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Lost Reading from an Obvious Post-Election Outcome

November 19, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Election Day beyond HD137 was a bit anti-climactic for me. Anyone who doesn’t rely on rightwing media knew that Obama was going to be re-elected. Locally, I think Adrian Garcia was a somewhat assumed winner before the votes were revealed. So forgive me if it’s taken me a while to catch up on all of my “How Obama Did It” reading.

» New Yorker: The Party Next Time

Quoting Senator-elect Ted Cruz …

“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” …. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”

Probably worth keeping Matt Yglesias’ tweet in mind before we get too far ahead of ourselves …

But there are some traditional problems with the analytics mentioned in the article. This from state GOP chair, Steve Munisteri …

“The state is fifty-five per cent traditional minority. Thirty-eight per cent is Hispanic, eleven per cent is African-American, and the rest is Asian-American, and two-thirds of all births are in a traditional minority family. And if I was to tell you that, nationwide, last time, Republicans got only roughly four per cent of the African-American vote and about a third of the Hispanic vote, would you say that state is Democrat or Republican? Well, that’s Texas. We are the only majority-minority state in the union that people consider Republican.”

Those numbers are from Total Population. By the time you work it down to Citizen, Voting Age Population (CVAP), Texas is actually 59% Anglo. Like it or not, that’s the operative metric that most shapes Texas’ electoral outcome. Factor in turnout differentials among geography where different demographies dominate, and you get an even uglier picture. Citizenship among Hispanics should continue to go rise, with or without the GOP’s newfangled minor interest in immigration reform. But that’s a much more gradual process than a magazine article is likely able to pitch on a reader with less than 5 minutes to spare for reading time.

» TechPresident: With The Help of Digital Infrastructure, Obama Wins Re-election
» The Atlantic: When the Nerds Go Marching In
» LA Times: Obama’s data geeks have made Karl Rove and Dick Morris obsolete
» Washington Post: Obama’s ‘Moneyball’ campaign (Marc Thiessen)
» National Journal: Republicans Flame Romney’s Digital Team
» The Atlantic: The GOP Talent Gap (Patrick Ruffini)
» Politico: Romney poll watching app reportedly glitchy
Articles like these are an inevitable side-effect of politics – when you win, you sell whatever it was you did as a gamechanging artform that necessitates the subject of the story being hired by future campaigns at higher rates for over-sold effects. See the file for “Trippi, Joe” and all of the post-Howard Dean pitches for instant riches of online fundraising totals. And if you lose, the competitor project to the previously mentioned gamechanger is an instant goat. Or, in this case … Orca.

All that said, I find the articles above more informative for what they say about human psychology than they do about campaign technology. You can expect to see a slew of campaign press releases announcing their hires for CTO in 2014 and 2016. You can expect some pre-spin on how some of these folks will change the way we do politics (see “Perry, Rick” and the individual chapters of “paperless campaigning“; “creative uses of felons to get votes“; and “how to turn all of that into a winning Presidential campaign two years later” [link forthcoming ... maybe]). But I wouldn’t expect it to matter any more than the candidate him- or herself. There’s no substitute for a quality candidate. Too bad that doesn’t seem to come across in these resume attachments passing as post-election news.

» Talking Points Memo: Forget Nate Silver: Meet The Guy Who Called 2012 In 2002
This, of course, isn’t entirely distinct from the articles above. But Ruy Teixeira and John Judis do have the distinction of not being campaign hacks in search of their next gig. I’ve had some quarrels with the writeup of the Emerging Democratic Majority concept. But the authors did properly identify some key demographics that help Democratic candidates. The book is definitely easier reading after 2012 than it was after 2004. But the biggest hangup still seems to be that it was a thesis written by think tankers promoting an idea moreso than social scientists researching it in more detail.

