Sunday, December 28, 2008

How Evangelicals, Protestants, and Catholics View their Faiths

Check out this poll and be sure to click the links to the related polls.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Moderate Cultural Majority: Part 1

I'm convinced that there are middle grounds on virtually every important social issue that would be acceptable to all but the most activist partisans of either side of each debate. I've been digging through some polls that give evidence to this conviction and I plan a series of posts on them. After I've surveyed the landscape on several important issues, I'll finish with a post on the significance of a culturally moderate majority.

Americans favor capital punishment by more than two-to-one. According to an October 2008 Gallup poll, not only do 64% favor the death penalty, but 71% believe that it's applied either "about right" or "not enough" (48% said not enough), and 54% believe that it's generally applied fairly (incidentally, that means that about 17% said it was applied unfairly but either supported how often it's used or wanted it used more often, wtf?). Despite moderate decreases in capital punishment furvor since October 2007, these numbers are not a great sign for my moderate majority.

However, a July 2008 Quinnipiac Poll digs a little deeper. Again, 63% support capital punishment, with 55% supporting execution for defendants convicted of child rape. However, the poll asks a better question: for people convicted of murder, do you prefer the death penalty, or life in prison without parole? Here respondents are offered a concrete choice. Support for capital punishment is a rather ephemeral thing - someone who favors it only for serial killers it grouped together with someone who favors it for child molestors, as "supporters." When this trade-off is offered, with the classic case of murder (which is really the relevant question), the death penalty is preferred, but only by 47% to 44%. Less than a majority of Americans can say confidently that murders should be executed. The Gallup and ABC/Washington Post polls have asked this question since 2000, with similar results every year.

So Americans are divided on the essential question of whethere murders should be executed. And that's given that fact that only one side of the debate is willing to make its case in public. Suppose the anti-death penalty movement came back from whereever the hell it went, and refashioned itself the "life in prison without parole" movement. We should not be so sure that the right has a death grip on this issue.

Next in the series: Gay Rights

A Sign of the Times?

FDR beats Reagan 45%-40%.

Awesome - "Moderates prefer Roosevelt 56% to 26%."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Labor and the Democratic Coalition Since FDR

As I do around here, I've stolen once again from Marc Ambinder. If you didn't see this post or if you just didn't read the paper that the post links to, you ought to read it. It's really informative.

Among the fun facts included in the paper: Senator Hugo Black (D-AL) - before was on the Supreme Court - sponsored a bill to create a 3o-hour workweek.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Blueing of Maricopa County, but Will the Rest of the State Hold Us Back?

In 2004, President Bush won Arizona by a margin of 10.5% over John Kerry. In 2008, John McCain beat President-elect Obama by 8.5%. Bush won 1,104,294 votes to Kerry's 893,524 - a margin of 210,770 votes. McCain won 1,230,111 to 1,034,707 for Obama - winning by 195,404. Despite a 14% increase in turnout (raw votes, not rate), the Republican margin shrank by 15,366 votes.

I took that margin change and spread it over each county, weighted for the counties' vote shares from 2008. If the margin change was spread proportionately, each county would be responsible for the changes listed below. The actual changes are listed in parentheses.

Maricopa 9,145 (30,324)

Pima 2,636 (1,829)

Pinal 703 (-5,413)

Yavapai 668 (-3,962)

Mohave 453 (-5,950)

Coconino 364 (2,530)

Cochise 327 (-1,041)

Yuma 292 (134)

Navajo 240 (-1,720)

Apache 163 (-435)

Gila 150 (-2,182)

Santa Cruz 89 (1,924)

Graham 80 (-607)

La Paz 37 (-271)

Greenlee 20 (206)


I started looking into the counties that had large disparities from their projected proportional shifts to see what we could learn from them.

First, Maricopa County was responsible not for 60% of 15,366 margin change that it "should" have been. Instead, the Republican margin in Maricopa County actually shrunk by 30,324, nearly twice the statewide change. Why? Bush beat Kerry 57.0%-42.3% - a margin of 14.7%. McCain beat Obama 54.7%-44.1% - a margin of 10.6%. That's the power of Maricopa County: such a small percentarge shift turns into 30k+ votes. The good news for future Tim Nelsons, Dan Sabans, and Ed Hermeses is that the GOP's margin in 'Copa shrank by 4.1%, while in Arizona overall it only shrank by 2%. Between 2004 and 2008, Maricopa blued faster than the rest of the state. Maybe that explains our recent wins in LDs 10, 11, and 20.

The next question is: which counties offset Maricopa's blueing and helped the Republicans only lost 2% off of their statewide margin?

Obviously, I'm going to blame Pima County. Obama did no better than Kerry here, winning by the same 6% margin (Kerry won 52.6%-46.6%; Obama won 52.4%-46.4%). And their vote total grew by only 7.2%, compared to 14% statewide. Thus, the Republican margin in Pima shrank by only 1,829 votes, far below the "projected" 2,636. Now, I can't really blame Pima. They didn't contribute to the state's 2-point shift, but they didn't pull against it, either.

The real culprits are Pinal, Yavapai, Mohave, Navajo, and Gila counties. They will be dealt with in ascending order of their degree of treason against the Maricopa County proletarian revolution.

Navajo County gets off lightly. They only delivered McCain a margin 1,720 votes larger than they gave Bush. Their registration numbers were virtually unchanged from 2004 - only a 1.4% increase compared to 13% statewide. The turnout rate jumped from 56% to 61.2%, but was still far below the 76.8% statewide. Yet, they did manage to buck the blueing trend of the country and the state and voted 55.2%-43.5% for McCain, whereas they'd only voted 53.4%-45.8% for Bush.

Gila County's crime is only a little graver than Navajo's, but is more treacherous because of they managed it with only 2/3 the voters of Navajo. Gila pushed McCain's margin 2,182 over Bush's. They did this despite turnout falling from 77.9% to 71.7%. Registration jumped by 16.3%, a little more than the statewide increase. But the real source of their treason is a dramatic shift to the right: voting 63.1%-35.3% for McCain compared to 59.2%-39.9% for Bush.

Yavapai County did have have as malicious an intent as the others. They voted for McCain, 61.4%-37.0%, only slightly worse than Bush's 61.2%-37.9%. However, their size makes their crime more significant. Turnout dropped from an astronomical 87.5% to 83.8% (which is still the highest in the state), but registration jumped 19.1%. As a result, they gave McCain a margin of 3,962 higher than Bush's.

Pinal County is a similar story, but even worse for their size and growth. Their 2008 vote, 56.7%-42.2% for McCain, is nearly the same as their 57.3%-42.2% vote for Bush. The turnout rate increased, but only barely. Instead, their weapon of betrayal was their remarkable 60% (!) jump in registration (since 2000, it's a 97% increase!). As a result, they gave McCain a margin 5,413 greater than Bush's. It would take 3 times Pima County's marginal increase for Obama to match Pinal County's marginal increase for McCain.

Only Mohave County gave McCain a greater increase over Bush's margin than Pinal County. Their registration increased 10.7%, their turnout jumped from 60.8% to 64.3% and they gave McCain a higher vote share than Bush by two points. Bush won by 63.6%-35.5%, while McCain won by 65.6%-32.7%.

Beyond these criminal 5, which gave McCain a combined margin 19,227 higher than Bush's, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Coconino, and Yuma are interesting.

Santa Cruz had only a 2.4% registration increase, low turnout (despite a jump from 56.1% to 62.5%), and is obviously very small. But they shifted dramatically to the left, voting 65.3%-34.0% for Obama, after voting 59.2%-40.0% for Kerry. That marks the largest percentage swing in either direction in the entire state. Thus, despite its small size, it gave Obama a margin 1,924 greater than Kerry's.

