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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Internal Romney Poll Numbers

At The New Republic, Noam Scheiber has internal Romney poll numbers:
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse told Scheiber that the polls were accurate except for Colorado and New Hampshire.
This is mostly true, but not entirely. Set aside Florida and Virginia, for which I don’t have internal poll numbers, but which the campaign apparently believed it was poised to win. Among those I do have, the Iowa number is also questionable, showing the race tied even though Romney ended up losing by almost 6 points. If Romney’s internal polling number in Iowa was roughly accurate, it would imply that Obama won every single undecided voter in the state, something that’s highly unlikely. (Newhouse didn't respond when I emailed him a follow-up question about Iowa.)
Together, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Iowa go most of the way toward explaining why the Romney campaign believed it was so well-positioned. When combined with North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia—the trio of states the Romney campaign assumed were largely in the bag—Romney would bank 267 electoral votes, only three shy of the magic number. Furthermore, according to Newhouse, the campaign’s final internal polls had Romney down a mere two points in Ohio—a state that would have put him comfortably over the top—and Team Romney generally believed it had momentum in the final few days of the race. (You see hints of this momentum when you compare the Saturday numbers in each state with the Sunday numbers. Romney gains in five out of the six states, though Newhouse cautions not to make too much of this since the numbers can bounce around wildly on any given day.) While none of this should have been grounds for the sublime optimism that leads you to eschew a concession speech—two points is still a ton to make up in a state like Ohio in 48 hours—you see how the campaign might conclude that the pieces were falling into place.

Dem Supermajority in 2016?

Senate Republicans have a shot at a majority in 2014, but if they blow it, they could face a Democratic supermajority after 2016, when they will have a lopsided exposure of 24-10.  Stuart Rothenberg explains:
Getting to 60 seats is always a struggle, but the Republicans’ huge 2010 Senate class — like the Democrats’ big classes of 2006 and 1958 — automatically put the goal of a filibuster-proof supermajority on the table.
So the Democrats’ strong showing earlier this month not only denied Republicans the Senate majority they sought in 2013 and obliterated any chance that Republicans could win a supermajority in the Senate anytime soon, it now gives Democrats a class of 25 senators and the opportunity to make a run at 60 seats in 2016.
The best news for Republicans is that Democrats have 20 Senate seats up next time, while the GOP has only 13 at risk. That should make for plenty of Republican opportunities — especially since Democrats will be defending seats in West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota and Alaska.

But Republicans had great opportunities going in 2012 and lost two seats. And, of course, Republicans have proved their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Senate races.
Given their large class this year, Democrats need only hold their own in 2014 and then win just 15 of 34 Senate seats two years later o reach their 60-seat goal. Even if they experience modest losses in 2014, which seems likely given the seats up and the challenges faced by a president’s party in second midterms, they could still be within range of 60 seats in the 2016 elections.
Democrats will then have an opportunity to win back Senate seats that they lost because of the 2010 anti-Obama GOP wave. Their 2016 targets surely will include Republican Senate seats in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, as well as seats in Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and even North Carolina. All of those states, except for North Carolina, went for Barack Obama twice.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 2012 Republican Nomination Contest in Retrospect

Notes for class lecture, November 29, 2012

Early starts and the "next in line" theory:
  • Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1968
  • Ronald Reagan in 1980
  • George H.W. Bush in 1988
  • Bob Dole in 1996
  • John McCain in 2008
Front-runner strategy -- Dan Balz compares Romney's approach in 2008 and 2012:
When Romney lost both Iowa and New Hampshire, his campaign was essentially over. He went on to win elsewhere, but he no longer controlled his own fate. Weakened in South Carolina, he was dependent on Huckabee to block McCain’s strengthening campaign, and Huckabee failed. Flummoxed in Florida, Romney saw all hope for the nomination dissipate with McCain’s victory in the Sunshine State.

Fast-forward to this year and see the differences. Romney’s campaign advisers say their strategy is based on two major assumptions: No state will determine Romney’s fate, and delegates matter. 
The next-in-line candidates who did not run:
Others who did not run:
The candidates who challenged Romney:
  • Perry
  • Cain
  • Gingrich
  • Santorum
  • Bachmann
  • Paul
  • Huntsman
Raise and Spend Big Bucks Early: Campaign Receipts through December 31, 2011:


It was a race of multiple bounces.

Not in Wayne:  Super PACs:

For Romney: Restore Our Future

For Gingrich: Winning Our Future

For Santorum: Red, White, and Blue Fund

Also not in Wayne:  Debates, Twitter, and YouTube in the 2012 race:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Republican Consultant Family

At Red State, Erick Erickson has harsh criticism for RNC and the GOP consultant/staff community:
[Rich] Beeson was a partner at FLS. The FLS stands for Feather, Larson, and Syndhorst. As an aside, it is hilarious that the FLS Connect website looks like something out of MS Frontpage ’98.
Rich Beeson left FLS and went to the RNC and wound up going to serve as Mitt Romney’s Political Director.
Jeff Larson, the L in FLS, left his partnership at FLS to become the Chief of Staff at the Republican National Committee. He is in that position currently.
On CNN tonight, Reince Priebus announced the RNC will do an “autopsy” on what happened.
So will Rich Beeson’s former partner at FLS, Jeff Larson, who now works at the RNC where Beeson used to work, be involved in this autopsy? Given his position, he would just about have to be. 
Incest leads to all sorts of birth defects, in kids and in campaigns.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Age and Race in 2012

