Tags: 2012

Richard Epstein, Donald Verrilli, and Michael Carvin Assess SCOTUS Term


An interesting discussion at the Heritage Foundation earlier today. Towards the end, Richard Epstein gets a nice dig at Paul Krugman, too.

Tags: 2012 , SCOTUS

The Jindal, McDonnell, and Ryan Bids That Almost Happened


Over on the NRO homepage, a what-might-have-been story: Some frustrated GOP consultants contemplated starting a long-shot effort to draft Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, or Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan into the presidential race, despite the trio’s repeated statements that they’re not interested in running for the office. Noting that Henry Cabot Lodge won the 1964 New Hampshire primary on a write-in bid (when Lodge was not a declared candidate), these veterans of past presidential campaigns wondered if a strong showing from a similar write-in effort might prompt one of those men to change his mind.

Unaffiliated GOP leaders were tempted by the idea, but were doubtful it would lead to anything constructive; a candidate who jumped in so late would not be able to win enough delegates to win the nomination, at least in states where there is still time to qualify for the ballot. A strong late entrant could probably lead to a divided convention, but could not win the nomination outright. In a primary campaign cycle that has seen high drama and plenty of twists and turns, a convention fight leading to the nomination of a figure who didn’t intend to run throughout 2011 might have been the biggest shock ending of all.

Tags: 2012 , Bob McDonnell , Bobby Jindal , Paul Ryan

Mitt, Newt, the Ricks, Michele, Ron, Jon . . . and Jeb?


The Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt features the latest futile round of “Hillary 2012″ buzz, a discussion of an anti–Occupy Wall Street theme in the trailer for the upcoming Batman movie, and this latest unexpected turn in the GOP presidential race:

Mitt, Newt, the Ricks, Michele, Ron, Jon . . . and Jeb?

Let me get my scorecard . . . if you want to see, say, Jeb Bush jump into the presidential race, you’re one of those inside-the-Beltway, RINO, squish moderates who’s out of touch, right? You want to restore a dynasty, right? You’re resisting all of the evidence that all of the old rules are thrown out, and you’re stuck in this old-fashioned mentality that a successful two-term governor of a large and diverse state would be a good Republican nominee, right?

Because . . . Rush Limbaugh seems pretty enthusiastic:

He may be the best Bush of all, people said, but, “Oh, it’s just unfortunate, the timing, this country will not put up with another Bush, not now,” and look what we have here, Jeb Bush writes a piece in the Wall Street Journal which, folks, I have to tell you, I could have written. I have said as much. I say it repeatedly on this program and on my Rush to Excellence appearances. Extolling the virtues of freedom, economic freedom, capitalism, people pursuing excellence, being the best they can be.

We have too many laws, too many regulations, everybody trying to control the outcome of everybody else. There’s no suffering and no pain and no risk-taking. That’s bad, that’s not good, it’s not how this country was built. Jeb Bush is saying exactly what I’ve said over and over again and now we got some guy, Steve Moore from the Wall Street Journal, who is suggesting Bush could win on a write-in ballot. . . . So see how fluid things are? See how the unexpected can all of a sudden come to life instantly? Ha. He-he-he-he. Palin’s only five letters. That would very easy to write in. Bush, B-u-s-h, four letters, Palin, P-a-l-i-n, five letters.

That’s in response to this Wall Street Journal piece by Jeb Bush:

We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy’s resources should be spent.

Or we can return to the road we once knew and which has served us well: a road where individuals acting freely and with little restraint are able to pursue fortune and prosperity as they see fit, a road where the government’s role is not to shape the marketplace but to help prepare its citizens to prosper from it.

In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.

Now, I’m among those who thought it was too late for anybody to jump in, but . . . boy, what made Jeb Bush decide to write an op-ed like that for the Journal? He has to know that lots of people will interpret that as a trial balloon for a presidential bid . . .

Wall Street Journal editorial-board member Steve Moore, on Fox News Channel Monday morning, certainly did his part to fan the flames a bit:

Jeb Bush is one of the kind of people who is so well-known around the country, Martha, that if he were to get into this race, he could win as a write-in candidate. It’s only four letters, right — B.U.S.H. So I think it’s an important piece. I don’t think he’s likely to get into the race, but there are a lot of people talking about it.

And Mediaite relays the latest bit of teasing from that other well-known GOP figure:

“Any chance we can see you making a play, even after Iowa or New Hampshire?” Bolling asked. “There’s still plenty of time, Governor.”

