Thursday, November 1, 2012
You know me. I'm not a big "escape from the world" guy. I am pretty much addicted to twitter and try to stay up on as much as possible. I don't usually unplug completely. But when you spend a long weekend on top of a mountain with bad cell service, unplugging is not an option, it is a guarantee. All of this to say I haven't seen, heard or read a thing over the past five days. I watched a little college football, did some hiking and waterfall finding with my boys and my wife, and pretty much just enjoyed myself.
Man, was it nice. That and a mother-in-law fighting cancer and a funeral this week for an uncle really forces some perspective on you. We'll see how long that lasts...
Of course, I came home to a half-dozen mailers and all sorts of reminders that decision day is right around the corner. Do we get four more years of Obama/gridlock? Do we clean the slate and start anew with Romney in charge? It looks increasingly likely that the Senate will stay in the hands of the Democrats and the House will belong to the GOP, so no matter who sits at 1600 Pennsylvania, we will have divided government.
Like David Brooks, I think Romney is more likely to make progress in that scenario than Obama. The current leadership of the House has made too many promises and staked too much personal and political capital on opposing Obama to budge. The Senate, as obstinate and byzantine as it may be, is a little more likely to play ball. And we know that Mitt is not moored to any particular stance, belief or promise. Whoever McKinsey picks for his cabinet posts, he will be looking to "do things" and to be seen as "taking charge". That usually means small pieces of symbolic importance (see: Lilly Ledbetter Act) and some big talk as the broken news apparatus stupidly and pointlessly counts down the first 100 days of his presidency.
But I have come to a conclusion. Anyone who has read us over the past few months has probably seen this coming. I just do not see myself pulling the lever for Obama again. I am too disappointed - the anti-life, pro-abortion stances, the challenge to religious freedom, the drone assassinations (particularly the redefinition of "enemy combatant"), four straight years of $1,000,000,000,000 or more budget deficits (and the guarantee of more, considering the projection is almost $4 trillion more in an Obama II Administration), etc.
There are also two very "inside baseball" things that this administration has done which drive me nuts. I realize how wonky and nitpicky they may seem, but they both matter. First, we have a POTUS who has ordered the Attorney General not to defend legally enacted legislation currently on the books. Think what you want of DOMA, but it is the law of the land. The Attorney General is the lawyer for the Untied States of America, not for the Democratic party or even the president. If it is the law of the land, he should defend it. The political discussion about it and the legislative fight over it are different matters and certainly within Obama's purview to fight against it or work for its repeal. It is a dangerous precedent.
An even more dangerous one, in my opinion, is what is happening with the Department of Education. Listen, I am no fan of No Child Left Behind - I think it is terrible legislation that has fundamentally damaged our educational system. However, if congress can't get its act together to replace, reauthorize or rewrite it, it is the law of the land. The administration is offering states waivers from the law based on certain unilateral conditions, basically permitting them to violate federal law if they make policy changes that the administration wants. None of it goes through congress - you know, the lawmaking body - or requires bipartisanship, debate or public scrutiny. When you look at the precedent being set, it is frightening.
Think about your personal biggie - the environment. What would stop a Romney Administration from allowing states waivers from following the Clean Air Act if they met some random set of conditions set forth by the administration? The process is the same and they could stand on the precedent being set by Obama and Arnie Duncan.
It is a dangerous game to rewrite process and procedure when you're the one in power. You won't always be there and the Law of Unintended Consequences is more likely than not to bite you in the ass. Ok, my inside baseball rant is over. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
I hate this election. I hate the choices before me. I can't wait for it all to be over. But tonight I am going trick or treating with my boys and some neighbors. Yesterday, my mother-in-law started chemo. Tomorrow, I bury my uncle. I care about next Tuesday, but not as much.
Best to the family and I hope that the sugar highs aren't too bad.
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Friday, November 2, 2012
Perspective is always a good thing, and I am writing to you from Chicago, just a hop, skip and a train ride away from Obama Headquarters. You can almost feel the energy here at the Hilton Garden Inn... almost.
I appreciate your view, I really do. I don't understand it. But I appreciate it.
It's a head-scratcher for me for a couple of reasons.
One, I'm not as smart as you, so your ability to think through systematic impact is better than mine. Still, can't DOMA and No Child Left Behind just be shitty laws?
Therein lies the speciousness of the argument, "Romney can better work with a Republican Congress to get things done." Really? So the U.S. House of Representatives is controlled by a wing-nut cabal of tea party lunatics, and that's why Mitt Romney should be President?
So the President issued waivers to federal law in the case of No Child Left Behind. He wasn't going to get reform through the Boehner-led House, so what's he left to do?