» NY Times: Is the Voting Rights Act Doomed? (Nathaniel Persily)

In a coarse and obvious sense, the re-election of a black president serves as a strong reminder that the historic obstacles to minority voting rights like literacy tests and poll taxes have been eliminated. The much discussed rise in the minority share of the electorate testifies to the decisive electoral power that previously disenfranchised communities now possess. Even if the president received only 15 percent of the white vote in Alabama and 11 percent in Mississippi, according to exit polls, he was able to assemble a diverse winning coalition elsewhere.

Professor Persily’s amicus briefs and academic writings are quality reading for my taste. But this reads more like blasé answer to a Times’ editor asking what an Obama win might mean for the VRA. As such, it neglects the reality that the VRA isn’t in place as an answer to a Presidential election as much as it is to more localized elections within an individual state or county. Of course, that’s not to say that the opinions of Scalia and Thomas will be aware of any of that.

» Washington Post: Kirk said to be leaving job as U.S. Trade Rep
I’d be a little shocked if Ron Kirk still sees an elected official in the mirror these days. But he’s still a Texas name worth keeping an eye on. First things first … wait and see if he’s headed over to Commerce.

2012 Election Mapping: US President (in Harris County)

November 13, 2012 Politics-2012 4 Comments

Romney v Obama, the conclusion in Harris County …


full pageGoogle Earth

The results in this race were:

Barack Obama (D) – 49.38%
Mitt Romney (R) – 49.33%

Voting, circa 2012

October 25, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

People still write letters to the Chronicle editors

Regarding “Time to cast a ballot” (Page B7, Monday), law enforcement should be competent, never partisan. To protect the safety of our community, please vote for Democrat Adrian Garcia for Harris County sheriff and Republican Mike Anderson for district attorney.

Both are respected professionals who can manage others to a high standard. I respect parties, but crime is a basic violation of civil rights and criminals do not discriminate based on party affiliation. When you call 911 you want a qualified responder; victims and jurors want an effective and fair prosecutor.

Democrats, join me in voting for Mike Anderson for DA. Republicans, keep our strong and honest sheriff, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, in office.

Bill White, former mayor of Houston

I can’t say that I disagree with him on this score. I held my nose and voted for Anderson. I left a handful of judicial ballots blank. Oh, and I voted for this guy earlier in the AM …

The line at Bayland Park was wrapped around the front of the building 10 minutes prior to opening and I was done with my random act of democracy by 8:15. Pick your own spot to vote early if you feel similarly inclined.

Among the tougher choices on the ballot for me was one that’s usually pretty easy: President. Yes, I voted for Obama again. But there was a temptation to leave the spot blank this time around. Obama wasn’t my choice and I can’t say I’m won over by his style of leadership. It’d be a cheap and easy free shot to make some minor form of a statement by doing such a thing. Texas, after all, is not in play. But one over-riding issue convinces me that it’s worth sticking with my own traditions and principles by voting for him regardless. And that’s the fact that I fully support Obama to be the one appointing judges for the next four years as opposed to just about any Republican.

As far as bonds and referendums go, I voted for the city charter fixes, the parks bond, and the library bond. For everything else, I’m willing to consider second offers.

State of the Race: 18 Days Out

October 18, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

This should be fully reflective of the Romney surge after the first debate and precedes any possible recovery on Obama’s part after the second debate between the two. Optimistically, this is as bad as it gets for Obama …

Eastern Time Zone            OCTOBER 17                 SEPTEMBER 28
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pennsylvania    [-3.5]  51.8 - 47.1 (Obama +4.7)   53.5 - 45.3 (Obama +8.2)  
Virginia        [-3.4]  49.5 - 49.7 (Obama -0.2)   51.1 - 47.9 (Obama +3.2)  
North Carolina  [-3.0]  47.7 - 51.6 (Obama -3.9)   49.2 - 50.1 (Obama -0.9)  
New Hampshire   [-3.3]  50.8 - 48.4 (Obama +2.4)   52.4 - 46.7 (Obama +5.7)  
Florida         [-4.0]  48.9 - 50.5 (Obama -1.6)   50.9 - 48.5 (Obama +2.4)  
Ohio            [-2.8]  50.3 - 48.4 (Obama +1.9)   51.7 - 47.0 (Obama +4.7)  