“You know, it’s not too late for folks to jump in,” Sarah Palin replied. “And I don’t know, you know, it — who knows what will happen in the future?”

Palin-Christie 2012: Because not even the declaration that they’re not running stopped the speculation that they might be running.

Tags: 2012 , Jeb Bush , Rush Limbaugh

Rove: ‘Obama Will Have the Cash. But He Can’t Run on His Record.’


American Crossroads offers an electoral analysis and pep talk from Karl Rove, complete with snazzy moving graphics floating in the air beside him:

He suggests that the Obama path to victory will require vastly outspending the Republicans in states like Indiana, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida.

“President Obama will have the cash. But he can’t run on his record. What’s he going to say, ‘Vote for me because of the failed stimulus, all of those deficits, and that health-care bill you hate’?”

Rove’s path to 270: Keep the McCain states, flip back traditionally Republican Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia; win the regular swing states of Ohio and Florida, and then at least one of any other swing state: Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or New Hampshire.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Karl Rove

When You Think Election 2012, Think... ‘PAOHMIWIAMN.’


There is (sigh) more twists and turns of the story of Cain and his accusers in the Morning Jolt, as well as a look at the grim outlook for John Kasich’s reforms in Ohio, and the 2012 electoral map:

The Electoral Map, One Year Out

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza looks at the 2012 electoral map and surmises, “There’s no question that President Obama faces one of the most challenging political environments in modern memory as he prepares to try to win a second term next November. But with one year to go before the 2012 election, a state-by-state examination of the battleground map suggests that the president still retains several plausible pathways to the 270 electoral votes he needs… Obama won three states — Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia — that no Democrat had carried at the presidential level in at least two decades, and he scored victories in six other states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio) that George W. Bush had won in 2004. Those nine states will account for 112 electoral votes in 2012 and stand at the center of the fight for the presidency. If Obama loses every one of them but holds on to the others he won, he will drop to 247 electoral votes and Republicans will win the White House. (The decennial reapportionment of congressional districts after the 2010 Census subtracts six electoral votes from states Obama won in 2008.) But with the exception of Indiana and its 11 electoral votes, Obama is very much in the game in those states. In several, even Republicans acknowledge that he is favored.”

He puts New Mexico and Iowa in the likely Obama pile at this point.

“Republicans shouldn’t get cocky,” concludes Betsy Newmark.

Hugh Hewitt: “It isn’t very good for an incumbent a year out, and if the GOP nominates a ticket that is competitive in the PA-OH-MI-WI-IA-MN region, then the map turns decidedly against the president. The betting is that Marco Rubio will be the GOP nominee’s obvious pick for Veep, but either Paul Ryan or Tim Pawleny add votes in this region.”

My prediction for the acronym of 2012: PAOHMIWIAMN.

This will be the last Morning Jolt for a little bit – the remainder of the week I’ll be on a personal trip and next week I’ll be on the National Review cruise. Apparently everyone on the cruise is used to getting their Morning Jolt, so I’ll be expected to write all of these out by hand and slide them under cabin doors by 8 a.m. on the ship. The Jolt will be back on November 21… just in time for Thanksgiving week, traditionally one of the slower news weeks of the year.

Tags: 2012

The 2012 GOP Presidential Field Is Set.


The Republican presidential field is set.

This probably doesn’t mean the speculation is over, but as of today, anyone who jumped in would not appear on the ballot in the Florida primary — complicating a late, long-shot bid a great deal.

AP: Florida Republican voters will get to choose between nine presidential contenders during next year’s primary.

The Republican Party of Florida on Monday submitted the names of nine candidates for the Jan. 31 ballot: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

Notice no Buddy Roemer.

The deadline to file to appear on the South Carolina Republican presidential-primary ballot is today.

Tags: 2012 , Buddy Roemer

2012: An Across-the-Board Anti-Incumbent Year?


Reid Wilson looks at the numbers and suggests that 2012 might be a genuine anti-incumbent year, as opposed to previous “anti-incumbent” years that turned out to be bad for only one party’s incumbents.

For all the attention the “Republican Revolution” class of 1994 received, more new members came to Congress after the 1992 election. More than a quarter of the entire House — 110 members — were freshmen (compared with 85 in 1994).

This cycle’s mood mirrors 1992. Just 9 percent of the electorate approve of Congress, according to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll. And 79 percent told ABC News/Washington Post pollsters they are dissatisfied with the way the country’s political system is working, only 2 percentage points off the 81 percent who said the same thing just before the 1992 elections.

