Greg's Opinion Greg's big blog of whatnot

18Feb/130

Aggreblogging in the Raw

Just pure, raw linkage this time. A few of these, I may come back to at some point during the week. But for now ... read 'em yourself. Committee hearings are picking up here in Austin, so there's much fear and loathing to contend with. Reminds me: why is it that Hunter S. Thompson never thought to cover the Texas Legislature?

» Huffington Post: University Of Texas, Rick Perry Clash Over Future Of Public Higher Education

» NY Times: Fears of the Future Haunt a Budding Generation of Afghan Strivers

» NY Times: Slower Growth of Health Costs Eases U.S. Deficit

» TNR: Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people

» Inside Higher Ed: Questions on Debit Cards

» Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The “Me” Curriculum at the DOE: Why we need to stop telling students “Narrative writing is all about me.”

» Washington Post: Why introverts shouldn’t be forced to talk in class

» EducationNext: Solving America’s Math Problem
» EducationNext: A Double Dose of Algebra

» Chron: School district, others owe Valero nearly $5 million

» Atlas Project: Changing demographics in Georgia could give Democrats a chance in the deep south

» NY Times: Voting Rights Act Is Challenged as Cure the South Has Outgrown

» Politico: Lone Star Rising

» The Atlantic: Obama's LBJ Moment: The War on Inequality Is the New 'War on Poverty'

» NY Times Magazine: Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence? (Robert Draper)

30Oct/120

State of the Race: One Week Out

My final call ...

I don't like to wuss out by calling three states "tossups" (NH, VA, CO), but the fact that Obama losing all three wouldn't impact his ability to win gives me an out in this case. In the case of NH, I belive it's the safest for Obama, but I'm suspicious that if polling has failed to detect a few points worth of votes that may exist for Romney due to the economy, then the state neighboring where Romney served as Governor might be the first canary in that coal mine. Virginia and Colorado are legitimately more narrow in polling ranges. If forced to pick, I'd probably throw VA to Romney and CO to Obama. That would put my "no tossup" math at 290-248 Obama.

The changes in 538's data since the last check-in ...

Eastern Time Zone            OCTOBER 30                 OCTOBER 17
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pennsylvania    [+0.2]  51.9 - 47.0 (Obama +4.9)   51.8 - 47.1 (Obama +4.7)   
Virginia        [+0.8]  50.0 - 49.4 (Obama +0.6)   49.5 - 49.7 (Obama -0.2)   
North Carolina  [+1.1]  48.3 - 51.1 (Obama -2.8)   47.7 - 51.6 (Obama -3.9)   
New Hampshire   [-0.1]  50.8 - 48.5 (Obama +2.3)   50.8 - 48.4 (Obama +2.4)   
Florida         [+0.4]  49.1 - 50.3 (Obama -1.2)   48.9 - 50.5 (Obama -1.6)   
Ohio            [+0.2]  50.5 - 48.4 (Obama +2.1)   50.3 - 48.4 (Obama +1.9)   

Central Time Zone            OCTOBER 30                 OCTOBER 17
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wisconsin       [+1.0]  51.6 - 47.8 (Obama +3.8)   51.1 - 48.3 (Obama +2.8)
Iowa            [+0.8]  50.7 - 48.5 (Obama +2.2)   50.2 - 48.8 (Obama +1.4)

Mountain Time Zone           OCTOBER 30                 OCTOBER 17
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Colorado        [+0.5]  49.8 - 49.2 (Obama +0.6)   49.5 - 49.4 (Obama +0.1) 
Nevada          [+1.1]  51.0 - 48.1 (Obama +2.9)   50.3 - 48.5 (Obama +1.8) 

If Obama wins Virginia, big night for Dems. If Obama pulls off an upset in Florida, game over. If Romney wins New Hampshire, cross your fingers and keep a close eye on Ohio for the rest of the night.

I'll be focused on a much smaller speck of the map for this election. So mapping and poring over national data will wait quite a bit longer on my part.

A few other final, somewhat fearless predictions:

- TX-14: Lampson vs Weber ... I think you can get away with just watching Jefferson County on this one. If Lampson passes the 60% hurdle, and there aren't any wild turnout differences from years' past, he can win this one. Obama won the county with 51% in 2008. Lampson, again, won 67% in 2004 - his last time to run there. If the world of Jefferson County - today - still has enough swing voters for Lampson, then there'll be something good to be said about what Democrats in Texas accomplished.