Central Time Zone            OCTOBER 17                 SEPTEMBER 28
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wisconsin       [-3.4]  51.1 - 48.3 (Obama +2.8)   52.7 - 46.5 (Obama +6.2)  
Iowa            [-2.3]  50.2 - 48.8 (Obama +1.4)   51.2 - 47.5 (Obama +3.7)  

Mountain Time Zone           OCTOBER 17                 SEPTEMBER 28
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Colorado        [-3.3]  49.5 - 49.4 (Obama +0.1)   51.2 - 47.8 (Obama +3.4)  
Nevada          [-2.7]  50.3 - 48.5 (Obama +1.8)   51.6 - 47.1 (Obama +4.5)  

And if I throw in an extra dose of pessimism about Iowa and Colorado, here’s what the map would look like:

That’s a Nevada flip away from being a tie, I should point out. If Obama can recover in Virginia and keep IA & CO above water, then there’s some breathing room for him. I guess since we’re down to the final days, the state-level polling should be quite a bit more entertaining.

I still think we could see this go either way – elections in shaky economies are generally tough and it’s harder to see voters breaking Obama’s way if they’ve been undecided. The hope is that there are just more Obama-likely or Obama-previously voters who are open to coming home in the final days.

About Last Night

October 4, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

An election season lament, caught from a re-tweet by my pastor …


I managed to catch the debate last night and my only takeaways are as follows:

1. To everyone who expected a better debate scorecard out of Barack Obama … name one great debate as a Presidential candidate that he had at any point in the past. I sure don’t recall any that were memorable.

2. Political dialogue in this country has fallen greatly from the 80s and 90s when I spent way too much time watching C-SPAN. And I recall how many of the Presidential debates in those years were accused of being vapid and meaningless (in several cases, deservingly). Flags and Kitty Dukakis being raped compared to balancing the budget by firing Big Bird … tough call. But still. Is this any way to pick a President?

3. I’ve always felt that Mitt Romney’s comparative advantage is his willingness and ability to lie. And as much as I don’t particularly care to get into the whole demonization of political candidates, I’m not sure how else to qualify it when someone says they’ll cut tax rates by 20% on the campaign trail and on the campaign website, deny it in a debate, and then say he wants to cut tax rates. This has been on display ever since Mitt started to realize that his record as Governor of Massachusetts didn’t quite mesh with current Republican thought in the other 49 states. The debate put that advantage on full display to the five people in the world who have followed Mitt since then. For a decent read on the matter of Romney’s tax cut plan without the spectacle of Jim Lehrer being bullied into submission for more talk time, here’s a decent primer by the Wall Street Journal.

4. Barack Obama still fails to give me any reason to be enthusiastic about his Presidency. That’s as true today as the prospect of his Presidency was in 2007 or 2008. His lone benefit with regard to my vote is that “garden variety Democrat” trumps “far right economic policy” any day. Of course, there’s also the matter of what 4-8 years of a GOP President would mean for the federal judiciary.

Detente in the Bias Wars?

October 2, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» NY Times: Tired Cries of Bias Don’t Help Romney (David Carr)

Always interesting to see how the GOP manages their paranoia of a monolithic Democratic media controlling their lives. Carr notes a recent softening by Team Romney …

Many Republicans see bias lurking in every live shot, but the growing hegemony of conservative voices makes manufacturing a partisan conspiracy a practical impossibility.

Let’s be fair. It’s not as if everyone who believes there is a liberal bias needs to be fitted for a tinfoil helmet. But the trope is losing traction, partly because there are many robust champions of the right, which gives conservatives the means to project their message far beyond the choir.

It’s hard to picture conservatives as disenfranchised in the fight for attention from the news media, not after a campaign season in which the audition for the Republican nomination seemed to include some combination of hosting and making guest appearances on Fox News. Another thing about the media blame game? It doesn’t work. Newt Gingrich ran hard against the news media and that didn’t turn out so great.

Mr. Romney seems to have realized that. After weeks of complaints from his surrogates that his campaign missteps were being invented and/or amplified by the news media, he is no longer regularly shooting the messenger.

