Patterico's Pontifications

1/31/2012

Florida Primary Thread; UPDATE: ROMNEY WINS!!!

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 3:07 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Polls don’t close for a while — and afafik, full exit polls won’t be available until then.  But Drudge leaked an early exit poll topline, which may or may not be reliable, as anyone who suffered through 2000 (or 2004 for that matter) knows.  Some exit poll data is flowing at TIME, the NYT and CBS News

I’m seeing CNN exits on Twitter, which I’ll briefly summarize here.  52% voting in GOP primary were men, 48% women.  34% said they are “very conservative”, 37% “somewhat conservative”, 30% “moderate or liberal.”  66% support the tea party.  15% of GOP voting electorate today is Latino.  39% evangelical Christian, 61% not.  

Fox exits via Twitter: Romney winning 58% of those who say beating Obama is biggest priority.  Romney winning seniors by 15% over Newt.  Romney is last among those who say electing a “true conservative” is most important (shocka).  Romney winning Hispanics by 27%.  Gingrich only leading Romney among evangelicals by 4%.

Discuss.

Update: Nate Silver has some very pretty maps of the 2008 primary results for comparison.  The Fix has 5 counties to watch tonight.  And here’s your Google map and results.

Update 2: Historically, Florida is a blowout.  It will be interesting to see how the margin squares with exit polling suggesting 40% are not happy with the field.

–Karl

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: ROMNEY WINS!!!

OK, I guess it’s not that surprising.

The invisible primary

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 10:00 am

[Posted by Karl]

Today is the Florida primary, which most expect to be won by Mitt Romney.  While we await those results this evening, it is worth reflecting on the other primary Romney essentially sews up today: the invisible primary.

Yesterday, I referred to the GOP apparat — and some of the response was to have a little fun with the idea, or to express weariness with debates about the “GOP establishment.”  Such responses are understandable.  After all, the Republican Party is not a conspiracy.  Moreover, post-1968 reforms took  presidential nominations out of the hands of party bosses and into the hands of caucus and primary voters, right?  At the very least, it placed the process more in the hands of candidates and their campaigns, yes? (more…)

It Sucks to Have an Unelectable Candidate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:07 am

Doesn’t it?

I’m speaking, of course, to Democrats . . . about their unelectable candidate, Barack Obama:

It’s understandable that the focus would be on Republican candidates in the midst of a GOP primary. But we shouldn’t forget that the general election — like all incumbent elections — will largely be a referendum on Barack Obama. And, under current conditions, Obama is every bit as unelectable as the Republicans supposedly are.

The piece is worth a read, but it reminds us that Obama’s approval rating is still low, the economy still sucks, Obama’s agenda is still unpopular, and people are tired of his message.

Yes, our candidates suck. We have a guy who passed a healthcare mandate and a guy who supported one. Newt Gingrich is our “anti-establishment” candidate; enough said.

But it’s good to remember we aren’t the people with the crappiest candidate. Democrats are. And no matter whom we choose, that will remain true.

Holder Soon to Be on the Hot Seat

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:59 am

As voters line up to vote in Florida, let us not lose sight of the reason we are voting: to oust Barack Obama. In that vein, I want to keep the focus on one of the bigger scandals of his administration: Fast and Furious — because there is a major hearing coming up Thursday. Eric Holder will be on the hot seat, and new Friday afternoon document dumps are casting doubt on some of his previous testimony:

[Holder] is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The first question for Holder will concern a series of emails sent in the immediate aftermath of the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on Dec. 15, 2010. The emails make clear that Monty Wilkinson, then Holder’s deputy chief of staff, was informed by U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke of Terry’s death, and that weapons found on the scene were bought in Phoenix and were among those in “the investigation we were going to talk about.”

Other documents obtained by the committee make clear that the investigation in question was Fast and Furious. The emails also establish that Wilkinson and other senior Justice Department officials in Washington were briefed on the program shortly after Terry’s murder. In other words, within days, if not hours, of Terry’s death, it was known at the highest levels of the Justice Department that he was killed by guns sold with the full knowledge of federal officials who then lost track of them.

It is simply inconceivable that Wilkinson did not inform others in the Justice Department, including Holder, about these facts.

Indeed. And if he didn’t, that raises questions about Holder’s managerial competence.

This is going to be a major hearing, and it won’t be pretty for Holder. We’ll do our best to stay on top of it here.

1/30/2012

You Might Be a Racist If…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:58 pm

Juan Williams:

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”

Yeah, any time I hear someone talk about the “Constitution” I can tell they’re racists.