Pew reports that Obama lost young white voters to Romney:
While Obama carried the youth vote overall, his support declined from 2008 among all young voters and among key subgroups. In particular, Obama lost ground among young whites, men and independents.
Only 44% of white voters under 30 backed Obama, while 51% voted for Romney. This is a substantial change compared with 2008, when Obama carried the young white vote by 10 points (54% to 44%). Far more young blacks and Hispanics backed Obama than Romney, and there was little fall off in his support among these groups from 2008.
Obama also lost support among young men. Overall, 53% of men under 30 supported Obama, down from 62% in 2008. Fully 66% of young women voted for Obama, similar to the 69% who voted for him in 2008.
However, Obama lost support among both white men and women. Overall, 41% of white men supported Obama while 54% supported Romney. In 2008, Obama won the vote among white men, 52% to 46%. While white women voted for Obama over McCain by a 56% to 42% margin four years ago, they were divided this year (48% voted for Obama, 49% for Romney).
Surprisingly, Obama’s vote also declined among young black men, by 14 points, while holding steady among young black women.
But he still carried the overall youth vote because it is becoming less and less white:
The racial and ethnic composition of young voters has shifted dramatically over the last four presidential elections. Just 58% of voters age 18-29 identified as white non-Hispanics, while 18% were Hispanic, 17% were African American and 7% identified as mixed-race or some other race. The share of young voters who are white has declined 16 points since 2000, when 74% of voters under 30 identified as white and 26% identified as nonwhite (including 12% who were African American and 10% Hispanic).
This stands in sharp contrast to older voters. Fully 76% of voters 30 and older were white, down only six points from 2000. Only 24% of voters 30 and older were nonwhite, including 12% who identified as black and 8% as Hispanic.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dem House Gains Unlikely in 2014

There is nothing certain about a six-year itch midterm, but Democrats do not seem likely to pick up House seats in 2014, as Politico reports:
Anger, exhaustion and frustration tend to set in among voters as presidents approach the last leg of their final term. It happened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938 when voters recoiled at his New Deal reforms. Twenty years later, consternation over the economy cost Dwight Eisenhower 48 House seats. And in 2006, George W. Bush, presiding over two drawn-out wars in the Middle East, watched Republicans lose 30 seats and control of the House.
On the surface, the brass ring looks well within reach for Pelosi and her party: Democrats will need to flip only around 17 or 18 GOP seats to win the House. But that relatively modest gap probably masks the degree of difficulty.
“Voters get frustrated and there’s burnout,” said Andrew Myers, a Democratic pollster who counts many congressional candidates as clients. “It’s overexposure. People are just ready for something different.”
Republicans are pretty close to their maximum seat share in the House.  And Nate Silver explains a couple of related reasons why Democratic losses in 2014 probably won't be huge:
First, there is some reversion to the mean: a party tends to lose more seats in the House when it has more of them to lose.
There is also another type of reversion to the mean that is often overlooked: the president’s party tends to lose more seats in the midterms following years when it performed very strongly in the presidential race. For example, the large margins of victory achieved by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 and Lyndon Johnson in 1964 were followed by large losses in the House two years later.
But D gains are still unlikely:
This year, there were only 11 House seats that Democrats lost by five or fewer percentage points. Thus, even if they had performed five points better across the board, they would still have come up six seats short of controlling the chamber.
In other words, Democrats would have to perform quite a bit better in House races in 2014 than they did in 2012 to win control of the chamber – when usually the president’s party does quite a bit worse instead.
One should never say never when it comes to forecasting the outcome of an election two years in advance. But it might take a major scandal in the Republican party, or for Republicans to splinter into factions, for Democrats to have more than a remote chance of winning the House.
And there is one more factor working against Democrats: they have become increasingly reliant upon voters, like Hispanics and those under the age of 30, who do not turn out reliably in midterm election years. Democrats have a broader coalition than Republicans do in high-turnout environments, so perhaps this will benefit them in 2016. But these are not the voters you would want to depend upon to make gains in midterm election years, when turnout is much lower.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Obama Campaign: Analytics and Evidence

At TechPresident, Nick Judd and Micah L. Sifry write that the driving principle of the Obama campaign was an evidence-based approach to person-to-person contact. 
From a certain point of view, the only truly new thing in the 2012 Obama campaign was the ability to get all of the campaign's gears to work together more smoothly. The door-to-door ground game was a legacy of 2008. Obama for America also stood out in 2008 for a structure that placed senior digital staffers on the same level as other top staff rather subordinate to another shop within the campaign, something that many campaigns emulated in 2010 and again in 2012. In this election, OfA merely put more resources into an area — technological campaign infrastructure — that the evidence indicated would be useful to help them win. As chief innovation and integration officer, Michael Slaby sat at the campaign's highest level, with a chief technology officer, chief information officer, and chief analytics officer all reporting to him.
"There were analytics types all over the campaign," said Amelia Showalter, the campaign's director of digital analytics. Besides digital, there were separate analytics teams dedicated to modeling, the battleground states, polling, paid media, finance and communications.
"There was constant testing," Showalter said. "A lot of people were responsible for that culture ... a culture of experimentation. If we had an idea that was kooky, we would test it to see if it would work."
For example, for a fundraising email, the digital department decided to try emphasizing text with highlighting that was ugly on purpose. It outperformed other emails, so the campaign kept using it — the formatting trick seemed to draw the eye. When the novelty wore off and that tactic stopped performing better than other ones, the campaign dropped it and moved on.
The 2008 campaign made 30 million phone calls to voters, according to Daniel Kreiss' book "Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama." In a campaign memo sent the weekend before election day, campaign officials claimed they had already made 125 million calls to voters or door-knocks in 2012. In an interview with Politico on Tuesday, campaign manager Jim Messina said the campaign registered 1.8 million people "on the doors" and another 1.1 million people online. He also said that the use of targeted sharing, the program that combined Facebook data on users with internal data on voters among those users' friends to suggest which content those users should share, allowed the campaign to reach more than five million people "directly through their Facebook world and people that they knew."

