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Cache Clearance: Post-Bill Filing Deadline Edition

March 12, 2013 Politics-2013 No Comments

A simple and straightforward clearing of the cache. Happy reading if you’re into that sort of thing. There are redistricting maps out for the session, but I think most folks are hoping there are no fireworks that accompany them. But just out of curiosity, I’ll probably find a little time to convert them to a Google map and roll out some data.

» NY Times: How a U.S. Citizen Came to Be in America’s Cross Hairs

» Reason: The Supreme Court Considers Biotech Seed Patents

» Nate Silver: In Supreme Court Debate on Voting Rights Act, a Dubious Use of Statistics

» Wonkblog: Revenge of the sources

» New Republic: Facing the Facts Doesn’t Always Change Minds

» Washington Post: School ‘resegregation’ cited in study

» Bruce Bartlett: Wealth, Spending and the Economy

» Columbia Journalism Review: Fair share

Aggreblogging in the Raw

February 18, 2013 Politics-2013 No Comments

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)

Two Notes on “Person of the Year”

December 19, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» Time: 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the President

Absolutely no shock in this year’s pick. But there are two particularly interesting passages written back-to-back in their write-up that I find particularly interesting. The first involves the transferability of the newfangled data-mining, data-crunching, hi-tech wizardy that people think won this election singlehandedly (emphasis mine).

The goals were the same as ever: more money in the bank, more door knocks, more phone calls, more voter registrations and more voters at the polls. But the methods for achieving those ends in 2012 bordered on the revolutionary. A squad of dozens of data crunchers created algorithms for predicting the likelihood that someone would respond to specific types of requests to accomplish each of those goals. Vast quantities of information were collected and then employed to predict just which television shows various target voters in certain cities were watching at just what time of day — the better to decide where to place TV ads. Facebook, which was an afterthought in 2008, became the new electronic telephone call, employed to persuade more than 600,000 Obama supporters to reach out to 5 million swing-state friends online with targeted messages in the days before the election. One woman in central Ohio who was living with her young voting-age daughter reported that her house got four different visits on the morning of Election Day, each from a different neighbor making sure both women had remembered to vote.

The geek squad also found new ways to make voters turn out their pockets. They refined meet-the-candidate lotteries into an art form, invented a system for texting dollars from a mobile phone that required entering only a single number and experimented with the language of e-mail pitches until they stung. Of his $1 billion campaign-cash haul, Obama was able to raise $690 million online in 2012, up from about $500 million in 2008. More than $200 million of that came in donations of $200 or less, a 10% increase over the history-making frenzy of 2008. In a campaign that big super-PAC money was supposed to dominate, Obama’s operation proved that many small efforts were more powerful than a few big ones. No one in either party thinks campaign finance will ever be the same.

How much of this survives for future Democrats when Obama exits the stage? Obama’s advisers are quick to say it won’t be around for others to tap. Too much of the Obama coalition, they say, is about Obama himself. It might reject anyone who tries to take up his mantle in a few years. “This organization is not transferable,” says a senior campaign adviser. “The next nominee on either side is going to have to build their own coalition.” But the Obama effort is going to try to live on. Bob Bauer, the campaign’s attorney, has been working on a plan for a new organization — likely to be incorporated as a nonprofit beyond the reach of the Democratic National Committee — that will be announced in the coming weeks. The idea is to create an outlet for Obama’s supporters, more than 80,000 of whom said after the election that they were willing to run for public office. A similar effort stumbled in 2009, when Obama reined in his grassroots supporters to avoid ruffling feathers in Congress. But the one thing Obama has learned in his first term is that he won’t be able to accomplish much in the second without an active outside game.

The algorithms, APIs, custom code, and other gizmos that were created in the course of the campaign were truly revolutionary in how they advanced the hard science that any massive organization should have on hand. But they don’t succeed without the candidate. And the concern of 2016 shouldn’t be whether the next Democratic nominee is capable of putting together the tech team. Instead, the first order of business should be whether they can come anywhere near close to the enthusiasm level among the various constituencies that Obama appealed to. I think a re-read of Eric Bonabeau’s “The Perils of the Imitation Age” are in order … as is another round of cries over the injustice of Bonabeau not extrapolating his ideas into a lengthier book format.