The fact is, if you hear the n-word every time someone talks about our entitlement society, the person with the race problem is YOU. If you hear “American values” and think “bigot” then the person with the race problem is YOU. If talking about the Founding Fathers seems racist, the person with the race problem is YOU.

If everything sounds like racism to you, Juan Williams, you might be a racist.

Florida: The more things change

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:28 am

[Posted by Karl]

On the eve of the Florida primary, RCP’s Scott Conroy reports on increased support for Mitt Romney among the Sunshine State’s Hispanic community.  Conroy’s story is corroborated by the weekend’s Miami Herald/Mason-Dixon poll, which has this pivotal demographic breaking for Romney over Newt Gingrich by a 52-28% margin. 

This split echoes the 2008 primary in which McCain tied Romney among non-Hispanics, but won approximately 54% of the Hispanic vote.  Indeed, Rudy Giuliani was the second-place candidate for Hispanics; Romney was a distinct third.

Thus, it appears that for a second cycle, Florida Republicans will likely back the nominally establishment candidate over the nominally non-establishment candidate, due in large part to the Hispanic vote.  “Nominally” is the key term here, as the former Governor can argue he is less of the Beltway than the former Speaker of the House.  Nevertheless, perception often passes for reality in politics . Moreover, the degree to which the GOP elders have sided with Romney over Gingrich is a reality, and Newt (for all his heresies) arguably has more conservative policy achievements to claim than Romney.

Yet the similar dynamic does not produce an identical result.  For all of the grief Romney gets — much of it justified, imho — the right should take stock of where Florida and the GOP stand now when compared to 2008.  In the last cycle, East Coast moderate neocons like Jennifer Rubin was flacking for John McCain over Mitt Romney, but now flacks for Romney.  Conversely, grassroots talkers like Rush Limbaugh were backing Romney as the conservative alternative to McCain in 2008, but now back Gingrich over Romney.

If Romney wins the Florida primary as expected, some on the right will surely grumble about the party apparat having its way again.  But the apparat is arguably having to accept more conservative candidates as time goes on.

–Karl

1/29/2012

Sunday Afternoon Music

Filed under: General,Music — Patterico @ 3:07 pm

Braden Blake, formerly of Super Deluxe:

And the first track from the upcoming album from The Sun Sawed in 1/2:

And because I can’t resist it, here is the same band, Sun Sawed in 1/2, performing an acoustic version of “Come Sail Away” by Styx — in a living room. It’s goofy and spontaneous and stripped down — but this is seriously worth your time, if only to hear someone sound exactly like Dennis DeYoung who, well, isn’t Dennis DeYoung.

Fundamentals are fundamental

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:04 am

[Posted by Karl]

Media outlets from Salon to the Wall Street Journal have hyped the uptick in optimism about the economy and Pres. Obama’s job approval number in the latest NBC/WSJ poll, emphasizing the danger it poses to the eventual GOP nominee come the general election.  Salon’s Steve Kornacki summarizes:

By a 37 to 17 percent margin, respondents said they expect the economy to improve in the next year; back in October, they thought it would get worse by a 32-21 margin. And the number of Americans who believe the country is heading in the right direction now stands at 30 percent – hardly a huge number, but a clear jump from the 17 percent who said so in the fall. Overall, Obama’s approval rating is at 48 percent, the highest it’s been in an NBC/WSJ poll since June, when he was still basking in the afterglow of Osama bin Laden’s demise.

Gallup also finds more optimism about the economy, but 49% say they are worse off financially today than a year ago, a near-record high.  Gallup’s version of the right track/wrong track question is at 18% — again up from Autumn 2011, but the lowest recorded for January of a presidential election year.  Americans’ worries about maintaining their standard of living, being able to pay medical bills or losing their job in the next tear are among the highest Gallup has measured in the past 20 years, rivaling the levels seen in 1991 and 1992.  Americans are broadly dissatisfied with the state of the nation’s economy, the size and power of the federal government, and the moral and ethical climate in the country.  Kornacki gets this next bit right, but there’s a kicker:

The numbers are a reminder that a president’s reelection fate is ultimately more dependent on the state of the economy than on what strategy the opposition party employs and which candidate it nominates. If economic anxiety and pessimism are rampant, then winning a second term is a profoundly uphill slog, even if the opposition fields a supposedly weak nominee. But if the public widely believes that conditions are healthy or at least improving, then credit – deserved or undeserved – invariably goes to the White House occupant.