Color me skeptical on this. Check that: perpetually skeptical. I think it’s a ruse for the debates. Go easier on the media, annoy the people covering your flailing campaign in case anything good (or, at least, spin-worthy) comes from the debates. Once the debates are done, Team Romney will be going full-tilt Bozell on the media.

As a minor datapoint to prove this is only a mere Presidential contest, here’s Houston’s own Republican blogger, Darrell Hancock

True reform would start with hiring at least one robust right-leaning columnist and editorial writer, someone who understands and likes folks who go to church, serve as scout leaders, sympathize with the Tea Party, rightly detest Obamism, and are not ashamed of Houston, Texas, or the United States.

It’s not enough that you have people who hold a conservative view, in other words. You have to hire someone who holds the furthest right (or, if you prefer, “robust”). Otherwise, it doesn’t count. Sorry Bill King. Amazing that the only form of affirmative action Republicans seem to believe in is for major daily newspaper columnists and editorial writers. Just as amazing … the word “Obamism”. And just for good measure, remind me who the Democratic representative is among Chronicle columnists.

State of the Race: 38 Days Out

September 28, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Since I posted this summary at the conclusion of the Democratic convention, I thought I’d update it to see how the battleground states have changed, if any. Judge for yourself …

Eastern Time Zone          SEPTEMBER 28                  SEPTEMBER 7
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Pennsylvania    [↑1.1]  53.5 - 45.3 (Obama +8.2)    52.9 - 45.8 (Obama +7.1)
Virginia        [↑0.2]  51.1 - 47.9 (Obama +3.2)    51.5 - 48.5 (Obama +3.0)
North Carolina  [↑0.3]  49.2 - 50.1 (Obama -0.9)    48.9 - 50.1 (Obama -1.2)
New Hampshire   [↓0.7]  52.4 - 46.7 (Obama +5.7)    53.2 - 46.8 (Obama +6.4)
Florida         [↑0.6]  50.9 - 48.5 (Obama +2.4)    50.5 - 48.7 (Obama +1.8)
Ohio            [↑1.6]  51.7 - 47.0 (Obama +4.7)    50.8 - 47.7 (Obama +3.1)

Central Time Zone          SEPTEMBER 28                  SEPTEMBER 7
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Wisconsin       [↑1.3]  52.7 - 46.5 (Obama +6.2)    52.0 - 47.1 (Obama +4.9)
Iowa            [↑0.1]  51.2 - 47.5 (Obama +3.7)    51.8 - 48.2 (Obama +3.6)

Mountain Time Zone         SEPTEMBER 28                  SEPTEMBER 7
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Colorado        [→0.0]  51.2 - 47.8 (Obama +3.4)    51.1 - 47.7 (Obama +3.4)
Nevada          [↓0.7]  51.6 - 47.1 (Obama +4.5)    52.0 - 46.8 (Obama +5.2)

Nate Silver doesn’t categorize Pennsylvania as a competitive state and I think the logic is understandable. For my part, I throw it in just to see what movement exists there and also to make it easier to have those datapoints handy if we see any negative impact from the state’s new Voter ID law.

I’m more doubtful of New Hampshire holding firm as an Obama state due to it’s status as a border state with workers who have some recollection of Romney’s time as Governor of Massachusetts. While I definitely think North Carolina is the toughest hold of the East Coast states and Florida & Ohio being perpetually purple in their swing status (stati?), I think NH ranks right behind those in terms of defensive zones for Team Obama. Maybe it moves more in the coming weeks, maybe it doesn’t. But I think it should be among the more volatile. Same goes for Nevada in the other time zones. And I’m not one to rule out Iowa as a possibility for more movement south for Obama.

All things considered, here’s where Nate scores the current state of the race

And just for good humor, the other side has now done what I think could only be expected: invented new numbers. This enthuses Rick Perry, of course. Guess he can forgo any plans to run in 2016 now. Amazing how a worldview so predicated on Randian objectivism can become so post-modern in their subjective interpretation of truth.

