Entries Tagged as '2012 election'

Why 2012 is the Republicans’ to Lose

August 4th, 2011 at 2:38 pm 23 Comments

As we get closer to 2012, there is one chart that pundits and columnists need to constantly refer back to in their writing – a scatterplot that shows how changes in real disposable income correlate with the success of the incumbent party in presidential elections:

(Courtesy of Seth Masket)

The general trend is clear: parties which oversee increases in personal disposable income generally do better in elections than parties which do not.

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Obama: Already a Lame Duck?

August 4th, 2011 at 2:08 pm 37 Comments

Politico has a piece discussing the “big drags” on the Obama re-elect effort. Nothing too surprising: there is the lack of economic growth and the bad political map. The usual suspects. What caught my eye was this:

A top Democratic strategist who is close to the White House said that Obama’s first-term record “is going to be, on balance, probably a liability” for his reelection, partly “because of the failure to sell and explain the things that they were doing.”

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Obama’s New Talking Point

David Frum August 3rd, 2011 at 8:38 am 20 Comments

The debt deal raises additional hurdles for Republican presidential candidates, argues Ed Kilgore in The New Republic.

The big debt limit vote in Congress, it is increasingly obvious, is just an appetizer for the divisive, voter-alienating struggles it has built into the schedule at key points during the 2012 presidential campaign, making an eventual GOP presidential nominee’s efforts to “pivot to the center” an athletic feat, at best. And as Tea Party activists and other conservatives have made clear in their reactions to the deal just signed, their efforts to force everyone in the GOP to join in future hostage-taking exercises aimed at middle-class entitlements and other targets beloved of voters have just begun.

Kilgore may overstate the case here. Click here to read more

Are Conservatives Ignoring Bachmann’s History?

August 3rd, 2011 at 12:28 am 166 Comments

Part of the reason FrumForum has inaugurated a Joan of Bachmann watch is because the conservative movement seems to have some large blind spots in how it views potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Conservatives see her as combining Tea Party financial austerity with social conservative credentials. But if Bachmann does well in the primary and scores a spot on the GOP ticket, it’s likely that the rest of the country will see a politician who will be known for holding radical views.

Consider how National Review described Bachmann’s past in their recent cover story about her. Click here to read more

A Deal Nobody Loves

August 2nd, 2011 at 2:11 pm 19 Comments

The epic battle over the debt ceiling is, thankfully, over. It will be fought again, with clearer parameters and a somewhat more certain outcome, later in the year. Few, if any, are happy with what Congress and the President have agreed upon. That is often the nature of a negotiated compromise; in this case it is also negative testimony to the way the bargaining played out over the past several weeks.

Neither political party nor branch of government came out of the recently concluded process with its stature enhanced. And that is unfortunate, not just for the individuals involved, but also for our civic institutions.

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Why the GOP Turned its Back on Defense

August 2nd, 2011 at 1:17 pm 18 Comments

One important consequence of the recent debt deal is the way it has highlighted a growing divide within the Republican Party between budget-cutters and defense hawks. Eli Lake’s recent piece in The New Republic offers a comprehensive look at how the shift in the GOP foreign policy debate is playing out in the party’s presidential race.

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Republican Fundraising: It’s Worse Than it Looks

July 13th, 2011 at 8:56 am 11 Comments

Many of those engaged in conservative happy talk about the huge fundraising gap between President Obama’s haul ($86 million) and that of all Republican candidates combined (about $35 million) suggest that the Republican haul should also include the $18 million or so that the Republican National Committee presumably has in the bank. (The RNC’s June fundraising numbers aren’t yet available but it had $12 million at the end of May and has been bringing in roughly $6 million a month.)

The RNC’s haul should, indeed, “count” but the $35 million or so shouldn’t. In fact, every penny raised by the individual campaigns to date will be dissipated attacking other Republicans in the primaries while Obama will be able to save his entire $88 million to attack the Republican nominee. Incumbents who have lost elections since World War II have always had credible primary challengers who caused them to spend money in much the same as the out-of-power parties’ candidates did. Obama won’t have anything like this.

While money alone doesn’t win elections–Michael Dukakis’ 1988 campaign invented “soft money” and thereby gained a slight fundraising edge over George H.W. Bush–it’s obviously a huge help for candidates who lack the bully pulpit of the White House.  And Republicans are going to need more of it to win in 2012.

Obama is His Own Worst Enemy

David Frum June 28th, 2011 at 9:30 am 71 Comments

David Brooks wrote a perceptive column today about the deficiencies in President Obama’s leadership style.

