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Archive for July, 2012

Fact Time: The Hispanic Vote

July 13th, 2012

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While Hispanic voters have tended to support Democrats by wide margins in national elections, they are by no means always a sure bet for Democrats. Half of all Hispanic-Americans identify as an Independent. And Independents are not loyal party voters—even if they lean towards one party or the other. Take the example of former President George W. Bush.

In 2000, former Vice President Al Gore won the Hispanic vote by 27 points. But by 2004, President Bush’s support among Hispanics improved, reducing Sen. John Kerry’s margin to 9 points that November. In just 4 years, there was an 18 point swing in Hispanic voting! Democrats rebounded in 2008, with President Obama winning the Hispanic vote by 36 points. In current polls, the President appears ready to extend that margin, up recently by 41 points over Mitt Romney.

While it’s unlikely that Romney will capture a sizeable share of the Hispanic vote—indeed, he’s more likely to suffer former Sen. Bob Dole’s fate (he lost the Hispanic vote by 52 points in 1996)—Hispanic voters may not always support Democrats by wide margins. As President Bush illustrated, this is a group that is open to voting for both parties.

Ccccchhhaa Chhaaa Chhaaa Chaaaannges… Not yet.

July 11th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post.

The economy is stalled. So is the campaign. Nothing much has changed since it became clear in February that Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee.

Some 65 non-partisan national polls have been taken since early February. Average the poll results every two weeks and what happens? Nothing. Obama’s lead has bounced around from one point to six. No trend.

What about all those dramatic twists and turns so breathlessly covered by cable news? The showdown over contraception. The Romney campaign’s “Etch-a-Sketch” moment. The impact? Nothing changed.

What about the disappointing jobs numbers? The Washington Post reported that “in the wake of the May jobs report, President Obama’s economic job approval rating hardly moved at all and neither did his support in a contest with Romney.” The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold health care reform? CNN’s poll at the end of May showed Obama 49, Romney 46. And CNN’s poll at the end of June following the health care decision?  Obama 49, Romney 46. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Global Warming Causing Wild Weather?

July 10th, 2012

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Yes.

Now let’s move on.

Climate deniers want to keep having this debate. It gives them the excuse to call for more studies, which is the most effective way in Washington to avoid solving a problem. It’s the same strategy deployed by cigarette makers as far back as 1946 in their ultimately failed attempt to fight scientists’ link between smoking and cancer.

As these dead-enders (to coin a phrase) trap us in what they hope will be an endless discussion over whether climate change is real, the rest of the world is moving to clean energy and energy efficiency. That’s creating a potentially $2.3 trillion global clean energy market that is driving innovation, reducing energy costs, and spurring manufacturing. Read the rest of this entry »

Iran Sanctions Could Be a Diplomatic and Political Slam Dunk for Obama

July 3rd, 2012

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By: Robert Walther and Aki Peritz

This piece was originally posted on National Journal.

This past March, the 24-hour news cycle was filled by pundits deriding the Obama administration for its handling of gasoline prices. With gas prices down 15% to $3.42 a gallon, those critics have gone silent. Yet, the EU and US sanctions on Iran that were recently put into full effect are leading some to predict a new rise in prices–just as we head into the primetime of the election year. It might make for interesting headlines, but the facts suggest the sanctions are unlikely to have a significant impact on American gas prices.

Global oil production has been rising at a time that the European economy is contracting and the market has weakened remarkably. Prices dropped to under $80 dollars a barrel last week. While news out of Europe of a bailout deal strengthened the oil sector on Friday, the current low prices will serve to cushion any impacts of Iranian oil curtailment. Also, let’s not forget that Iranian crude exports are already down nearly 40% from last year’s levels—yet this reduced output has not reversed the downward trend of world oil prices. What’s more, the six month waivers granted to China and nineteen other nations will provide an outlet for Iranian crude over the short-term, easing any strains on market. Read the rest of this entry »

John Roberts’s verdict? Health care is not a right

July 3rd, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

“The mandate is not a legal command to buy insurance,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his health care ruling last week. It’s not? Really? It sure sounds like it. No, Roberts insisted, “It makes going without insurance just another thing the government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income.”

With that bit of sophistry, the Supreme Court upheld the health care law and refrained from throwing some 50 million Americans off health insurance. Democrats are thrilled. They don’t really care how the Court got there as long as the court got there.

But it does make a difference how it got there. Because what the Court did was deny that health care is a right. In the Court’s view, the right to health care has no constitutionally protected status like abortion rights or gun rights. It’s just a benefit. Rights can’t be taken away. Benefits can. Read the rest of this entry »