Saturday, November 24, 2012

GOP: Missing Talent, Misunderstanding Technology

The Democrats are way ahead of the GOP on campaign technology. At The Atlantic, Patrick Ruffini warns that Republicans cannot catch up simply by buying stuff:
The most pressing and alarming deficit Republican campaigns face is in human capital, not technology. From recruiting Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2008, to Threadless CTO Harper Reed in 2012, Democrats have imported the geek culture of Silicon Valley's top engineers into their campaigns. This has paid significant dividends for two election cycles running.
While there are many brilliant minds in the upper echelons of the Republican data and technology world -- including those who built the first national voter file -- the bench is not very deep. The Republican campaign world by and large does not demand technologically deep solutions, or much more than a glorified WordPress blog for campaign websites. Thus, the market largely does not supply them.

Technology entrepreneurs are constantly fighting to "jump to the next curve," avoiding obsolescence to ride the wave of a rising technology from newness to maturity. We can partially predict what the mature technologies of 2016 will be by looking at what the new ones were this year.
Just as venture capitalists would reject pitches from companies aiming to become the next Facebook or Google, as their business models seem fairly secure, Republican donors should apply a similar framework to evaluating technology projects. Is the project trying to solve a problem which has already been solved, or whose relevance is on the decline? If so, they shouldn't invest.
Sometimes, problems persist for a long time until a shift in the technology makes a solution possible. Success with mobile donations has long eluded campaigns, until the Obama campaign's "Quick Donate" which stored supporters credit card information and allowed them, in the words of supporters I've tweeted with, to "drunk donate" with a single click.
If Orca had worked, would Romney have won?  Nope, says Christopher Bedford at The Daily Caller:
Here is where the whole farce unravels, because the short answer is absolutely not, because robocalling is stupid and doesn’t work.
And we don’t just take our own word for it (even though we have hung up on every robocall we have ever gotten): Robocalls have been studied over and over again, and they simply don’t turn people out, forget about in the tens of thousands necessary to turn Romney’s loss into a win.
Some bloggers have cited the number of additional votes needed for a win by Romney in swing states (66,379 in Nevada, 73,189 in Florida, 103, 481 in Ohio and 115,910 in Virginia), with one lead critic writing that if not for Project ORCA, the GOP could have turned these states around.
The intricacies of the effectiveness — or ineffectiveness — of GOTV operations are a big subject best left for the coming weeks, but that charge is, as one data wizard put it, “total bullshit.”
Because the hard truth of the matter is that 30,000 volunteers and a website — no matter how devoted and how nifty — don’t actually swing 359,000 votes on the final day of a two-year election campaign.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hispanics, Conservatives, and Republicans

A previous post noted that the president did not need an extraordinarily high share of the Hispanic vote to win reelection, and that it would be difficult for the GOP to win that vote. At AEI, Charles Murray casts further doubt on the idea that Hispanics would flock to the GOP if it were not for the issue of immigration.  Using data from the General Social Survey, he finds that they are not necessarily social conservatives:
Latinos aren’t married more than everyone else. Among Latinos ages 30–49, 52 percent are married. Everyone else: 54 percent.
Latinos aren’t more religious than everyone else. Among Latinos, 29 percent attend worship services regularly (nearly once a week or more). Everyone else: 31 percent. Among Latinos, 18 percent not only attend regularly but also say they have a strong affiliation with their religion. Everyone else: 24 percent.
Latinos aren’t more opposed to gay marriage than everyone else. Among Latinos, 44 percent disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “homosexuals should have the right do marry.” Everyone else: 50 percent.
Latinos are a little more opposed to abortion than everyone else, but not by a landslide. Among Latinos, 12 percent are opposed to abortion under all circumstances. Everyone else: 9 percent. Among Latinos, 21 percent are opposed to all abortion unless the mother’s health is seriously endangered. Everyone else: 14 percent.
Latinos aren’t more conservative than everyone else. Among Latinos, 14 percent describe themselves as “conservative” or “extremely conservative.” Everyone else: 20 percent.
Byron York concludes:
In addition, exit poll information suggests Hispanics voted on a number of issues beyond illegal immigration -- and those issues favored Democrats. A majority of Hispanics who voted Nov. 6 favored keeping Obamacare. A majority favored higher taxes for higher earners. A majority -- two-thirds, in fact -- said abortion should be legal.
None of this is to say the GOP shouldn't seek more Hispanic votes. There are opportunities; for example, Romney made significant inroads among Hispanic voters with college degrees. But the fact is, Republicans had a serious problem with lots of voters, as well as potential voters who didn't go to the polls. The Hispanic vote was just part of it.
Robb Austin offers a more hopeful view, with a concrete suggestion akin to the RNC's old Working Partners program
Hispanics will change their perception of the GOP when they get to know Republicans -- really know them -- and that won't happen until the GOP initiates a "bottom-up" strategy; decentralizing national Republican politics.
To change the perception that exists now, it will take an organized and sustained grassroots effort at the precinct level in key states. It needs to be the goal of the Republican Party that Hispanic and minority voters are as aware of a GOP presence in their community as they are of their local church.
The party should be there, and everywhere, at all times. Voting habits begin with trust, and being a good neighbor is the surest way to gain trust from people in the neighborhood. For practical purposes, this means the GOP should open and staff working local Republican headquarters in the neighborhoods of large Hispanic precincts throughout the country. This would not be an expensive endeavor, nor should it be.
The GOP presence in Hispanic communities should focus on all the things good neighbors are known for, most of which is not political. In a broad sense, this might include volunteering in after-school programs; helping Hispanics with math and English, sponsoring community events, or offering constituent service to Hispanics interfacing with local government.
The aim is not to talk or promote politics year-round but to invest the time necessary to connect and develop personal relationships. Supporting and working for local and state candidates, registering voters, and recruiting volunteers at election time is the purpose of all political parties, and this should be a GOP objective, too.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The House Democrats' Seat Pickup in Historical Perspective

