Patterico's Pontifications

12/28/2011

The Most Ironic Iowa Caucuses Ever?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:42 am

[Posted by Karl]

Ron Paul continues to lead PPP’s polling for the GOP caucuses in the Hawkeye State:

The last week and a half has brought little change in the standings for the Iowa Republican caucus: Ron Paul continues to lead Mitt Romney by a modest margin, 24-20. Newt Gingrich is in 3rd at 13% followed by Michele Bachmann at 11%, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at 10%, Jon Huntsman at 4%, and Buddy Roemer at 2%.

Some continue to dismiss PPP’s polling because Paul’s support comes from young voters, independents and Democrats — the same pattern emerging in New Hampshire and South Carolina.  However, last time around, the conventional wisdom was that John Edwards would win among Dems in Iowa because his voters were most likely to turn out.  PPP’s Tom Jensen theorizes that the same blocs that lifted Obama in 2008 could do the same for Paul next week.  I would take the PPP results with a grain of salt, but given Paul’s apparent organizational advantage, I would not summarily dismiss them (nor would I be surprised if one or more conservatives overachieved).

A Paul victory in Iowa would be ironic in both the short and long term.  In the short-term, as Allahpundit keeps noting, a vote for Paul in Iowa is a vote to nominate Romney, supporter of the (state) health insurance mandate and neocon foreign policy. 

That short-term irony is the product of the long-term irony.  A Paul victory would only intensify the media scrutiny of Paul, longtime publisher of racist, anti-gay, conspiracy-mongering newsletters, in furtherance of an express political strategy, from which he made a lot of money, and for which Paul has given contradictory defenses.  (On cue, the NYT editorial arrives this morning.)  All of which comes before scrutiny of his fundraising from Holocaust deniers, his longtime association with the John Birch Society and neo-Confederates, his pandering to 9/11 Truthers, and so on.  Paul’s media apologists, which now include (to varying degrees) Reason’s Nick Gillespie, Brian Doherty and Jacob Sullum, can make all the lame rationalizations and claims of moral equivalence they like, but it’s all one long exercise in denial.  The stench of Paul’s newsletters would cling to his campaign and to libertarianism (and the GOP, if Paul was nominated) every bit as much as the stench of segregationists and Birchers clung to the Goldwater campaign, with effects that still linger today.

A certain strain of libertarians is so detached from political reality that they apparently believe they would profit by running the one Congressman who voted to not celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act against the first black president.  The reality-based Right would probably prefer to focus on Obama’s policy failures.  Ron Paul’s fans seem to prefer to indirectly boost Romney while damaging the cause of libertarianism for another generation.

–Karl

12/27/2011

Perry Sues to Get on the Virginia Ballot

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:33 pm

Allahpundit says the law might possibly support his position. But I’m still unimpressed. The requirements were clear. They were not met, by Perry or Newtie.

If you can’t manage the organizational wherewithal to get on the ballot in all states . . . doesn’t that potentially say something about the kind of president you might be?

I will add that, while Perry has been my candidate (to the extent I have one), and while I don’t typically begrudge someone their ability to take advantage of their pension rules, I still find something grating about his double-dipping. Namely: my mom is 73. She is a teacher. When she finally retires (which she may not do until she is 75), she will be forced to surrender her Social Security in order to collect her teacher’s pension. Which is part of the reason she is working until the age of 74 or 75.

It is my admittedly unresearched understanding that this is a state rule. If so, isn’t there something a bit off about a state that allows its governor to double-dip at the age of 61, while my 73-year-old teacher mom can’t “double-dip” by collecting the Social Security and teacher pension benefits that she has earned?

UPDATE: Reader H.H. writes to say the rule against my mom’s collecting Social Security when she retires is a federal rule.

Is Romney’s electability a myth?

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:17 am

[Posted by Karl]

John Hawkins of Right Wing News thinks so, but most of his arguments are unpersuasive.  He asks:

Doesn’t it say something that GOP primary voters have, at one time or another, preferred Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and now even Ron Paul (In Iowa) to Mitt Romney?

It does.  On the other hand, doesn’t this say something?

Newt Gingrich (62%) and Mitt Romney (54%) are the only two candidates Republicans say would be acceptable presidential nominees from their party, emphasizing the degree to which the GOP race has narrowed down to these two men at this juncture. A majority of Republicans say each of the other six candidates measured would not be acceptable nominees.

Indeed, with Newt coming under increased scrutiny, those numbers might favor Romney today.  Doesn’t it say something that a plurality sees Romney as the candidate most likely to beat Obama, or that head-to-head polls consistently show Romney faring better against Obama than his rivals?