And, as in 1992, redistricting is adding to the tumult as even seemingly safe members have to contend with thousands of new voters who want change. As in 1992, no incumbent next year is truly secure, whether in primary or general elections.

The only problem with this assessment that the ideological division in the 2012 presidential election is going to be pretty stark. Could Americans, dissatisfied by what they’re getting under divided government of a Democratic president and a Republican House, decide they want a Republican president and a Democratic House? That they want a conservative approach in the executive branch, and then lower on the ticket, they want a congressional candidate explicitly running against that approach? Not unthinkable, but a bit hard to imagine. Presidents have coattails, long and short, for a reason.

Tags: 2012 , Congress , President Obama

What We Need in a GOP Candidate


The Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein lays out his argument that the GOP field is an “incredibly weak” one, an assessment I share, although I’m not sure the field is “incredibly weak.” I think it’s just that every candidate has some considerable strength but some considerable, glaring flaw.

We need Mitt Romney’s business expertise and raw analytical intelligence, without Romneycare and his history of reversing positions.

We need Rick Perry’s record of job creation and intense appetite to stimulate domestic energy production, without his demonizing of his opponents on illegal immigration and tendency to put his foot in his mouth.

We need Herman Cain’s inspiring life story and irresistible good humor, without his dismissal of policy details.

We need Newt Gingrich’s encyclopedic knowledge of policy and political philosophy and sharp debate skills, without his considerable personal baggage.

We need Jon Huntsman’s sterling résumé and variety of experience, without his corny jokes and determination to position himself as the most leftward candidate of the party of the Right.

We need Michele Bachmann’s willingness to live her values and pugnaciousness in defense of those values, without the occasional leap into kook territory over retardation-causing vaccines.

We need Ron Paul’s steadfast adherence to principle and willingness to get into policy detail, without the positions that prompt a significant number of Republicans to recoil.

We need Rick Santorum’s focus on the problems of American families and passionate combativeness, without his Google problem and dreadful final race of his Senate career.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to accelerate our efforts to genetically engineer the perfect Republican candidate.

Tags: 2012

Two New Surveys Show Obama in Trouble With Latinos, Swing States


I don’t think either of the survey results cited in Mike Allen’s Politico newsletter are really that surprising, considering the state of the economy, etc., but he calls them “sobering” for Democrats:

THIS CYCLE’S BIGGEST SURVEY OF LATINO VOTERS: Campaigns and party committees are getting confidential briefings on the findings of a bipartisan poll for Univision of 1,500 likely Latino voters, conducted by Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group (a Democratic firm) and Dave Sackett of The Tarrance Group (Republican). About one-third of the interviews were conducted in Spanish, and the poll oversampled in CA, TX, FL, NV, NM and AZ. Playbook was provided an exclusive look at the findings:

–The research finds A SUBSTANTIAL HISPANIC SWING VOTE. Dissatisfaction with the country’s direction creates an opening for Republicans with Hispanics, and PERRY’S STANDING IN TEXAS REVEALS HOW WELL THE GOP CAN DO WITH LATINOS. 57% of those polled consider themselves Democrats, 19% Republican and 15% independent. But 43% call themselves conservative, 37% liberal and 20% moderate. Even 32% of Democrats call themselves conservatives!

–Get this: For SWING Latino voters, the top concern was “the federal gov’t in DC is wasting too much of our tax money,” just ahead of education, Medicare, deficit, “family values are in decline” and jobs. Their top issues mirror the top issues of other swing voters: “illegal immigration is out of control” was cited by 14%, compared with 17% for “politicians aren’t serious about real immigration reform” (participants could give multiple answers).

–The point to the campaigns is that Spanish-language ads can be run on the candidates’ primary message – it doesn’t have to be a separate Hispanic track. 30% of Latino swing voters watch mostly Spanish-language TV, and even English speakers consider candidates’ Spanish ads as “a sign that they respect the community.”

2) PURPLE POLL: Purple Strategies, the bipartisan public affairs and business advisory firm, is out today with a survey putting Obama’s favorability rating at 41% in 12 swing states he carried in 2008 (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin . . . 1 in 4 (24%) have a favorable view of Texas Governor Rick Perry, and his numbers are worse (19 %) among independents. Mitt Romney’s favorability was 32%. In a general election matchup, Obama is in a statistical dead heat with both (Romney 46%; Obama 43% . . . Obama 46%; Perry 44%). The survey shows Obama struggling in these crucial states, especially with independents and seniors.