Coconino managed to give Obama a larger margin, by 2,530 votes, despite a 2.9% decrease in registered voters. They did that with a 5-point jump in turnout, a 4.2% increase in Obama's margin. Cochise is noteworthy because of its 18.8% registration increase. That increase gave McCain a 1,041 vote bump despite a turnout 6-point turnout drop and no change in the McCain-Bush vote shares. Finally, Yuma showed the second-highest registration increase by percentage, at 25.1%. They also say a dramatic turnout drop (about 7 points) and experienced about a 2-point partisan shift, exactly the statewide average (they still gave McCain 56.3% to Obama's 42.6%).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Definition of Marriage We Can All Get Behind

From DailyKos:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Getting to Know You

Check out CQPolitics.com's profiles of the new members of Congress

Please!

It's probably just wishful thinking from the National Review, but how awesome would this be?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Big Picture: Why Tonight Matters for 2010

Do I expect Jim Martin to win tonight? No. Is that a huge deal? Not really. One more Democrat in the Senate is always a plus, and I'm pulling for Jim tonight, but the most important question being decided tonight is not who will be the next Senator from Georgia. The real question is: how will African-American voters turnout when Barack Obama's name is not on the ballot and, instead, they merely have the option of voting for a white Obama surrogate?

The answer to this question has huge implications for 2010 and for Obama's ability to pull the Reagan-esque feat of preserving his majority throughout his administration.

Granted, there are no exit polls tonight, so we won't have real numbers for these turnout levels. Here's a benchmark: if Black turnout tonight is at the 2006 level, Chambliss will win by 20 points (in November he won by 3 points). And it's not just that Obama is Black. Actually, Black turnout is at 2004 levels, Martin will lose by 8.5 points.

Here's why:

Blacks as a percentage of the GA electorate
2004 - 25%
2006 - 16%
2008 - 30%

Granted, Black voters are not the only voters who turned out in higher numbers this year, but this election won't give us any indication on how young voters will turnout in 2010. 18-29 year-olds have shrunk as a percentage of Georgia's voters from 2004-2006 and 2006-2008.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

SUCH a Good Point

This is a large part of how a partisan realignment becomes permanent, in ideological, if not demographic terms. This "consensus-building" may not do anything for the new Democratic political majority, but it's a systematic way of moving the accepted "center" of our issue debates further to the left.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Ed Hermes Campaign Launches Its Blog

OK, so the blog was launched a while ago, but it's just another sign that Hermes has built an organization that can change politics in Maricopa County, and that's good if you, like me, prefer accountable government.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Can See You...

...You Are Reading Me

I Am Blog

Thursday, September 11, 2008

On the Senate Side...

Defense

We've got to fend off hard charges in LDs 23, 25, and 26, with LD26 being the really scary one.

LD23 Casa Grande-Florence-Coolidge-Maricopa-Eloy (R+4)
If Andre Campos wasn't a foot soldier in the Ron Paul Revolution, I'd truly be terrified of his last name in this district. As it stands, he'll still get a far higher share of the vote than a Paulite should ever get, even if it's only because of the R next to his name. If it turns out that he's not that crazy, I might change my rating on this one. For now, Sen. Rebecca Rios looks good (but honestly, when doesn't she?)
Race Rating: Likely Democratic

LD25 Gila Bend-Buckeye-Marana (R+1)
Previous election results tell the story here. Mary Ann Black lost to Sen. Marsha Arzberger by 15 points in 2006. Rep. Manny Alvarez has thrice won in 4-way races, never finishing below 1st place. I'm not criticizing Black's ability as a candidate, but in a district that has a history of electing Democrats, it would take someone a lot tougher to beat such an established Democratic name as Manny Alvarez.
Race Rating: Likely Democratic

LD26 Oro Valley-Catalina Foothills-Marana (R+4)
This is the race to watch in the state. Sen. Charlene Pesquiera beat Al Melvin by only 455 votes in 2006. There is no indication that his re-run against Cheryl Cage will be any less close.
Race Rating: Toss-Up

Offense

LD20 Ahwatukee-Chandler(R+3)
Nothing new here. I'm still on the Ted Maish bandwagon. This should be close.
Race Rating: Toss-Up

The races in LD9, LD10, LD11, LD12, and LD30 should be close-ish just based on the relative moderation of those districts, but I'll be shocked if we actually win any of them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

State House Races Update

Here's my update of the House Side of the Leg. Races

Seats to Protect


LD5 Payson-Globe-Snowflake-Safford (R+14) - Sen. Sylvia Tenney Allen's departure from the House race, albeit under tragic circumstances, is a boon to Rep. Jack Brown's reelection efforts. Given the closeness of the 2004 race, Brown could have been in real trouble. He'll still face competition from former Payson Mayor Barbara Brewer, but just a quick comparison of the primary numbers from 2004 and this year help to confirm my suspicion that Brewer is a significantly weaker candidate than Allen would have been.
Race Rating Change: Toss-Up to Leans Democratic

LD10 Phoenix (R+4) - Well, out of the primary emerged a patsy runningmate for Rep. Jackie Thrasher in Lamont Lovejoy. As I wrote before, I never bought that we would be able to knock out the Speaker, and a patsy runningmate is fine by me (see my to-be-completed thesis). Anyway, this is an exact rematch of the 2006 race and I expect the results to be similar. Thrasher does have the advantage of incumbency this time, so I'm not panicked, but she's at a severe risk.
Race Rating: Toss-Up/SlightD

LD11 Phoenix-Paradise Valley(R+4) - 2007 Phoenix Council Candidate Jon Altmann and Adam Driggs will be a tough ticket to stop. Just take a look at Altmann's website and you'll see that he perfectly fits the profile of a successful Republican candidate in that district. Eric Meyer, the party supported write-in, made it on the ballot and will receive Clean Elections funds. Jon Hulburd did not. Meyer is an emergency room doctor and a member of the Scottsdale School Board.
Race Rating Change: Toss-Up/SlightD to Toss-Up/SlightR

LD24 Yuma (R+7) - Nothing has changed in this race. Rep. Theresa Ulmer is extraordinarily vulnerable to Russ Jones' single-shot effort. I would put good money on Jones holding a seat in the House next year.
Race Rating: Leans Republican

On Offense

LD9
Peoria-Sun City-Glendale (R+9) - Memory of Sheri Van Horsen's near victory in 2006 (she came less than 800 votes from beating Rep. Rick Murphy), keeps this race on the list. Obviously, I think she came so close because she was a single-shot, but I'm not all that disappointed that she'll be accompanied by Progressive Majority candidate Shawn Hutchinson. 1) She's already a known entity in the district from her 2006 run, so any drop-off (Dems voting once) should hurt Hutchinson, not her and 2) the strongest Republican candidate from 2006, Bob Stump, is gone. Murphy is joined by Former LD chair Debbie Lesko on the GOP ticket.
Race Rating: Leans Republican

LD20
Ahwatukee-Chandler (R+3) - Michael Williams will not be on the ballot here, but Rae Waters was the only Dem with a shot anyway. Unfortunately, Rep. John McComish survived the primary, so Waters will have to go after Jeff Dial to win a seat.
Race Rating Change: Leans Republican to Toss-up/SlightR

LD21
Chandler-Southwest Mesa-Queen Creek (R+9) - Everybody knows the rundown here. Phill came within 0.9% of beating Warde Nichols in 2006 and he's back for another single-shot run. I've got to give the coordinated some props for sticking with this race in pretty red territory.
Race Rating Change: Toss-Up/SlightR

LD30 Green Valley-Sierra Vista-Tanque Verde (R+7) - A single-shot in 2006 came 5 points away from knocking off incumbent Jon Paton. The GOP's got have a whole new ticket here, featuring third-time candidate David Gowen and good ol' Frank Antenori, so now is as good a time as any to take a single-shot to this district. Andrea Dalessandro is doing just that. That isn't great, but it's reasonably close and gives us some reason to hope that the well-organized Dalessandro (she was quick to get her $5's in) can put a scare into a couple of GOP newcomers.
Race Rating: Likely Republican