He can expect a barrage of negative comment from conservatives who will reject Brooks’ criticisms as insufficiently spicy.

As president, Obama has proved to be a very good Senate majority leader — convening committees to do the work and intervening at the end.

All his life, Obama has worked in nonhierarchical institutions — community groups, universities, legislatures — so maybe it is natural that he has a nonhierarchical style. He tends to see issues from several vantage points at once, so maybe it is natural that he favors a process that involves negotiating and fudging between different points of view.

Still, I would never have predicted he would be this sort of leader. I thought he would get into trouble via excessive self-confidence. Obama’s actual governing style emphasizes delegation and occasional passivity. Being led by Barack Obama is like being trumpeted into battle by Miles Davis. He makes you want to sit down and discern.

Brooks says Obama is too passive and withdrawn? That’s it? What about the threat to the Constitutional republic? What about deliberately wrecking the US economy so as to impose a secular socialist regime upon the ruins?

Yet Brooks has laid out the most useful and effective critique of Barack Obama for Republicans in 2012: The job has overwhelmed the man. He’s not an alien, he’s not a radical. He’s just not the person the country needs. He’s not tough enough, he’s not imaginative enough, and he’s not determined enough.

In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, the president ran out of ideas sometime back in 2009.

In the face of opposition, Obama goes passive. The mean Republicans refused votes on his Federal Reserve nominees and Obama … did nothing. Would Ronald Reagan have done nothing? FDR? Lyndon Johnson?

With unemployment at 10% and interest rates at 1%, the president got persuaded that it was debt and interest that trumped growth and jobs as Public Issue #1.

Yet even as he yields to his opponents on the fundamental question, Obama is surprisingly rigid in his political tactics. Back in 2008, Obama made two big promises: a tax cut for everybody earning less than $250,000 and an Afghan surge. I think it’s safe to say that Obama believed in neither of them. I’d argue that neither was important to electing him. Both were adopted for defensive reasons, to shield himself from conservative critique. In the very different circumstances of 2009, both promises rapidly showed themselves to be counter-productive. The “tax cut” promise caused Obama to direct almost one-third of his big stimulus into an individual tax rebate that no economist would have regarded as effective, for reasons explained by Milton Friedman more than 40 years ago. The Afghan surge promise was regretted by Obama himself as soon as he came into office, and he spent 9 months looking for ways to evade it. He proceeded with both, leading to the two biggest problems of his presidency: a stimulus that added hugely to the national debt while under-delivering on jobs and an expanded Afghanistan war that must end in a reversion to the same disappointing status quo that prevailed before the Afghan surge. Obama probably anticipated both results. And yet he staggered forward anyway. As ready as Obama is to surrender to uncongenial political pressures, he is strangely inattentive to negative real-world results.

Message for Republicans: you don’t have to hate Obama to be disappointed in him. In fact hating him probably blinds you to the most important ways in which Americans have been disappointed.

Listen to Brooks, he shows the way forward.

Endorsements Draw Attention, Not Votes

June 26th, 2011 at 1:12 am 21 Comments

GOP 2012 candidates are nabbing some celebrity support this election season — though adding such star power to campaigns usually wins presidential hopefuls more in the way of headlines and contributions than votes.

A 2007 Pew Research Center for the People & the Press study found that “political endorsements generally have little impact on voter preference.” In the specific case of Oprah Winfrey supporting Barack Obama for President, 69 percent  of Americans said that her endorsement would not influence their vote.  And, even among the 30 percent who indicated that her endorsement would effect their vote, half of them said it would make them less likely to vote for her candidate.

A 2010 North Carolina State University study corroborated this finding. Michael Cobb, associate professor of political science at North Carolina State, said that “by exposing young people to a celebrity endorsement, they liked the candidate less and were less likely to vote for him.”

That being said, having deep-pocketed and recognizable celebrities backing a campaign certainly helps with fundraising and rally attendance.

In a surprise move, supermodel Cindy Crawford flip-flopped on her 2008 support for Barack Obama and is now backing former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  Crawford appeared in a fundraising video for Romney — and the Romney for President Exploratory Committee then raised $10.25 million within a day of its release.  While it would be a stretch to attribute a causal relationship between Crawford’s endorsement and the skyrocketing Romney contributions, her appearance certainly didn’t hurt.  Eric Fehrnstrom, a spokesman for Romney, publically advertised Crawford’s support of the campaign through his Twitter account.