“Sobering?” Well, let’s face it, perhaps the prospect of the president running for reelection after what feels like a four-year recession is driving them to drink . . .

And why the surprise that the top concerns of Hispanic swing voters mirror the top concerns of other swing voters?

Tags: 2012 , Obama , Polling

With This Economy, It’s Amazing Obama Is Still in the Race


Another bad week on Wall Street:

After dropping 527 points, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 391 points, the second consecutive rout in the stock market since the Federal Reserve announced a change in strategy for fighting the economic slowdown. One financial indicator after another showed that investors are quickly losing hope that the economy can keep growing.

It appears the Dow is set for its worst week since the 2008 meltdown.

When you look around at the state of the country, it’s kind of remarkable that President Obama is considered anything other than toast in the 2012 election.

  • There was a time in America when 500-point drops in a day were considered shocking. The sixth, ninth, and eleventh-largest single-day point drops in Dow history occurred in August. Had the markets not recovered in the final hour, today would have ranked ninth. The casual investor may not check his 401(k)s regularly, but when he does, he gets hit with bad news that he hoped he had left behind in 2008.
  • The spike in gas prices has subsided only marginally; the national average is $3.56 per gallon. The spike has lasted longer than the spike in the summer of 2008, which, it may be argued, was the first real ominous indicator of the economic troubles to come. Of course, the 2008 spike occurred when the economy was not in recession.
  • The unemployment rate climbed above 9 percent in May 2009 and is projected to more or less stay there through 2012.
  • The housing market is, in most places, still waiting for any signs of recovery: “In the housing market inhabited by most Americans, prices have fallen 30 percent or more since the peak in 2007. That’s a steeper decline than during the Depression. Some people have had their homes on the market for a year without a single offer. Almost a quarter of American homeowners owe more on their house than it’s worth. Another quarter have less than 20 percent equity.”

Yet the Obama team still feels confident that they’ll win once their message and agenda is contrasted with that of their Republican rival. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s precisely what they were saying about the 2010 midterms, as late as August of that year:

US President Barack Obama is “confident” his Democratic Party will keep control of both houses of Congress in November’s mid-term elections, the White House said Tuesday.

“The president thinks that this election is a choice between the policies that move our country forward or the policies that got us to the crisis that we’re in right now,” White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton said.

“But he?s confident that given that choice in the voting booths in November that Democrats will be successful and he does think that we will hold on to both the House and the Senate,” he told reporters on the presidential jet.

Obama was on a busy campaign swing ahead of the start of his summer vacation on Thursday. He was headed to Washington state, Wisconsin and California before dropping in on Ohio on Tuesday and Florida on Wednesday.

You’ll recall that Obama’s candidates lost in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida.

Tonight, a slew of Republicans will take the stage, and all of them will tear apart the easy target of the economy’s performance under Obama. But the harder task will be persuading those watching at home that he (or she) is the one uniquely qualified to lead a country enduring an economic crisis.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Economy

Obama, the GOP, and the ‘Big Nine’


Pollster Glen Bolger wants Republicans to start thinking about the Big Nine. No, that’s not another collegiate football conference:

The nine states that George W. Bush won in 2004 but flipped over to Barack Obama in 2008: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia.

In six of the states, he had a higher disapproval rating than approval rating during the first half of the year — Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia.  In North Carolina, his approval rating is dead even — 46% approve/46% disapprove.  Only in Iowa (49% approve/42% disapprove) and Florida (47% approve/45% disapprove) is his approval rating still a net positive.

Despite Obama’s troubles, Bolger notes that the GOP nominee won’t have an enormous margin for error:

The Republican nominee has to run the table in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and either Virginia or New Mexico to win.  These data makes a compelling case that the Tar Heel state is joining Ohio and Florida as the must-win battlegrounds that will determine the next President of the United States.

Not included in the Big Nine is New Hampshire, where Obama’s approval is 41.3 percent and his disapproval is 51.1 percent. That state is only four electoral votes, but I’m sure the GOP nominee would love to have every state he (or she?) can get. Republicans would also argue that Obama’s troubles with working-class whites will give them much better than usual chances in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Swing States

Rick Perry Fills the GOP Field’s Vacuum


It’s been said that while the Republican party is still looking for its ideal presidential candidate for the 2012 election, the party has a bumper crop of impressive potential running mates and/or options for 2016. Among those mentioned often are Florida senator Marco Rubio, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey, and Ohio senator Rob Portman.