Complete Messes

LD23 Casa Grande-Florence-Coolidge-Maricopa-Eloy (R+4) - Incumbent Rep. Pete Rios is retiring, leaving first-termer Barbara McGuire as the only incumbent, but she's got a really strong runningmate in former Rep. Ernest Bustamante. The best news since my last round-up is that Cheryl Chase is not on the GOP ticket. Instead, they've got a re-run of their 2006 ticket with two-time previous candidate Frank Pratt, a pool builder, and John Fillmore the Prez of the AJ GOP club. This district is too close to say that McGuire is totally safe, so she'll keep her Likely Democratic rating. The second seat will be a dogfight, just like it was in 2006. Still, I'd like to think that Bustamante in 2008, with his resume, Hispanic surname, and pro-life position, will be a better candidate than McGuire was in 2006 and should have an easier time of winning the second seat.
Race Rating Change: McGuire's seat - Likely Democratic, Open Seat - Toss-up to Toss-Up/SlightD

LD25
Gila Bend-Buckeye-Marana (R+1) - This race is wide open. Richard Boyer, 2006 Corp Comm candidate, former NH legislator, and bucket hat enthusiast is making a run for a much smaller lower house than the one in which he served in NH. Patricia Fleming is also running. The Republicans have David Stevens, third-time candidate, president of the Christian Medical and Dental Association and a friend of the Center for AZ Policy and Timathy Davies. This district leans Democratic at the legislative level, so I'd be really shocked if we get swept here. Still, since this district has never elected an all Democratic delegation (as far as I know) we're in a real fight for that second seat.
Race Ratings Change: First seat - Leans Democratic, Second Seat - Leans Republican to Toss-Up.

LD26
Oro Valley-Catalina Foothills-Marana (R+4) - The Democratic ticket here is composed of the 3 candidates who went before the Pima County Board to replace Lena Seradnik. Rep. Nancy Young Wright was chosen out of that process. The PC's preferred candidate, Don Jorgenson, will be joining her in running for the House. Vic Williams, the LD26 Vice Chair, and Marilyn Zerull are the Republican ticket.
Race Ratings Change: Young Wright's seat - Leans Democratic, Open Seat - Toss-up to Toss-Up/SlightR

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Legislature Primary Results

So, I want to dedicate some time in the next few days to analyzing the primary results (with some insights coming from my conversation with Joaquin tonight), but I'm really tired, so for now I'm just going to publish all of the relevant results (I only talk about the dominant party in most districts).

LD1 Prescott-Sedona (R+8)
Moderate Sen. Tom O'Halleran booted by conservative activist Steve Pierce. Rep. Lucy Mason and Rep. Andy Tobin renominated without contest.

This was a moderate v. conservative race, yes (Pierce was the Chair of the Yavapai GOP). But it also came down to Pierce spending over $180k to O'Halleran's $52k.

LD2 Flagstaff (D+21)
Rep. Tom Chabin renominated, but he comes in a distant second (53.1% to 32.2%) to Chris Deschene in the three-way race.

LD3 Kingman-Bullhead-Lake Havasu (R+13)
Rep. Trish Groe and her multiple DUIs booted by Doris Goodale. Rep. Nancy McLain renominated.

LD4 Surprise-Peoria-Buckeye-Wickenburg(R+13)
Sen. Jack Harper crushes "Team Napolitano" candidate John Zerby. Rep. Tom Boone and Rep. Judy Burges renominated unopposed.

LD5 Payson-Globe-Snowflake-Safford (R+14)
Everything in this district depends on pending write-in counts, but it looks as though Rep. Jack Brown will be running solo again "against" Rep. Bill Konopnicki and his "running-mate" Barbara Brewer, whom he ran ahead of by 16 points in the GOP primary. Sylvia Tenney Allen will take the Senate seat unopposed.

LD6 North Central Phoenix (R+10)
Carl Seel destroyed "Team Napolitano" candidate Tony Bouie (35.3% to 21.3%). Rep. Sam Crump renominated easily. Sen. Pamela Gordon renominated unopposed.

LD7 Northeast Phoenix-Cave Creek (R+10)
Sen. Jim Waring, Rep. Ray Barnes, and Rep. Nancy Barto all ran unopposed.

LD8 Scottsdale-Fountain Hills (R+9)
Sen. Carolyn Allen, Rep. John Kavanagh, and Rep. Michele Reagan all ran unopposed.

LD9 Peoria-Sun City-Glendale (R+9)
Sen. Robert Burns, Rep. Rick Murphy, and Debbie Lesko all ran unopposed.

LD10 Phoenix (R+4)
Sen. Linda Gray and Martin Monroe ran unopposed in their respective Senate primaries. Speaker Weiers and former Rep. Doug Quelland ran unopposed in the Republican House primary. Lamont Lovejoy edged out Leonard Clark to run with Jackie Thrasher, who sailed easily.

LD11 Phoenix-Paradise Valley (R+4)
Rep. Adam Driggs and Jon Altmann nominated unopposed. No word yet on Democratic write-ins Jon Hulburd and Eric Meyer (remember, this is DeSimone's district). Sen. Barbara Leff and Democrat Ann Wallack ran unopposed.

LD12 Glendale-Goodyear-El Mirage-Litchfield Park (R+8)
Rep. John Nelson and Angela Cotera nominated unopposed for the Senate. Sen. Robert Blendu ousted in the House primary by Steve Montenegro. Rep. Jerry Weiers sailed. Eve Nunez and David Scanlon nominated unopposed on the Democratic side.

LD13 Avondale-Tolleson-Phoenix (D+8)
Sen. Richard Miranda, Rep. Steve Gallardo, and Rep. Martha Garcia renominated unopposed.

LD14 Phoenix (D+11)
Rep. Chad Campbell and Rep. Robert Meza crushed John Valdez. Sen. Debbie McCune-Davis ran unopposed.

LD15 Phoenix (D+12)
Sen. Ken Cheuvront, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, and Rep. David Lujan renominated unopposed.

LD16 South Phoenix (D+18)
Rep. Ben Miranda and Rep. Cloves Campbell, Jr. held off challenges from Betty Doss Ware and Jimmie Munoz, Jr. Sen. Leah Landrum renominated unopposed.

LD17 Tempe-Scottsdale (D+7)
Sen. Meg Burton-Cahill, Rep. Ed Ableser, and Rep. David Schatz Schapira ran unopposed.

LD18 Northwest Mesa (R+12)
Rep. Russell Pearce beat "Team Napolitano" candidate Kevin Gibbons by over 37 points. Cecil Ash and Steve Court won the nominations for the two open House seats, with Court barely edging out Ron Middlebrook.

LD19 Northeast Mesa (R+14)
Sen. Chuck Gray, Rep. Kirk Adams, and Rep. Rich Crandall all ran unopposed.

LD20 Ahwatukee-Chandler(R+3)
Rep. John McComish ousted by Jeff Dial and Frank Schmuck. Sen. John Huppenthal and Ted Maish nominated unopposed. No word yet on Michael Williams' write-in bid for the 2nd House slot.

LD21 Chandler-Southwest Mesa-Queen Creek (R+9)
Sen. Jay Tibshraeny, Rep. Warde Nichols, Rep. Jim Yarbrough and Phil Hettmansperger all nominated unopposed.

LD22 Gilbert-Southeast Mesa (R+15)
Sen. Thayer Verschoor barely hung on against Rep. Eddie Farnsworth and likely owes his victory to the 19% pulled in by Joe Bedgood. Rep. Andy Biggs was easily renominated, while Laurin Hendrix won the second House slot.

LD23 Casa Grande-Florence-Coolidge-Maricopa-Eloy (R+4)
Rep. Barbara McGuire renominated along with former Rep. Ernest Bustamante. John Fillmore and Frank Pratt nominated uncontested by the GOP. Sen. Rebecca Rios and Ron Paul activist Andre Campos also nominated uncontested.

LD24 Yuma (R+7)
Sen. Amanda Aguirre's only opponent will be a Green. Rep. Lynne Pancrazi, Rep. Theresa Ulmer, and Russ Jones all nominated unopposed.