Kornacki must be hoping his readers do not click on his link.  He’s citing Douglas Hibbs, whose “Bread and Peace” model analyzes just how much of post-WWII election outcomes may be explained by peace and prosperity (I have cited Hibbs myself a number of times).  His formula uses only two variables — real disposable personal income per capita and military fatalities in unprovoked wars.  Here are the results through 2008:

Kornacki links to the Q3 2011 update, in which Hibbs calculated that per capita real income growth must average out at 4% or more per year over the last four quarters of the term for Obama to have a strong chance of re-election:

If the US economy gets into robust recovery mode, real income growth could be high enough to secure the President Obama’s re-election. However, the pace of recovery from the 2008 Great Recession remains sluggish, and the famous 2009 book This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Reinhart and Rogoff documents that recoveries from contractions originating with the bursting of speculative financial bubbles are not V-shaped as in garden-variety recessions, but instead are typically prolonged U-shaped affairs lasting 5 to 6 years. The statistical properties of the time path of US per capita real disposable personal income indicate that the chances of year-long quarterly growth rates on the order of 4% or higher are no better than 1/7.

Henry J. Enten gave his own update using the Hibbs model earlier this month:

Wells Fargo experts predict increasing growth of RDPI over the next year.

The problem for Obama is that he already is in such a deep hole that the expected growth (when population growth is taken into affect) is only predicted to be about about 1%, for an overall weighted growth of +0.3% over the presidential term. And this +0.3% growth would forecast Obama garnering 46.8%, which is obviously not enough to win re-election.

Indeed, even after Enten boosts Obama’s number by adjusting for incumbency and divided government, he cannot get Obama to 49%, although that would at least get Obama within the standard error for a modified Hibbs model.  In the real world, the newest figures for Q4 2011 are not much better: real disposable personal income increased at only a 0.8% annual rate, after declining the prior two quarters. On a year-ago basis real disposable personal income declined 0.1%, the only decline ever recorded in a non-recession environment.  That 0.8% rate is the Obama average.

Of course, campaigns matter: Political scientist Lynn Vavreck argues that if the out-party successfully capitalizes on a weak economy or, in times of economic growth, successfully locates another issue to campaign on, then they are expected to win an additional six points — even controlling for the actual state of the economy and casualties in war.  But this underscores the drag the weak economy is on Obama’s odds for re-election.

–Karl

1/28/2012

San Francisco Based State Legislator Fights “Deport the Criminals First” Policy

Filed under: Deport the Criminals First,General,Immigration,Morons — Patterico @ 3:02 pm

Ah, San Francisco:

A bill being drafted by a state legislator would limit local law enforcement from holding arrestees on behalf of immigration authorities seeking to deport them.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) said he is finalizing amendments to a bill that would be the first statewide measure to counter the Secure Communities enforcement program, which requires law enforcement agencies to forward to immigration authorities the fingerprints of all arrestees booked into local jails.

If those authorities identify a candidate for deportation, they can issue a detainer, which asks the agency to hold them beyond the time when they would normally be released so immigration agents can take custody. The program has come under fire because many of those ensnared have never been convicted of crimes or are low-level offenders.

When states like California or Arizona have tried to pass legislation that helps the federal government enforce federal immigration law, the immigrants’ rights advocates always tell us those law are illegal — because federal law is supreme in the area of immigration. So, local laws can’t touch on immigration (so the argument goes) because that steps on federal toes.

(I have never understood this argument, because helping the feds enforce the law can’t be seen as stepping on their toes . . . can it??)

Where is the “federal preemption” crowd here? This law explicitly seeks to interfere with federal programs designed to catch people in custody who have violated our immigration laws. Wouldn’t that . . . step on federal toes?

What needs to be remembered is that people who are subject to deportation have already violated the law. What’s more, if they have been arrested, they are on average more likely to be among the least desirable among those who have violated our immigration laws. A “Deport the Criminals First” policy uses our limited resources in the manner that best protects public safety, by concentrating on people who have (by and large) committed crimes other than violating immigration laws. Because criminals are more dangerous than non-criminals, this policy saves lives. And even if it turns out that they didn’t commit other crimes, they still violated immigration laws anyway, and we have them in custody.

Ammiano’s plan is an open borders plan: EVERYONE is welcome, including the diseased, the immoral, and the criminal. Our country is a country of immigrants, but we have the right to control which immigrants are allowed to enter, to keep the country healthy and safe. Orderly immigration laws seek to import immigrants who are not criminals or afflicted with communicable diseases. A policy of simply throwing open the borders removes these checks, which has the effect of welcoming people with TB and serious criminal histories. I don’t see why our country needs to be burdened with a crop of undesirables (criminals) when we have insufficient resources to take care of the people we already have.

The U.S. is fishing for illegals. We can’t catch every fish in the sea, but we can catch some. Ammiano wants to take the fish that are already in the net and throw them back out to sea. That only makes sense if you think fishing is morally wrong.

