the other foot: the previous president had presided over a terrible economic time that the opposition party would end up using against him and his party for decades to come and a foreign policy that included some high profile blunders that shook Americans’ image of themselves.  Against this backdrop, a historic president took power with strong approval ratings, gave the country new hope and inspiration and successfully began the process of reorienting the country in a sharp departure from the previous president’s policies.

However, in the second year of his presidency the economy was slow to recover, the country began to lose faith in the president and voters seemed poised to hand his party a major defeat in the midterm elections. In polling, the president was ranked lower than his Democratic rivals for the presidency and the opposition increasingly saw him as a failed president. Desperate to stave off an embarrassing showing in the midterms, the president hit the campaign trail to explain that it was the previous president’s fault, while the opposition party shook their heads and asked how long the president was going to try to avoid responsibility for the state of the economy. 

The president, of course, was Ronald Reagan, who eventually cruised to a 19% point victory over Walter Mondale in an Electoral College landslide where he won all states with the exception of Mondale’s home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

Last week, while reading Steve Kornacki’s post about the parallels (and futility) of Obama blaming Bush and Reagan blaming Jimmy Carter in order to stave off defeat in the midterms, I stumbled across a good thread that sheds even more light on the parallels. As Kornacki noted at the beginning of this year, in October 1982 the unemployment rate was 10.4 percent–and rising, 2.9 points higher than when Reagan took office. Currently, the unemployment rate is at 9.5 percent, a rise of 2.3 points from when Obama took office.

He quotes the LA Times’ analysis of their November 1982 poll:

The survey, published in the paper’s Saturday edition, found a large number of moderate Democrats who supported Reagan in 1980 are turning against him because they are losing faith in his economic program and oppose his cuts in social programs. The poll found that if a presidential election were held today between Reagan and Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale, Mondale would win by six percentage points.

…The survey found 58 percent of those interviewed believe the economy is in “bad” shape, with 20 percent terming the situation a “major depression.” By a 2-1 ratio, those polled said they feel they are worse off personally because of Reagan’s economic policies.

In fact, looking at graphs of Obama and Reagan’s approval ratings for their first two years is like looking at a mirror image.

To be sure, the situation isn’t completely analogous. As many have pointed out, corporations are actually doing quite well in this economy and by some estimates are sitting on a pile of cash as big as $1.8 billion, but hiring has lagged. While some have pointed to the perception in the business community that Obama is “anti-business,” Ezra Klein points out that economic downturns that include financial crises have historically taken longer to recover from than those that don’t and that this problem is not so much the regulatory environment, but what he calls “the catch-22 of the recovery: businesses will start hiring when the economy recovers. And the economy will start to recover when businesses start hiring.”  Matthew Iglesias also points out the tougher row that Obama has to hoe based on economists’ growth projections. I would add to this the fact that the ability to run long term structural deficits that stimulate the economy is no longer an option given the pile of debt that the Reagan and Bush II era’s left us. 

The point of all this is not to make a prediction of how much economic growth we will have in two years, or where the unemployment rate will be at that time, but only to point out that it is too early to write the President off and all of the Republican fulminating about how Americans now see that President Obama is “a failure,” is overblown. 

As a smart man once said, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” If jobs come back, the decisions that Obama made to insure an additional 30 million people, to work with Bernake to stop the bleeding on jobs and return us back to economic growth,  to make the largest investments in clean energy in our nation’s history with the stimulus plan, to save the American auto industry, to continue to stabilize the banking industry by adding Geithner’s “stress tests” to George Bush’s bank bailout, to pass the most wide ranging financial reform to mitigate the possibility of another financial crash imperiling the economy… all of these issues will be seen as important steps in our economic recovery and the total lack of Republican help on any of those efforts will be held against them. On the other hand, if jobs don’t come back, then all of those things will be used by Republicans to explain why they didn’t…and we may be looking at President Romney in 2012 (Of course, if the Republican’s are dumb enough to nominate Palin or Newt Gingrich all bets are off).

The point is that there’s a lot of water that’ll pass under that bridge before this president can be called a “failed president.” As I noted previously, a Republican takeover of the House could turn out to be the best thing that ever happens to Obama, as it would allow Obama to tack back to the center, both parties would be forced to take responsibility for the tough decisions that lie ahead and there would be a shared sense of blame that comes with the new Republican responsibility.

In the meantime, Republicans will no doubt continue to twist the facts to make Obama’s falling poll numbers fit their preexisting narrative. More discerning people will know that Obama’s presidency is not going to turn on whether he “believes in American exceptionalism,” whether he bowed to the Japanese Prime Minister, whether he wants to let Muslims have the same religious freedom under our Constitution that Christians have or whether almost half of the Republican party is too ignorant to know that he was born in the United States. It’s pretty simple. If the economy recovers and the country feels safe, the president will be in good shape in 2012. If not, then he won’t.   

Again, no predictions yet, but the Republicans might want to hold off on popping any champagne corks over the failure of Obama (and thus the country). One thing I can say with confidence is that two years is an eternity in politics and the last chapters of this book are not even close to being written.