DOMA is horrible and discriminatory. Look, you're talking to a proud former Justice Department employee. You're right: the Attorney General is the lawyer for the nation's laws. He has to work within those confines -- or out of them, depending on your view, I guess.
But that doesn't mean he can't use political tools with respect to the law.
In short, I just don't think the President or the Attorney General did anything wrong -- and pretty much the rest of the country doesn't think so, either, so there's that.
You're right to lay out your case in terms of policy and why and how you disagree with Obama and likely won't pull the lever for him this time around. Like I say, that is a refreshing approach I certainly appreciate, even if I don't agree with the outcome.
But policy talk is for six or eight weeks ago. It's for the summer doldrums when we were looking for something to do.
This is politics, and next week is the Big Day -- Election Day. I know the machinations of campaigning are not your favorite, but in a year that has been divisive and contentious, I can finally take some comfort and enjoyment in the predictions, the granular-level polling data and, you know, have some fun.
So let's have some fun.
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Monday, November 5, 2012
You know, one of the great things about this conversation we have been having is the way we approach things from completely different angles. I don't mean the Red/Blue thing, just our perspectives. It has been a lot of fun and I appreciate your willingness to indulge my idea. So thank you for the time and blog space you have put into this (not so) little project - and the many, many more hours we have spent discussing it at work and over lunch.
But all that is out the window now. It's t-minus 1 day to Armageddon. The mailers, the radio and tv ads, the yard signs will all go away soon enough - thank God. So here we are. Looking back on where we have been, here is what I see. I see a country that was ready to reject another Obama term - a country unhappy with the economy, unemployment and gridlock and hyper-partisanship in DC. You can, and have very eloquently, make the argument that little to none of that is the fault of President Obama. But much like a quarterback in football, the POTUS gets too much credit when things are going well and too much blame when they are going poorly. But it is undeniable that the country feels that we are on the wrong track - by a 14 point margin. That spells doom for the incumbent.
Unless your opponent is terrible. The parade of fools that was the GOP primary slog put this election, not just on the table for Obama, but in the likely category. Romney emerged, but not unscathed. He was not popular, well, pretty much anywhere, but he was chosen as the Not-Obama 2012 candidate. In a way, it is a little impressive how far Romney has come from the early Summer. He has passed the "looking/sounding/feeling Presidential" hurdle. But do his personal and policy negatives - and an electoral college map that is a challenge, at best - outweigh the progress he has made?
These last few days have seen the GOP insist that Pennsylvania, Minnesota and other solidly Democratic states are in play. There are over 1 million more registered Dems in Pennsylvania than GOP. Can turnout, independents and a national tide really put those 20 EV's in the Romney column? Probably not.
The argument for a Romney victory comes down to two simple points:
1) Polls have been oversampling democrats based on a 2008 turnout model. They will all be wrong.
2) Undecideds and independents will break for Romney
I can see it. Maybe the SpencerianRed brainwashing is complete, but let's take them one at a time.
1) Yes, polls have been oversampling Democrats. Young people voted at unprecedented levels in 2008. That ain't happening again. I have been arguing this point for months. Will the turnout model change? Certainly. Enough for a Romney win? Maybe. If a few states swing 3 points from the polls, Romney is at 291. If they only swing 2.5, Obama holds on with 277. Hmmmm....
2) Late deciders usually break against an incumbent. Independents who value getting things done may see the current state of DC as being unfair to Obama - as you explained well - but might be pragmatic/resigned enough to pull the lever for Romney despite the unfairness in hope of progress. Undecideds who have been derided by most pundits and more certain friends and colleagues (cough, cough) are having a hard time convincing themselves to re-up on Obama. That doesn't get better inside the voting booth.
Still, I think there is a pretty big wall in front of Romney sitting right at 261 electoral votes - nine shy of what he needs. If you pencil in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and New Hampshire for Romney, he sits at 261. Which means just Nevada or Iowa doesn't do it. He needs both, or any one of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and of course, Ohio.
I could very easily see Romney taking Iowa but none of the others and Obama winning the Electoral College 271-267. I could just as easily see Romney taking Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin and landing at 295.
What do you see?
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Monday, November 5, 2012
Let's get right to it.
My prediction is an Obama win with a decisive 303 Electoral Votes.
My map -- courtesy of 270toWin.com -- shows the state-by-state breakdown.
I have Obama winning Viriginia, and because of that, I think it's going to be an early night. Obama will take Virignia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and when those states are called, it will be all over -- you can fact-check me at the clever New York Times path to victory app.
As you can also see, I have Obama losing Florida. I made the mistake of saying he'd lose it in 2008, and I never really lived it down. This time, I'm afraid I've got it right -- and the trending is backing me up. This really is kind of extraordinary, given that Romney's running mate is the guy they labeled the "Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver" for his obscene plan to voucherize Medicare. I have probably been in the most denial about Florida for this very reason.
