Archive for the ‘Election 2012’ Category

Richard Mourdock Well Within GOP Mainstream

Indiana’s Republican Senate candidate, Richard Mourdock, once again stirred up a controversy over his remarks regarding rape. “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And, I think, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happened,” Mourdock said in a debate with Democrat Joe Donnelly on Tuesday. Donnelly was quick to respond that he does not believe “my God, or any God, would intend that to happen.”

Mourdock isn’t the only GOP Senate candidate with a forced-birth policy for rape victims. They closely mirror comments two months ago by Republican Senate hopeful Todd Akin of Missouri, who is also a Tea Party supporter, when he famously said that rape victims do not get pregnant. “Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child,” Akin said at the time.

Mourdock should not be considered an extremist within the modern GOP. He represents the party’s mainstream thought on social issues (which happen to be radically different from the rest of America). Mitt Romney cut an ad for Mourdock just yesterday — the only Senate candidate in the country to personally feature Romney. Even after the comments surfaced Romney stood by his endorsement of Mourdock. Romney’s own VP nominee, Paul Ryan, does not support abortion in any circumstances including rape or incest. Instead they would rather return to the times of back alley coat hanger procedures. This is what you get when you knock off respected middle-of-the-road conservatives like Dick Lugar for fire-breathing right-wing ideologues like Richard Mourdock. The GOP must now reap what they sowed.

Thoughts Before Tonight’s Debate

Tonight’s presidential debate will focus on foreign policy. I remember in 2004 the Bush campaign ran on the premise that he “kept us safe” despite 9/11 taking place under his leadership. Fast forward eight years and President Obama is running for re-election with Republicans saying that his foreign policy has “failed” despite having killed Osama bin Laden, restoring respect among our European allies and preventing any major terrorist attacks on American soil — not to mention the fact that he got all of America’s soldiers out of Iraq. Obama’s foreign policy record is perhaps his strongest argument for re-election. Romney has a tough task to prove otherwise.

Obama Overwhelming Favorite Among Registered Voters

It goes without saying that having an engaged base of supporters will help your electoral chances. An analysis by statistician Nate Silver finds that Obama would have a 91% chance of winning in November among registered voters. He is still a 68% favorite among likely voters thanks to consistent leads at both the national and state levels. It seems to me that the hundreds of millions that will be spent on television attack ads is misplaced. With very few voters undecided – some polls have them numbered as few as 2 or 3 percent – focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts is more critical at this time than expensive campaign ads.

Barack Obama Pauses in Line

Elizabeth Warren Makes Case for Middle Class Comeback

Overshadowed last night by President Bill Clinton was consumer advocate and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. She spoke about the struggles of the middle class, the need for stronger consumer protections, and the urgency for investments in education, transportation and science. Warren is a very well-spoken, common sense Democrat. We need her in the Senate! Watch the speech below:

Bill Clinton Lights the DNC on Fire

President Bill Clinton gave a well-received speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina that will probably go down as one of the best speeches of a former president at a national convention. The speech went a bit long at around an hour in length – certainly no one ever accused President Clinton of being succinct – but he gave an impassioned defense of President Obama, a critique of the Republican misinformation machine, and the case for four more years.

Photo by Robyn Beck of AFP

While Michelle Obama’s job last night was to reach female voters, President Clinton was tasked with shoring up undecided and apathetic working class white voters. Perhaps he more than any politician in either party has credibility on economic issues. The 1990s saw the largest economic expansion in American history. That made his job all the more important to remind voters that four years ago when President Bush was in office the economy was bleeding nearly a million jobs a month. This year it has been adding around 150,000 jobs a month on average. Private sector job growth over the past two years alone has been robust at over 4.5 million.

His job wasn’t only to defend President Obama’s record on the economy. It was also to argue that Mitt Romney’s economic plan is just a rehash of the same trickle down economics that got the country into the Great Recession in the first place. He then mocked the fact that the Republicans are proposing $4 trillion in tax cuts in their plan to cut the deficit. As President Clinton pointed out, it goes against the laws of arithmetic. You would either have to cut spending to the bone, putting at risk everything from national defense to Medicare, or you would simply just explode the deficit.

Then President Clinton ripped into Republican claims that President Obama stole from Medicare. As the former president pointed out, Paul Ryan’s own budget would keep the cuts in waste, fraud and abuse that Obama signed into law. But by repealing Obamacare in its entirety, as Romney and Ryan have proposed, they would undo the savings and extended life of Medicare, as well as the thousands of dollars in savings that seniors now enjoy thanks to the closing of the donut hole for prescription drugs.

The only negative – if you want to call it that – of Michelle Obama and President Clinton’s speeches are that it will be tough for President Obama to upstage either of them. Both the First Lady and former president put on dazzling performances that will rally the Democratic base and persuade moderate voters to choose the Democratic Party over the extremist positions of the Republican Party. If President Obama can manage to do just that, you might as well book your tickets for the inauguration.