As much as I generally like Martin O’Malley and might be intrigued to hear out Andrew Cuomo and Brian Schweitzer if they choose to run in 2016, I don’t see someone getting into the race from that sort of mid-market platform and making the immediate impression that Obama did from 2004 to 2008. If that’s where we end up having a nominee from (and yes, HRC will have some say in the matter), then it should be interesting to see what narrative is created to talk about the success or failure of technology (in isolation) for a campaign operation.

The second point spotted with interest in the article has more to do with this homage to why some of us developed the blogging habit way back whenever …

He (Obama) began to navigate the issues in the days after the election by scribbling his hopes on a yellow legal pad. Obama has always thought best by writing, and for that reason he struggled to keep a diary during his first term, a task at which he hopes to redouble his efforts over the coming years. “In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are,” he says. “The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.”

That’s certainly been my experience in dealing with thoughts well beneath a Presidential paygrade.

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%

And on the final day of early voting …

November 2, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

A smattering of quick reads while electioneering takes priority …

» NY Times: What Too Close to Call Really Means
It’ll be interesting to see how much Harris County tracks with the national popular vote. I’m seeing both as very close. Wouldn’t mind being wrong if it means Dems can breath easier during E-Night.

» The Economist: Which one? America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill
Pretty much mirrors my sentiments. I’m not a big fan of “the new normal” for Democratic Party worldview. But there’s just not another option to take seriously.

» Tampa Bay Times: Democrats crushing Republicans on sporadic Fla voters in early voting
I’ve read every blog post about this article, so this is me setting it aside for night-time reading this evening. I’m typically more skeptical of selective stats like this being trumpeted as evidence of winning or losing Early Vote. But I’m also curious how much of the 2008 Obama effort in Florida can be replicated this time around. And if that’s enough to pull off a surprise win in the state on Tuesday night.

Oh, and this …


A next-to-final note on EV for Harris County: It’s still looks close. Damn close. And I think today’s numbers are likelier to make it closer. By 7:30pm Tuesday night, we’ll see what the real numbers have to say about things. And there’s still the matter of who’s left to vote on E-Day. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to live in a swing state, this swing county may have to suffice for now. That said: your vote matters and will go a long way for the direction of the county, at least. I’m all in favor of more folks exercising (and having) that right.

Polling for Harris County

October 31, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

Closer to home …

» KHOU: Obama leads tight race in Harris County

The poll shows the president leading in Harris County with the support of 46 percent of surveyed voters, compared to Romney’s 42 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson cracked the survey with 2 percent.

In the U.S. Senate race, Democrat Paul Sadler’s 44 percent leads Republican Ted Cruz with 42 percent in Harris County. With a 3.5 percent margin of error, that’s a statistical dead heat in the largest county in Texas.

Republican crossover voters are helping push Democratic Sheriff Adrian Garcia to 51 percent in this survey, compared to Republican challenger Louis Guthrie’s 32 percent. Another 13 percent were undecided.

On the other hand, many Democrats told pollsters they’re voting for Republican district attorney candidate Mike Anderson, who’s polling at 41 percent. Nonetheless, Democrat Lloyd Oliver is close behind with 35 percent. Another 19 percent are undecided. That number is especially striking because Democratic Party leaders were so embarrassed by Oliver’s candidacy they tried to remove him from the ballot.

» Chron: Strip club cash raises questions in sheriff campaign

Ali Davari, who with his brother Hassan Davari owns a handful of prominent local strip clubs, including Treasures, Gold Cup and Trophy Club, gave $25,000 to the deputies union political action committee on Oct. 15. It was the only contribution the organization received during the time period covered by the report, which was filed Thursday. The union donated the same amount, in its only listed expenditure, to Republican Louis Guthrie’s campaign a week later, earmarking it for political advertising.

Guthrie reports receiving a $25,000 check from the union on Oct. 9; Guthrie’s campaign manager Sara Kinney said the campaign listed that date because that was the date on the check. HCDO Vice President Eric Batton could not explain the discrepancy in the dates.

