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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%

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.

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.

The Wannabe

August 11, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» Washington Post: Paul Ryan is Romney’s pick for vice presidential nominee

Quote to remember: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.” [1], [2]

Also, the first time since 1996 that Republicans have not had a ticketmate from the south or southwest.

Further thoughts …

- Romney introducing Ryan: “Join me in welcoming the next President of the United States, Paul Ryan.” Gives new meaning to suicide pact.

- Ezra Klein: “Mitt Romney, announcing Paul Ryan as his VP, attacks Obama for cutting Medicare by $700 billon. Just wow”

- American Bridge SuperPAC is up and at ‘em: meetpaulryan.com

- Ryan Lizza’s backgrounder in the New Yorker.

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.

Turnout vs Change of Mind, continued …

April 21, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» National Journal: Familiar Divisions Give Obama Narrow Edge (Ron Brownstein)

A classic case about why its important to understand the difference between performance – or the level of support within a part of the electorate – and the vote share of the subgroup. Brownstein captures three disparate polling results and highlights how the different vote shares lead to different results despite the performance among white and non-white being similar to 2008.

The surveys-from ABC and the Washington Post; the Pew Research Center; CNN/ORC; and the first Gallup tracking poll, diverge in their overall results. The first three polls show Obama leading by seven, four and nine percentage points respectively; the first Gallup track placed Romney up by two percentage points.

But the Gallup track, which is conducted among registered voters, has a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012: only 22 percent of the Gallup survey was non-white, according to figures the organization provided to Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. That was close to the non-white share of the vote in 2010 (23 percent), but in 2008, minorities comprised 26 percent of all voters, according to exit polls; the Obama campaign, and other analysts, project the minority share of the vote will increase to 28 percent in 2012. In its survey, Pew, for instance, puts the non-white share at 25 percent.

The division between the white and non-white share of the vote profoundly affects the results because all of the surveys show a racial gap between Obama and Romney that could be at least as large as 2008.

There’s obviously a lot of innings to play between now and November. But, to me, hte biggest determinant of the outcome isn’t going to be who changes their mind about which candidate to support, so much as it will be who changes their mind about voting or not voting. All that to suggest that I anticipate things being closer than they were in 2008 and how that closeness impacts swing states makes the difference. Or, if you prefer … in 2008, the swing states were Obama states – in 2012, they revert to Kerry v Bush tossup status. Predict at your own peril this far out.

The Persuadables

April 20, 2012 Politics-2012 No Comments

» Politico: The fight for ‘the persuadables’

Another worthwhile read since some of us are going into the direct heat of Primary Election season. I’m reminded of a handful of election history projects that I’ve been meaning to get to since candidates started filing and my dance card started filling up. But this story serves as an interesting national overview of the shift that Anglo Dems might take on the Presidential contest.

Consider it an exercise in symmetrical warfare: a campaign in which the two parties’ nominees are equally hobbled with the sliver of voters who are actually persuadable.

“Whites as a group are leaning Republican. … The subgroups of whites that seem to be really divided are the higher-education whites,” said Mike Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Center. “College grad[uate] whites are split today. They were split in 2008. While Obama seems to have lost some ground among whites overall, he hasn’t lost ground among these higher socioeconomic whites.”

Pew’s most recent data bears that out: among white college graduates, Obama had 47 percent of the vote to Romney’s 48 percent. In all other education brackets, Romney wins white voters by double-digits.

Pivoting to the local example, I’ll preface my remarks with a pointer over to the Harris County political tribe mapping that I’d done in 2007/08 here. It’s worth pointing out that when we reviewed prior elections, the Anglo Dem area in Harris County actually swung Republican in 1994. I’m too far behind on free time to do a precise overview of 2010, but a cursory view indicates that the numbers did not swing much, if at all, for 2010 in this area. Again – 2010 was not an election where a lot of people changed their mind about what party they supported. It was an election where a lot of people on one side were motivated to come out and vote in a non-Presidential election. While the conventional wisdom in losses such as these is that “Democrats didn’t turn out to vote”, that’s not really the case throughout much of Texas. And certainly not in Harris County.

What that means for 2012 is still open to a lot of interpretation. For the time being, I think any national polls are worth an extra helping of grains of salt when you look at the sub-demographics as this Politico story does. Vote shares are one thing. Turnout levels are something different.

I think its entirely possible that Obama can perform exactly the same in terms of vote shares among any slice of demographic you want to look at … and still register a few points worse than he did in 2008 due to lower turnout. But polls aren’t great at capturing turnout differentials – that’s why we get so many off-the-wall polls during midterm years. Presidential years are still going to be big turnout elections – at least, in general terms. But given the massive turnout growth seen in 2008, I wouldn’t be surprised to see turnout go south this year. And whether that comes disproportionately out of Obama’s or Romney’s hide … nobody knows right now.

Long Lost Aggre-Blogging: Now That I’m Back

March 15, 2012 Politics-2012, Sports No Comments

Nothing like a week filled with web programming, yucky cold, and other work-related stuff to keep the blog habit at bay. So now. Where was I?

