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.
» 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
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: Slower Growth of Health Costs Eases U.S. Deficit
» 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
» Politico: Lone Star Rising
» NY Times Magazine: Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence? (Robert Draper)
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.
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 ...
GOP will come roaring back in two years, when Democrats’ marginal voters once again refuse to recognize importance of midterm elections.
— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) November 7, 2012
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.
Romney v Obama, the conclusion in Harris County ...
The results in this race were:
Barack Obama (D) - 49.38%
Mitt Romney (R) - 49.33%
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.
Closer to home ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
An election season lament, caught from a re-tweet by my pastor ...
Dear everyone who is passionate about either candidate: there's a possibility that people can both disagree with u AND still be intelligent.
— Ryan Meeks (@ryanmeeks) October 4, 2012
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.