The latest count puts the national popular vote at 50.8 percent for President Obama, 47.51 percent for Governor Romney, giving the president a 3.29 percent margin.  (This figure is still subject to change as the last of the late votes trickle in.)  With Rep. Allen West's concession in Florida and Rep. Mike McIntyre's apparent lead in North Carolina, House Democrats have scored a net gain of eight seats over their 2010 level.  So how does this seat change rank with other elections since 1896?  About in the middle:  17th of 30 elections.  Actually, the House Democrats' showing is better than it might look at first:  in all the elections where the winning party picked up more seats, the presidential margin was bigger.  Accordingly, 2012 does not seem to be a "coattail" election like 1920, 1932, or 1964.  Rather it was more like a "snapback" election following a  large change in the previous election (i.e., 2010).

Margin Seat Change
1 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt 17.76% 93
2 1948 Harry S. Truman 4.48% 75
3 1920 Warren G. Harding 26.17% 63
4 1912 Woodrow Wilson 14.44% 62
5 1904 Theodore Roosevelt 18.83% 43
6 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson 22.58% 37
7 1980 Ronald Reagan 9.74% 34
8 1928 Herbert Hoover 17.41% 30
9 1924 Calvin Coolidge 25.22% 22
10 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower 10.85% 22
11 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt 7.50% 21
12 2008 Barack Obama 7.27% 21
13 1984 Ronald Reagan 18.21% 16
14 1900 William McKinley 6.12% 13
15 1972 Richard Nixon 23.15% 12
16 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt 24.26% 11
17 2012 Barack Obama 3.29% 8
18 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt 9.96% 5
19 1968 Richard Nixon 0.70% 5
20 1996 Bill Clinton 8.51% 3
21 2004 George W. Bush 2.46% 3
22 1976 Jimmy Carter 2.06% 1
23 1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower 15.40% -2
24 2000 George W. Bush -0.51% -2
25 1908 William H. Taft 8.53% -3
26 1988 George H.W. Bush 7.72% -3
27 1992 Bill Clinton 5.56% -9
28 1960 John F. Kennedy 0.17% -20
29 1916 Woodrow Wilson 3.12% -21
30 1896 William McKinley 4.31% -40

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Hispanic Vote in Context

A New York Times analysis of exit polls finds that President Obama did not need an extraordinarily high percentage of the Hispanic vote to win reelection.  He would have won Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire without any Hispanic votes at all.  He would have carried Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio with less than a majority of Hispanics.  These states would have brought him to 285 electoral votes.

On the other hand, Romney might have carried these states with a larger share (though less than a majority) of the Hispanic vote:  New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
Which brings us to our second question: Would a revamping of the Republicans’ immigration policy be sufficient to cause Hispanics to shift to the Republican Party?
The exit poll results suggest that the Republicans’ assertion that Hispanics are socially conservative is not necessarily true.

Two-thirds of Hispanic voters said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with slightly more than half of white voters, according to exit poll results. Hispanics were also more liberal when it came to same-sex marriage, with 59 percent saying it should be legal in their state, compared with 51 percent of blacks and 47 percent of white voters.
Exit poll results also indicate that Hispanics are not necessarily racing to adopt the Republican platform of smaller government. Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanics said Mr. Obama’s health care law should be expanded or left as is, compared to about a third of white voters. And 57 percent of Hispanics said that government should be doing more to solve the problems of individuals, compared to 36 percent of whites. Hispanics, like the rest of the electorate, were also in favor of raising income taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.
These observations are consistent with an April poll by the Pew Hispanic Center:
Much has been made about the socially conservative views of Hispanics. This is true on some specific issues (such as abortion), yet results from the survey suggest that Hispanics are no more or less likely than the general public to describe their political views as conservative. Some 32% of Hispanics and 34% of all U.S. adults say their political views are “very conservative” or “conservative.”
However, Latinos are more likely than the general public to describe their views as liberal. Overall, 30% of Latino adults say this, while just 21% of all U.S. adults say the same.5
When it comes to the size of government, Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say they would rather have a bigger government providing more services than a smaller government with fewer services. Some 75% of Hispanics say this, while 19% say they would rather have a smaller government with fewer services. By contrast, just 41% of the general U.S. public say they want a bigger government, while nearly half (48%) say they want a smaller government.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

State Legislative Supermajorities

AP reports:

There's a new superpower growing in the Great Plains and the South, where bulging Republican majorities in state capitols could dramatically cut taxes and change public education with barely a whimper of resistance from Democrats.
Contrast that with California, where voters have given Democrats a new dominance that could allow them to raise taxes and embrace same-sex marriage without regard to Republican objections.
If you thought the presidential election revealed the nation's political rifts, consider the outcomes in state legislatures. The vote also created a broader tier of powerful one-party governments that can act with no need for compromise. Half of state legislatures now have veto-proof majorities, up from 13 only four years ago, according to figures compiled for The Associated Press by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
All but three states - Iowa, Kentucky and New Hampshire - have one-party control of their legislatures, the highest mark since 1928.
The result could lead to stark differences in how people live and work.
"Usually, a partisan tide helps the same party across the country, but what we saw in this past election was the opposite of that - some states getting bluer and some states getting redder," said Thad Kousser, an associate political science professor at the University of California-San Diego who focuses on state politics. As a result, "we'll see increasing policy divergence across the states."

