By John Parisella - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 0 Comments
Losing an election you were certain to win is never easy. Up against a…
Losing an election you were certain to win is never easy. Up against a President who had a sustained high level of unemployment for all his term in office, Republicans had an opportunity to make this a one-term administration. They also believed they would make gains in the Senate, if not win it outright. None of this happened, and Republicans have offered divergent views about what went wrong, and what needs to be done.
In the aftermath of an electoral setback, the priority must be directed to finding the reasons for the defeat before embarking on the quest to victory in 2016. Here, the GOP has had a range of conflicting explanations, from outright denial (Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh) to acceptance that the GOP went wayward (David Frum, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich ). And Mitt Romney’s post-election conference call to a group of large donors, in which he explained his loss by alluding to Obama “gifts” to specific voting blocs has only added to the confusion—and to a further divergence of views—among leading Republicans.
The prevailing short-term interpretation for the Republican loss on November 6 fails to admit that the party had moved so far to the extreme that moderate Republicans failed to apply for the 2012 nomination, with the exception of former ambassador Jon Hunstman. Romney, originally a moderate Massachusetts Republican governor and son of a moderate Republican governor, strayed so far out of his ideological comfort zone in order to gain the nomination that he came across as disconnected, insincere, and unprincipled. Bill Clinton referred to him as a Cirque Du Soleil contortionist. He will soon become a footnote in the history books—as most losing presidential candidates do—or maybe he’ll be held up as an example of what not to do to: flip flop on your core convictions and pander to an extremist party base.
The fiscal cliff debate will be the first test not only for the reelected Obama, but also for the Republican Party. Here, the GOP congressional leadership of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have the upper hand—an opportunity to steer the direction of their party. Should they strike a workable deal with the Obama administration, hope will begin to surface that maybe, just maybe, the Republicans are paying attention to the expectations of the political mainstream, and not just the far-out lunatic fringe led by Rush Limbaugh and no-new-taxes guru, Grover Norquist.
The next test would be immigration reform, an issue President Obama will want to deal with before the mid terms in 2014. The Republicans, especially potential 2016 aspirants, are expected to be open to reform, so as to remove the issue from the next presidential campaign. If the Republicans were to participate in bipartisan immigration reform it would make the Latino vote more competitive down the road.
The Republican Party base, however, remains susceptible to ideological movement conservatives or interest groups such as Grover Norquist, the Libertarians, religious right conservatives, the Tea Party, and the re-emerging neo-conservatives—all of whom are responsible for forcing the GOP outside the mainstream. This being said, if there is a deal on the fiscal cliff and immigration reform in the short to medium term, the lure of the presidency in 2016 may finally lead Republican candidates to emerge with an agenda that brings the party base closer to the political center and gives them a better shot at the White House. The alternative is a repeat of this year’s results—and no Republican wants that.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
The stakes were never so high, the battle never so bitter. With America’s future in the balance, Barack Obama overcame a surprising surge from Mitt Romney to re-capture the presidency. The inside story, by Luiza Ch. Savage
As he stood in Chicago, claiming his second victory, Barack Obama had made history yet again.
He was the first president to be re-elected since Franklin Delano Roosevelt with an unemployment rate higher than 7.4 per cent. The jobless rate on Election Day, 7.9 per cent, was actually a notch higher than when he took office amidst the financial crisis and unfolding recession.
But as achievements go, it lacked the magic of 2008. And the man was different too: not the inspiring and redemptive figure—America’s first black president—he then was, but a toughened, hard-knuckled politician who had to scramble to preserve victory. In 2008, ecstatic throngs of Americans had swept him into the White House believing he was the one who would take them to a better place. In 2012, a slimmer majority kept him in office because he had convinced them his Republican rival would take them somewhere worse.
In 2008, Obama offered a broad vision of national unity and a promise of post-partisan healing that appealed to a cross-section of Americans. In 2012, his strategists cobbled together a narrow victory out of pockets of scientifically micro-targeted subgroups of voters across the swing states—women in Virginia, Latinos in Nevada and working-class whites in Ohio who liked the auto bailout. Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 10:26 AM - 0 Comments
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it…
Buried in Mitt Romney’s post-election analysis of why he lost – he blames it on “gifts” to minorities, young people and single women – is an interesting admission about the impact of Obama’s health-care reform on the election.
“Obamacare” didn’t come up a whole lot in the election, because Obama didn’t want to talk a lot about it (polls show it is still unpopular overall) and Romney, while pledging to repeal it, was not in a position to make it a centrepiece of his campaign (having famously passed the same plan in Massachusetts, every explanation of why he wanted to repeal it had to be prefaced by an explanation of why state laws are different from federal ones). But the health-care reform was a big factor in the Democratic mid-term disaster of 2010, and though it became less of an albatross for the party once it squeaked by the Supreme Court, it was still expected to be more of a liability than an asset for Democrats this year.
But according to Romney, Obamacare worked to mobilize voters. He thinks this is a bad thing, a case of the government doling out favours to special interest groups; but liberals and Democrats might feel that Romney is making a stronger case for the effectiveness of Obamacare than Obama ever did:
“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”
A lot of liberals are already making fun of Romney, or expressing horror at this point of view: that when people feel the government is making their lives better, it’s some kind of “gift” or bribe, rather than the government doing its job. That’s part of the worldview that Romney expressed in the 47% remarks, and which underlay a lot of the philosophical differences in the campaign. But what’s really odd is to hear the Republican candidate tell people that Obamacare was an asset for the Democrats, after telling us for years that it was going to be their Waterloo.