Goode Makes Virginia Presidential Ballot

Former Republican Congressman Virgil Goode has made the presidential ballot in Virginia. While third party candidates rarely win much support, this could be a game-changer in Virginia and nationwide. Goode is a very conservative former six term Congressman from the equally conservative southwestern part of the state. In many ways there are two Virginias: the conservative old South and the progressive D.C. suburbs. The latter enabled President Obama to win the state in 2008 for the first time since 1964.

Virgil Goode

Goode has the name recognition to peal away several points from Romney, who is already trailing in the Old Dominion. Conservatives who hate President Obama but are unhappy with Mitt Romney as their nominee will have another choice in Virginia. It’s hard to see how Romney reaches 50% +1 with Goode and Libertarian Gary Johnson (also a former Republican) on the ballot. President Obama is already ahead in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. Virginia would put him over the top even with losses in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Ohio (all states where he is leading or tied).

Of course this is not a done deal. Even though the State Board of Elections has ruled in Goode’s favor, Republicans in Virginia are crying petition fraud. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is hoping to be the next governor of Virginia, will try to pluck Goode’s name from the ballot. Goode called the charges “absurd” in an interview. “I have to wonder about their motives in doing something like this. It sounds like they don’t want any view other than theirs out there.”

Michelle Obama, Julian Castro Impress

I was impressed with tonight’s speakers at the Democratic National Convention. Julian Castro spoke of the need to build opportunity through investments in education. The mayor of San Antonio was not very widely known before his announcement as the keynote speaker, but tomorrow morning he will be a household name. He told the story of his grandmother immigrating from Mexico to the United States and working to make sure that her daughter made it through college. Focusing on education is smart strategy considering the Republicans in Congress opposed President Obama’s successful efforts to end subsidized student loans for banks and putting the savings towards Pell grants. Mayor Castro has a bright future in the Democratic Party if Texas trends blue as is expected over the next decade in a similar way as California and Nevada.

Michelle Obama reminded Americans why they voted for her husband four years ago. She spoke from the heart about how she and the president both grew up from humble roots and understand what it is like to barely survive. “Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are — no, it reveals who you are,” the First Lady said.

Unmentioned in the speech, but definitely implied, was that Mitt Romney grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. While this in itself is not a problem – great presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy had immense wealth – Romney doesn’t see a problem with himself having a lower tax rate than someone working a minimum wage job. In fact, the Ryan budget that Romney supports would eliminate the capital gains tax, which is where most of Romney’s income comes from.

Overall, it was a much more positive portrait of America than the doom and gloom that we saw last week from the GOP. Tomorrow we will hear from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin, 2004 Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry, and the big kahuna of the night, former President Bill Clinton. President Obama and Vice President Biden will also be officially nominated tomorrow night. Thursday Vice President Biden will speak followed by President Obama’s acceptance speech.

Ann Romney Speaks at RNC

Ann Romney did about as good of a job as the campaign could ask of her. The mission was to humanize Mitt Romney — a seemingly impossible task. While I think her warmness went over well with the crowd and audience at home, it is a stark contrast to the candidate himself who comes off as cold, remote and calculating. She might have succeeded at getting independent women to give Mitt a second look, but that’s about it. He’s going to have to do it on his own on Thursday night if he wants a chance in November. People won’t vote for someone that they don’t like.

Getting to know them

Study Finds Voter Fraud Virtually Non-Existent

An exhaustive study of all fifty states by investigative reporters has found only ten cases of voter impersonation dating back all the way to 2000. The rate of in-person voter fraud was so miniscule that it would only occur for 1 in every 15 million voters. Statistically you have a much better chance of being killed by lightning (54 people die per year from lightning strikes in the U.S. on average). Your chances of dying in a car crash are about 1 in 100 over a lifetime.

“Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American elections,” said elections expert David Schultz, who is a professor of public policy at Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn. “There is absolutely no evidence… [that voter impersonation fraud] has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least any recent election in the United States.”

Of the cases that were reported nearly half of them resulted in a acquittals, dropped charges or decisions not to bring charges. Most of the fraud that does occur is done by mail. Voter ID laws would not affect these cases. 37 states have passed or considered legislation that would require a photo ID in order to vote. An estimated one in ten voters do not have the necessary ID to vote. Among those groups most likely to not have ID are college students, racial minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Voter ID

Pew Poll Has Obama 51-41 Over Romney

The latest Pew poll has President Obama up ten points over Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Coming after a string of bad weeks involving Romney’s taxes and an embarrassing trip to England where he insulted their preparedness for the Olympics, one might expect a bounce for the president. However, Democrats shouldn’t get too excited over Pew’s latest poll. The first thing a Political Science professor would tell you is to look at the internal numbers. This poll gave Democrats a registration advantage of 19 points, a huge oversampling. On the bright side for the Dems, President Obama does enjoy an average 2.7 point lead nationally and an even more comfortable lead in the Electoral College where the election will actually be decided.