LD25 Gila Bend-Buckeye-Marana (R+1)
Rep. Manny Alvarez (for Senate), Pat Fleming and Ric Boyer won the Democratic nominations uncontested. Mary Ann Black, Timathy Davies, and David Stevens won the Republican nominations uncontested.

LD26 Oro Valley-Catalina Foothills-Marana (R+4)
Al Melvin edged out Rep. Pete Hershberger in the Senate primary, giving some hope to Cheryl Cage. RINO Vic Williams, and SA prodigy Trent Humphries won a very close race against Marilyn Zerull. Rep. Nancy Young Wright and Don Jorgenson nominated unopposed.

LD27 West Tucson (D+15)
Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford and Rep. Phil Lopes crushed John Kromko. Sen. Jorge Garcia renominated unopposed.

LD28 Central Tucson (D+13)
Sen. Paula Aboud, Rep. David Bradley, and Rep. Steve Farley all ran unopposed.

LD29 South Tucson (D+10)
Rep. Tom Prezelski ousted by Matt Heinz and Daniel Patterson. Rep. Linda Lopez nominated unopposed for the Senate.

LD30 Green Valley-Sierra Vista-Tanque Verde (R+7)
David Gowan and Frank Antenori won a very close 4-way House primary. Andrea Dalessandro nominated unopposed on the Democratic side. Rep. Jonathan Paton and Georgette Valle nominated unopposed for the Senate.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Miss Information

BIG NEWS: Barack Obama has named Kathleen Sebelius to be his running mate.

More on this later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Review of the Senate Race Polls

Some races have changed significantly, so I've added some updates.

This is one of those days when I take some time to find out what's going on in the races around the country. The House race rating averages are up-to-date, and now I turn my attention to the Senate races.

Alaska
Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) has steadily held on to a small lead over Sen. Ted Stevens (R) for some time now. The most recent poll from Rasmussen suggests that his lead might be starting to expand. Since the indictment, Begich has opened up a huge lead.

Alabama
State Sen. Vivian Figures (D) is going nowhere. She'll be hard-pressed to get to 40%. Jeff Sessions (R) is safe.

Arkansas
You know Sen. Mark Pryor (D) is safe when I have to look up the race to find out who his opponent is. Turns out he doesn't have one. At least not a Republican one. Instead, the Green Party nominee and a independent gun rights activist will compete for 2nd place.

Colorado
Some polls have shown a very tight race here, but Mark Udall's (D) lead over Bob Schaffer (R) is probably in the 5-8 point range. This is not a done deal, but Udall will have to mess up pretty badly to blow this seat.

Delaware
I had to look up Joe Biden's (D) opponent, too. It turns out that she's a mildly attractive political consultant named Christine O'Donnell (R). I'd say the race is over, but it never really started.

Georgia
On paper, former longtime State Rep. Jim Martin (R) is the perfect candidate to take Saxby Chambliss (R). Indeed, Rasmussen's recent poll showing a 51%-40% lead for Chambliss shows more reason to be optimistic that I would have anticipated. On the other hand, Georgia is just about the only state that seems to have gotten redder during President Bush's 2nd term. Look for the NRSC to have to spend some money here, but something dramatic would have to happen to Martin to pull this one off. Two polls in a row put Martin within 6 points of Chambliss. This race suddenly turned into the sleeper of the cycle.

Iowa
In another laugher, I just learned that Tom Harkin's (D) opponent is a businessman named Chris Reed (R).

Idaho
There hasn't been any reliable polling on this race as far as I know. My assessment of this race is largely the same as what I wrote about Georgia. We've got the perfect candidate for the state, but the state is still conservative as hell.

Illinois
It turns out that Dick Durbin's (D) opponent is a med school professor named Steve Sauerberg (R). Huh. Who knew?

Kansas
Pat Roberts (R) gets the award for best defense of a seat by an incumbent. We recruited the best possible candidate this side of Kathleen Sebelius and the blogging class got all amped up about the possibility of a real race here. Did Roberts wait until September or so to see if Jim Slattery (D) caught any traction? No. Instead, he and the NRSC went straight for the jugular and ripped Slattery's head off. Roberts is now polling in the 60%+ range whereas Slattery's negatives are even with his positives. This race is over.

Kentucky
The award for worst defense of a seat by an incumbent? That just might go to Mitch McConnell (R). Maybe it's because of his weird ads comparing himself to Alben Barkley and bragging about earmarks, but for whatever reason, his lead is down to about 4-7 points against two-time gubernatorial loser Bruce Lunsford (D). And Lunsford has got the personal wealth to chip into that small lead. McConnell has bounced back and has a double-digit lead. This one will be real tough.

Louisiana
Landrieu's lead is small, about 4-7 points. But I sense that Louisiana voters' distaste for John Kennedy (recently R) is greater than their distaste for the Democratic Party, even if not by much. A new Rasmussen poll shows a huge shift towards Landrieu. I'm not sure I buy it, but I never bought into Kennedy in the first place, either.

Massachusetts
I actually knew the name of John Kerry's woeful opponent, Jeff Beatty and didn't have to look it up.

Maine
All year we've been waiting for this race to start to break and it finally looks like it might have. Tom Allen (D) now consistently polls within 10 points of Susan Collins (R). Not exactly awe-inspiring stuff for a guy who has represented half the state for 12 years, but pretty good against one of the most popular home state politicians in the nation. The analogy to last cycle's Rhode Island race should be discouraging, not encouraging. Here's why: John Kerry beat George Bush by over 20 points in Rhode Island, and by only 9 points in Maine. Sheldon Whitehouse beat Lincoln Chafee by 7 points, a margin smaller than the gap in presidential voting between these two New England states. Allen can win, but I'm not ready to get on his bandwagon just yet. Collins hasn't been under 50% for a while now. I'm afraid this race will be as tough as Kentucky.

Michigan
Carl Levin (D) faces some guy called Jack Hoogendyk (R).

Minnesota
Have Al Franken's (D) self-inflicted wounds (making a joke about rape in public years ago) hurt his standing? New polls by SurveyUSA and Quinnipiac seem to suggest they have. Rasmussen's polls show no movement. Rasmussen has always had this race at about a toss-up, whereas other firms show Norm Coleman (R) with leads around 10 points. Who's right? I'm of course a huge Rasmussen fan, and in this case I'd like to go with them. But I do think Coleman still has an edge here, just not a large one. Coleman's still ahead, but it's close.

Mississippi-A
In one of the few Republican laughers, Thad Cochran (R) gets to destroy former LaRouche activist Erik Fleming (D).

Mississippi-B
How can this not be the sexy upset pick of the cycle? Former governor Ronnie Musgrove is the perfect candidate for this race and Obama's presence on the ticket is sure to explode previous black turnout levels. Add to that that every recent poll in the world shows a tie, and we've got ourselves a genuine race in Dixie. Wicker has opened up a substantial lead here. I'm worried I made the wrong pick here.

Montana
Remember the debacle of a primary that led to the MT GOP nominating the Constitution Party's 2002 Senate nominee? Well, it was hilarious. What could be more hilarious than that? The party's hand-picked nominee, a former State Senate Majority Leader, is still running, as a write-in.

North Carolina
I've been on the Kay Hagan (D) bandwagon for some time. Still, she's really gonna have to ramp up her fund-raising if she wants to compete with the kind of spending Liddy Dole (R) exhibited immediately after Hagan's primary win, spending that has her lead back in the double digits. The DSCC has committed $5 million here, if I remember correctly, so they a) still think this race is winnable and b) are willing to spend freely to help Hagan close the money gap. This race just gets closer. It's practically tied.

Nebraska
Scott Kleeb (D) has turned out to be a total flop and it looks like Mike Johanns' (R) service in President Bush's cabinet isn't the scarlet letter we'd hoped. This will be a walk-over, even as Obama competes for a couple of electoral votes here.