For my part, this is my speculative guess at what the map would look like if the election were held this week.

ADD-ON: Former Vermont Governor and 1988 Presidential aspirant, Pete DuPont, serves up the latest of many GOP talking-point fests proclaiming how the polls can’t be believed. I’m sure they all concluded this point on their own. Independently.

Or not.

The Argument, v2012

September 27, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Can you believe that it’s already time for “closing argument” type ads? We haven’t even had the first debate yet.

Obama …

Romney …

The Conservatism of Pimply Adolescents

September 21, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» Washington Post: An ideology without promise

Time’s been a bit too scarce to pontificate on Romney’s foot-in-mouth moment (aka “47%-gate”). But Gerson’s take seems like a fairly strong one to second …

A few libertarians have wanted this fight ever since they read “Atlas Shrugged” as pimply adolescents. Given Romney’s background, record and faith, I don’t believe that he holds this view. I do believe that Republicans often parrot it, because they lack familiarity with other forms of conservatism that include a conception of the common good.

But there really is no excuse. Republican politicians could turn to Burkean conservatism, with its emphasis on the “little platoons” of civil society. They could reflect on the Catholic tradition of subsidiarity, and solidarity with the poor. They could draw inspiration from Tory evangelical social reformers such as William Wilberforce or Lord Shaftesbury. Or they could just read Abraham Lincoln, who stood for “an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”

Instead they mouth libertarian nonsense, unable to even describe some of the largest challenges of our time.

Also, interesting usage of the term “parrot”. I seem to recall other GOP-nicks taking umbrage to the notion that they weren’t all original thinkers who came to their political conclusions independently.

The Party of Free Trade … Minus the Cheaters

September 17, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

“It’s time to stand up to the cheaters …”

Aside from the obviously laughable point about creating jobs in China, it’s always entertaining to see how “flexible” the GOP position on free trade is.

Washington Post does the fact-checking on the ad … for whatever value anyone puts into that. Personally, I prefer it when a reporter is allowed to just say someone is lying rather than exiling “facts” to a separate function.

DNC12: Day Three

September 7, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

They shoulda closed shop after Clinton …

On the whole: not bad, but not great either. Hard to imagine >70k listening to this on the edge of their seats had this been held outdoors.

I think the speech probably read better than it was delivered. And that’s a sin I’d say has plagued Obama’s speeches since some point in the 2008 campaign. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Obama make more of the “Got a cold/tax cut” riff between now and November. Same goes for the notion that firing teachers and reducing access to college loan will make for a better educated society. All fine and well as far as policy diagnosis goes.

The next 59 days, however, are likelier to be spent debating policy prescriptions. Or maybe lapel pins. Who knows. My gut instinct says to maybe shave off between 10-15 points from the odds Nate Silver is seeing on a likely Obama win.

… and a narrower reading of the electorate’s divide leaves a lot of wiggle room in swing states if there’s late movement to the challenger, which I expect to see.

Here’s Silver’s reading on swing states, in particular:

Eastern Time Zone
-----------------------------------------
Pennsylvania     52.9 - 45.8 (Obama +7.1)
Virginia         51.5 - 48.5 (Obama +3.0)
North Carolina   48.9 - 50.1 (Obama -1.2)
New Hampshire    53.2 - 46.8 (Obama +6.4)
Florida          50.5 - 48.7 (Obama +1.8)
Ohio             50.8 - 47.7 (Obama +3.1)

Central Time Zone
-----------------------------------------
Wisconsin         52.0 - 47.1 (Obama +4.9) 
Iowa             51.8 - 48.2 (Obama +3.6)

Mountain Time Zone
-----------------------------------------
Colorado         51.1 - 47.7 (Obama +3.4)
Nevada           52.0 - 46.8 (Obama +5.2)

Writing off Indiana, this places two Obama states in Romney’s camp – or, Obama at 332 EVs if you also cede any chance of a repeat win in Nebraska’s new 2rd Congressional District. Take away Florida (the narrowest Obama lead on this chart) and he’s down to 303. That pretty much leaves Romney to play for any two of three among OH, PA, and VA and play for one of three among IA, CO, NV (and maybe NM).