How could Obamacare be such a liability for the Democrats in 2010, and then, according to their own opponent, a major asset in 2012? This speaks to the big problem the Democrats still have to deal with: while they’ve built a workable majority of voters in the past two Presidential elections, many of their voters are not likely to show up during mid-term elections, which have much lower turnout, and a much older electorate. The Democrats did extremely well in the 2006 election because older voters were frustrated with the Iraq war and took their frustration out on the Republicans. But in 2010, the Democrats were in charge, and the natural disadvantage of the party in power was compounded by the Medicare cuts that Obama’s health-care reform incorporated. The older electorate of 2010 voted against the Democrats because they saw Obamacare as hurting rather than helping them. But in 2012, more people were voting who had trouble affording medical insurance, and they broke for Obamacare, not against it.
The challenge for the Democrats in 2014, when they will once again be the party in power, will be to find a way to minimize their expected losses by figuring out a way to get their base to show up for mid-term elections in greater numbers. If they can ever do that, Republicans will be in real trouble for a while. (On the other hand, if the Democrats find some way to make young voters feel betrayed – like for example cutting the benefits they can expect to receive if and when they retire – then their voting coalition could evaporate.) Meanwhile, Republicans’ challenge in 2014 will be to find a way to avoid blowing their third consecutive chance to take back the Senate, meaning that we can expect them to apply a lot of pressure to keep people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock out of future Senate races. Whether any of this works, I don’t know; this is one thing that not even the polls can predict – yet.
By John Parisella - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM - 0 Comments
What can and will this second-term president accomplish?
Barack Obama becomes the fifth President (and only the second Democrat) to be reelected to a second term since the end of World War II. The post mortems have begun, but winning a second term usually ensures a place in history based on consolidating achievements. While, failure to obtain a second term often makes a one-term President appear as an accident of history.
While the popular vote numbers were close, Obama can claim to be the only Democrat since the war to win consecutive terms with over 50 per cent of the vote. His victories in the electoral college were also decisive, giving him a clear mandate to deal with the major issues facing his administration. On the other hand, the disappointed Republicans, and Mitt Romney, seemed to be taken by surprise with the result.
After that stellar first debate performance by Romney on October 3—against a lackluster President Obama—the polls did tighten dramatically. But the Republicans continued raising issues such as contraception, abortion, and rape—only to reduce their potential advantage on economic issues. In the end, those internal overly optimistic GOP polls lead conservative pundits like Karl Rove, Michael Barone, and Dick Morris to embarrassingly predict a decisive electoral college victory for Romney.
What the results did show was the superior quality of the Democratic organization under the leadership of Obama’s close circle of operatives, such as David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina. They fought a strong ground game, an effective and innovative Internet operation, and raised the art of micro-politics to a near science. The new winning coalition, which Obama’s team had been driving at for over two years, includes single women voters, minorities (Latino, Asian, and African Americans), and the youth.
Despite the initial Republican lack of introspection about the electoral loss, their continued justification of the no-tax mantra—and even lingering talk of the “fictional” Obama (the European socialist with the fake birth certificate!)—there is the possibility of bipartisan accommodation on the U.S.’s priority issues. The President must use the obvious momentum associated with winning a second term and begin using the bully pulpit as the instrument to build support and put pressure on the Republicans. Meanwhile, good sense Republicans like David Frum and Chris Christie, as well as NYT conservative columnist David Brooks, will hopefully be able to pull their party back from the more extreme elements.
We know that second-term Presidents soon become lame-duck occupants of the White House. Yet, Obama’s victory has ensured the safety of his first-term signature achievements—Obamacare, pay equity for women, student loan reform, financial reform, repealing DADT for gays in the military, and winding down the combat role of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, there are plenty of crucial issues to tackle over the next four years—these include dealing with the deficit and debt issue (the famous fiscal cliff is beyond the horizon), immigration reform, energy independence, climate change, and stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Once the Republicans digest this defeat, see its enormity and its ominous signs for the future of their party, its own leadership may soon conclude that it is in their interests to put country first and work with the reelected President.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Andrew Potter considers the nature of truth in politics.
Political leadership is a form of storytelling, and no amount of mere fact-checking will ever serve to counteract a narrative that a significant mass of the public feels in its bones to be true. That is why the most effective antidote to the poison politics of truthiness is ridicule.
It is no coincidence that the term truthiness was coined in 2006 by the comedian Stephen Colbert, host of the wildly popular talk show The Colbert Report. Along with Jon Stewart (host of the sister program The Daily Show) Colbert has become one of the most influential political analysts in America. Truth should always remain a regulative ideal of political life. Facts matter, and fact-checking is still an important function of the independent press. But in the age of post-truth politics, it is important to remember that the guiding light of reason is the satirist. The literary devices of irony, sarcasm, and parody are the mechanisms through which grand political narratives are exposed not as false, but as laughable, preposterous or absurd.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:57 PM - 0 Comments
In the United States, the carbon tax discussion continues.
From the National Journal.
Over the next two years, the president will have one more chance to push carbon-pricing legislation through Congress—this time, however, with a distinctly different political profile. As early as next year, Congress is expected to take up a sweeping tax-reform package that would lower corporate rates and eliminate loopholes in the tax code. As part of that process, support is growing for a carbon tax, to be paired with a cut in the payroll or income tax. The strongest supporters of the idea are conservative economists—including Gregory Mankiw, Mitt Romney’s economic adviser; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who advised Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; and Art Laffer, President Reagan’s chief economic adviser. Republicans want to find a way to cut taxes on work or income—and many, at least, don’t oppose the idea of moving that tax over to carbon pollution.
The idea taking shape is to tuck a “carbon-tax swap” into a broader reform package, framed as conservative fiscal policy and championed by Republicans. That could provide the political cover it would need to get through Congress, although it will still require an uphill push. One big challenge will be to get enough Republicans, and many coal-state Democrats, to sign on to something that will inevitably be labeled an “energy tax” by groups like Americans for Prosperity, the super PAC linked to the oil conglomerate Koch Industries.
From the Washington Post.
Here’s a riddle: If Congress doesn’t want to raise income tax rates but wants to raise revenue, what can it do? One answer: Pass a carbon tax.
