Posts Tagged ‘Steve Kornacki’

The South Carolina Gauntlet

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Fresh from his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney now heads to South Carolina, which will either have the effect of effectively wrapping up the nomination for him, or presaging a long, drawn out primary process.

South Carolina has a deserved reputation as the most brutal states in the Republican presidential nominating process and could potentially pose serious problems for Mitt Romney. As Steve Kornacki notes:

On paper, the state embodies all of the demographic realities and intraparty dynamics that have made him such a tough sell to the party base. If Romney’s Mormonism really is a deal-breaker with the religious right, we will find out. About 60 percent of the state’s GOP primary universe is composed of evangelical Christians, a group that Romney has struggled with in both of his presidential campaigns. The state is also the unofficial capital of Tea Party Republicanism, with its emphasis on ideological purity and intense suspicion of the party establishment. Romney, with his economically moderate past and reputation as the “next in line” guy, reeks of the type of Republican South Carolina conservatives turned on in 2010. His Yankee roots surely don’t help, either. No wonder Romney won just 15 percent in the state in 2008 — by far his worst showing in any early contest that year.

Still, perhaps more important for the tenor of the campaign in South Carolina is the desperation of his rivals.  Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich know that this could be their last stand, and despite growing unease about their tactics among national Republican politicians, have continued to make Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital a top topic on the campaign trail. Newt is also out with the commercial above (did I mention abortion?) appealing to social conservatives by bringing up Romney’s flip flopping on the Holy Grail of Christian conservative politics, abortion rights.

The latest polls show Mitt Romney leading a fractious GOP field in South Carolina, and if he wins decisively, it will be increasingly difficult for his rivals to continue their campaigns. Gingrich, meanwhile, is hoping he can capitalize on a potential Romney stumble in South Carolina. If Romney loses, it will allow Gingrich to argue that he has a glass jaw and can’t be trusted to take on Obama.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

Steve Kornacki: How a One Term President is Made

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Here’s Steve Kornacki on why those abysmal June jobs numbers could be a huge problem for Obama.

Could be an interesting 2012.

O’Donnell Loose Ends

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Here’s a few updates on the O’Donnell situation:

PPP’s much anticipated general election poll is out. The survey (taken before the election) gives Chris Coons a 16 point lead over O’Donnell, whereas Castle would have led Coons by 10 points. PPP’s blogger said that it was “the best thing that has happened to the Democrats electorally since 2008.”

Pretty sad when the best thing to happen electorally in two years is an unforced error on the part of an opponent, but like I said before, we’ll take any good news we can get at this point. 

Here’s Steve Kornacki on the impact of the O’Donnell win.

Meanwhile, the most aggressive Tea Party guy in the Senate, South Carolina Senator Jim De Mint confirmed today what we already knew: that he would rather lose the seat than have a moderate Republican take it.

And Politico has now compiled a list of all the baggage that O’Donnell brings to the race. Having it all there in one place is pretty dramatic. Thank You Sarah!

More later on what the de-facto takeover of the Republican party by the Tea Party means for all parties, as well as the dramatic impact it could have on our national politics, but that’s it for tonight.

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.