- TX-23: Gallego vs Canseco ... I have no feel for this one, but expect it to be as competitive as the district ever was from 2006 on. Just based on Gallego's appeal outside of Bexar County, I'm optimistic about him pulling off the win. That should post the post-E-Day newsies enough to say something nice about Democrats in the state.

- SD10: Davis vs Shelton ... I've been skeptical about Davis' odds in a status quo district. But she's run about as well as I can see from my distant corner of the state. Obviously, this one has a big impact on what legislation comes out of the Senate during the 2013 session in Austin. So I'll hope beyond hope that Davis is successful.

15Aug/120

Primary Mapping: Dem President

Picking up from yesterday's map-related posts of Primary and Runoff election outcomes ....

The one big enchilada to look at from the May Democratic Primary was where any latent "Not Obama" vote may have been demonstrated. Kuff broke this down by House District when the news was a bit more timely. His take upon seeing the results was that much of the "Not Obama" vote may have corresponded to the "Bubba Vote". Mine, looking at the very same results, was that I'd be quicker to suggest Hispanic voters not totally in love with Obama. There was also a comment suggesting that it may be most accurate to view these results against Total Ballots rather than Total Votes since it may demonstrate a few more "Not Obama" sources due to voters simply not wishing to cast vote. I will get around to that, but my early guess is that the results don't change.

Obama won the county with 95.3%, so it took some code changes to highlight that vote. The color-coding was changed to the following:

dark-blue: Obama over 80%
light-blue: Obama over 50%
white: no votes

I believe there were 2 or 3 precincts where Obama did not win and I seem to recall all of them having less than 5 votes total, possibly as little as 1 or 2. The only respectable-sized box that stands out as being "Oklahoma-esque" for Obama results is Pct 531 along the Chambers County border. Obama won 27 of the 51 votes cast. Feel free to poke around at some of the light-blue boxes and see what your conclusion is.


full page - Google Earth

That's the last one I've got for today. Not sure whether I'll do the GOP Primary results next or edit some code to do some district races in the Dem Primary. Either way ... more maps tomorrow and I'll eventually get to them all.

19Mar/121

Limited Appeal

» Joel Kotkin: Rick Santorum’s Ugly Appeal To Rural Voters

Interesting point here by Joel Kotkin, with regard to GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's recent pitch to rural voters ...

Plains towns like Grand Island, Nebraska, are filling up with Mexican or Honduran restaurants. The percentage of foreign-born Nebraskans has more than tripled since 1990. The GOP electorate in the Cornhusker State may be overwhelmingly white, but the demographic trends suggest this won’t always be the case—so long as the party can avoid alienating these new arrivals.

In many places Hispanics constitute the major counterforce to wholesale depopulation. Every county except one in the western half of Kansas suffered depopulation of non-Hispanic whites during the past decade, while Hispanics have offset or even exceeded the decline in white population—filling schools and opening businesses in the process. Hispanic residents have pushed from hubs like nearby Dodge City, Garden City, and Liberal into ever smaller communities, buying property on the cheap, enticed, many say, by the opportunity to live quiet lives in communities more similar to those in which they were raised.

Of course many people—notably some of the older white voters flocking to Santorum—are hostile to these realities. And in the short run, appealing to anti-immigrant sentiments may pay off in the Republican primary. But over time, if they are to survive, many rural communities will either adjust to diversity or simply disappear.

I'm less certain that the political punishment of this approach is as close as Joel and other demographers suggest. Changing demographics don't necessarily equate with a changing electorate. And the fact that demographic majorities may approach a tipping point, the lag time in an electoral majority approaching a similar point can still be a generation or so away.

27Feb/120

If Bruce Babbitt Can Win There …

» National Journal: A Desert Mirage

Stop me if you've heard this one before ...

Arizona’s seismic demographic transformation is slowly turning a once deep-red state if not blue, then at least purple. In the past decade alone, Arizona added 600,000 Latinos to its population, according to the Census Bureau. The 46 percent growth rate in the Latino population accounted for half the state’s overall increase. In 2010, Hispanics were 30 percent of Arizona’s total population—an ominous trend for Republicans, because Hispanics vote nearly 2-to-1 nationally for Democrats. President Obama’s allies brag, in fact, that they could have won the state in 2008 if Arizona’s favorite son, Sen. John McCain, hadn’t been his opponent. As it was, Democrats kept McCain’s margin to single digits.

That helps explain why the Obama reelection campaign boasts about its hopes for the state.

Team Obama has obviously labelled Arizona as a target for expanding the map and the 2010 Census findings aren't discouraging. Unfortunately, the Census findings were more-or-less reflected in the very same demographics that led to Obama getting 44.9% in 2008. Yes, John McCain - the popular Senator from Arizona - was also on the ballot. But its still not proven to be a state on the verge of swinging.