A relatively moderate-sized carbon tax could raise $1.25 trillion over the next decade, a huge chunk of the money needed to bring the federal budget deficit under control. And the idea is getting a closer look now that the election is over and the “fiscal cliff” is looming.
A White House official says the President isn’t planning to propose a carbon tax.
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 12:56 AM - 0 Comments
This was always going to be a close election. It’s hard to imagine a U.S. presidential election that wouldn’t be close. They used to have decisive victories — Johnson in 1964 and Nixon in 1972 both won with more than 60 per cent of the popular vote — but those days seem long gone now.
Barack Obama won despite 8 per cent unemployment by fielding a superb campaign operation, staging a vastly superior nominating convention and bouncing back after a dreadful first debate performance. More than that, his position on issues held more of the fractured American electorate than Romney’s did. Obamacare turned out to be more asset than handicap. Obama’s stewardship of the economy neutralized Romney’s business-guy advantage. Democrats held approximately as many House and Senate seats as before the election. Equal-marriage ballot initiatives seem at this hour to have carried in Maryland, Minnesota, Washington and Maine. Voters in Washington and Colorado supported the decriminalization of marijuana. Republicans tempted to congratulate themselves for winning the white vote should be told, gently, that on top of being a distasteful way to apportion legitimacy in a democracy, the analysis is radically unhelpful: the white share of the electorate has fallen 15 points since 1980. Jacques Parizeau is a poor role model for Republicans who actually want to win something.
But this election will be dead easy for conservative Republicans to rationalize. Continue…
By Mitchel Raphael - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 11:06 PM - 0 Comments
The U.S. Embassy held an election party at the Château Laurier. Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan…
The U.S. Embassy held an election party at the Château Laurier. Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan buttons were given out. Attendees could also have their pic taken with Barack Obama and/or Mitt Romney cutouts.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 3:44 AM - 0 Comments
New York magazine’s Adam Pasick has put together a charming collection of electoral vote forecasts from American political notables. Because most of these people have some known prior commitment to one side or the other, the table makes for an interesting diorama of America’s political camps: the Republicans and conservatives are all over the map, with as many predicting massive triumph for Mitt Romney as there are imagining disaster, and the Democrats and liberals/leftists are united behind a party line of certain victory, though nobody thinks it will be too impressive. Most of the latter are in a band between 285 Obama electoral votes and 305—keeping in mind that the president got 365 last time out. The most pessimistic Romney backer of the bunch, who I guess would have to be Buzz Bissinger, has a higher number for Obama than any of the overt Obama voters I can identify. Granted, he’s called Buzz for a reason (and that reason is that he is approximately three-quarters crazy on a good day).
If you throw out Jim Cramer’s prediction, which he made explicitly to set himself apart from the crowd and give himself a longshot chance of looking like a lone genius 24 hours from now (good luck with that), the mean of all guesses is 274½ electoral votes for Obama. The Republicans are running about 20 below that on average, the Democrats about 20 above. It may be noteworthy that absolutely none of the Democrats and liberals is willing to place Obama as high as FiveThirtyEight.com’s Nate Silver, whose mean EV estimate for the incumbent at this hour is 315 and rising.
Screening Pasick’s “pundits” for general cool-headedness, insider knowledge, or just having strong incentives to get the call right doesn’t seem to help extract a signal from the noise. Bowtied eminence George F. Will, who is a conservative but hardly the model of a death-or-glory demagogue, submitted exactly the same numbers as Glenn Beck. Slate’s Dave Weigel, perhaps the only person on the list who has officially declared He Is Not Voting For Either Of These Bozos, is predicting a narrow 276-262 Romney win.
In lieu of a prediction, because I am short on insights into this particular election and there’s no reason you should care either way, I would offer one warning from this spring’s Alberta vote: it is dangerous to attempt to infer the true state of a political race from the last-minute behaviour of the candidates. The Progressive Conservatives, widely perceived to be behind on the final weekend, appeared to be defending what ought to have been relatively safe ridings in Calgary and the province’s northeast. Although I was cautious and emerged from the election only lightly bespattered with facial egg, watching Premier Redford move about encouraged me to think the PCs really were in serious danger.
In fact, if you think about it, the ridings—or states—where a candidate can do the most marginal good with a late appearance are not necessarily the ones closest to parity or 50-50 overall. If a candidate is blitzing a state with TV ads, that may just mean the TV audience in that state is especially promising in some respect. If a candidate is visiting in person, he may be forsaking a closer but less tractable state race for one in which a weak organization needs the personal touch, or the youth vote has an unusual quantity of undecideds, or… well, you can imagine an infinity of scenarios yourself.
It is tempting to regard late candidate activity as a form of revealed preference, a Fool Killer that smashes through verbiage to the truth. Sometimes, though, it is not telling you what you might think. In this election, a late rush by both sides toward Pennsylvania, a vote-rich state that Obama won by 10 points in 2008, has people wondering if Romney really might be ahead nationally and putting the president on the ropes. Well, for all I know he might be. But the real signal is probably simpler than that: “Hey, Pennsylvania doesn’t have early voting.“
By Jaime Weinman - Monday, November 5, 2012 at 4:13 PM - 0 Comments
Jamie Weinman on the gap between trusting your gut and stats
My colleague Colby Cosh got a lot of favourable notice for this piece about Nate Silver. Well, to paraphrase Patty and Selma from The Simpsons, I believe the best way to write a post is to leech off the popularity of another post. But also, I had something I wanted to say about Silver. Or more about perceptions of Silver.
Arguing about Silver has suddenly become a big thing in the last few weeks. He’s been taking criticism from at least three different directions. First, there are the people who don’t so much have a beef with the man himself as with the idea of him as an oracle. Silver does not claim to be an all-knowing prognosticator. But there are people out there who see him as such. I know a few people who have told me the U.S. presidential race can’t be close because Silver gives Obama a 75 per cent chance of winning, or who simply refer to Silver alone to tell them what’s going to happen. Silver has never set himself up as a prophet, and he can’t be blamed for his adherents, but I do think that the way he expresses his findings is very vulnerable to misinterpretation. It’s true that Silver isn’t literally saying that Romney has almost no chance of winning; he’s talking about probabilities. But they do lend themselves to those talking points, even if that’s not his fault.
