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Posts Tagged ‘elections’

No One Likes a Frontrunner

August 21st, 2014

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“No one likes a frontrunner, especially Democrats” a grassroots activist at Netroots Nation told Politico. That’s certainly true. Remember John Glenn in 1984? Howard Dean in 2004? Hillary Clinton in 2008?

It’s Republicans who have a tradition of nominating whoever is next in line. Every Republican presidential nominee since Barry Goldwater had run for President or vice president before. With one exception–George W. Bush. But his name was Bush, so he got a pass. Democrats have a tradition of plucking candidates out of obscurity: George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama.

If Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, she may defy the Democratic tradition. She is the prohibitive frontrunner, at least in the polls. No one else comes close. But will she really coast to the nomination? It looks more and more likely that Clinton will be seriously challenged from the left, by a candidate TBD.

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What America’s leftward shift means for elections

February 24th, 2014

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With each new poll, it’s becoming clear that the United States is shifting to the left. A majority of Americans now supports same-sex marriage.  And legalization of marijuana.  And normalization of relations with Cuba.

Gallup reports that, in 2013, the percentage of Americans identifying themselves as liberals reached its highest level since 1992. True, it’s only 23 percent. Conservatives, at 38 percent, still outnumber liberals. But the trend has been slowly and steadily upward for liberals since 1996, when it was 16 percent.

This shift is due entirely to Democrats becoming more liberal — 29 percent of Democrats in 2000, 43 percent in 2013. At the same time, Democrats have won the national popular vote in five out of the six presidential elections since 1992 (all but 2004). Barack Obama won a majority of the popular vote twice — something Bill Clinton couldn’t do.

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What Democrats have going for them? Republicans

November 12th, 2013

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Democrats had one thing going for them in the election this week: Republicans. That kept the President Barack Obama’s party from faring much worse.

Dissatisfaction with the economy is still very high. In the network exit polls, more than 80 percent of Virginia and New Jersey voters said they were worried about the nation’s economy over the next year.

The economy was the top issue in both states. New Jersey voters concerned about the economy voted 2 to 1 for Republican Governor Chris Christie — even though he was the incumbent. It isn’t his economy. It’s Obama’s economy. That’s the new rule in American politics: All politics is national.

In Virginia, however, the poor economy didn’t do the Republican candidate much good. Virginia voters who cited the economy as their top concern split their vote, 49 percent for Republican Ken Cuccinelli and 43 percent for Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The Republican should have carried Virginia. Obama’s job rating among Virginia voters was down 6 points since 2012. Nonetheless, McAuliffe built solid majorities in the same New America constituencies that had delivered the state for Obama last year: women, racial minorities, educated professionals and young voters. Particularly unmarried women, whom Cuccinelli offended with his attacks on abortion, divorce and contraception. The Republican vote among unmarried women in Virginia dropped from 34 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012 to 25 percent for Cuccinelli in 2013.

Why did Cuccinelli lose Virginia? Because he was linked to the Tea Party. Forty-two percent of Virginia voters said they opposed the Tea Party. Only 9 percent of them voted for Cuccinelli. Among New Jersey voters, opinion of the Tea Party was only slightly more negative (45 percent opposed). The difference was, Christie got 38 percent of the anti-Tea Party vote in New Jersey. Christie is a Republican — but he isn’t part of the Tea Party movement.

Christie cut sharply into the Obama coalition in New Jersey. Women in New Jersey voted 62 percent for Democrat Obama in 2012. They voted 57 percent for Republican Christie in 2013. Christie carried the Latino vote in New Jersey and got 21 percent of the African-American vote. One-third of New Jersey Democrats voted for Christie. What percentage of Virginia Democrats voted for Cuccinelli? Two.

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Egypt: Elections Do Not Make a Democracy

July 8th, 2013

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An election is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for democracy.  That’s the takeaway from the continuing upheaval in Egypt.

Last year, Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first freely elected president.  Morsi won with 51.7 percent of the vote — slightly more than the 51.1 percent that Barack Obama won in 2012. Morsi was the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that had been banned and persecuted in Egypt for 60 years.

Morsi’s overthrow last week put the United States on the spot. Could Washington support the removal of a democratically elected government, even one we did not like?

The Morsi government may have been elected, but there are other requirements for a democracy. A democratic government has to guarantee minority rights. It has to accept the opposition as legitimate. It has to be willing to abide by the rules. And the truest test of a democracy: The government has to give up power if it is defeated at the polls. Read the rest of this entry »

Can Christie tackle the partisan divide?

June 10th, 2013

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How often these days do we see a political figure liked by both Republicans and Democrats? Not so often that we should fail to notice.

But there was the evidence last week in two different polls. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie drew a 58 percent favorable rating from his fellow Republicans around the country and 52 percent from Democrats in a recent Gallup Poll. Forty percent of Republicans in the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, and 43 percent of Democrats, said they like Christie. (The NBC-Journal numbers are a bit lower because the poll offered a “neutral” option.)

Christie seems headed for a big re-election victory in New Jersey this November. Polls show him running 30 points ahead of his Democratic opponent. This is in a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

The country has now had four presidents in a row who promised to heal the bitter division between red and blue America. They all failed. Under each successive president – George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – the partisan divide has gotten worse.

Obama has proved that nice doesn’t work. He tried to make deals with Republican leaders. He tried a charm offensive with rank-and-file Republican legislators. All he got in return was insults and investigations. Now it’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” With his latest round of appointments to his national security team as well as the courts, Obama has given up trying to satisfy Republicans. His new message: “In your face.”

But Obama’s got a long way to go before he can match Christie for “in your face” politics. Christie is the un-Obama.  He doesn’t look like Obama, and he certainly doesn’t act like Obama. Christie doesn’t trade on being nice. He busts heads.

He also speaks Jersey. When he was challenged by property owners who complained that he intended to build attractions rather than storm protection on the Jersey shore, Christie shouted back, “That’s bullsh*t!” (After advising children to cover their ears.)

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What’s on the Ballot?

October 16th, 2012

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Voting via Flickr

The Presidential & Congressional elections are not the only important votes on the November 2012 ballot. Several states will also ask voters to weigh in on key ballot initiatives that could have national implications. We’ve put together a guide to some of the most important initiatives and referenda below. We’ll update this cheat sheet after the election so that you can see how they fared with voters in their states!

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