The state of politics may not be quite to my taste these days. The contrast to Bubba’s showing on Wednesday doesn’t help me forget that. But I’m not about to suggest that it’ll be boring between now and November.

ADD-ON: Matt Miller echoes my sentiments.

Called to Order

September 4, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» Kurt Eichenwald: The Five Reasons Why Romney/Ryan Must Be Defeated In 2012 – And Why Conservatives Should Hope They Are

In the spirit of opening the DNC Convention in Charlotte today, here’s a pretty hefty litany of apologetics for Team Obama. There are certainly a few points where Eichenwald takes intellectual shortcuts rather than turn a 7670-word tirade into something approaching a book. But it definitely sets the mood.

I’m more looking forward to Bill Clinton’s speech than anything else at the convention. And that’s not hoping for much. Bubba’s been out of the game a while and it shows. His ideas and prescriptions aren’t as sharp as they were in 1992. Which is a shame since I’m not counting on anything better from the guy who’s supposed to be on top of his game.

Coalition Watch: Rich Dem, Poor Dem

February 22, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» NY Times: Obama’s Tax Policy Targets Rising Sector of His Base: The Affluent

Its not just social issues that feel the tug of the tent fabric that covers the big tent …

Partisan clashes over President Obama’s proposed tax increases have obscured something remarkable: that the affluent Americans targeted by his policy represent a growing share of his own party’s base.

You would not know it from Republican cries of class warfare swirling around Mr. Obama’s new budget, which reiterates his calls for higher taxes on individuals earning more than $200,000 and households earning more than $250,000. Conventional understanding of election-season populism assumes that the president will be looking to stick it to die-hard Republicans.

In fact, affluent Americans have represented a growing portion of the Democratic Party for a generation. Even though Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, for example, he trailed the Republican incumbent, Gerald Ford, 62 percent to 38 percent among voters in the highest income group (those earning more than $20,000, the equivalent of roughly $80,000 today) that were measured by people conducting exit polls.

The 2006/2008 cycle was pretty generous for Dems winning in areas like Melissa Bean’s Gold Coast northern Chicago district. Those candidates knew well enough how to vote in order to reflect the constituency that brought them. But the natural core of the Democratic Party’s historic base has not been reflective of those voters being part of the constituency. No surprise that one of the swingingest voter groups around, then, are white Dems such as these.

Roemer Bolts for Another Political Party … Again

February 22, 2012 Politics-2012 2 Comments

» Gov. Buddy Roemer Goes Independent

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t tempted to cast a protest vote …

“Tomorrow, I will formally end my bid for the GOP nomination for President of the United States. As the GOP and the networks host debate number twenty-something this evening, they have once again turned their backs on the democratic process by choosing to exclude a former Governor and Congressman. I have decided to take my campaign directly to the American people by declaring my candidacy for Americans Elect. Also, after many discussions with The Reform Party, I am excited to announce my intentions of seeking their nomination. It is time to heal our nation and build a coalition of Americans who are fed up with the status quo and the partisan gridlock that infects Washington. Together, we will take on the special-interests that control our leaders and end the corruptive influence of money in politics so we can focus on America’s top priority – jobs.”

I don’t think I agree with Buddy on issues much more than I do with the current administration. But knowing that Texas isn’t likely to be competitive (suggestive polling notwithstanding) and a previous affinity to Roemer from his days as a Congressman and Governor might be enough to swing a sentimental vote his way. The fact that he still cares about campaign finance and has managed to generally hold true to his old self without trying to out-crazy the rest of the GOP pack is also a plus.

Grass-Steagall?

February 17, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» WSJ: How I’ll Respond to China’s Rising Power (Mitt Romney)

Bizarre …

In the economic arena, we must directly counter abusive Chinese practices in the areas of trade, intellectual property, and currency valuation. While I am prepared to work with Chinese leaders to ensure that our countries both benefit from trade, I will not continue an economic relationship that rewards China’s cheating and penalizes American companies and workers.