The second anti-Silver faction consists of Republicans and conservatives who detect a bias in his work. You can see one such argument here. To some extent, this may be misdirected: the polls themselves, particularly the swing state polls, have tended to show Obama in the lead. But there is an argument that any system with a subjective element — and while Silver has stayed true to his system, it includes subjective decisions about how things are weighted — has an element of bias in it.
From a Republican point of view, Silver may have stood in the way of developing a media narrative of Romney momentum after Denver; as the national polls started shifting toward Romney (many of them have since shifted back again) Silver continued to say that Obama was the favourite based on swing-state polling. I don’t know how harmful that actually was to the Romney campaign, but perceptions of momentum are quite important to some of the people who run campaigns.
Finally, there are the pundits and reporters, many of whom see Silver as an annoyance at best and an enemy at worst. Here’s the article that mentions some of the anti-Silver sentiment brewing among pundits; one of the people from Politico also mocked people who think Silver has some kind of “secret sauce,” when he’s actually just “averaging public polls.” Though, I don’t think he, as opposed to some of his fans, have claimed he has any “secret sauce.”. As many people have already noted, this is developing a lot like arguments over baseball statistics: who has the better perception of the game, the guy who goes out and talks to the players and has inside knowledge of what goes on, or the guy who sits at home with the statistics and plugs them in?
It’s not as simple as that in election forecasting, because analyzing baseball statistics is about analyzing things that have happened, while polling is about things that haven’t happened yet. With predicting the future, it is probably true that inside knowledge can help you see things the stats don’t — just as someone who knows about a baseball star’s drinking or drug problem will do a better job than the sabermetrician of foreseeing his upcoming decline. An example from 2010: Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun, who predicted Harry Reid would be re-elected at a time when Silver gave Reid’s opponent “a better than three-in-four chance,” thanks to polls that were turning in her favour. Ralston didn’t have a lot of evidence to give us, but he did have his reputation as a clued-in, plugged-in observer of Nevada politics, and what he observed was that Reid’s political operation was as strong as ever, and that his opponent wasn’t being carried along as strongly as she should have been by that year’s Republican wave. This is the sort of thing you can probably see that the polls can’t – if you’re intimately familiar with the political workings of a particular area or state.
But most people who forecast elections, of course, have no such familiarity. Even people who live in a state, while their local perspective is almost always more insightful (for example, a local can tell you not only what ads are on television, but what they’re saying on local news and the weirdly political world of sports radio), are going to have limited knowledge of what’s going on. Other people just tell you that someone must be winning, no matter what the polls say, because he had huge turnout at some rally, or the locals seem to be getting really excited about him. And then there’s the most problematic of all these little subgenres: talking to interested parties and asking them if they think they’re winning. Of course they think they’re winning, and can give you all kinds of reasons why. But why on earth would that be more useful to us than looking at an average of the polls?
It always seems counterintuitive and wrong that a guy staying at home with the numbers, never setting foot in a state, could have more insight into the situation than someone who does shoe-leather reporting on the ground. And in one sense that’s true: the number-crunchers would be nothing without the people in the field doing the polls. But in terms of the actual process of figuring out who’s likely to win, this is probably one of those situations Bill James described in response to criticisms of the sabermetric method: told that sabermetricians can’t see the forest for the trees, he pointed out that the trees aren’t in a good position to tell us how tall they are. To go and report on baseball up close, you find out a lot of things, but you still need hard cold statistics to put the season into perspective for you and find out stuff like, well, who’s ahead in the standings. If you ignore the stats and just “trust your gut,” you get something like this piece from Peggy Noonan, a full-blown pundit in good standing, where she argues that the polls don’t matter because she’s hearing a lot of people have signs in their yards:
There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now, the enthusiasm. The Democrats do not. Independents are breaking for Romney. And there’s the thing about the yard signs. In Florida a few weeks ago I saw Romney signs, not Obama ones. From Ohio I hear the same. From tony Northwest Washington, D.C., I hear the same.
Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.
This is the kind of predicting that, even if it turns out to be right, is completely useless. It’s useless because it’s not based on anything; it tells us nothing except that humans will pick out the signs and portents that tell them what they want to hear. With Ralston’s prediction about Harry Reid, we could at least look back on it after the election was over and learn something about the way politics works in Nevada. But most gut-feeling punditry, I think, is closer to the Noonan quote: someone is going to win because I feel it in my bones, or a particular candidate has the “momentum.”
This is why I think now is right time to argue about whether Silver’s method makes sense, rather than after the election. There are many reasons why he might wind up calling the election wrong (along with a lot of other poll aggregators, pundits, and so on). There are also flukey reasons why he might be right. It doesn’t exactly matter a lot, since the actual election renders all advance polling completely irrelevant. The question is, though, before the election, when predictions are all we have to go on, which predictions are useful? Which methods shed some light on the state of the race at a particular time? Which posts seem like they might have something useful to tell us about where the polls stood, even if things change?
I think there are some ways in which the Silver method makes the race more confusing, creating the impression that races are less volatile than they really are, and under-stating the chances of surprises like the Harry Reid/Sharron Angle race. And I think it’s important to take the polls in conjunction with some bigger-picture reporting. But that’s not the choice we usually have: the choice we have is between poll aggregation and analysis, and pundits reporting “SHOCK POLL: OBAMA LOSING [name of state]” or telling us how David Axelrod thinks things are going. With a choice like that, no wonder people turn to Nate Silver.