It’s odd that a field that includes seven eight candidates (Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Jon Huntsman*, and eleven if you include Thad McCotter, Gary Johnson, and Tim Pawlenty) hasn’t included that type of figure: a fresh face on the national scene who has a certain amount of serious experience in government, who seems smart, and who is a reliable conservative but not a fire-breather. (On the list above, Jindal, Toomey, and Portman are former U.S. House members; McDonnell and Christie are former prosecutors/state attorneys general, and Rubio was speaker of Florida’s House of Representatives.)

Throughout 2011, we’ve seen flurries of excitement surrounding other figures who fit that template: Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, John Thune, Haley Barbour . . .

The boomlet for Perry since his debut is perhaps explained by his ability to fit that template. He’s been governor of Texas for ten years, yet isn’t well-known outside his state. He’s indisputably conservative, and some may think that the “fire-breather” label fits after the secession remark, his suggestion of a brusque welcome for Fed chairman Bernanke, or his “ponzi scheme” label for Social Security.  But he’s filling a vacuum.

Part of Romney’s weakness is how poorly he fits this template. Let’s credit him for smarts. But he’s a 2008 retread, who, while not inexperienced, somehow had become GOP frontrunner by winning exactly one general-election race in his life. He has reached the point where he’s bashing “career politicians,” awkwardly ignoring his campaigns of 1994 and 2008. (Had Romney beaten Ted Kennedy in 1994, would he have retired from public office in 2000?) Romney’s status as a reliable conservative is shaken, badly, by the individual mandate enacted under Romneycare.

Bachmann is a fresh face whose intellect is far beyond the impression of unflattering Newsweek cover photos and gaffes about Bunker Hill. But she’s certainly indulged in her share of fiery rhetoric, and it is a sign of the post-Obama era that a House member elected in 2006 can begin a campaign to be the next commander-in-chief in 2011.

Ron Paul fits few of these categories, and it’s undoubtedly why many of his supporters love him, because he’s so far from the cookie-cutter GOP candidate. He’s been around a long time, he’s undoubtedly the oldest candidate on stage (he is 76 and will turn 77 next August; John McCain ran when he was 71-and-turning-72), and his views and rhetoric can shock some members of his own party.

Herman Cain has no government experience; both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are very familiar faces whose rhetoric and stances are often heavy with red meat.

There was a time where it appeared Sarah Palin would fit this template perfectly. Instead, if she runs, she will be running as half-term governor who somehow spent her career fighting oil companies and her party’s establishment, only to be demonized as a right-wing partisan corporate stooge.

Ironically, the figure in this field who may have fit the template closest was Tim Pawlenty, who obviously just couldn’t catch on with the GOP grassroots. Obviously, the template isn’t everything — charisma, a fundraising base, tone, style, and other intangibles play big factors. But in the end, the field was looking for a figure who was Goldilocks in two key categories — conservative, but not too conservative, and experienced, but not too experienced. The Perry team is undoubtedly confident they can win one-on-one with Romney. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to a Perry nomination would be some other figure who matches this template entering the race.

* UPDATE: In the comments, a reader chuckles at the observation that I completely forgot Jon Huntsman. He clears the experience bar with flying colors, but even that brings one of Huntsman’s own enormous challenges, having worked for the president he seeks to beat. Whether Huntsman likes it or not, he is perceived as the most leftward candidate seeking the nomination of the party of the Right, and is open about his disagreements with large chunks of the GOP base on the use of the military overseas, global warming, evolution, etc. If Huntsman were a mainstream conservative with his résumé, he might be frontrunner . . . but then again, if he were a mainstream conservative, it’s unlikely Obama would have selected him to be U.S. ambassador to China.

Tags: 2012 , Michele Bachmann , Mitt Romney , Rick Perry

Rethinking Those Never-Wrong Criteria for Predicting Presidential Elections . . .


My Internet continues to move about as quickly as the Guantanamo Bay closure process. A belated offering from the Morning Jolt:

Yeah, But How Does Alan Lichtman Do in His Fantasy Football League?

At U.S. News and World Report, Paul Bedard reports,

Allan Lichtman, the American University professor whose election formula has correctly called every president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re-election, has a belated birthday present for Barack Obama: Rest easy, your re-election is in the bag.

“Even if I am being conservative, I don’t see how Obama can lose,” says Lichtman, the brains behind The Keys to the White House.

Lichtman’s prediction helps to explain a quirk in some polling that finds that while Americans disapprove of the president, they still think he will win re-election. [Check out political cartoons about the 2012 GOP field.]