Which leads me, in a roundabout kind of way, to polling. I think a big surprise we'll see tomorrow night is how many pollsters -- some reputable, some not -- got it very, very wrong (perhaps even in Florida, which would please me greatly).
This election has been grossly poll-driven, and who knows: maybe we'll see that change.
For the Senate, I'm going with 54 Democrats -- I predict Baldwin will beat Thompson in Wisconsin; Tester will beat Rehberg in Montana; Heinrich will beat Wilson in New Mexico; in North Dakota and and Nevada, it'll go GOP, though it should be noted those races are close. It should also be noted, I'm predicting tea party candidate Richard Mourdock loses in Indiana, Elizabeth Warren wins in Massachusetts, and McCaskill beats Todd Akin in Missouri.
As we get to the outcome for the U.S. House of Representatives, that also gets me to my big prediction.
Here we go: The make-up of the House will stay exactly the same. According to Real Clear Politics, there are currently 33 House races in the "Toss-Up" category. I won't predict how each one will shake out, but I will say it'll look basically like it does now, which is, per the House Clerk, 240 Republicans, 190 Democrats, 0 Independents, and 5 vacancies.
I'll give the Democrats a break by manipulating the numbers a bit, here - let's call those open vacancy races this way: 2 for the GOP, 3 for the Democrats.
That is a total of 242 GOP, 193 Democrats.
This, by the way, will be what the punditocracy -- shell-shocked at not being able to extensively covere the early-called Presidential race -- will swarm around. They'll try to deduce meaning from a (basically) meaningless quirk of politics.
But not totally meaningless. I believe these results will spark an internal conflict within the GOP which could well split it in two -- the moderate, middle-of-the-road old-school conservatives, and the tea party-lead weirdo freaks. The trouble will come from trying to interpret a mandate where none was given: tea partiers nominated the likes of Mourdock and Todd Akin to the Senate, but they'll get beat. But they maintained firm control of the House, will be the retort. But the GOP nominee for President was beaten handily...
It'll be ugly. And maybe necessary.
I also predict MSNBC will have a graphic with the word "Tea-mageddon!" prominently featured.
Looking forward to seeing what you have.
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Monday, November 5, 2012
Pass me the Jim Jones red kool-aid. I am predicting Romney takes 295 Electoral Votes. He gets Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa to go with Colorado, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina. Chris Matthews cries on air and then throws poop at Chuck Todd who is working the interactive digital touch screen big screen map while talking to a hologram of Teddy Kennedy... or something like that. What I mean is there will be a total MSNBC meltdown. Also, Rachel Maddow will punch someone in the face.
However, I think it will take us a while to get there. There will be big problems in Ohio - particularly in Cleveland, where Mitt is making a final day stop and screwing up traffic and all sorts of things. I predict that independents break huge for Romney and that 18-25 turnout is 15-20% below 2008.
And my stupid surprise forecast: Pennsylvania goes to a recount or gets damn close, depending on what the threshold is - but I say margin is <1%. Obama holds it, but barely.
I am in agreement with you that the polls will be the big scapegoat and punching bag. The national media conversation for the next week will be "how did the polls get it so wrong?" Otherwise they would have to talk about how wrong they were. We know that won't happen. Nate Silver will be roasted.
As for the Senate - I see 53 D // 47 R. Dems pick up Indiana and Maine, keep Montana. They do not pick up Massachusetts as Scott Brown holds on in a mild surprise. The house goes 242 R // 193 D & I. In Florida 18, Patrick Murphy defeats Allen West.
I also predict that Paul Ryan will cry. I don't know why, but I predict that cameras will catch him and his mom hugging/crying. That is my most random prediction of the night. Probably not my least accurate, but my most random (well, other than Chris Matthews throwing poop - but really, after his Denver meltdown, would you be surprised?)
I also predict that the slowly-emerging story on the D side will be a re-emergence of an isolationist/dove foreign policy contingent - most prominently in the Senate and with newer members of the House... but that is not an election day story - that is for another time and place.
Basically, I am betting on the fundamentals overwhelming the campaign machinations. An unhappy country chooses change, away from the President of Change...
And yes, I am fully prepared for your mocking and laughing as Obama wins 277-261.
Should be fun tomorrow.
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Welcome to Into the Echo Chamber, the weekly electronic conversation of the 2012 presidential campaign as viewed from two Twitter feeds. Matt Spence is monitoring the Twitterverse of the Romney Campaign, Republicans, and the "red" side of the aisle at @SpencerianRed. I am monitoring the tweets of the Obama Team, Democrats using @SpencerianBlue. Our email-based back-and-forths are posted here on Thursdays.