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Posts Tagged ‘election’

2014: Another Election About Obamacare

December 23rd, 2013

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Here we go again.

2014 will be the third election in a row in which Obamacare is the central issue. The Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in March 2010, contributed to a fierce voter backlash against Democrats in November 2010. After the Supreme Court upheld the law in June 2012, the issue seemed to be settled by Obama’s re-election that November.

But no.

The botched Obamacare rollout this year has again thrust the issue to the top of the political agenda. Republicans are counting on opposition to Obamacare to propel them to a majority in the Senate next year. A conservative group is already running an ad attacking Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for supporting Obamacare: “Next November, if you like your senator, you can keep her. If you don’t, you know what to do.”

2013 came to a close with two big political stories. The government shutdown in October was immensely damaging to Republicans. So damaging that House Republicans defied their conservative base and voted for a compromise budget deal last week. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) attacked the Tea Party, accusing them of pushing congressional Republicans “into this fight to defund Obamacare and shut down the government.” A fight Boehner said all along was unwinnable.

The message was, “No more shutdowns.” Republicans didn’t want to step on the second big political story, one immensely damaging to Democrats: the rollout of Obamacare.

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Obama mobilizes his New America

January 23rd, 2013

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There’s a reason why President Barack Obama has chosen to put gun control at the top of his second-term agenda. No issue draws as bright a line between the Old America and the New America as the gun issue. It will keep his coalition mobilized – the New America coalition that delivered for him in the election: working women, single mothers, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Jewish and Muslim voters, young people, gays and educated professionals.

Obama paid tribute to the New America in his second Inaugural Address on Monday. “We possess all the qualities,” Obama declared, “that this world without boundaries demands, youth and drive, diversity and openness, of endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.”

Obama insisted “our journey is not complete” until the country finds a “better way to welcome striving hopeful immigrants,” until “our wives, mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts,” until “our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law” and until all our children – including those on “the quiet lanes of Newtown” – know that they are “always safe from harm.”

According to the January Washington Post-ABC News poll, 68 percent of Democrats do not have a gun in their household.  Fifty-nine percent of Republicans do. Among Democrats, 53 percent say passing stricter gun control laws should be given the highest priority; only 19 percent of Republicans feel the same way.

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It’s the (lack of) unity, stupid!

November 5th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on Reuters.

What we expect to hear in the closing days of a campaign is a call to arms.  Instead, what we’re hearing from both sides is a call to disarm.

“I’m going to have to reach across the aisle and meet with good Democrats who love America just like you love America,” Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told a recent campaign rally in Virginia.  “And there are good Democrats like that.”

“In the end, we’re all in this together,” President Barack Obama said at a rally in Wisconsin.  “We rise and fall as one nation, one people.”

Why the sudden craving for unity?  Because that’s the issue that got Obama elected.  He became a star when he told the 2004 Democratic National Convention, “There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America.  There’s the United States of America.” Read the rest of this entry »

Split Election May Fan ‘Red Rage’

October 31st, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on the Huffington Post.

Yes, it could happen. Mitt Romney could win the popular vote while Barack Obama wins the electoral vote—and gets re-elected. It could happen if Romney wins overwhelming popular majorities in the South while Obama ekes out narrow victories in the rest of the country. But the consequences this time would be more serious than they were in 2000, mainly because Republicans would be less likely to accept the result than Democrats were.

In 2000, most Americans accepted the Supreme Court decision for the same reason the Court felt compelled to make it: political necessity. In many countries, the narrow resolution of a disputed election on dubious legal grounds would have brought protesters into the streets, and possibly violence. It is a tribute to the American public’s respect for the Constitution, and for the Supreme Court as the voice of the Constitution, that nothing of the sort happened. Al Gore set the tone when he told the country, “Let there be no doubt: while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why Rick Santorum won’t stop

April 13th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

“Irrelevant.” With one word, Sen. John McCain dismissed Rick Santorum’s role in the Republican presidential race.

Santorum’s response? “I’ve endured about eight months of people saying that,” he told The New York Times. “I’ve never been the party establishment’s candidate, and that holds true today and that’s nothing new.”

So why is he still running?

Santorum is a movement candidate. A movement is something people believe in and belong to. A campaign is something people support. Santorum claims to be carrying the flag for the conservative movement. “As conservatives and tea party folks, we are not just wings of the Republican Party,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “We are the Republican Party.”

Are they? The Republican Party nominated McCain for president in 2008. He had run against the conservative movement in 2000 and was distrusted by the right. The Republican Party is about to nominate Mitt Romney for president in 2012. Romney is, first and foremost, a businessman. Definitely not a movement politician.

Movement conservatives like Santorum consider Romney an imposter. He signed a health care mandate into law in Massachusetts, for goodness sake. Nonetheless, conservatives have begun to coalesce behind Romney. Why? Because he looks like the only candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama. Read the rest of this entry »

The Fear Factor? Upending the conventional wisdom on Independent Voters

March 26th, 2012

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Why do many continue to be afraid to call an Independent an Independent? In a recent article, Jamelle Bouie argued that a paper we authored at Third Way showing that Independents are in fact Independent is incorrect. Mr. Bouie argues that Independents are a myth and neither party should try to appeal to them. While his comments are appreciated, he misses the boat on the data. His main critique is that we cherry-picked the election years used in our recent Leaners Don’t Fall report to ensure they represented the most conservative period in American history. Sadly, we didn’t pick the election years. We would prefer if the well-respected American National Election Studies had continued the panel study and had data at least through 2008. But they only conducted this survey for 3 elections—2000, 2002, and 2004. But even these three years are very illuminating. Independents, we found, were far more likely to switch allegiance than either Democrats or Republicans. By 2004, 38% of Democratic-leaning Independents—Independents who said they leaned towards the Democratic party in the 2000 election—voted Republican; less than one-quarter of even self-identified “weak” Democrats pulled the lever for the other side.

In addition, 2004 was not as conservative of a year as some like to think. The electorate was split 37%-37% between Democrats and Republicans, with 26% Independents. Seems like an even fight to us. Mr. Bouie suggests the wave Democratic elections of 2006 and 2008 would have given us different results. But that likely would have shown that Independents are capable of swinging back—not that they don’t swing at all. And 2010 would show that they swung yet again. In 2008, Independents voted for Democrats in the House ballot by 8 points. In 2010, Republicans won Independents by 19. That’s a 27 point shift in 2 years!  Clearly Independents are not a stable voting bloc. They actually swing—our point precisely. Let’s not pretend that Independents are phantoms. Believing they don’t exist may send them running to the other side.