By Emma Teitel - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 6:04 PM - 0 Comments
It was hard to imagine at the height of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin’s mass pillorying, that the Missouri congressman would survive his senate race. The Republican establishment all but abandoned him, Romney asked him to step down, and even Ann Coulter called him a “selfish swine” for his annoyingly strong convictions. What his decision to remain in the race will do for Romney’s chances is unclear, though his name–and now, Richard Mourdock’s– is pretty much synonymous with the dreaded “War on Women.” Akin’s own chances at victory, however, aren’t as damaged by his bogus science as everybody thought they’d be.
According to a post on The Hill today,
“Akin went from a low of 38 per cent support in one poll, conducted in the days after his comments drew national scrutiny, to just a 2-percentage-point deficit in one independent poll released last weekend. One Republican internal poll has Akin and McCaskill tied.”
It’s also rumoured that a number of his old friends (the National Republican Senatorial Committee perhaps?) are slithering back just in time for the election, with some last minute millions. And the Missouri Republican Party recently helped him out with a $300,000+ ad buy:
See below, one of the weirdest campaign ads ever made (though not as weird as this one) in which a multicultural/multi-generational group of women gush about how much they love Todd Akin, and one of them, about how much grocery shopping sucks in communist Russia…
The United Colors of Todd Akin
If Akin does manage to win the race, the joke is on the Democrats: In August, the Washington Post argued that the Democratic party was instrumental in Akin’s Senate GOP Primary victory. The Dems assumed his opinions were so out there, that were he to win the primary, incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill would be a practical shoe-in for the Senate. So according to the Post, the Dems “spent $1.5 million trying to help Akin win his 3-way primary.” In other words, they created their own political version of the Producers. Apparently, they ran anti-Akin ads like the one described below, that deliberately made the candidate more appealing to conservative voters, and more likely to win the GOP primary in Missouri. From the Post:
“‘Todd Akin calls himself the true conservative, but is he too conservative?’ asks the narrator of the ad, which is approved by McCaskill’s campaign and paid for by the DSCC. The narrator goes on to note the negative posture Akin has taken toward President Obama, before concluding, ‘it’s no surprise Todd has been endorsed by the most conservative leaders in our country – Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee.’”
That’s not a mild attack ad. That’s a full on endorsement for Akin, which means that if he does in fact beat McCaskill next week, he’ll have some thanking to do across the aisle. And Planned Parenthood will at least in part have its own party to thank for the impending “War on Women”
By Erica Alini - Friday, November 2, 2012 at 10:36 AM - 0 Comments
The much-anticipated October jobs report, the last major economic release before Nov. 6, is out and it continues to show a U.S. economy slowly edging forward on the path of recovery. At 171,000, the number of jobs added last month beat expectations, which were hovering around a gain of 125,000 payrolls. The politically important unemployment rate, however, edged up a tick, rising to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent in September, likely a sign that discouraged job seekers are looking for work again.
None of this challenges the candidates’ narratives on the state of labour market, which run more or less like this:
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 12:53 PM - 0 Comments
Just when the presidential campaigns were hitting high gear, the candidates have had to cancel events in swing states like Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire, where residents are hunkering down for Hurricane Sandy. The center of the storm is forecast to make landfall somewhere in New Jersey, a solidly Democratic state that has received scant attention from either candidate, but Sandy’s fierce winds and heavy rains are causing dangerous conditions across the eastern seaboard.
President Obama, who has been out relentlessly criss-crossing battleground states has returned to the White House to oversee disaster preparedness and receive regular briefings on the storm’s impacts. Clearly, the president can’t afford any mistakes in the federal government’s response—the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina under then-President George W. Bush contributed to the Democratic wave in the 2006 midterm election—and neither campaign wanted to appear tone-deaf and petty against the backdrop of potentially catastrophic storm damage. In Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas, schools, businesses, federal government offices, and the subway system are closed, and residents have been warned to stay indoors due to flooding and the high likelihood of falling tree limbs and uprooted trees. Several states are bracing for the possibility of widespread and long-lasting power outages.
This morning Obama cancelled a planned campaign event in Orlando, Fla., to return to the White House in order to monitor the storm and the federal emergency response. After a slightly rocky landing at Andrews Air Force base this morning, the president took a motorcade rather than a helicopter to the White House to avoid the heavy winds. He was indoors shortly after 11 a.m., with the storm expected to pick up strength here this afternoon.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said he would hold a teleconference with senior officials in the Situation Room to stay on top of the federal response to the storm. Carney said it was too soon to address how the storm might impact Election Day. Meanwhile, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said get-out-the-vote activities were continuing “where it is safe.”
Obama also cancelled an appearance at what was to be a major campaign event in the crucial state of Ohio: a rally with former President Bill Clinton this afternoon in Youngstown. Vice President Joe Biden will attend in Obama’s place. The President also cancelled a planned trip to campaign on Tuesday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, a state where he is clinging to a slim lead in the polls. Biden, meanwhile, cut short a swing through the battleground state of New Hampshire yesterday, stopping briefly to meet with campaign volunteers in Manchester, before heading to Ohio.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan continued with a bus tour in Ohio yesterday but postponed events in Virginia and New Hampshire due to safety concerns. Romney was scheduled to appear in Wisconsin today and back to Ohio on Tuesday. Ryan was scheduled to campaign in Jacksonville, Fla., today and Colorado tomorrow. They also cancelled fundraising emails and began collecting disaster relief supplies through their campaign offices.
While Romney continues on the campaign trail, the Huffington Post reported during the Republican primary debates, Romney had argued in favour of shutting down the federal emergency management agency, FEMA, and shifting responsibility for disaster planning and response to the states. The Romney campaign pushed back against the claim today, saying Romney would not abolish the agency.
The big question is how severe and long-lasting the storm impacts could be. If millions of people are without power, restoring electricity could take many days—possibly even pushing outages out until Election Day next Tuesday. The theoretical impacts on voter turnout are hard to predict because they would depend in part on which specific counties of swing states such as Virginia or New Hampshire are affected.