Romney is not the only candidate receiving celebrity support. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman gained the backing of Hollywood producer Craig Haffner, a Tony award nominee and Emmy award winner.

“I think [Huntsman] is going to be a candidate people [in the entertainment industry] are going to be interested in,” said Haffner. More significant than the producer’s support in and of itself is the fact that Haffner has already begun arranging California meetings and fundraisers for potential Huntsman Hollywood backers. Huntsman’s first Los Angeles fundraiser will be on Monday, June 27 where he will solicit large contributions that will give the donors special VIP perks at campaign events.

Rep. Michele Bachmann has gained the support of actor Kelsey Grammer, with the former Frasier star contributing a video message to her “Troopathon” fundraiser on Thursday.

Chuck Norris, who famously supported former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee last election season, has thrown his hat in the ring for Rep. Ron Paul.

Norris was influential in garnering support for Huckabee at the outset of his White House bid.  The Los Angeles Times reported that Norris was “a factor in Huckabee’s popularity surge” and said in 2007, “A month ago, few even knew that Huckabee was a former governor of Arkansas, let alone a Republican candidate for president. Then karate-movie tough guy Norris … announced he was in Huckabee’s camp… Suddenly, Huckabee became the presidential example of tough-guy cool.” However, it is unclear how much his support will help the divisive Paul’s campaign this year.

So far Governor Tim Pawlenty and the other GOP candidates seem to be lagging behind in celebrity endorsements, though the pool of Hollywood Republicans is famously small to begin with.

While Hollywood endorsements may not help politically advance the candidates, having a recognizable celebrity in your corner boosts fundraising efforts.  And, in the case of Romney, having a famous supermodel like Crawford on your team will definitely attract attention if not actual votes.

Can Huntsman Strike Gold With Young Voters?

June 21st, 2011 at 12:20 am 57 Comments

Tomorrow I’ll be getting on a bus in D.C. and heading to Liberty State Park to observe Jon Huntsman’s announcement of his Presidential campaign. I’ll be traveling with a bunch of other excited young Huntsman supporters:  I’m 21-years old, a rising senior at the University of Georgia, and I feel that I speak for many in my demographic when I say we want to see a smart, open-minded candidate for President.  After months of anticipation, we’ll finally get to see what Team Huntsman is all about — and there’s a great deal to be seen.

The first thing that might appeal to many young voters is the oomph! in Huntsman’s background.  He dropped out of high school to play in a rock band called Wizard and in 2005 joined REO Speedwagon in a concert to play piano.  His favorite hobby is motocross. And while he looks very Presidential, he comes off just as “cool” as Obama.  This latter bit probably isn’t the best resume-builder in the professional realm, but it’s important in appealing to the youth-vote.

When most people my age hear about the unemployment rate hovering at around 10 percent, we wonder how we’ll fare with our new college degrees.  While many adults deal with this more harshly than we do, I’ve spent almost my entire life being educated so that I could get a decent job after college.  The economy is at the top of the ticket for people like me.  Then we hear about how Utah has one of the lowest unemployment figures in the country, and that the state’s economy has grown by about 3.5 percent over the last five years.  Huntsman was the governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, and he is greatly credited with its economic successes.  He even has a reputation for having close business contacts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Wal-Mart.  This is exactly the kind of candidate I’ve been waiting for since the Great Recession began.

Not only this, but he brings a slightly different breed of experience to the table than the other candidates. Many other candidates are former governors or legislators, but Huntsman has been an ambassador in the Far East twice — once to Singapore and most recently to China (not to mention he speaks Mandarin and Hoklo fluently).  And considering China will most likely have the largest economy in the world soon, this is invaluable experience.  I get tired of hearing the same names and resumes on the stump, and Huntsman brings something new and inspiring to the race.

In my eyes, he is more electable than any of the others.  People like Cain and Bachmann have trouble connecting with the values of young voters; Huntsman strikes a much more moderate tone with social issues.  In the past he has done a great deal for civil unions in Utah, and while I may be ambivalent on the subject, so many of my age are not.  He has even supported environmentally friendly policies in Utah without burdening the state economy.  Many young Republicans are splitting with their older contemporaries on these very issues, and I think Huntsman’s support for them will grab independent swing votes.

Huntsman is something new, fresh, and exciting for people like me.  His contrast with the other candidates makes him all the more attractive to voters who have yet to be enthused with the current field.  I assume after tomorrow’s announcement he will begin an aggressive primary campaign in New Hampshire that could possibly be a major upset.