Hawkins then discusses Romney’s moderate image:

To some people, this is a plus. They think that if conservatives don’t like Mitt Romney, that means moderates will like him. This misunderstands how the process of attracting independent voters works in a presidential race. While it’s true the swayable moderates don’t want to support a candidate they view as an extremist, they also don’t just automatically gravitate towards the most “moderate” candidate. To the contrary, independent voters tend to be moved by the excitement of the candidate’s base (See John McCain vs. Barack Obama for an example of how this works). This is how a very conservative candidate like Ronald Reagan could win landslide victories. He avoided being labeled an extremist as Goldwater was, yet his supporters were incredibly enthusiastic and moderates responded to it.

I do not know where Hawkins got any of this.  In the first instance, Romney appeals less to moderates than you may think.  Hawkins likely exaggerates the impact of ideology on voter choices, ignoring the fundamentals.  Reagan won in 1980 in large part because the economy was terrible.  Had the GOP nominated George H. W. Bush instead, Anderson likely would not have run as an independent and Bush would likely have garnered more votes than Reagan.  That doesn’t mean the GOP should have nominated Poppy Bush; far from it.  But Reagan could run against a lousy economy, while Goldwater was running against Johnson in a booming economy.  Pure independents are the most likely to vote on the state of the economy; the argument that enthusiasm affects election outcomes is not supported much by the data.

Hawkins notes Romney is a proven political loser.  He doesn’t add “in Massachusetts.”  Not too many Republicans win in Massachusetts.  Romney did and ended unpopular, suggesting he was too conservative for the land of Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank.  But being Mitt means getting to be a double-loser to Hawkins: insufficiently conservative and not good at winning statewide in a liberal state.  Hawkins makes a related argument that Romney will be hammered for his tenure at Bain Capital.  I have no doubt Democrats will make those attacks, but they likely play stronger in places like Massachusetts than elsewhere (how they play in states like PA and OH is a valid point).  Presumably, if Romney is the nominee, he will point out that some Bain acquisitions grew (e.g., Domino’s Pizza), while others were downsized, and then launch into a spiel about rightsizing bloated government bureaucracies, something Obama has manifestly failed to do.

Hawkins claims Romney will run poorly in Southern states, but then delves into GOP primary numbers, which is not the same as electability in the general.  Currently, Romney runs as well as or better than Gingrich against Obama in swing states, including those mentioned by Hawkins.

Hawkins maintains Romney will lose his advantages in fundraising, organization and establishment support in a general election.  That’s largely true, but not an argument that a NotRomney who has been unable to match Romney in these areas is thus a better choice in terms of electability.  Hawkins also claims Romney has been avoiding serious scrutiny, which is inaccurate.

Hawkins notes “the Mormon factor” and cites a poll suggesting it’s a problem.  He does not cite the Pew poll suggesting it’s a bigger problem for Romney in the primaries and not so much in a general election.  Indeed, the poll Hawkins cites makes clear that Mormonism is a problem for Democrats.

Finally, Hawkins notes Romney is a flip-flopper, asking “Is it just me or didn’t George Bush beat John Kerry’s brains in with the “flip flopper” charge back in 2004?”  It’s not just Hawkins who thinks that, but again, the data doesn’t really support that theory.  As Jay Cost notes, Kerry did a better job at peeling away voters from the “other” side than Bush did.

In sum, there is not a “plethora of evidence” that Romney’s electability is a myth.  That does not mean that Romney must be the nominee.  Indeed, as noted earlier, the challenger’s ideology matters maybe a percent or two — important in a close election, but most things are important in a close election.  Romney is not my ideal candidate, but none of the candidates is my ideal candidate.  At the moment, to paraphrase Philip Klein (on Twitter), Romney is the only candidate showing up to the job interview wearing a suit.  With Gingrich sliding, conservatives have to hope some NotRomney can up his or her game soon.

–Karl

12/26/2011

Obama/Holder DoJ Blinds Itself to Voter Fraud Concerns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:20 am

A couple of things happened recently that deserve to be noticed in the same place. First, some Democrats pled guilty to felonies involving voter fraud — just another example of an increasing number of similar cases around the country.

A total of four Democratic officials and political operatives have now pleaded guilty to voter fraud-related felony charges in an alleged scheme to steal a New York election. 
The latest guilty pleas expose the ease with which political insiders can apparently manipulate the electoral system and throw an election their way, by the forging of signatures of unsuspecting voters that are then cast as real votes.