Working for the president are several of Lichtman’s keys, tops among them incumbency and the scandal-free nature of his administration. Undermining his re-election is a lack of charisma and leadership on key issues, says Lichtman, even including healthcare, Obama’s crowning achievement.”

You really want to believe Alan Lichtman’s never wrong? Ask his wife for a second opinion.

By the way, only someone with absolutely no familiarity with “gun-walking” or “Fast and Furious” would declare Obama’s presidency “scandal-free.”

Even the often Eeyore-ish Allahpundit punches holes in the Lichtman formula at Hot Air: “if I’m reading this correctly, the GOP will be within one key of winning the presidency if (a) economic indicators look bad next year, which is only too grimly plausible, and (b) they nominate someone charismatic, like, say, Rick Perry. (What the threshold is for measuring “charisma,” I have no idea.) In which case, how can Lichtman seriously say, “I don’t see how Obama can lose”? Especially since, surreally, he’s counting the stimulus, which the public reviles, and ObamaCare, about which the public is deeply suspicious, as a point in Obama’s favor because they are, after all, major “changes” to American domestic policy. By that standard, even the dumbest, most hated piece of legislation should be treated as an asset to a presidential campaign so long as it’s significant enough to constitute “major change.” If you flip that Key to the GOP, then you’ve got six for the Republicans — enough to take the White House by Lichtman’s own metrics.

All of which assumes, of course, that this will be an ordinary election like the past seven were. Maybe it will; maybe there’s no such thing as an extraordinary election. But the state of the economy is surely extraordinary, poised as it is for a double-dip, and unemployment is extraordinary compared to any other era over the past 75 years. That is to say, we’re assuming that these “Keys” are equally weighted in election after election, no matter the circumstances, when basic awareness of the current political climate suggests the two economic Keys will be weighted way more heavily than any of the others. Can’t wait to see how it plays out. If, heaven forbid, we do end up in another recession and The One wins anyway, then maybe Lichtman really is a genius.”

By the way, not that this discredit’s Lichtman’s theory, but it is worth remembering he ran for Senate in Maryland in 2006 as a Democrat and lost in the primary to Ben Cardin.

The problem isn’t with Lichtman’s criteria, it’s how he interprets current circumstances in that formula. He says there’s no “social unrest” during Obama’s term. (I take it he hasn’t been to any NFL preseason games.) But how certain can he be that we won’t have any if we dip back into recession? How about “social restlessness”? How would he define the flash mobs, or the phenomenon that Walter Russell Mead calls “the American Tinderbox“? Does the violence on our southern border rise or the recent high-profile protests in places like Wisconsin rise to the level of “social unrest”? Or do American cities have to look like London first?

Lichtman declares Obama has had no major foreign-policy failure; I wonder how long circumstances in Afghanistan will permit that interpretation. This isn’t to say our efforts there are doomed, just to recognize that we’re always one tragic helicopter crash away from another high-profile round of public doubt in the importance of a continued U.S. presence there.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama

Obama Campaign: We Fell Behind on Fundraising Last Month


Last month, some folks scoffed when I wrote this:

To match his $750 million from the 2008 cycle, Obama would need to average $107 million for seven quarters. Obviously, it is possible that Obama can make up ground in the next few quarters. But to hit that hyped $1 billion number, Obama would need to raise a bit more than $142 million per quarter. As impressive as the $86 million figure is, it’s well below those markers.

They said that because Obama raised more in his later quarters in the 2008 cycle than he did in the earlier quarters, the same pattern was likely to emerge in the 2012 election cycle, and he would, indeed, make up ground.

Indeed, Obama could. But as I noted, “the first-quarter efforts collect the lowest-hanging fruit, the folks who were most eager to donate and just needed a formal campaign. Almost every campaign has some quarter that raises less than the previous one: The Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign raised less in their third quarter of fundraising than in their second, and less in their fifth than in their fourth. In 2008, Obama raised $59 million in his second quarter and then $21 million in his third quarter. He raised $133 million in his fifth quarter and then $104 million in his sixth quarter. Someone will probably also argue that Obama is doing much better than in the 2008 cycle, because his $86 million in his first quarter this time is way more than the $26 million that he raised in his first quarter last time. This, of course, makes perfect sense if you think the fundraising apparatus and environment of an incumbent president of the United States with a heavy fundraising schedule is on par with a relatively lesser-known long-shot junior senator from Illinois with a funny name.”