New Hampshire
Not much has changed here, which is good news for Jeanne Shaheen (D). Her lead over Jon Sununu (R) looks to still be in the double digits.

New Jersey
Given what we have to judge by in other states, former Congressman Dick Zimmer (R) is a pretty decent recruit. But that says more about the NRSC's difficulties this cycle than it does about Zimmer himself. Expect Frank Lautenberg to win by one of his customarily small, but comfortable margins.

New Mexico
If we've been waiting for Maine to break, I suspect Republicans have been waiting for Steve Pearce (R) to start making up some ground here. That's just not happening. Tom Udall (D) is polling in the 60s and Pearce might be lucky to get within 20 points by election day. Rasmussen shows a huge shift towards Pearce, but still an 8 point lead for Udall.

Oklahoma
I've got to admit, I've been really disappointed in Andrew Rice (D). He's still got the best biography of any candidate this side of Jackie Speier (CA-12), but he's been pretty poor as a candidate. He's got less than $800k on hand and that's just not gonna cut it.

Oregon
Rasmussen sees a Jeff Merkley (D) surge here and a tied race. No one else has released a poll since May, so let's hold our breath and wait for another poll to confirm the Merkley really has caught Gordon Smith (R). That tied poll was an outlier. Smith still leads with Merkley in striking range.

Rhode Island
Jack Reed (D) is working on the biggest blow-out of the cycle, with Rasmussen's only poll in this race showing a gigantic 72%-20% spread over his opponent, casino worker Bob Tingle (R).

South Carolina
This is the one state where it was the Democrat that I had to look up. He's a pilot named Bob Conley (D). He'll get 35-40%.

South Dakota
Another laugher. Tim Johnson (D) might have a shot at beating Jack Reed's margin over his opponent, with Johnson beating up on Joel Dykstra (R).

Texas
Rick Noriega (D) has virtually no money and his poll numbers are headed the wrong way. This race might be slipping away.

Tennessee
If a conservative Republican has to be reelected by a landslide, I'm glad that it's gonna be Lamar Alexander (R). I like the guy.

Virginia
Nothing new here. The real question is whether Mark Warner (D) or Tom Udall (D) will set the mark for biggest margin of victory in an open seat race.

West Virginia
Forgot Jay Rockefeller (D) was up for reelection? Me too.

Wyoming-A
Mike Enzi is safe.

Wyoming-B
John Barrasso is safe, too.

Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Virginia are pretty close to sure things. North Carolina is very close. Our prospects look a little worse, but still decent, in Georgia, Minnesota, and Oregon. Also winnable, but pretty unlikely are Kentucky, Maine, and Mississippi.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In Defense of Legislative Intent, Sometimes

I was just talking to an unnamed source about Scalia's A Matter of Interpretation, especially Scalia's distaste for the reliance upon legislative intent in court opinions, and I took issue with Scalia's position, although perhaps I was just trying to make up for my real admiration for the most intellectually gifted of our modern day Four Horsemen.

I'm too lazy to find an actual quote from Scalia on his position, so instead I'll just borrow this from Wikipedia:

"Others, most notably United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, have objected generally to the use of such evidence, rather than reliance on the literal language of the statute, arguing that such evidence of "legislative intent" is often created by proponents of a bill to persuade a court to interpret the statute in a way that they were not able to persuade the legislative body to adopt when passing the bill."

Let me first say that his justification is factually correct. Proponents of bills often attempt to manipulate the congressional record, in hopes of affecting future court interpretations, ala the "floor debate" that Jon Kyl and Lindsay Graham cited in a February 2006 brief to the Court regarding the Detainee Treatment Act. Other times, the legislative history of a given bill may be unclear for completely innocuous reasons. Perhaps most of the real debate took place in cloakrooms. Perhaps one side didn't bother to offer their thoughts on the floor. I would agree with Justice Scalia that in any of these cases, assertions regarding legislative intent should be cast aside. Indeed, Justice Stevens' majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld took exactly that course, remarking that, "[t]hose statements appear to have been inserted in the Congressional Record after the Senate debate."

But that is not to say that legislative intent can NEVER be abundantly clear. I remember reading, for a class, pages and pages of the Congressional Record on the debate over the National Security Act of 1947 for which the issues at hand were plainly clear and well defined. In such cases, I see no reason why legislative intent should not be at least ONE of the tools available to the interpreting judge.

I should say, however, that there is one theoretical issue that challenges the legitimacy of legislative intent, a challenge for which I have no really satisfactory answer. That is, whose intent are we talking about here? With 535 voting members of Congress, there is likely to be some variety of intents. Even among majority coalitions, of whom I think we can assume we're talking (the intent of the minority in each case would have been for the bill to NOT become law) about a bit of a mess. And yet, I'm confident that this is such a thing as a "general will" when laws are made, although perhaps I'd like to drop the shroud of mysticism that surrounds Rousseau's version of it. On some basic level, we can find obvious intentions that unite the majority behind a bill. Now perhaps it will be rare that such universal intentions are both distinguishable and of enough detail to be relevant to a court case. But that should not preclude such intent, alongside other considerations from governing the few cases where it is adequate (and adequately discerned) to do so.

Why does this matter? I've already admitted that the number of cases we're talking about is likely quite small. And I'm not even trying to say that intent should be the only important interest, even when it is and interest. But a categorical dismissal of legislative intent would strike at the very heart of republican government, the (supreme) sovereignty of the legislative power. I'm not sure how we can claim to be democrats or republicans if we are willing to accept that a judge can willfully ignore the clear will of the legislature (provided they haven't violated the Constitution, of course).

I'm likely passionate about this particular issue at this particular time because I've been indoctrinated in the rules of interpretation for Chilean law, rules which are traced back to Napoleonic, and eventually Roman ideas. There is a particular concept called the "reference to the legislator" that is relating to this discussion and that I find particularly interesting. I'll add something about it to the end of this post if I have time between dinner and getting drunk.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Forecasting the Democratic Wave

What follows is based on an analysis of national Presidential and House popular vote totals since 1948. I did not look at House seats, but the national vote. I did it while watching the All-Star Game (which was awesome, if you didn't see it).

There is a steady pattern to our congressional elections. A larger than usual caucus of a president's party is swept into office with that president. Two years later, the president's party loses ground, unless the year is 1986, 1990, or 2002 (or even 1978 or 1998, when the president's party suffered only minor setbacks). Pass another two years, and one of two things happens: 1) the president (or a successor of his own party) is reelected, while his party draws down a vote share that exceeds that of the previous midterm, but almost never reaches the heights of the president's first election ; 2) a new president (of a different party) is elected, and their party is riding high relative to their historical performance and the cycle starts again.

So, what does the cycle portend for the likely upcoming Obama administration? Well, a party taking over the White House after large gains in the previous midterm in a familiar occurrence in post-WWII politics. That's what happened in 1960, 1968, and 1976. In those elections, the incoming president's party either did no better than it did in the previous midterm (1968) or actually did considerably worse (1960, 1976). Now that's fine, since our majority is decently large enough to survive a hit in the 2010 midterms and maybe even through the 2014 midterms as well.

At the same time, big change comes from big majorities. Our majority is not big by historical standards. Perhaps there is a way to break out of the cycle that so many post-WWII administrations have followed. The Reagan administration did just that. Their electoral high-point was actually the 1986 midterm, when House Republicans only lost by 2.5%. No other post-WWII administration has done so well so late in their cycle. Assuming Obama wins this election and the next one, it will be incumbent on Democrats to figure out what Reagan figured out in the 1980s. If we don't, we're likely looking at a short-lived majority. If we do, we're looking at a real seismic shift in politics long past the end of his administration. In Reagan's case, that impact was that he got his party within striking distance for Newt Gingrich to eventually lead them to the promised land for the first time in forever, an eventuality that would have seemed impossible in the 1970s (the years leading up to Reagan).

Here's another way to look at Reagan's impact on his own party.