On the one hand, the Obama campaign has been depending on a heavy push by door-to-door volunteers to turn out supporters to the polls. Canvassing is disrupted in areas where conditions are too dangerous today and likely tomorrow. For example, today in Virginia residents are being warned not to go outside due to the possibility of falling tree limbs and uprooted trees.
On the other hand, the Obama campaign has been pushing hard for early voting and has had a lead among voters who have already cast ballots. They have captured some votes already—but the storm will make it difficult to lock down more votes over the next few days. Meanwhile, many analysts point out that undecided voters often wait to the last minute to decide and tend to break against the incumbent. Hence, in theory, a reduction in turnout on Election Day could hurt Romney.
By Colby Cosh - Monday, October 29, 2012 at 11:05 AM - 0 Comments
Over the weekend, the estimable David Akin was talking U.S. politics with Ipsos’s Darrell Bricker on Twitter when he noticed an unfamiliar verbal oddity in a Reuters report on the polling firm’s recent survey of early voters.
Obama leads Romney 54 per cent to 39 per cent among voters who already have cast ballots, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks. The sample size of early voters is 960 people, with a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Huh, what’s this “credibility interval” business? Sounds like a different name for the good old margin of error! But why would we need a different name for that? This question, it turns out, is the pop-top on a can of worms.
The polling business has a problem: when most households had a single land-line telephone, it was relatively easy to sample the population cheaply and well—to estimate quantities like voter intentions in a clean, mathematically uncomplicated way, as one might draw different-coloured balls from a single urn to estimate the amounts of each colour amongst the balls on the inside. That happy state of affairs has, of course, been reduced to chaos by the cell phone.
The cell phone, increasingly, does not just divide the population into two hypothetical urns—which is basically how pollsters originally went about solving the problem. Its overall effect (including the demise of the telephone directory) has affected the math of polling in several ways, all of them constantly intensifying; declining response rates to public surveys (“Get lost, pal, you’re eating up my minutes”) are the most obvious example. Put simply, individual members of the public are no longer necessarily accessible for polite questioning by means of a single randomizable number that everybody pretty much has one of. The problem of sampling from the urn has thus become infinitely more complicated. Pollsters can no longer assume that the balls are more or less evenly distributed inside the urn, and it is getting harder and harder to reach into the urn and rummage around.
So how are they handling this obstacle? Their job, at least when it comes to pre-election polling, is becoming a lot less like drawing balls from an urn and more like flying an aircraft in zero-visibility conditions. The boffins are becoming increasingly reliant on “non-probability samples” like internet panel groups, which give only narrow pictures of biased subsets of the overall population. The good news is that they can take many such pictures and use modern computational techniques to combine them and make pretty decent population inferences. “Obama is at 90 per cent with black voters in Shelbyville; 54 per cent among auto workers; 48 per cent among California epileptics; 62 per cent with people whose surnames start with the letter Z…” Pile up enough subsets of this sort, combined with knowledge of their relative sizes and other characteristics, and you can build models which let you guess at the characteristics of the entire electorate (or, if you’re doing market research, the consumerate).
As a matter of truth in advertising, however, pollsters have concluded that they shouldn’t report the uncertainty of these guesses by using the traditional term “margin of error.” There is an extra layer of inference involved in the new techniques: they offer what one might call a “margin of error, given that the modelling assumptions are correct.” And there’s a philosophical problem, too. The new techniques are founded on what is called a “Bayesian” basis, meaning that sample data must be combined explicitly with a prior state of knowledge to derive both estimates of particular quantities and the uncertainty surrounding them.
A classical pre-election voter survey would neither require nor benefit from ordinary knowledge of the likely range of President Obama’s vote share: such surveys start only with the purely mathematical specification that the share must definitely be somewhere between 0 per cent and 100 per cent. A Bayesian approach might start by specifying that in the real world Obama, for no other reason than that he is a major-party candidate, is overwhelmingly likely to land somewhere between 35 per cent and 65 per cent. And this range would be tightened up gradually, using Bayes’ Law, as new survey information came in.
This is probably the best way, in principle, to make intelligent election forecasts. But you can see the issues with it. Bayesianism explicitly invites some subjectivity into the art of the pollster. (Whose “priors” do we use, and why?) And in making the step from estimating the current disposition of the populace to making positive election forecasts, one has to have a method of letting the influence of old information gradually attenuate as it gets less relevant. Even nifty Bayesian techniques, by themselves, don’t solve that problem.
Pollsters are trying very hard to appear as transparent and up-front about their methods as they were in the landline era. When it comes to communicating with journalists, who are by and large a gang of rampaging innumerates, I don’t really see much hope for this; polling firms may not want their methods to be some sort of mysterious “black box,” but the nuances of Bayesian multilevel modelling, even to fairly intense stat hobbyists, might as well be buried in about a mile of cognitive concrete. Our best hope is likely to be the advent of meta-analysts like (he said through tightly gritted teeth) Nate Silver, who are watching and evaluating polling agencies according to their past performance. That is, pretty much exactly as if they were “black boxes.” In the meantime, you will want to be on the lookout for that phrase “credibility interval.” As the American Association for Public Opinion Research says, it is, in effect, a “[news] consumer beware” reminder.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM - 0 Comments
Let the ground war begin: Our Washington correspondent on what’s left of the battle.
If you tally the rhetorical blows, the punches and the insta-poll results, Barack Obama came out ahead in the ﬁnal two of three debates this month. Yet the overall debate math has worked out well for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, who has tied the President in national polls and narrowed the gap in what really matters this election: the crucial battleground states.
“This race is going to be incredibly close—razor-thin in some places—until the end,” Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “But we’re up or tied within the margin of error in every single swing state. That’s exactly where we thought it would be.”
It’s certainly not where things stood before the first debate, on Oct. 3. Romney was trailing Obama in the polls and had lost many supporters to some combination of verbal gaffes, nasty attack ads and a surge in Democratic enthusiasm following that party’s convention. But Romney’s focused, aggressive performance in Denver against a lacklustre, sedate Obama won the Republican the debate and brought his supporters back into the fold.