Furthermore, roughly 60% of the state's vote comes from one county: Maricopa. The Presidential votes aren't entirely suggestive that Obama can swing the big county ...

1996 - Clinton: 44.5%
2000 - Gore: 42.8%
2004 - Kerry: 42.3%
2008 - Obama: 43.91%

For the other 40% of the state, Obama carried only 46.6% of the vote. Again, not entirely supportive. It would be easy to write Arizona off if that were all there were to the story. But there is more.

If there's a model to find votes, it might be in another election held in 2008. The vote for the state's Corporation Commissioner saw a field of six candidates in an open field vying for three open seats. The top three vote-getters took office. Two of them were Democrats - the first sent to the board in a decade. But the cumulative vote for all candidates saw the three Democratic candidates win 52.4% of the statewide vote - winning both Maricopa (55%) and the combined vote of the remaining counties (51%). It's a different animal, but the surge of 2008 vote that might have gone for Obama in Arizona had McCain not been the nominee is a bit telling.

I was a pessimist when Team Obama publicly committed $40M to winning Florida. And I'm skeptical that Obama shows gains over 2008 anywhere this cycle. But Obama could definitely stand to gain some votes in Arizona since his 2008 support may have been held down by the favorite son opponent. Whether its enough to win, I'm still skeptical. But we'll see how close he can make it if there's money behind the promise of competing there.

A point to make about the corollary to Texas: the fact that Arizon's population is so concentrated highlights a key difference about why a state that Obama polled about 1 point behind Arizona is harder to swing. Texas has 20 media markets. Arizona, four. Two are in-state and the two that aren't are generally areas where Obama is likely to already be advertising: Las Vegas and Albequerque. That's a lot more manageable than playing in three very expensive major media markets like DFW, Houston, and San Antonio while hoping that there's enough money to play in some of the smaller, more affordable ones like Austin, Waco, or Dem-friendly ones such as Harlingen, Laredo, Corpus Christi, and El Paso. That's enough to bleed any campaign dry.

So while a competitive race in Arizona may give Texas Dems a bit more heart for the future, there's still a big competitive hurdle that comes with a state nearly four times larger than Arizona.

And while we're on the topic of Bruce Babbitt (we were talking about Bruce Babbitt, right?), here's the best video I could find that included his 1987 stint on Saturday Night Live. I wonder what ever happened to the guy who grilled him on that show?


Bruce Babbitt ('88 Democrat Presidential... by weatherguru76

19Jan/120

Must See Premium Cable

Via the inbox ...

Governor Roemer will be a guest this Friday on Real Time with Bill Maher. Since it’s on HBO, anything can happen so expect Buddy to call out the other candidates by name and expose their ties to the special interests.

I have only two words for this: Awe. Some.

There's absolutely zero chance in the world that I'll be in a position to cast a vote for Buddy. But he's definitely been an interesting candidate for President this go-round.

4Dec/110

The Over-Celebritization of Herman Cain

» Andrew Sullivan: The Mark of Cain

An interesting sidenote to the GOP "contest's" recent departure from the island ...

He was also emblematic of contemporary conservatism's degeneracy into an extension of an entertainment franchise. Whatever else can be said of Cain, he sure was entertaining. That's how he makes a living, and, increasingly, it's how most national Republicans make a living. That's the Ailes effect - and one can sense how FNC now wants Gingrich, if only for the ratings, and endless drama. Palin was about ratings too, according to Ailes himself.

The first line leaves it open to suggestion that this "over-celebritization" or "reality show" phase is unique to the GOP. I certainly don't think that's the case, even if it's pretty obvious that they're wading deeper and deeper into the genre. The more unsettling prospect is that, to the extent that there is no Democratic reality TV show going on to compete with the GOP version now airing, I suspect it may worsen any enthusiasm gap for November 2012. In short: there's some level of this game where politics-as-pop-culture may help. Check the highlights of Bill Clinton from 1992 for an easy datapoint. But, on the whole, I think we're way beyond that point.

31Jul/110

Buddy & Colbert

I'm a little late in getting to this, but here's Buddy Roemer's appearance on Colbert ...

Yes, he has zero shot of having even a single delegate at the convention. I think it's safe to say that a prime time speaking slot is even a longshot. The fact that he may not even raise enough money to get on the ballot in most states certainly doesn't help. And I'm in the odd spot of having one of the few (if only) GOP candidates that I can respect hailing from the growing "fair trade" wing of the party that runs counter to my views on the topic. Still, it's kinda good to see him back in the mix of things.