Unless China changes its ways, on day one of my presidency I will designate it a currency manipulator and take appropriate counteraction. A trade war with China is the last thing I want, but I cannot tolerate our current trade surrender.

There’s also some verbage about a military standoff with China. No word on whether that’s a Day One thing or if it’ll just follow shortly thereafter. But the newfound openness toward protectionism by what is still the leading GOP contender for the Presidential nomination sure is something you don’t see this overtly. Usually, it’s just some backbenching Senators saying one thing at home and voting the opposite way when in session. No harm, no foul … right?

Well, now it’s the nominee. Eventual or whatever. But still a likely nominee, even if barely. And he’d also be the most anti-trade nominee that the GOP has seen in the post-war era. Can’t wait to see how the apologists try and paper over this one.

Friendlier Environs (ctd)

If Evan’s laughing off the criticism of the Texas media’s ineptness in covering Perry, he’s not seeing the obviousness of the problem. Here’s this afternoon’s hard-hitting front pager on a candidate who crashed and burned after a rocket ride to front-runner status in the GOP Primary …

Perry Returns to Friendlier Environs

January 20, 2012 Politics-2012 1 Comment

» Politico: Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman prove media wrong

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now. Perry’s fantasy of becoming the next President is over. One minor point to highlight in all of this now that he’s back in Texas is whether the state media will have learned anything from all of this. By Politico’s account, it might not …

In the end, Perry was undone not by any dirt that anyone had on him — the charges of crony capitalism, the unfortunately named hunting camp — but by his own unforced errors.

National reporters occasionally beat up on the Texas press for not getting the story of Perry’s weaknesses out there better.

Evan Smith, editor of the Texas Tribune, took note and laughed off the criticism.

“Interestingly, the press that irritated me most was the people on the left who used the Perry campaign as an opportunity to flog the Texas press corps as a whole for somehow not doing its job,” he said. “It’s as if we’ve all been asleep for 10 years and it took The Huffington Post to do our jobs. We watched with a mixture of amusement and irritation.”

Perry wasn’t the only one for whom those errors proved disastrous.

Ratcliffe was still finishing the details in his book contract for a book on Perry when he heard Perry’s fateful comment calling people who didn’t support granting in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants “heartless.”

“I shrieked,” Ratcliffe said. “My wife asked what he said, and I said, ‘It doesn’t really matter what he said. I think he just killed my book deal.’ I knew instantaneously how bad that was going to be in the Republican primary vote. It wasn’t just that he had a position they didn’t like. It was that he has insulted his own voters.”

Am I the only one who notices that Ratfliffe just proved the very point Evan was trying to dismiss? If news writers in the state had concerned themselves with covering a broke farmer from Haskell became a millionaire while being in public office for the past quarter century, maybe the criticism wouldn’t be valid. But the ring-kissing we’ve been treated to over that span of time are a far cry from what should be expected.

As a case in point for how the state’s media (or, if you prefer the Newtonian version: “elite” media), here’s the latest sloppy wet kiss to laugh off. Taken on back-to-back days, at that.

The very next day …

Wrapping Iowa

January 4, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

As close as it gets

Candidate   Votes    %
------------------------
Romney     30,015  24.56%
Santorum   30,007  24.55%
Paul       26,219  21.45%
Gingrich   16,251  13.29%
Perry      12,604  10.31%
Bachmann    6,073   4.97%
Huntsman      745   0.61%
No pref.      135   0.11%
Other         117   0.10%
Cain           58   0.05%
-------------------------
          122,224

The post-caucus speeches are listed in full here. I think the most intriguing of them all is the return of Bitter Newt:

Excessive adverbs aside, it remains to be seen whether Newt has enough money or leverage to help undermine Romney. But the game is already underway. So far, the contest is a Democrat’s dream: after seeing just about every GOP candidate short of Huntsman and Roemer get their 15 minutes of polling fame, the guy who’s presently assumed to be the nominee has a diehard core of vote that does not want him to be the party’s nominee.