The next two debates—the town hall in Hempstead, N.Y., and Monday’s foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla.—were better nights for Obama, who was sharper and landed more punches. But, it turns out, presidential debates are more like a figure-skating routine than a boxing match: technical points count, but so does style. And Romney’s routine had a very strategic choreography.
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 10:59 AM - 0 Comments
It’s hard to believe the U.S. election campaign is almost over—it feels like it began only two or three eons ago. In the time since Mitt Romney launched his 2012 candidacy, the seasons have changed, toddlers have reached puberty, gases and dark matter have come together to form the seeds of untold future galaxies and Lady Gaga has had, like, three different hairstyles. Most people now can’t wait for Nov. 6, which will mark the final day of this campaign and the only day Wolf Blitzer won’t talk about the next one.
By this point in the process, Mitt and Barack are like in-laws who’ve come to town, done the tourist thing, doted on the grandkids and now you desire nothing more than for them to get the hell out of your house. We just want our bathroom back, guys.
But before that glorious day could come, we needed to get through the Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:34 PM - 0 Comments
What to expect at tonight’s foreign policy showdown
In the lead-up to tonight’s third presidential debate, taking place at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., macleans.ca has polled the newsroom for previews and predictions. The debate, on foreign policy, happens at 9 p.m. EST, and the ‘folks’ below will be liveblogging.
Luiza Ch. Savage: “Tonight’s final presidential debate focuses on foreign policy. Earlier in the campaign this would have been a hands-down strength for President Obama, but now there is enough concern about the administration’s handling of the deadly attacks on U.S. diplomats in Libya, that Mitt Romney has room to score points. The president has to address the concern that his administration is having trouble getting its arms around the uprisings in the Middle East—that he has some strategy for dealing with the fallout from the uprisings in the Middle East. Romney has suggested arming the rebels in Syria, for example.
Meanwhile, Romney has an opportunity to answer the concern that his more hawkish conception of American power won’t turn into a recipe for more wars in the Middle East. I’ll also be watching to see what Romney has to say about the planned 2014 drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He has previously said that he supports Obama’s deadline, but has criticized Obama for announcing it publicly. But Romney’s most recent statements on the subject seemed to suggest that he would not necessarily stick to the deadline if commanders on the ground advised against it. And a wild card for this debate is a report that the Obama administration may be planning to engage in direct negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program.”
Jonathon Gatehouse: “Polls give Obama nine-point lead among women, same as Romney among men. Debate is up against Lions/Bears on MNF. So only one number will move.”
Charlie Gillis: “Benghazi attacks obvious acid test in tonight’s U.S. debate. Obama might be right, but Romney’s ‘passivity’ talking point seems stronger.”
Brian D. Johnson: “The final round of Presidential Idol will have a looser format than before, so it could turn into a slug fest. Foreign policy shmolicy—this is an acting job. Romney’s challenge is to be cool (more presidential, less snake-oil); Obama has to find passion and bring more of that Bin Laden-killing heat. Both need to master the reaction shot—knowing how to look while the camera watches you pretend to listen to the other guy.”
Michael Petrou: “I’d like to see whether either Romney or Obama remember there’s a massive and worsening war going on in Syria.”
Jaime Weinman: “I’m interested to see whether Romney can make the Benghazi story comprehensible to the average voter. Fox News and other outlets have constructed a massively complicated story arc about how Obama knew this or didn’t say that about Benghazi, but like any complicated TV story arc, it’s hard to understand if you came in in the middle. The question is if Romney can create a version of this story arc that actually makes it sound scandalous to someone who isn’t a regular viewer of his network.”
Paul Wells: “In 1960, Kennedy and Nixon spent much of their debate arguing about the fate of the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. It turned out to have almost nothing to do with the next four years. I’ll be looking for the candidate whose argument about America’s role in the world extends beyond cases that will be forgotten before Inauguration Day.”
By Michael Petrou - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:12 PM - 0 Comments
Barack Obama enters tonight’s debate on foreign policy in decent shape. As of July, voters perceived him as stronger than Mitt Romney when it comes to defending America from terrorism; foreign policy in general; and judgment in a crisis.
Though these numbers may have changed in the last three months, Obama, I think, enjoys some of the lustre that comes from being the commander-in-chief. But his record abroad is uneven.
Let’s start with the raid that killed Osama bin Laden — because that’s where Obama will start and finish tonight. Someone needs to remind the President that he wasn’t on the helicopter that flew into Abbottabad. He made a risky decision that paid off. It was the right call, and he deserves credit it for it. The bravery — and while we’re at it, can someone please tell Joe Biden this? — was shown by the commandos on the mission, not Barack Obama. Continue…
By Emily Senger - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM - 0 Comments
It’s OK to vote for Republican leader Mitt Romney because the Church of Jesus…
It’s OK to vote for Republican leader Mitt Romney because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no longer a cult, according to American evangelical leader Billy Graham.
According to a report in the Charlotte Observer, earlier this week the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association removed Mormonism from a number of cults listed in an article on its website, with the organizations’ chief of staff saying: “We removed the (cult) information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has been politicized during this campaign.”
The move comes after Graham, 93, met with Romney, who is a Mormon, in the evangelical leader’s North Carolina home.
After their meeting, Graham released a statement saying, in part: “It was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney–for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.”
While the cult page has been removed from the Billy Graham website, Slate has the original statement, which reads:
“A cult is any group which teaches doctrines or beliefs that deviate from the biblical message of the Christian faith. It is very important that we recognize cults and avoid any involvement with them. Cults often teach some Christian truth mixed with error, which may be difficult to detect… Some of these groups are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, the Unification Church, Unitarians, Spiritists, Scientologists, and others.”