. . . .

Former Troy Democratic City Clerk William McInerney, Democratic Councilman John Brown, and Democratic political operatives Anthony Renna and Anthony DeFiglio have entered guilty pleas in the case, in which numerous signatures were allegedly forged on absentee ballots in the 2009 Working Families Party primary, the political party that was associated with the now-defunct community group, ACORN. 

Funny how ACORN always seems to come up whenever we hear about voter fraud.

One way you might combat phony registrations like the kind described above would be to demand voters present proper identification at the time of registration and/or voting. And guess what? The Obama administration is invalidating a voter ID law in South Carolina, a move which seems to signal that DoJ will nix a similar effort in Texas. And Eric Holder seems to think the only reason to demand voter IDs is to keep minorities from voting:

At a high-profile speech in Austin earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder echoed Democratic critics in arguing that in-person voter fraud is not a common problem and that photo identification measures may do nothing but suppress turnout of minority and low-income voters.

I guess if you’re not looking hard for voter fraud, you’re not going to see it. But in the story about the Democrats pleading guilty to voter fraud — interestingly, in a case investigated and prosecuted by state officials and not Holder’s DoJ — we are told that a Democrat operative believes such devious practices are a “commonplace and accepted practice.” (On both sides of the aisle, he claims, though no evidence is offered to support this claim.) Granted, the fraud in that instance was absentee ballot fraud and not in-person fraud — but that’s just a reason to tighten controls on absentee voting, not to shrug our shoulders at potential in-person voting fraud.

In addition, forging signatures on absentee ballots is only one source of potential fraud . . .

(more…)

The Not-So-Golden Age of Political Reporting

Filed under: 2012 Election,General — Karl @ 8:19 am

[Posted by Karl]

Jack Shafer, while noting the proliferation of political websites, nevertheless hails the arrival of OTUS, which aggregates political coverage from ABC News:

As [Jake] Tapper says in this promo, OTUS (short for of the United States as in, POTUS, president of the United States, or SCOTUS, supreme court of the United States) is all about the “power moves, the mini-dramas, the scheming” in politics. Tapper promises that OTUS will flag both the “urgent and the ridiculous,” offer games, display correspondents’ Twitter feeds, and create a stock market-style ticker that assesses the rising and falling worth of candidates with social media.

***

Not to oversell the current scene, but the proliferation of political news sites—and my apologies to those I didn’t name—means we’re living in a bit of a golden age of political reporting. At least when it comes to national politics and national government, there have never been more reporters competing to break news. Not everything on the menu tastes great, but there’s no denying it’s a feast.

Ironically, when elections are not the hot story, journos and media critics tend to deride horse race journalism on a number of fronts. It perpetuates the illusion of neutral journalism, the illusion that an insider perspective matters, and so on.  But the one I would focus on is this:

[T]here’s a good argument that general elections—in particular, general presidential elections—are driven primarily by “the fundamentals,” especially the state of the economy, and that most of what happens in campaigns (the gaffes, the messaging strategies, etc.) doesn’t amount to much.

That said, such coverage may matter more in primaries, but in general elections, campaign strategies and tactics tend to matter only where there are extreme disparities in resources — ironically, campaigns where strategies and tactics are least likely to matter.

Establishment political journalism — and most of the blogosphere, for that matter — will continue to ignore this, and for good reason.  The public likes drama, which is why most journalism is based around narratives of conflict.  The audience for political journalism is generally predisposed to treat campaigns as a spectator sport. 

However, the world of sports media offers a nice example to draw upon.  One of the biggest stories in sports media over the past month has been the saga of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.  His charisma and outspoken religious beliefs polarize audiences and incense left-leaning, establishment sports media pundits.  Indeed, they were all the more incensed as Tebow racked up a string of unlikely, last-minute victories.  Conversely, those among the Cult of Tebow gloated over those who doubted his lack of talent would be overcome by divine favor.  That the Broncos’ winning streak was due primarily to the team’s defense was mentioned far less often.  Fixating on Tebow draws an audience, but mostly fails at informing that audience.

Today’s political journalism still suffers from these same flaws, even though the subject is ostensibly more important than pigskin scores.  OTUS could just as easily have been named MOTSIOP — More of the Same in One Place.  A Golden Age? Only if you value quantity over quality.

–Karl

12/25/2011

Merry Christmas

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:35 am

Enjoy the day.

Plan to blog about voter fraud tomorrow. Today is for celebration.

UPDATE: I can’t embed this from a phone, but here is some Christmas cheer for you, Stanley Kubrick style.