Democrats fell from a 5.8% win in Truman's first election to a virtual tie in his last midterm
Republicans fell from a .1% win in Eisenhower's first election to an 11.9% loss in his last midterm
Democrats fell from +9.5% to +2.5% under Kennedy/Johnson
Republicans fell from -1.8% to -16.6% under Nixon/Ford
Democrats fell from +10.8% to +8.7% under Carter
Republicans rose from -2.7% to -2.5% under Reagan
Republicans rose from -7.9% to -7.2% under Bush
Democrats fell from +5.1% to -0.9% under Clinton
Republicans fell from +0.3% to -7.9% under Bush


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is There a "Defining Social Issue"?

I'd like to respond to Devin's comment that gay rights and not abortion is the defining social issue of the day. First, I should say that Devin and I have talked about this at some length and so some of what I write here will likely be unconsciously stolen from something he said.

I wonder if it's really at all possible to pick a "defining" social issue. Certainly, the typical combo is abortion and gay marriage. But guns, affirmative action, school prayer (and the fight over the secularization of society in general), immigration (and nativism) have each in recent years played the sort of role that a social issue does. Perhaps we're off on the wrong foot when we try to pin down one "defining" issue, by which I believe we mean an issue that seems to determine one's general social attitudes. While it might be interesting and even useful to track individual issues and their salience over time, it's not clear to me that Americans branch "social issues" into separate fights with specific contexts. On the other hand, I get the impression that social attitudes tend to all run together. "Social conservatives" would be those who for whatever reason feel that something fundamental and worth hanging on to in American culture is being annihilated by feminism, gays, civil rights, abortion, secularism, or something. "Social liberals" find these views, and the outrage that accompanies them, to be totally incomprehensible. "Social moderates" maybe sympathize with both camps, and simply don't get all worked up about the fights we're talking about.

That's not a new postulation. Since the 1960s ended (around 1974), we've been told that every election was a referendum on the 60s. Even Obama has been known to use this rhetoric, arguing that most of us are really social moderates, while our conversation on social issues has lately been driven by old 1960s activists for either side.

Which is not to say that such a formulation is correct. And even if it is, that does not eliminate the possibility of a "defining social issue". However we mark off the camps, it's possible that we'll find one issue on which the two sides are perfected divided. Devin made the point to me that abortion is certainly not that issue, given the large number of prominent pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans (even among party elites and activists). But if abortion is not the issue, I'm not yet convinced that any issue is.

Besides, finding a "defining social issue" doesn't help us to interpret this poll. We have no idea what each respondent thought was meant by social conservative, moderate, and liberal (nor do we really have any clue on the economic issues).

Perhaps, then, what this poll does isn't to break voters into ideological groups based on actual positions, but to break voters into groups based on their comfort with certain labels. Knowing that a voters considers them self a social liberal rather than a moderate does tell us something about them. But it doesn't tell us the same thing that we would get from asking about individual social issues and concrete positions for them.

Anyway, this kind of stuff just screams for the Pew Survey or something.

More Ratings Moves

Just catching up on House race rankings. Check the margin for new averages.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Reverse-Engineering Rasmussen's Ideological Breakdown of the Electorate

Today, Rasmussen put up this awesome ideological breakdown of the electorate, based on 15,000 likely voter interviews conducted throughout June. This is the kind of thing that really makes me wish Rasmussen would allow you to buy access to cross-tabs for individual polls, rather than have to pay $20 a month to subscribe. Not wanting to shell out $20, I've instead decided to reverse-engineer the numbers they've publicized to try to come up with the cross-tabs myself. As a caveat, I should say that the published numbers are rounded and therefore my numbers will not be exact.

Here's what I've found, remember these are, at best, estimates of the actual numbers.

On Fiscal issues, voters breakdown asi:

Conservative 38.5%
Moderate 45.5%
Liberal 11%
Not Sure/Other 5%

On Social issues, asi:

Conservative 35.8%
Moderate 32.7%
Liberal 29.6%

But the real genius of this effort by Rasmussen is that they pair ideological positions in each category to more closely show the ideological contours of the electorate. For example, they tell us (aka, not my estimates) that 24% of the electorate is both fiscally and socially conservative.

Here's that breakdown:

Fiscal and Social Conservatives (24%)
Fiscal and Social Moderates (20%)
Fiscal Moderates and Social Liberals (15%)
Fiscal Conservatives and Social Moderates (10%)
Fiscal Moderates and Social Conservatives (10%)
Fiscal and Social Liberals (9%)
Fiscal Conservatives and Social Liberals (4%)

Here's another way to look at it (also based on published data). Of social conservatives (35.8% of voters), 67% are also fiscally conservative, while 28% are fiscally moderate. Among social moderates (32.7% of voters), 62% are also fiscally moderate, while 30% are fiscally conservative -considering myself a social moderate (uncomfortable with abortion) and a fiscal liberal, I'm apparently in a tiny, largely non-existent group. Of social liberals (29.6% of voters), 51% are fiscal moderates, while 30% are fiscal liberals and about 13% are fiscal conservatives.

From yet another angle we see that fiscal conservatives (38.5%) are 62% social conservatives and 26% social moderates. Fiscal moderates (45.5%) are 43% social moderates, 33% social liberals, and 22% social conservatives. Fiscal liberals are 79% socially liberal.

How do all of these categories translate into votes?

Fiscal and Social Liberals (9%) support Obama 91% to 6%.
Fiscal Moderates and Social Liberals (15%) support Obama 80% to 13%.
Fiscal and Social Moderates (20%) support Obama 59% to 30%.
Fiscal Conservatives and Social Liberals (4%) support Obama 53% to 38%.

On the other hand,

Fiscal and Social Conservatives (24%) support McCain 82% to 13%.
Fiscal Conservatives and Social Moderates (10%) support McCain 67% to 25%.
Fiscal Moderates and Social Conservatives (10%) support McCain 51% to 40%.

Or, as Rasmussen says,

"Looked at from a different perspective, 25% of Obama’s support comes from voters who are fiscally moderate and socially liberal. Twenty-four percent (24%) are both fiscally and socially moderate while 17% are fiscally and socially liberal. No other group provides more than 8% of Obama’s support.

Forty-five percent (45%) of McCain supporters are both fiscally and socially conservative, 15% are fiscally conservative and socially moderate, 14% are both fiscally and socially moderate, and 12% are fiscally moderate and socially conservative."

Maybe I'll post on what I think all of this means after I mull it over a bit.

Rothenberg Follows Cook with New Ratings

Positive developments in OR-5, OH-18, NY-13, MO-9, PA-3, VA-2.
Negative development in PA-18.

Only OR-5 moves in my averages.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

From Whence Cometh the Obama-jority

Barack Obama is obviously polling better than the performance of Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004, respectively. With leads in places like Indiana, Colorado, and Virginia, there is some talk of a dramatic shake up of the electoral map (why I don't care about the map, here). Regardless, all of the map talk tends to ignore other signs of change around the country, since a state only appears to have "changed" if it moves from Red to Blue, or the other way around. Below, I have created a chart (with polling-data-informed projections taken from fivethirtyeight.com, methodology here) showing the change in each state between today and the result in each of 2004 and 2000. The numbers shown are the change in the margin of victory (or defeat) for the Democratic candidate. A positive number shows a shift in our direction, and is therefore colored blue. A (red) negative number means just the opposite. Among the blue numbers, the bold ones indicate that the state has shifted to the left more than has the country as a whole in the given time period. Italics indicate that the state has shifted to the left, but less so than the country as a whole.

Please, peruse the chart. My comments are below.