Read more here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

What Happened to the Orphans?

Previous posts discussed GOP efforts in "orphan states," where the absence of serious presidential campaign activity jeopardized the party's chances in House races.  At National Journal, Reid Wilson writes:
In a few cases, mostly in red states, that strategy worked. The orphan-state victory centers made more than 10 million voter contacts. Republicans protected vulnerable incumbents in several areas that tilted toward Democrats. Republicans won Democratic-held seats in Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky, all districts that featured Boehner-funded offices.

But even the speaker’s attention couldn’t save some members from a blue-state Democratic wave. Illinois was a bloodbath; Democrats ousted GOP Reps. Joe Walsh, Judy Biggert, Bobby Schilling, and Robert Dold. In New York, Reps. Nan Hayworth and Ann Marie Buerkle lost their jobs. So did Rep. Mary Bono Mack in California. Two other California Republicans, Reps. Brian Bilbray and Dan Lungren, trail their Democratic challengers but have yet to concede defeat. Boehner’s committees paid for 12 offices in California, 10 in New York, and six in Illinois.

“The ground game that we built, I still think, is an important part of the election and an important part of the process going forward,” Boehner said in a subsequent interview looking back at the election results. “But there are limits on what the ground game can produce, especially when you’re being swept away at the top of the ticket, as we saw in California and Illinois.”

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Big-Picture Thoughts on 2012

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende offers some perspective: "Just looking at the numbers the Republican Party, overall, is actually in pretty good shape. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t set for a major decline; this could be a high point. But it does mean the Party would be starting its decline from a pretty high peak."
  • The party is close to its postwar high in number of House seats;
  • Its share of Senate seats is within historical ranges, well above its low points;
  • With 30 governors, the GOP has a larger percentage than in all but six years since 1876.
  • Its share of state legislative seats is near postwar highs.
As for the presidential race: 
The simple truth is that this election turned out pretty much the way that the econometric models suggested it should. The GOP had deluded itself into believing that 2012 was a “gimme” -- and to be sure, it was winnable. Team Romney made some mistakes and failed to capitalize on opportunities. But overall, the result wasn’t out of line with what we’d expect from a tepid economy (this also cuts against the “demographics” argument; if demographics were becoming the GOP’s main problem, the GOP would increasingly run behind what the economy suggested it “should”).
At The New York Times, Ross Douthat sees a Democratic coalition stemming from social disintegration and united by economic fear:

  • True, Democrats are more welcoming to immigrants, but "they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems."
  • Democrats win singles in part because "single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides."
  • Seculars are not just good-humored village atheists. "But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general."
He faults both parties:
What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.
This is a crisis that the Republican Party often badly misunderstands, casting Democratic-leaning voters as lazy moochers or spoiled children seeking “gifts” (as a certain former Republican presidential nominee would have it) rather than recognizing the reality of their economic struggles.
But if conservatives don’t acknowledge the crisis’s economic component, liberalism often seems indifferent to its deeper social roots.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Narwhal and Orca

The Obama campaign had Narwhal, the data platform that underpinned the campaign and let it track voters and volunteers.   The Romney campaign had Orca, which was not the same king of thing, as Alexis Madrigal explains at The Atlantic:
Orca was supposed to be the Republican answer to Obama's perceived tech advantage. In the days leading up to the election, the Romney campaign pushed its (not-so) secret weapon as the answer to the Democrats' vaunted ground game. Orca was going to allow volunteers at polling places to update the Romney camp's database of voters in real time as people cast their ballots. That would supposedly allow them to deploy resources more efficiently and wring every last vote out of Florida, Ohio, and the other battleground states. The product got its name, a Romney spokesperson told NPR , because orcas are the only known predator of the one-tusked narwhal.
The billing the Republicans gave the tool confused almost everyone inside the Obama campaign. Narwhal wasn't an app for a smartphone. It was the architecture of the company's sophisticated data operation. Narwhal unified what Obama for America knew about voters, canvassers, event-goers, and phone-bankers, and it did it in real time. From the descriptions of the Romney camp's software that were available then and now, Orca was not even in the same category as Narwhal. It was like touting the iPad as a Facebook killer, or comparing a GPS device to an engine. And besides, in the scheme of a campaign, a digitized strike list is cool, but it's not, like, a gamechanger. It's just a nice thing to have.
For all the hoopla surrounding the digital savvy of President Obama's 2008 campaign, and as much as everyone I spoke with loved it, it was not as heavily digital or technological as it is now remembered. "Facebook was about one-tenth of the size that it is now. Twitter was a nothing burger for the campaign. It wasn't a core or even peripheral part of our strategy," said Teddy Goff, Digital Director of Obama for America and a veteran of both campaigns. Think about the killer tool of that campaign,; It borrowed the my from MySpace.
 "The real innovation in 2012 is that we had world-class technologists inside a campaign," [Michael] Slaby [Obama's 2008 chief technology officer], told me. "The traditional technology stuff inside campaigns had not been at the same level." And yet the technologists, no matter how good they were, brought a different worldview, set of personalities, and expectations.
The article also does a good job of distinguishing