I mention all of this because the word is this morning that Obama’s second quarter total… is probably going to be lower:

President Barack Obama’s campaign expects to raise tens of millions of dollars less this summer than it did in the spring because negotiations over the nation’s debt limit forced Obama to cancel several fundraisers.

Obama’s campaign said Wednesday it canceled or postponed 10 fundraisers involving the president, Vice President Joe Biden and White House chief of staff Bill Daley in the past month because of the debt talks, scrubbing events in California, New York and elsewhere.

… “We’re going to raise significantly less in the third quarter than we did in the second quarter,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager. “We will not be able to replace all of these events just because of his busy schedule. We always knew that he had his job and we had to do this around his schedule, and the truth is we just have to deal with canceling a month’s worth of events.”

But let’s face it, the past month of effort has been worth it for the president, because he began July with a 47.3/46.4 split on job approval/disapproval in the RealClearPolitics average and now he’s at a 45/49.3 split. Oh, wait, that’s a steady decrease. No wonder Obama prefers to spend more time doing fundraisers.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Fundraising

The Unofficial Deadline for Declaring a Presidential Bid: November 1


So how late can a Rick Perry*, or Sarah Palin, or “Candidate X” wait before jumping into the race?

If we presume that an aspiring Republican president would want to appear on the ballot, and not be forced to try to run a write-in campaign — a pretty safe bet, no? — then we can look at the deadlines for filing to appear on the primary ballots.

In the Iowa caucus, caucusgoers are given blank sheets of paper on which to write the names of their preferred candidates, so there is no “filing” per se for candidates.

In New Hampshire, the filing deadline to appear on the ballot for the presidential primary is November 21.

In South Carolina, the state GOP informs me that the filing deadline for the Republican presidential primary is November 1.

Nevada is a caucus, and thus there is no formal “filing” of candidates.

Back in 2008, the earliest filing deadlines were in Utah (October 14), Florida (October 31), and Michigan (October 23); you’ll recall the controversy that surrounded Michigan’s and Florida’s early primaries.

Presuming that no Republican wants to concede South Carolina — the winner of the Palmetto State primary has always gone on to win the nomination — then the real deadline for getting into the race is November 1 — a mere 105 days away.

* Perry’s decision is expected within the next few weeks.

UPDATE: Tim Hagle, associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, writes in to clarify: “In your post you note that Iowa caucus-goers are given blank sheets of paper to fill in names.  That’s not quite true.  Whether it’s done by the state party, the county party, or a candidate’s organization there’s usually some type of ballot that lists all the folks that are in the race.  You are correct that there’s no filing deadline of any sort, but to get on such a ballot someone must probably have declared as a presidential candidate.  An undeclared candidate like Palin might get on, but someone officially undeclared is more likely left to write in status.”

Tags: 2012 , Primaries , Rick Perry , Sarah Palin , South Carolina

Gallup: Generic Republican 44%, Obama 39%


KA-POW! The conventional wisdom of Obama’s great advantage in 2012 takes another tough blow:

Forty-four percent of registered voters say they are more likely to vote for “the Republican Party’s candidate” and 39% for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, according to Gallup’s June update. The current five-percentage-point edge for the generic Republican is not a statistically significant lead, and neither side has held a meaningful lead at any point thus far in 2011.

Could this change? Yes, it probably will. Should Republicans feel confident? No, they still have a long, difficult effort ahead. But he is, indeed, quite beatable, and it’s not clear that he or anyone around him recognizes how vulnerable he is. Perhaps they think that the robust economic recovery that they expected in 2009 and 2010 and 2011 is certain to arrive next year.

Also note this poll is of registered voters, not likely voters.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama

Should We Expect Anything Memorable Tonight?


Tonight is the first major Republican debate of the 2012 cycle. (One was held in May, but most of the participants were relative longshots: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum. Tonight all of those, minus Johnson, will return and be joined by Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, and Newt Gingrich.)

Remember the first Republican debate of the 2008 cycle?

… Yeah, I didn’t think so. It was moderated by Chris Matthews and John Harris of Politico at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California on May 3, 2007. You can find the transcript here.

In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing that the entire GOP field agreed to have Matthews moderate their first debate. That was one of my gripes in my wrap-up, found here.

Last time around, there was a near-consensus that Romney was, if not the winner, among the top performers; one other instant poll suggested Rudy Giulani was the other big winner. Of course, once voters started casting ballots in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, etcetera, that early win didn’t really matter much.