2008-2004 2008-2000
AL 5.92% -4.82%
AK 18.75% 24.15%
AZ -0.13% -4.32%
AR -1.54% -5.86%
CA 8.75% 6.90%
CO 7.77% 11.46%
CT 5.83% -1.27%
DE 3.71% -1.76%
DC -14.04% -10.40%
FL 1.31% -3.69%
GA 7.70% 2.79%
HI 4.26% -5.33%
ID 17.12% 18.53%
IL 7.36% 5.69%
IN 21.28% 16.23%
IA 7.27% 6.29%
KS 14.58% 10.00%
KY 2.76% -1.97%
LA 2.01% -4.82%
ME 3.70% 7.59%
MD 1.72% -1.69%
MA -9.36% -11.50%
MI 1.68% -0.03%
MN 8.12% 9.20%
MS 9.19% 6.41%
MO 2.90% -0.96%
MT 10.90% 15.47%
NE 17.32% 13.09%
NV 0.79% 1.75%
NH 5.93% 8.57%
NJ 5.92% -3.23%
NM 3.49% 2.64%
NY -0.69% -7.38%
NC 8.03% 8.43%
ND 20.86% 21.10%
OH 6.51% 7.91%
OK 10.74% 1.48%
OR 1.74% 5.46%
PA 3.60% 1.93%
RI -2.15% -10.48%
SC 7.48% 6.33%
SD 13.67% 14.93%
TN -1.73% -12.14%
TX 15.36% 13.82%
UT 20.64% 15.59%
VT 0.96% 11.16%
VA 8.30% 8.14%
WA 6.62% 8.22%
WV 2.96% -3.58%
WI 8.72% 8.88%
WY 18.29% 18.56%
Total 5.96% 2.98%

1) Obvious Anticipated Changes - There are certain states where shifts are to be expected. Obama should do worse in MA and TN compared to 2004 and 2000 because he is not from those states, as Kerry and Gore were. Indeed, he's polling about 10% worse than Kerry in MA and 12% worse than Gore in TN. To note on MA, though, he's actually further behind Gore than he is Kerry, suggesting that something else is afoot. On the other hand, Illinois should show stronger improvement than the rest of the country, and indeed it does. The home state thing applies to the Republican's state, too, and we see Obama making huge gains over Kerry-Gore in Texas and showing losses in Arizona. We might also expect to see a resurgence in NJ and NY as they start to recover from the "9/11 effect". In NJ, we do see marked improvement over 2004, but it's only about the same as the national shift. In NY, the change is actually some small back-sliding. And in each state Obama does far worse than Al Gore, suggesting that the "9/11 effect" is not yet gone.

2) Large Gains in Deep Red Territory - 12 states show 10%+ positive shifts since 2004. These are Indiana (21.28%), North Dakota (20.86%), Utah (20.64%), Alaska (18.75%), Wyoming (18.29%), Nebraska (17.32%), Idaho (17.12%), Texas (15.36%), Kansas (14.58%), South Dakota (13.67%), Montana (10.90%), and Oklahoma (10.74%). All but Indiana are west of the Mississippi. All but Indiana are projected to state Red by a healthy margin. But just imagine how much easier (or I should say less hard) it will be to run as a Democrat in any of those states because of these earthquakes at the presidential level.

3) Gains in the Midwest and Deep South - While not as dramatic as the gains in the West, Obama is gaining over John Kerry in the Midwest and the Deep South. Where is he not gaining so impressively? 1) The Northeast, 2) The Border States, 3) The long-competitive parts of the West, 4) Michigan, and 5) Florida. You can see these patterns on the map below. Blue states showed gains of at least twice the national average. Red states showed smaller gains. Yellow states showed back-sliding from 2004 or gains of less than the national average.


2004-2008

For good measure, here's the map for the 2000 to 2008 changes. Same deal as above, except that blue means 10%+ improvements, while reds are improvements of the single-digit variety (though above the national average). As you can see, the maps are strikingly similar, with the exception of the marked improvements in the upper northeast, which took until 2004 to finish realigning, maybe because they hadn't had a northern Democrat to vote for since 1988.


2000-2008

If large gains by Obama can translate to down-ticket success, we could be in the midst of a new realignment. The "huge swing" states from the 2004-2008 map are currently governed by 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats. They have 15 Republican Senators to only 5 Democratic ones, and have 34 Republicans and 23 Democrats in the House. Only 1 of the 18 partisan legislative chambers (exempting Nebraska) is controlled by Democrats (Indiana House, 51-49). The other states that are swinging above the national average are also ripe for takeovers. We're already doing pretty well at the state level, with a 10-5 lead in governorships and 19-10 edge in legislative chambers (the Oklahoma Senate is split). But their congressional delegations show more room for improvement. Their Senators are closely split, with 16 Democrats to 14 Republicans. At just 96-84, our lead among their Representatives is not overwhelming, either, considering that California nets us 15 seats by itself. For comparison's sake, in the yellow states, where Obama does not appear to be growing the party, we already hold 30 of 50 Senate seats, 117 of 198 House seats, 16 of 25 governorships, and 37 of 50 legislative chambers (Tennessee Senate is tied). In other words, there isn't much room for the party to grow, so no growth isn't necessarily a bad sign, especially since there aren't any signs of significant decline (from 2004) outside of Massachusetts.

The point is this: a 6-point shift in our direction matters beyond just moving 65 new electoral votes into our column (CO, IN, IA, NM, OH, VA). Yes, electoral votes matter. Of course they do. But if it looks likely that Obama will have plenty of cushion above 270, as it does, then it doesn't much matter which camp Virginia or Indiana, or Missouri, or any other single state ends up in. More important is that Obama is ratcheting up his numbers most in the places where we most need it. It is significant that Obama's gains are reflected in closer losses in deep red states like Indiana, Georgia, and Kansas, (where we have a lot to gain) rather than huge wins in deep blue states like New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland (where we have virtually nothing to gain). It's the difference between a 60-seat Senate majority scraped out in nail-biters in Idaho and Kentucky, for instance, and a lot of wasted votes in blowout wins in New Jersey and Arkansas.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two Birds With One Stone

1) My laptop adapter is dead, so my laptop is useless unless I can find a new adapter with a universal plug.  Also, my parents and grandparents are here until next Thursday.  Those two events combine to signify that I'll only be posting here when I a) have some rare free time and b) can use Tommy's computer or one at school.  

2) Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, in their new book which I just can't wait to read, seem to argue, as far as I can tell from these reviews and this podcast (sorry to make you go to the National Review), that the Republicans should turn into something between Christian Democrats and Tories in that they want to both play to and alleviate working class anxiety on social, foreign, and economic issues.  Indeed, they take Bush to task for claiming he would build an administration in that vein and utterly failing to follow through.  One argument that Douthat makes on the podcast is largely indicative of what they seem to be getting at.  He claims that no matter what happens in American politics, we'll always have a liberal party that looks out for the economic interests of the very, very poor (who don't have the luxury of worrying about social issues) and the social interests of the elites (who don't have to worry about the pocketbook stuff).  Therefore, it should be the role of a conservative party to look out for all of the interests of the working class, which Douthat and Salam identify as people who are neither college-educated nor destitute.  And if you read the few policy prescriptions in the reviews (although both remark that the list seems rather short), you'll see that they're serious, even on the economic stuff.  Indeed, if a Republican president ever actually proposed wage subsidies for low-paying jobs, the congressional coalition to pass it would almost certainly be led by urban liberals. 

So my question is: assume that in 25 years the issue profile of the GOP reflects Douthat and Salam's thrust; what does the Democratic Party turn into?  If the GOP holds on to it's muscular (if not aggressive) foreign policy, we can anticipate our side drifting to in two directions.  One is isolationism, and the "Iraq syndrome" might lead us there, but I have a heard time seeing bleeding hearts like me (who will stay as long as we're the stalwart defenders of the very, very poor, as Douthat assumes) totally ignoring, say, AIDS and withdrawing entirely from the world.  The other possibility is probably something like a 21st century version of liberal internationalism, as advanced by Matt Yglesias' new book, which I can't wait to read, either. 