As much as I hope the swing votes are enough to save the county from embarrassments like Guthrie and Oliver, I stand by my conclusion that all other datapoints are merely indicative of a swing county in the midst of a battle over who finishes on the plus side of what I expect to be a plurality vote at the Presidential level.

State of the Race: One Week Out

October 30, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

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.

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.

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 …

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.

DNC12: Day Two

September 6, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

How it’s done …

Favorite tweets on the subject:

I fear for those who have to follow this tonight.

ADD-ON: Reason number 5 gazillion (or so) why I can’t accept the “liberal media” canard …

» Media Matters: AP Fact-Checks Accurate Clinton Comment By Invoking Monica Lewinsky

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.

Primary Mapping: Dem President

August 15, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

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 pageGoogle 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.

Runoff, Pre-Early-Vote Aggrepost

July 20, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

No rest for the weary. Rock & roll, yes. Rest, no …

And for newsier-ish events and whatnot, here’s a bit of a sampler so that I don’t feel too far behind on all the goings-on around here:

» Wash. Post: In Virginia, frenzied weekend highlights fight ahead in state for Obama, Romney
» LA Times: Nevada isn’t a sure bet for Obama
I’m told there’s still a Presidential election going on. Too early to really take polls seriously. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from gnawing away a few precious fingernails to deal with the anxiety.

» GC Daily News: Jason Murray to spend 7 months in jail
A good poster-child for voters paying more attention to who they vote for down-ballot.

» FW Star-Telegram: Keller City Council nixes proposed food truck park
Nice to see a conservative little corner of Tarrant County so concerned about too much competition in the food industry.

» Kevin Drum: Medicaid Expansion May Turn Out to Be an Offer States Can’t Refuse
Kudos to KDrum for picking up on this. And also kudos to Arkansas for honestly reviewing the tradeoffs involved in expanding Medicaid.

They figure that in 2015 the new law would cost them $42 million and save them $131 million. So it’s a clear winner. But that’s because the federal government picks up 100% of the tab for expansion during the first three years. That declines to 90% by 2020, and Arkansas figures that by 2021 the expansion of Medicaid would cost them $3.4 million per year.

Now, that’s $3.4 million out of a $4 billion Medicaid budget, of which Arkansas pays $750 million. So it’s not a lot of money, especially considering the number of people it would help.

There are still critiques to be had with the expansion and Drum cautions that Arkansas’ mileage may vary from others. But it sure would be nice to see Texas try a little honest accounting on this issue. It would certainly be a lot better than …

» Chron: Passing on Medicaid expansion is the right call for Texas
Signed by State Sen. Bob Deuell (R); State Rep. Charles Schwertner (R); State Representative Mark Shelton (R); and State Rep. John Zerwas (R). Most interesting, because …

» Kaiser Health News: Businesses Will Push Perry to Rethink Medicaid Expansion

“Fights seem to follow the money, and there is a lot of money at stake in Texas on this,” said Phil King, a Republican state representative from outside Fort Worth who opposes the Medicaid expansion. “Maybe you need to rename this ‘The Full-Employment Act for Lobbyists.’”

With world-renowned medical institutions such as the University of Texas and a large part of its Medicaid coverage handled by private insurers such as Amerigroup, the state’s health industry is “just behind oil and gas” in size and influence, said Vivian Ho, a health economist at Rice University. “Given how much Amerigroup has to gain from a Medicaid expansion in Texas, they may be one of the most effective organizations to lobby Perry and the state legislature to fund the expansion.”

Founded in the mid-1990s in Virginia Beach, Va., Amerigroup contracts with 13 states to manage Medicaid care, generally for a fixed fee per member. Now grown to Fortune 500 size, the company had twice as many Texas members last year — 632,000 — as in any other state.

Oughtta provide a good deal of entertainment in the lege come January.

Oh yeah, and this happened:

And just for a little bit of retro-linkage, here’s an interesting local story from 1986 on how familiar names may or may not have wrecked havoc on political primary outcomes. Elsewhere, TBogg notes a hilarious example of Randian hypocrisy.

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