Back to Texas, it looks like the fair-haired retiree we call a Governor may be looking for a way to pull the plug from his $20M failed campaign. It looks more like the heart wants to quit while the bankroll may be too rich to shut off the machine. Whichever way he goes, I can’t wait to see how the people who pitched the story of “Perry’s vaunted ground game” try and repair their reputations. To wit …

There are 1,774 Republican caucus precincts around the state, 900 of which are combined and held at the same location.

As of Friday, the Texas governor had signed up 1,500 precinct leaders in Iowa, a source inside the Perry campaign told CNN.

The source requested anonymity because staffers are not authorized to reveal the information.

The Perry camp also has 470 out-of-state volunteers descending on Iowa this weekend (including Perry’s own family, which flew in on Friday).

The source said that by caucus night, “we will easily have over 2,000 Perry volunteers” fanning out across the state knocking on doors and speaking for Perry at their voting sites.

2,000 volunteers fanned out across the state. 12,000 votes. That’s a laughable ROI. And still, it’s worth comparing this to the Texas spin that came out after Perry’s 2010 primary win against Hutchison:

Employing an Amway-style organizational model, during the primary season the Perry campaign recruited both paid contractors and volunteers to establish their own “home headquarters” from which they were tasked with locating 11 Perry voters by focusing on their family and friends, and then ensuring that those individuals voted (ideally early). Those recruited were in turn encouraged to form their own home headquarters by recruiting an additional 11 voters, and so on. As is often the case with these types of pyramid arrangements, the initial paid recruiters received funds for forming not only their first headquarters group but also for each additional headquarters group formed as part of their pyramid (i.e., their downline).

This use of monetary incentives to motivate individuals to establish home headquarters was not, however, without controversy, with several instances of convicted felons receiving payments from the Perry campaign for their organizational efforts. This caused the campaign to end the recruitment incentive phase (while still maintaining voter turnout incentives) a few weeks before the March primary.

The establishment of this vast home headquarters network was crucial to Perry’s success in the Republican primary, which, in spite of a record turnout, only involved the participation of 1.5 million Texans (11 percent of the state’s registered voters and 8 percent of its voting age population). In the event Perry runs for president, we should expect a more polished version of this identification and mobilization model to be used in early presidential caucuses (e.g., Iowa, Nevada) and primaries (e.g., New Hampshire, South Carolina).

That mainstream media gobbles up this spin is key among the reasons that political reporting is a joke today. Whether it continues after Perry’s failed Presidential experiment heads home will be worth watching for. A somewhat more critical view of state government and it’s officials just might be in order rather than boosterism such as this.

Bachmann may be announcing her departure today. We’ll see what we see out of Team Perry when we see it. For now, the muddled race goes to New Hampshire, where Jon Huntsman might have an opportunity to make things even less settled.

And in a perfect world, this guy, Buddy Roemer would be seeing his poll numbers rise right about now:

The campaign sent out their daily update today with a subject line of “Roemermentum.” I don’t think it’s that they don’t get the irony of the ____mentum meme. I think they’re just having fun at this point. Nice to see.

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In Session

January 5, 2013

Today, I’m off to settle into a new workspace and a temporary residence in order to work with my new State Representative, Gene Wu, in Austin. Before anyone thinks to call, comment, or text about how exciting any of that is, you should be reminded that I was raised to loathe all things Austin. While […]

2007-11 Citizen Voting Age Population Update

December 31, 2012

I missed out on commenting on the Chronicle’s coverage of the recent update on Census data. This comes from the American Community Survey’s annual rolling update to their population counts. I’ve only scratched the surface and updated some of my counts on how the total population translates down to citizen voting age population. Here are […]

The Year Ahead

December 18, 2012

Up till now, I’ve generally subscribed to Jim Carville’s maxim that “I wouldn’t want to work for any government that would be willing to hire me.” But this is Texas … we seem to need a bit of help. So, starting in January, I’ll be working in the legislature for Gene Wu. He won the […]

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