12/24/2011

Merry Christmas Eve

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 pm

I don’t figure people are reading blogs much, any more than I am writing them. But I hope everyone’s day is going well.

12/23/2011

Perry off VA primary ballot; GOP Clown Car wreck (Update: Newt’s off)

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 3:41 pm

[Posted by Karl]

In the lexicon of Rick Perry, “Oops!”

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, but a Virginia Republican familiar with the situation said that the Texas governor did not submit the required 10,000.

***

They have not examined Gingrich’s signatures yet, but expected to do so by late Friday night.

Candidates had until 5 p.m. to collect 10,000 signatures from across the state, including 400 from each congressional district.

Things may not be looking much better for Newt, who submitted only 11,050 signatures.  Bachmann, Huntsman, and Santorum failed to submit any signatures, potentially leaving this as a Mitt Romney vs Ron Paul matchup.  Do we all get to point and laugh at those who claim organization doesn’t matter any more?  The practical effect, as GOP fundraiser/consultant Nathan Wurtzel notes, is that the Virginia primary will drop in relevance relative to other contests that day, which will not help GOP efforts to win this swing state in the general election.

Update: The issues in qualifying for the Virginia ballot are well-known.  Via Philip Klein’s Twitter feed, Stacy Cline notes that in 2007, “the Giuliani campaign had a full-time lawyer devoted almost entirely to qualifying for the VA ballot” and Team Rudy spent an entire weekend checking to make sute they had enough signatures from each district.  Virginia GOP officials tell John McCormack there is not a write-in line on the ballot.  Klein will be shocked if Newt qualifies.

Update 2: Looks like Newt’s in, making Perry look even worse.

Update 3: Patterico commenter SarahW tweets that she got a robocall to come down and sign a petition… on the day before the robocall. Oops.

Update 4Newt Gingrich has also been DQed from the VA primary.  He promises an aggressive write-in campaign.  It may also be futile, if John McCormack’s source was correct — and, given the circumstances, we might credit some anonymous state party official over Gingrich until definitively proven otherwise.

Update 5: Yep, looks like there’s no write-in for Virginia primaries. IIRC, the GOP has minimal control over the state legislature… could they amend the law to allow write-ins?  I do not even know if the legislature is in session, but I would think there could be discussion, as it would benefit the state and national party to have a more competitive primary. (I presume the fear is that in a year like this, Dems could flood the GOP primary for Obama.)

–Karl

Sockpuppet Friday — Merry Christmas edition

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:52 am

[Posted by Karl]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

Some of the Midwesterners is the audience may remember this one:

–Karl

12/22/2011

Occupy the New York Times

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:42 am

[Posted by Karl]

Income inequality at the Progressive Death Star:

Janet Robinson, who will step down as chief executive of the New York Times Co on December 31, will receive an exit package in excess of $15 million, according to people familiar with the situation.

In addition to a $4.5 million consulting fee, the Times Co will pay Robinson $10.9 million in pension benefits that she accrued over 28 years of service, they said.

***

News of Robinson’s severance agreement comes during the same week that a wave of buyouts hit the newsroom of the flagship New York Times and the company disclosed that it was in talks to sell 16 regional newspapers to Halifax Media Holdings. More than a dozen newsroom staffers reportedly took buyouts, among them well-known bylines including sports writer George Vecsey, metro columnist Clyde Haberman, and business reporter Diana Henriques.

I do not begrudge Robinson her golden parachute, as she helped turn arund the paper’s fortunes, quickly repaying the $250 million bailout they took from Mexican monopolist billionaire Carlos Slim, and selling off noncore assets (Granted, the paper’s failure would not have bothered me much, either).  But given that the paper finds it scandalous that Mitt Romney continues to profit from Bain Capital because the firm (gasp) turns some companies around by right-sizing them, some derisive laughter at the NYT’s expense is in order.

Indeed, looking at how the NYT runs piece after piece about storming the capitalist castle, the shrinking middle-class, moaning that most Americans are delusional for thinking they are the haves, and advocating an inequality tax, I wonder why the unwashed hipsters occupying Wall Street don’t shamble over to the NYTHQ, a progressive palace built for the paper on government-seized property and given $26.1 million in tax breaks.  I do not wonder about the blind eye the remaining Timesmen and Timeswomen turn to the income inequality at their own business.  After all, the NYT is now fixated on the issue everywhere but the paper for the same reason Team Obama is — they would much rather continue to curse the last three decades than defend the past three years.

–Karl

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