But the answers to the social and economic questions aren't obvious, at least not to me.  Since I've raised the Tory analogy, maybe the left's answer is some combination of Democratic Socialist Old Labour, Third Way New Labor, and the Liberal Democrats.  On economics, that would imply either Labour's instincts to promote stale ideas that are better for sounding populist than being of significant help to people (aka, what we've done since the Great Society) or the Lib Dem's emphasis on income redistribution specifically aimed at 1) eradicating extreme poverty and 2) preventing the government from ever redistributing income upwards.  To me it's really a generation question.  The elites of the party would likely head in the Labour direction.  DLCers would obviously love the focus on populist rhetoric (as opposed to honestly populist policies) and the middle class.   And old-school democratic socialists would love adherence to an ideological programme rather than the values that shaped it.  But younger progressives (hell, if you take that label you're virtually guaranteed to be youngish) would likely drift towards the Lib Dems' emphases, all the while at least holding fort with the Tory-right in sustaining a social safety net and doing all of the sort of marginal improvements for the middle class that we can expect out of a third way government.  Essentially, that would look like the Democratic Party today, added a recommitment to actively combating poverty and the imposition of a framework that seeks out any possible way to make the overall fiscal picture more downwardly redistributive.  It would be marginally better than the GOP's posture on substance, but pretty much a wash politically.  

Now social issues are where it gets really interesting.  It's a bit hard to impose the choice-life divide on UK politics since the life side isn't as strong as it is here (and none of the parties have a position on their websites), but the divisions on the abortion related votes of May 19-20 of this year are telling.  If you look through those votes, you'll see that about 3/4 of Tories and a size-able number of Labour and Lib Dem MPs (about 1/4 of each, although the numbers are actually higher for the LDs) support a more restrictive abortion policy that the UK currently has.  That's probably about the same for the numbers if you took a poll of members of the our House on the choice-life question.  However, if the GOP actually undertook the Douthat-Salam transformation, they'd likely boot a large number of our pro-lifers from office, as they tend to represent districts and states with a lot of working class whites, the non-Obama Democrats (in the primaries).  So perhaps a stalwart, almost reactionary liberalism on abortion as preached by NARAL and others might be imposed on the party as a whole from the top down.  That's just my first thought on this area and I don't really have a theory on where we'd go (or where we should go) as a reaction to a hypothetical GOP shift.  

So I want to hear what you think.  How would our party react?  Would it react at all?  How should it react, from an objective standpoint?  How should it react to in order to fashion a new majority?  Finally, if we reacted as you think, or as I do, would you still be a Democrat?  Or would an honest-to-goodness "compassionately conservative" party be better than what we would become?  Or at least good enough that you'd be a swing voter?  

I know this is a strange avenue of thought at a time when our party is looking forward to a landslide victory in a few months, and it's the Republicans who are thinking about reforming themselves.  Yet, it's very possible that the Republicans may turn out to be smart enough to remake themselves and it's very possible that they'll take the path aluded to here.  Indeed, the GOP has probably remade itself 3 times since the New Deal, while I'd argue we haven't done it once.  So, I think it's worth thinking about.   

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day at the Races

The Rothenberg Political Report released updated House ratings today. The changes are as follows:

MS-1 Shifts from Toss-up to Leans Dem
OR-5 Shifts from Leans Dem to Toss-up/Tilt Dem
NY-20 Shifts from Dem Favored to Leans Dem
AK-AL Shifts from Toss-up/Tilt GOP to Toss-up
NY-13 Shifts from GOP Favored to Toss-up
CO-4 Shifts from GOP Favored to Toss-up/Tilt GOP

In my averages, MS-1 shifts from Slight Tilt Dem to Advantage Dem; OR-5 shifts from Advantage Dem to Slight Tilt Dem; NY-13 shifts from Advantage GOP to Pure Tossup; CO-4 shifts from Advantage GOP to Slight Tilt GOP.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once Again, Rain Leads to Veep Post

It´s pouring outside, and so as much as I´m looking forward to leftover lasagna (you really have no idea) I´d rather not leave the friendly confines of Casa Central until it settles down. So, I guess that means I´m back to my Veep candidate profiles. By popular demand, the first obviously must be KS from KS. So, here we go.

Kathleen Sebelius

1) Good President? One of TIME´s 5 best governors. One of Governing magazine´s best public officials in 2001 (as KS Insurance Commissioner). 8 years as a legislator. A budget balancer, an insurance industry reformer. She would be an awesome president.

2) New face of the party? Hell ya. She´s liberal as hell (raised taxes to boost education funding, vetoed coal plants, vetoed concealed-carry, opposes the death penalty, and gets Ds from the Cato Institute). And at the same time, she´s managed to build a large and diverse coalition of support (in Kansas!, where apparently there isn´t as much the matter as Thomas Frank thinks). She´s also brilliant and clearly knows how to get shit done. What isn´t there to like about the image of our party as progressive, competent and still normal?

3) Other stuff. Does she help the ticket? Well, that I´m not so sure of. I highly doubt we´re gonna win in Kansas (and if we do, their 6 electoral votes won´t be what puts us over). She might help marginally in other midwestern states, but I´m doubtful. And I don´t accept the Mauney thesis that old women will stay home if there´s no woman on the ticket after Clinton´s historic run. Old people do nothing BUT vote. I just don´t see them as the model of disaffected voters. Now, the Cooper thesis (same link) that old women might vote for someone of their generation rather than the young black fella holds some water with me. It´s part of why I was such a big Ted Strickland fan, and still a Joe Biden fan. Now whether Sebelius would be the better agent to bring back those old Democrats, either because most of them are women - for which I have no evidence -, or that the women will be easier to bring back - which is certainly plausible, or that there is something else about her that helps to soften the blow of a young black man more than other could, is something about which we can only speculate. But were I to list the top candidates who could help us with old people based solely on my own intuition, she would be at or near the top of that list. On a related note, Yglesias finds empirical evidence for the Cooper-Mauney thesis. Of course, I also have to mention that she looks younger than her 60 years and having built her lengthy resume entirely in Kansas, bears the clear mark of a D.C. outsider. Both characteristics reinforce Obama´s strengths.

My verdict: He could certainly make a worse pick. I´m not sure that she brings anything concrete to the ticket, but nobody out there really does now that Strickland is gone. Beyond the short-term political stuff, she´s be a good potential president, a great face for the party in 4-8 years, and a great asset to have on hand in the push for universal healthcare. On that last point, if she´s not VP, I really hope either she or Daschle gets HHS. For now, she deserves a spot on the shortest of short lists.

Now, start debating again! Go! Fight!

New Feature 'Round Here

Now that all each of my favorite House race pundits (Cook Political Report, CQPolitics, Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, and Rothenberg Political Report) have put out some recent race rankings, I've finally been able to compile all of them for my own race tracking purposes. I've come up with an average of the rankings for each race and placed them into my own categories based on competitiveness. Remember, though, that all of these ratings are based on a compilation from the four above-named sources. They are not my ratings and may not perfectly match my own opinions on each race. But they follow the races more closely than anyone can who isn't paid to do it 24/7, so their rankings should be more open to change as the tides change in a race.

The categories are as follows. Pure Tossup sounds exactly like what it is, there is no breathing room between the candidates. Slight Tilt implies that the race is essentially a tossup, but that there is at least a hair separating the candidates. Advantage signifies that the race is certainly competitive and that the seat could flip parties, but that one party has a significant advantage that the other must overcome. And finally Long Shot Targets are those seats where there are some signs that the race could become very competitive, but for now one party is a pretty sure bet to hold the seat. Some of these races will move up the list for sure, but most of them will stay with the incumbent party.

UPDATE: Cook Political has changed it's ratings on 3 races, shifting AZ-3 and FL-25 from Safe to Likely R, and moving LA-6 from Leans D to Tossup. The first two moves imply that they are now taking Bob Lord and Joe Garcia seriously, but they are not sufficient to move either race out of the Long Shot category on my averages. The LA-6 move likely reflects State Sen. Bill Cassidy's entrance into the race, which makes a repeat of Woody Jenkins as the GOP nominee far less likely. Three of the four race trackers now have the seat as a tossup, which is enough to shift it up into that category of my averages.