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Post-Hope Election

Hope and change were the words of 2008.  What of 2012? Pew reports on a post-election survey:
Overall, Obama still elicits more positive than negative feelings among voters but these reactions are less positive than they were in 2008. A 54% majority says the president makes them feel hopeful, down from 69% in 2008. A similar percentage (53%) says Obama makes them feel proud, down 12 points from four years ago.
Currently, 41% say Obama makes them feel uneasy, up from 35% in 2008. And the percentage saying the president makes them feel angry has roughly doubled, from 9% four years ago to 21% today.
Fully 45% of Republicans say Obama makes them feel angry, up sharply from 17% in 2008. Feelings of unease with Obama also have increased among Republicans, from 68% in 2008 to 81% today. Just 10% of Republicans say Obama makes them feel hopeful and 13% say he makes them feel proud, which also are much lower than in 2008.

By a slim 52% to 45% margin more say they are happy than unhappy that Barack Obama was reelected president. This reaction is not as positive as in 2008 when more said they were happy than unhappy by a 58% to 35% margin. However, these views are on par with reactions to Bush’s reelection in 2004 and Clinton’s in 1996.

Voters also are more likely to say they are happy than unhappy that Democrats maintained control of the U.S. Senate and that Republicans maintained control of the U.S. House.
When voters are asked for a single word that describes their reaction to Obama’s victory, the top word among Obama voters is “relieved,” far more than expressed this in 2008. Far fewer say they are hopeful than did so four years ago (when that was the second most common reaction among Obama voters). Similar to 2008, a substantial number expressed their positive reaction with words like ‘”happy,” “excited” and “elated.”
Romney voters responded to Obama’s win much like McCain voters did in 2008. The overwhelming response among Republican voters in both elections was disappointment. Romney voters also said they were “disgusted,” “shocked,” “surprised,” “fearful” and “sad.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

More Republican Reassessments

CNN reports on Haley Barbour's comments to RGA:
"The ground game is really important, and we have to be, I mean we've got to give our political organizational activity a very serious..." he said, taking a pause and looking for the right word. "Proctology exam. We need to look everywhere."
Speaking at a conference for the Republican Governors Association in Las Vegas, Barbour said his party needs to not only adapt to demographic changes but also reform its messaging.
"We can catch up in four years doing this," he said. "This isn't rocket science, but it is hard work that we can't wait and start in 2016."
The party needs a "brutally honest assessment of everything we did," he added. "We need to take everything apart and look at all of it."
Like other Republicans in recent days, Barbour stressed the importance of being more inclusive to Latinos, African-Americans and other minorities. Barbour in particular chided the party for its tone on illegal immigration, saying many illegal workers contribute to the economy and comprise an important part of society.
Karl Rove also writes about doing better with the ground game and appealing to African Americans and Hispanics.  He makes other points as well:
One reason the GOP didn't do better with its pro-growth agenda was that Mr. Romney's character and record were undermined by early, relentless personal attacks that went largely unanswered. In a world of Twitter, YouTube and cable TV, the cliché that "if you're responding, you're losing" is dead. Republican campaigns need to get better at responding, setting the record straight, and bending the argument back toward their narrative.
 The GOP must reduce the destructiveness of the presidential primaries. In the first place, activists can withhold support from candidates who make reckless assaults on competitors, which happened too often this time. Also, the Republican National Committee should limit the number of debates and, by showing wisdom in picking debate moderators, limit the media's ability to depict the party as a fringe group.
Another idea: Holding the convention in late August made sense when candidates relied on public financing for the general election. That will never happen again. The Romney campaign had tens of millions it couldn't spend for months until he was officially nominated on Aug. 28. Future conventions should be held as early as late June.
At The Christian Science Monitor, Linda Feldmann notes a disagreement between Romney and Jindal:

Mitt Romney is complaining about “gifts” – but to Democrats, it’s Mr. Romney who’s the gift. And he keeps on giving.  
The Republicans’ failed presidential nominee has inflamed intraparty tension by blaming his loss on President Obama’s “gifts” to young voters and minorities – health coverage, contraceptive coverage in health insurance, forgiveness of interest on college loans – not any failings of his own as a candidate.
Mr. Romney made the comments Wednesday afternoon on a conference call with fundraisers and donors, a few of whom allowed reporters to listen in. Later in the day, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) of Louisiana, new chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), became “visibly agitated” at a press conference when asked about Romney’s remarks, according to Politico. 
“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong,” said Governor Jindal, a rising Republican star who is Indian-American, speaking at an RGA meeting in Las Vegas. “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”
“And, secondly,” Jindal continued, “we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Republicans Hang On Down the Ballot

In 2012, Michael Barone notes, Democrats failed to recoup their 2010 losses downballot.
Between 2008 and 2012, they gained seats in only three states: Delaware, where a popular Republican ran for the Senate in 2010; Maryland, thanks to Democratic redistricting; and California, where a supposedly nonpartisan redistricting commission was dominated by Democrats.
The reapportionment process following the 2010 census cost Democrats some seats because their strong states had relatively little population growth. They have five fewer seats in New York, for example.
The reapportionment effect was strengthened because the 2010 backlash against Democrats gave Republicans control of redistricting in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all of which lost seats, and North Carolina, which stayed the same.
As a result, in the 113th Congress, as compared with the 111th, there will be three fewer Democrats from Michigan, six fewer from Ohio, seven fewer from Pennsylvania and four fewer from North Carolina.
In state legislative races, Democrats also rebounded from 2010, but fell far short of the losses they sustained then. They went into the 2010 election with 53 percent of state senators across the country and 56 percent of state lower house members. (Nebraska elects its one legislative chamber on a nonpartisan basis.)
Democrats came out of the 2012 election with only 46 percent of state senators and 48 percent of state lower house seats.
In that time, they gained seats in both chambers in only three states: New Jersey (one seat in each body), Illinois and California.
Democrats still hold most legislative seats in the Northeast. But Republicans now have more state legislators in the Midwest, West and South.
The changes in the South have been especially striking. Democrats went into the 2010 election with 51 percent of state senators and lower house members in the South. They came out of the 2012 election with 38 percent of state senators and 40 percent of lower house members.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Priorities USA Cyber-War