» TX Redistricting: DOJ rejects Texas’ voter ID law
» Chron: Justice Department rejects Texas’ voter ID law
» TX Tribune: Feds Reject Texas Voter ID Law
» Chron: Texas’ contested voter ID law could shave voter rolls
Sorta big news. Now to see what happens with the state’s pushback efforts. Whether this case does anything to chip away at Section 5 remains to be seen. But it’s a given that Section 5 will get a day in court in front of the GOP-controlled Supreme Court.

» Pew: Romney Leads GOP Contest, Trails in Matchup with Obama
Time to start taking the head-to-head comparisons against Obama more seriously. And, already, they seem to show a mixture of results. ABC/Washington Post had Obama losing to both Romney & Santorum. This one has Obama leading. It could be a tough election to read, which I think is good business for Nate Silver.

» Education Next: Obama’s Education Record
… and also time for assessment of Obama’s record.

» Washington Post: Mitt Romney’s dog-on-the-car-roof story still proves to be his critics’ best friend
I’m not going to lie – I see this as a big character issue. All of my family’s bassets rode inside. Sometimes in the driver’s seat. Always with tongue flailing in the wind of an open window. It’s how God intended dogs to ride.

» NY Review of Books: Our Corrupt Politics: It’s Not All Money
An interesting take on the impact of money in politics toward votes in the legislature. It’s not totally counter to the proposition that Mark Green raised in “Who Owns Congress”, but there’s still some room between Green and Chait to fill in. Who knows – if time ever permits, I may have to revisit my old 1988 thesis on campaign finance reform.

» NY Times: When States Put Out the Unwelcome Mat
» NewsTaco: West Texas Miracle Producing Future Latino Leaders
» MSNBC: Racist? Texas high school apologizes for fans’ ‘USA!’ chant after basketball game
» TX Tribune: Claudia Kolker: The TT Interview
A small gaggle of signposts and otherwise interesting reading on how the modern era of Hispanic demographics is different than before.

» TechPresident: Sean Parker: New Technology Can Diminish The Dominance Of Money In Politics
Put me on the fence with this one, I suppose. I’m not seeing online tools diminish the importance of money so far. For the most part, most of the online tools are an add-on rather than a substitute. Certainly, having the voter file online is a nice substitute and could theoretically be seen as a cost saver. But it usually helps to have an expert user to go along with that tool since not every 70-yr old grandma can operate VAN. Until there’s a success story about costs being saved due to online tools, I’m the skeptic.

» Media Decoder: After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses
This is a sad, yet highly predictable day. There were three major timekillers that I usually had at my disposal during college: looking up old election stats and mapping county maps for Senate/Governor elections around the nation (try not to act surprised); digging through the magazine archives on topics I would have not otherwise studied (for some reason, I recall a lot of medical journal and anthropology reading); and picking up a random EB to pick a random topic to read up on. They’re clearly the most well-written encyclopedias known to man. I may have to pick up a stray single copy from a thrift store now just to be able to prove that such a thing existed to future generations.

» Washington Post: In Iraq, growing gap sets Kurdistan apart
Interesting reading, in and of itself. At church, we also heard news of a tragic event from a couple of missionaries from our community. Given the rush to classify this as a standard-issue Muslim vs Christian war, it’s heartening to know that there’s some peacefulness that comes from this one. That the overall story seems to represent an isolated incident within the broader relative peacefulness that seems to exist in Kurdistan.

» NY Times: How India Became America
Behold, the last Starbucks-free refuge now seems on the verge of being over-run.

» ESPN: NFL Nation – Peyton Manning tag
In case you didn’t know what the single biggest sports story was. I’m just relieved that the Arizona Cardinals seem to be out of consideration. The second biggest free agency news seems to be that Texans’ DE Mario Williams is being wooed by Buffalo.

» Star-Telegram: Coincidence? Former Trinity HS QB signed by Colts, one day after they cut Manning
I’m biased, but I can totally see Trevor Vittatoe as Manning’s replacement. More seriously, I’m sure this is nothing more than a placeholder move. There’s been a small amount of interesting reading on the life that roster-filler type players go through. Basically – you sign for a few days to a team and bounce around among a number of different teams during a season. All that for roughly $15-20k if you’re lucky. Any there’s nothing to suggest that a good warehouse job that understands your situation wouldn’t be a bad thing to have. Oh, and stay in peak shape the whole time. If you’re lucky, an Arena Football League or UFL gig will open up for better stability as a professional athlete. Not exactly the most glamorous thing in the world.

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January 19, 2015

Belatedly, it’s worth noting that I’m back in Austin for the legislative session. Theoretically, that would mean a slowdown in blogging. But given the pace over the past several months, who knows. For the sake of making myself feel better, the work product over this span of time seems to be about 568 pages of […]

2009-13 ACS Update

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The end of the year means new Census data being released. I’m saving most of my work until the Citizen Voting Age data is out, but here are the top lines for total population in Harris County, with previous ACS updates included to show the gradual change over time: Tot. Pop. ’10 (%) | Tot. […]

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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 […]


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