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 11:00 AM - 0 Comments
But he came out swinging this week in the second showdown with Mitt Romney
Martha Powers, a 56-year-old independent voter in the battleground state of Virginia—where polls show Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied, each with just under half the vote—waited to hear the President speak at a campaign event in Fairfax County with a heavy heart. She’d voted for Obama in 2008, but was having trouble deciding whether to do it again. “He inherited a lot of awful stuff from Bush,” Powers said. “But I wish I could be a little more enthusiastic about him.”
It was a day after Obama’s disastrous debate in Denver gave Mitt Romney his first slim lead in some national polls since becoming the Republican nominee.
Democrats in the crowd were dispirited but philosophical, hoping their guy had just had a bad night. But undecided voters like Powers were straining to find words to express their reticence, grasping, it seemed, for what Obama had so far failed to provide them: something to vote for.
Four years ago, Powers said, she was “thrilled” to play a part in the historic election of America’s first black president. “It’s about time this country started ignoring colour.” But four years in, she feels “disappointed” with her choice. “Nothing big and wonderful has happened in these four years. The magnetism and the thrill is gone.”
By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:04 PM - 0 Comments
The Etch A Sketch is back in full force, only this time the interval between Mitt Romney’s abortion flip-flops is getting smaller and smaller–to the point at which it no longer exists at all. Romney’s official campaign website, for example, touts pro-life Mitt Romney, the kind of Romney who would like the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. All the while, moderate Mitt Romney gave this comment to the Des Moines Register yesterday: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
Except, of course, this one…
(from the Values page on his campaign site)
“Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
Mitt supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood. He will protect the right of health care workers to follow their conscience in their work. And he will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law.”
What this means then is that not only was Mitt pro-choice before he was pro-life, he is both pro-choice and pro-life at exactly the same time. Far out, man.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 12:47 PM - 0 Comments
And Obama is giving him plenty of targets
Mitt Romney is trailing President Barack Obama both in national polls and in crucial swing states. But the margins are small, Obama’s lead is not insurmountable, and the country remains deeply divided in the run-up to the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, offering Romney his best chance yet to shake up the race.
Dusting himself off after weeks on the defensive—his campaign was beset by a series of gaffes, including the publication of a secretly taped talk to mega-donors in which he insulted the 47 per cent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes—Romney is back on the attack. And, lately, Obama has been giving him plenty of targets.
The deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 is raising questions about the administration’s handling of the apparent security vacuum in post-Gadhafi Libya, from the inadequate protection of U.S. diplomats to the White House’s shifting explanation for what actually took place. The Romney campaign is using the incident to portray an administration overwhelmed by events in the Middle East. “I mean, turn on the TV and it reminds you of 1979 Tehran but they’re burning our flags in capitals all around the world. They’re storming our embassies,” said Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, while campaigning in Lima, Ohio, this week.
By John Parisella - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 2:47 PM - 0 Comments
Almost but not quite, argues John Parisella
A very difficult 10 days in the Romney campaign has brought forward criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Nothing to fret about on the former, but when the harsh words come from the latter, it hurts big time. The attacks came from respected Republican columnists like the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, who called the campaign “a rolling calamity,” and the New York Times’ David Brooks, who referred to Mitt Romney as Thurston Howell Romney, the prototype of a rich snob.
Clearly, Romney’s recent reference to the 47 per cent of the electorate “who don’t pay taxes and would never vote for me,” along with his mediocre performance around the attacks tied to the film “Innocence of Muslims,” made both the candidate and his campaign look dangerously incompetent. The “week from hell” ended with Romney divulging his 2010 tax returns, which only raised more questions and drew additional criticism from the right about the timing of the release.
All of this has given late night humorists a field-day of stand-up material. And though national polls still show a tight race, local ones indicate there’s a growing lead by Obama over Romney in swing states. With less than six weeks to go in the campaign, what we are witnessing is GOP grumblings threatening to blow an election Romney should have been able to win.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberals have come up with a new idea: compare Mr. Harper to Mitt Romney.
Behind the scenes, Liberal strategists said their MPs should respond to Mr. Harper’s accusations by comparing him to Mitt Romney, the U.S. Republican presidential candidate who was caught saying 47 per cent of all Americans “believe they are victims” entitled to help from the government. Liberal politicians were urged to say, in reply to the Prime Minister, that Mr. Harper is similarly interested in targetting only certain voters “but the fact that more than 60 per cent of Canadians would never vote for the Conservatives doesn’t mean those doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
This is probably not as worthwhile an idea as the three ideas the Liberals presented on Tuesday afternoon when accused of not having any ideas.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 11:11 AM - 0 Comments
In 2007, economist Greg Mankiw wrote an op-ed for the New York Times to argue for a carbon tax. Mr. Mankiw is now an economic advisor to Mitt Romney. Mr. Mankiw is, in fact, among three advisors to Mr. Romney who have advocated carbon pricing (though Mr. Romney officially opposes a carbon tax).
A spokesperson for the candidate’s campaign, meanwhile, did not mince words: “Governor Romney opposes a carbon tax,” she said. A stand-alone tax on carbon will never fly with Republicans, economists and analysts say. But one that is pitched as a single dish in a buffet of tax reforms just might, says Arthur Laffer, an economist who worked in the Reagan administration during the last major reform of the tax code in 1986.
“The one reason why we all just go dingers and hate carbon taxes is because it’s a tax add-on,” Laffer said in an interview. “It’s an additional tax and an additional encroachment of government on the private sector and will actually hurt the economy. That’s a real problem. So therefore, if you can find another tax that is worse than a carbon tax and replace that tax with a carbon tax, I don’t know of many people who would disagree with that.” Laffer called income taxes the “single most damaging tax that you can imagine,” because they penalize nearly every American for contributing to the economy.
Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott has introduced carbon tax legislation and former Republican congressman Bob Inglis is advocating for a carbon tax. Ezra Klein has a dream that carbon pricing will be part of a grand bargain between Democrats and Republicans. Matthew Yglesias recently made the case again for taxing carbon.