In cyberspace as in direct mail, Democratic Super PACs appear to have spent their money more wisely than their GOP counterparts.  Politico reports:
Priorities USA had a laser focus during the presidential election: to define Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch, super-rich, ruthless business profiteer with little regard for the middle class and poor.
The pro-Obama super PAC accomplished this, according to interviews with Priorities leaders and confidential documents obtained by POLITICO, through a multi-pronged Internet strategy — targeting certain groups of Web users, buying search terms on Twitter and Google like “47 percent” and “dressage,” and airing attack ads featuring laid-off workers and plant shutdowns blaming outsourcing during programming on Hulu and Pandora to reach younger voters.
“The hardest hits on the Bain stuff were not coming from the Obama campaign itself because Obama didn’t want to be the nasty guy,” said Liz Mair, online communications director for the Republican National Committee during the 2008 cycle. “They came from Priorities.”

The combined metrics underscore the sense that many GOP digital strategists had throughout the cycle that neither the Romney campaign nor allied outside groups used the Internet effectively.
“They didn’t understand how it worked,” said Eric Frenchman, a McCain 2008 digital strategist who ran the Web component of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s reelection bid this year. “The biggest disadvantage was they didn’t understand what buying online meant.”
[Bill] Burton shares the assessment of his rivals. “They made huge mistakes on how they spent their money,” he said. “They had a huge organization that had a tremendous amount of money and they squandered most of it.”

The 2016 Conversation Starts with Jindal

In a Politico interview, incoming RGA chair Bobby Jindal seems to endorse the "Sam's Club" approach of Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam. 
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” and make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive economic message that pre-empts efforts to caricature the GOP as the party of the rich.

In his first interview since his party’s electoral thumping last week, Jindal urged Republicans to both reject anti-intellectualism and embrace a populist-tinged reform approach that he said would mitigate what exit polls show was one of President Barack Obama’s most effective lines of attack against Mitt Romney.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”

He was just as blunt on how the GOP should speak to voters, criticizing his party for offending and speaking down to much of the electorate.

“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”
The last point is telling, since Douthat has also noted that "any future `Party of Sam's Club' Republican majority is going to need to win back at least some of the mass-upper-class votes that the party has hemorrhaged during the Bush years."  Rhodes Scholar Jindal may be well positioned to unite these groups.

Hanging On

At RealClearPolitics, James Ceaser writes that the 2012 election resulted in the status quo:  a Republican House v. a Democratic president and Senate.
Yet in this very sameness, it was not hard to discern that the country was now a different place. If, as both candidates acknowledged, America was set on a path of fundamental transformation—with a form of nationalized medical care and a dramatically higher level of government involvement in society—then the simple act of keeping the status quo was one of the most important “decisions” in American history. The 2012 election served to consolidate what Barack Obama had already set in motion four years earlier, even if his campaign, for tactical reasons, did not always emphasize this fact.
Not so the Republicans, who promised to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and to begin to reduce government involvement in the economy and society to pre-2008 levels. Their failure to win the presidency spells defeat. By not losing, Obama can now safeguard the measures passed during his first term. Future disputes will have to deal with the new order’s consequences, but the order itself will not be wholly undone. The politics of America will resemble more the “blue” model of California and Illinois, which focus on coping with the added demands of a larger government, then the “red” model of Indiana or Ohio, which have sought to hold the line or scale back what government is asked to do.
Yet when it comes to enacting a governing program, the 2012 election was hardly favorable to President Obama. He won no mandate for a new major agenda—indeed, he hardly bothered to ask for one, except for raising taxes on the wealthy. The aim of his campaign was to retain the keys to the presidential office, at virtually any cost. He succeeded by hanging on. Obama made history in 2012 almost as much as he did in 2008. For the first time, an incumbent won re-election to a second term while receiving a smaller share of the vote than in his first term. In 2008, he had received 53% of the vote; in 2012 it was 50.6%. All other victorious incumbents—most recently Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—gained strength, Obama lost it. This singularly unimpressive result was obscured on election eve by his singularly impressive victory in every state in which the two candidates had actually engaged: Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Watching these states fall one by one on election eve was like witnessing a juggernaut.