If nothing else, the interview does a magnificent job of demonstrating the folly of federal campaign finance law.

11Jul/110

Chasing Obama 2012: Rise of the Super PACs

With end-of-quarter fundraising deadlines past and campaign treasurers cooking the books around the clock before the reports have to be turned in on the 15th, the Washington Post profiles the rise of Super PACS.

Elsewhere, and as always ... there is polling. PPP polls New Hampshire GOP voters and gets the following results:

Romney - 25%
Bachmann - 17%
Palin - 11%
Paul - 9%
Perry - 7%
Cain - 7%
Huntsman - 6%
Pawlenty - 6%
Gingrich - 4%

WMUR's poll of NH GOP voters found the following:

Romney - 35%
Bachmann - 12%
Paul - 7%
Giuliani - 7%
Perry - 4%
Palin - 3%
Pawlenty - 3%
Huntsman - 2%
Cain - 2%
Gingrich - 1%
Santorum, Johnson, Roemer - <1% PPP is an automated poll and WMUR's appears to be live-person polling. Draw your own conclusion for how that impacts any of the differences seen in the numbers. Bachmann is the big story out of both polls, due to her pronounced bounce from both previous polls. Perry's 7% in PPP and 4% in WMUR is the biggest benchmark for how the next poll shows him doing in NH. On with the candidates ... More or Less “In It”

Mitt Romney … Turns out that $20M was a rounding error. Mitt officially clocked in at $18.25M for Q2. The SuperPAC raised an additional $12M, so a combined $30M bang for the pro-Mitt buck isn't necessarily terrible, though it is short of the $50M that Mitt had hoped to raise just on the campaign side of things. Team Obama is still expected to lead the herd with $60M.

Tim Pawlenty ... New ad up in Iowa. Speculation about an early exit is offset by finally campaigning in Iowa.

Herman Cainwinner of the Cobb County GOP Independence Day Celebration straw poll. Hey, that's something!

Jon Huntsman … Utah congressman endorses Romney. US Senator, State Attorney General, and a gaggle of other state-level electeds endorse Romney. Kinda sums it up for the Huntsman campaign.

Ron Paul … $75k for radio ads in Iowa.

Rick Santorum … You know it's tough to run against an incumbent when you claim that they've "only" created 240M jobs.

Michele Bachmann … Bachmann goes up in Iowa, but Ben Smith reports the ad buy is particularly small. When Michele Met Kathy.

Thaddeus McCotter ... still waiting for McCotter to actually make any news. By comparison, Buddy Roemer looks pretty media-savvy.

Buddy Roemer … If only Louisiana held first-in-the-nation caucuses, the guy might have better odds.

Newt Gingrich … It seems like just yesterday that New Gingrich announced for President, saw the majority of his staff swim for the life boats as they escaped the sinking ship ... and now the guy is $1M in debt after raising about $2.5M. Are they having Tiffany's print bumper stickers?

Gary Johnsonthis space reserved for when Gary Johnson makes or warrants news.

Addicted to Publicity “Thinkin’ About It”

Rick Perry … With back surgery now done with, he's lining up the support of the big-name crazy pastors. Steve Mostyn vows to take Back to Basics national in order to beat up on Rick Perry.

Even Slower News Weeks

David Duke ... Seriously?

The Candidate Formerly Known as the Former Governor of Alaska ... Maybe not "Undefeated" (unless you ignore that minor election in 2008), but definitely unloved by the people of Alaska. Whatever, she's trademarking her name. Feel free to register that as a clue for or against her actual running for President.

5Jul/110

“Integration” is the New Facebook

» ABC News: Obama 2012 Campaign to Go Beyond Email, Text

Words to live by (in campaignland, anyway) ...

"The successful campaign is going to be one that integrates all the various elements of the digital channel — email, text, website, mobile apps, and social networks — together as one digital program and also mixing the digital program together with the offline reality of field organizations," said Joe Rospars, the Obama campaign's chief digital strategist.

"In the end," Rospars said, "all the digital stuff is in service of the offline reality of knocking on doors, making phone calls and ultimately persuading voters and turning them out."

The 2008 narrative of Obama campaign being the first "Facebook campaign" always struck me as overblown. Rospars has always struck me as one who got the fact that integration throughout the campaign meant more than being on board the latest fad. In a sense, the next big fad should be that there are no more fads. That's not to say no more new tools or online platforms will evolve (I'm already dreading the inevitable Gowalla phase), but that the more important question will be how those tools feed into the actual grunt work of offline campaigning.