Ironically, one of the few semi-memorable lines came from the eventual nominee, John McCain, and it is probably remembered because he reused it several times during the 2008 campaign, pledging to pursue Osama bin Laden to “the gates of Hell.”

Tonight, if any of the competitors is lucky, they will emerge with one memorable line or particularly compelling argument. But otherwise, barring some major implosion, we will not recall much of tonight’s debate in a few months’ time.

Tags: 2012 , Debates , Mitt Romney

Surprise! More Republicans Are ‘Extremely Enthusiastic’ About 2012 Vote.


Easily-overlooked points in the latest CNN poll:

  • The survey finds 26 percent of registered Democrats “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in the 2012 presidential election; 38 percent of registered Republicans describe themselves that way.
  • The survey finds that in a sample of 472 registered Democrats, 18 percent would like to see their party nominate someone besides Barack Obama to run for president in 2012. That number has varied between 16 and 23 percent since March 2010. (Having said that, right after the 1994 midterms, 32 percent of Democrats wanted to nominate someone besides Bill Clinton as their candidate in 1996.)
  • The country remains pretty evenly split in its views of Barack Obama. Asked, “Thinking ahead to the presidential election next November, if Barack Obama is re-elected would that make you feel excited, pleased but not excited, displeased but not angry, or angry?” the survey finds 19 percent would describe themselves as “exited,” 33 percent pleased, 32 percenr displeased and 16 percent angry – which comes out to 52 percent positive response, 48 percent negative response.

Tags: 2012 , Barack Obama , Polling

GOP Contenders Aren’t Late; They’re Reverting to the Traditional Schedule


Over in the Washington Post, Karen Tumulty writes:

Normally, the first debate of the presidential primary season serves as a starting gun. The one that will take place on Thursday night could sound more like a distress call. Consider the contrast with this very week four years ago, when a field of 10 Republican contenders lined up for the first time, onstage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. It included four former governors, two sitting senators, three members of the House and a former New York City mayor who had become something of a national hero for his leadership in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

That says more about the past two cycles’ insanely early, hyperactive campaign atmospheres than about the state of the GOP today. Democrats held their first debate of the 2004 cycle in May 2003. At that time, Democrats who were apoplectically furious about the Iraq war were itching to toss out George W. Bush, and their party’s candidates — from John Kerry to Dennis Kucinich to Carol Moseley Braun to Al Sharpton — were happy to oblige their appetite. There’s little to suggest that the early debates did much to help the party as a whole; they did give Howard Dean a forum to draw distinctions between himself and the Washington Democrats, declaring that he was there to represent the “Democratic wing of the Democratic party.”

Obviously, there are quite a few key Republican figures who will not be on that stage tonight. Mitt Romney is definitely running (or at least “exploring,” as the legal status puts it); Newt is expected to do so; Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are both sitting at Fox News Channel, for now. Mitch Daniels is obviously thinking it over. There’s much speculation that if none of the current candidates catch fire, than an unexpected figure — perhaps Rep. Paul Ryan — may surprise us and jump in.

Recall that the debate sponsored by Politico and NBC News was originally scheduled to occur even earlier than today. Most GOP contenders, wary of fund-raising challenges and wearing out their welcome, feel no need to begin their campaigns on the media’s timetable. Traditionally, the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in August was the first major event of the cycle (and even that has been about 50-50 in accurately predicting the ultimate winner of the Iowa caucuses). In the 2000 cycle, the first GOP debate was held in late October, and even then George W. Bush did not participate. Like tonight’s debate, that first one in 1999 mixed the semi-competitive and the longshots: Sen. John McCain, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, and  Alan Keyes.

Tags: 2012 , Debates

Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty, Thursday Night’s Most Popular Guys


The most common knock on former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty’s presidential aspirations is that he has low name ID.

Thursday night, at the first Republican presidential debate of the 2012 cycle, sponsored by the South Carolina GOP and Fox News, he’ll be the second-most-supported candidate on the stage. (On-stage frontrunner? Ron Paul!) The event features only five candidates: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Paul,  Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.

A poll out today:

When Republicans and independent voters leaning Republican name their 2012 presidential primary preference, Romney gets 18 percent, with Huckabee and Palin at 15 percent each and Trump at 12 percent. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul have 5 percent each. Two Minnesotans, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman, get 4 percent each.

Johnson and Santorum scored 1 percent each; the pollsters of Quinnipiac did not list Cain as an option.

Tags: 2012 , Tim Pawlenty


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