Outside Groups Helped Warren and Other Democratic Senate Candidates

It is clear now that Elizabeth Warren picked Scott Brown's pockets on "the People's Pledge."  It committed the candidates to reject outside spending on broadcast and Internet ads.  But it did not apply to other -- and probably more effective -- forms of outside spending. American Crossroads CEO Steven Law warned at the time:
Because the agreement allows union phone banks, direct mail, and get-out-the-vote drives — all union core specialties — Warren’s latest agreement has loopholes the Teamsters could drive a truck through, the longshoremen could steer a ship through, the machinists could fly a plane through and government unions could drive forklifts of paperwork through.
And in the fall of 2012, direct mail flooded mailboxes. Right after the election, the Boston Globe reported:
Over the course of the campaign, union members knocked on the doors of 327,936 union households, said Steven A. ­Tolman, president of the ­Massachusetts AFL-CIO. They made 242,000 phone calls to union households, distributed 250,000 leaflets to 175 work sites, and worked 10,708 volunteer shifts, he said, often standing for hours outside ­Warren’s events.
An article in Politico suggests that Warren and other Democratic Senate candidates had "outside" help in a vareity of forms. A super PAC close to Harry Reid spent about $2 million in Massachusetts during the final weeks on direct mail, a field operation and "other under-the-radar activities."
Majority PAC ended up spending millions across the country — including $2.8 million in Connecticut; $4.5 million in Indiana; $4.1 million in Missouri; $5 million in Nevada; $4 million in North Dakota; $3.3 million in Ohio; $6.2 million in Virginia; $4.2 million in Montana; and $5 million in Wisconsin. Nearly all of it was in attack ads pummeling Republicans.
But sometimes, it took action in under-the-radar ways. In Maine, when independent Angus King came under attack from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Majority PAC and Patriot Majority conducted a private poll to inform allies there that the attacks were having an effect and the Republican candidate, Charlie Summers, needed to be defined. The effort was particularly sensitive because Democrats in Washington refused to endorse their own party’s long-shot nominee, hoping privately that King would win and caucus with them.
And after Labor Day, as the Warren-Brown race remained tight, Majority PAC and Patriot Majority — along with labor, environmental groups and abortion rights groups — put together an extensive mail, phone and field operation to attack Brown, identify Democratic voters and woo swing voters to back Warren. The Reid-affiliated groups dropped $354,000 in the race — and it had a very blunt message for Bay State voters.
“Don’t let Scott Brown give Republicans control of the U.S. Senate,” Majority PAC warned in a mailer to voters there.
And the Republicans?  The article quotes former DSCC executive director and Schumer confidant J.B. Poersch:
“They spent $162 million on their side, in Senate races, just on television,” Poersch said Saturday. “On the Democratic side, the collective number was $80 million. As outsized as it sounds, there was a wider percentage difference than in 2010. And when you look at how they spent it, [Republicans] spent way too much money early."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Anti-Incumbency? Not in 2012

There was some speculation that 2012 might turn out to be an anti-incumbent year.  After all, approval of Congress was low and some polls indicated that voters were wearying of their own lawmakers.

The anti-incumbent tide never arrived.  Even if the few undecided House races turn against incumbents, the 2012 reelection rate (including primaries and the general election) is about 90 percent in the House and 91 percent in the Senate.

The House figure is a bit below the historical average, but many of the defeats stemmed not from anti-incumbency but from redistricting, which put some members in less favorable territory or pitted them in primaries against incumbents from the same party.

Voter ID Backlash, Backfire

State-level voter identification laws:
  1. Lost in court;
  2. Overlooked the far more serious problem of mail-ballot fraud; and
  3. Triggered a backlash that increased black turnout.
National Journal reports:
For African-Americans in Ohio, coming out to vote during this election was personal. Many saw the state’s voter-ID bills as a direct threat to rights denied their ancestors decades earlier. Fueled as much by angst against the ID mandate as enthusiasm for a black president, African-Americans voted at a rate so much higher than 2008 that they may have been the decisive voting bloc.
President Obama captured Ohio, arguably the most important battleground state, thanks to record African-American turnout. The Resurgent Republic, an independent not-for-profit organization that gauges public opinion, pointed out, “If African-American turnout was in line with 2008, Romney would have won Ohio,” according to Politico.
Ohio, with its complex melting-pot populace that crosses many socioeconomic levels, has long been a battleground. National Journal’s Ron Brownstein asserted that Obama took Ohio by focusing on income equality and fairness, a strategy that attracted enough working-class whites and blacks to swing the election. But some observers also point to a 2011 effort to spur blacks to vote.
That plus anger stirred by the still-pending voter-ID bill that passed the Ohio House last year became the impetus that reenergized many African-American voters, said E. Faye Williams, president of the National Congress of Black Women. During a Washington event on the minority vote weeks before the election, Williams told a small group that such laws would likely push minorities to come out in droves.
The exit poll showed that African Americans made up 15 percent up the Ohio electorate in 2012, compared with 11 percent in 2008.  From the Politico story:
LUKE FRANS of Resurgent Republic sends this fascinating analysis of Ohio exit polling: “Romney won the white vote 58-41 (2008: McCain won 52-46). Romney won white men 63-36 (2008: McCain won 53-45). Romney won white women at about the same margin as four years ago, 53-46. But the white vote overall was 79% of the turnout, down 4 points from 2008 (white men: 3 points; white women: 1 point). The Ohio population is about 84% white. Ohio has a low percentage of Hispanic population (3%) compared to the national average (17%) and the exit polling had the Hispanic vote at 3%, a 1-point decrease from 2008. Obama made up the margin by turning out the African American vote, which increased from 11% in 2008 to 15% yesterday. He won these voters 96-4 and the higher turnout more than made up for any slight movement from his 2008 97-2 margin. What's more notable, African Americans make up 12% of the Ohio population, but they represented a higher share of the electorate yesterday. …
“This resulted in a +8 Democratic turnout advantage in the state. And it's difficult to overcome that margin, even considering that Romney won independents by 10 points (53-43) -- which is a net 18-point swing away from Obama since 2008. … If African American turnout was in line with 2008, Romney would have won Ohio. That's how both sides truly believed they were narrowly winning Ohio on Election Day.