Me, I don’t think it is. And I don’t think deporting criminal illegals is wrong either.

But then, I don’t live in San Francisco.

You’re no Ronald Reagan

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 7:58 am

[Posted by Karl]

The kerfuffle over Newt Gingrich’s status as a Reagan Republican will be a footnote to the 2012 campaign at most. But that does not mean we cannot learn from it.

On the surface, this is a silly issue.  Last week, Mitt Romney was painting Gingrich as a minor figure of the Reagan revolution.  This week ended with the following exchange during the CNN debate:

Wolf Blitzer: Governor Romney, you criticized Speaker Gingrich for not being as close to Ronald Reagan as he says he was. When you ran for the Senate, you said you were, quote, “You weren’t trying to return to Reagan-Bush.”

So the question is, do you think you can claim the Reagan mantle more than Speaker Gingrich?

Romney: Oh, of course not. ***

Romney then recited his biography, selectively omitting the 1994 Senate race which occasioned Mitt’s remark distancing himself from Reagan-Bush (a ticket which won Massachusetts twice).   It’s an answer which tells the observant that Team Romney figured out this was a dumb line of attack (Newt can be unconservative, but Romney is not going to win an argument about Reagan).  It also tells the observant that even after fumbling Mitt’s money issues, Team Romney was still capable of not recognizing that their attack would backfire in the first instance (Newt also launches attacks that boomerang, but Mitt is the one with the supposedly superior staff and organization).

While Team Romney was figuring this out, a scrum of conservative punditry ensued.  Notably, Elliott Abrams (an assistant secretary of state under Reagan) attacked Gingrich for not having been sufficiently supportive of Reagan’s foreign policy.  Jeffrey Lord (a former Reagan White House political director) defended Gingrich as one of Reagan’s best lieutenants, including the story of how Newt helped keep a firm line against tax increases in the 1984 platform against the likes of Bob Dole and Lowell Weicker.  Lord later claimed that Abrams had never complained about Gingrich at the time and distorted Gingrich’s comments on Reagan’s foreign policy.  Rich Lowry then went after Lord for smearing Abrams as jockeying for a job in a Romney administration and for providing only partial context of Gingrich’s foreign policy remarks.

So far, it appears that Lowry is correct that Lord has no evidence that Abrams was sucking up to Team Romney for a job.  Moreover, the Abrams piece could easily have been a simple act of score-settling.  I would not be surprised if Abrams and others in the Reagan administration were less than thrilled at Gingrich’s criticism at the time and feel vindicated by history (although history is not a controlled experiment, thus precluding a definitive judgment on the matter).  However, Lord correctly notes (as does Reagan biographer Steven Hayward) that Gingrich was hardly a lone critic of Reagan’s foreign policy at the time in question. Newt cited George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Irving Kristol, and Jeane Kirkpatrick in his speech, while Hayward lists others, including Howard Phillips, Jack Kemp, George Will and William Safire.

The scrum demonstrates why Team Romney is running from the subject.  The record tends to show that Gingrich backed Reagan on key issues and when he did critique the administration, he did so from the right. “More right-wing than Reagan in the ’80s” is not the frame Romney wants for Gingrich.

What can we learn from this episode (beyond the fact that Team Romney still has some bugs to work out)? 

The reason that the right would spend a week discussing Gingrich’s connection to Reagan legacy is a testament to how much Reagan shaped the conservative movement and today’s GOP.  By holding Reagan up as the ideal, he and his administration have become idealized — and it would serve us all well to be more clear-eyed about history here. 

This episode is a timely reminder that the Reagan GOP was an occasionally fractious coalition.  To moderates, Reaganomics was voodoo, while Reagan’s confrontational foreign policy seemed unconservative.  Reagan was a politician who pushed the envelope… but his coalition also contained those who wanted to push it further. 

It should be remembered that Reagan got to elected president as the result of many factors.  He had experience running for president.  He was an able and charismatic performer as a candidate, capable of disarming his critics with a down-to-earth chuckle as easily as a pointed barb.  Stagflation had exposed the flaws of Keynesian economics.  Iran and the Soviet Union exposed the impotence of Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy.  Reagan’s election was as close to a perfect storm as one is likely to find in politics.

This year, the GOP remains a fractious coalition, but its candidate will be no Ronald Reagan.  (Occasionally, Ronald Reagan was no Ronald Reagan.)  Moreover, if America is lucky, the economy and state of the world will not make Barack Obama look as bad as Jimmy Carter.  It is by those parameters that GOP primary voters should be making their choice, rather than hoping a perfect storm rolls in.

–Karl

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