Tag: Presidency 2012
By John Stark
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has had some time to reconsider his sharp critique of his own party, which we blogged here . He seems to have decided to keep those critiques coming.
Jindal was quick to respond to Mitt Romney’s remark that Obama bought victory at the polls by “gifts” to minorities and young voters.
“I think that’s absolutely wrong,” Jindal said. “We have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent.“
Jindal may not be alone in those sentiments. He was speaking on a public panel alongside Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, whose battles with public employee unions made him the target of much animosity. Walker seconded at least some of what Jindal was saying.
The Republican Party is not “just for people who are currently not dependent on the government,” Walker told CNN. “It’s for all Americans.”
Let’s see if this “big tent strategy” gains any traction in the party and the nation. Has Jindal come up with a winning strategy for his speculative 2015 run for the presidency? Or has he said things that other Republican hopefuls will be able to use against him?
By John Stark
With more than 100,000 ballots still to be counted in Washington, the debate over this state’s mail-in ballot and postmark deadline is still raging–or at least sputtering.
On TVW, Secretary of State Sam Reed, who steps down at the end of the year, debates the issue with Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia. Reed, a Republican, wants to change the law to require ballots to be in the hands of election officials by Election Day. Hunt wants to keep the current system, in which ballots postmarked by Election Day are valid.
Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, called my attention to this item on TVW.
Mercier notes that Oregon also managed a turnout above 80 percent with the deadline that Reed favors.
UPDATE: State Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, says she will introduce legislation to move this state to a ballot deadline more or less like Oregon’s. Here is her press release:
OLYMPIA…While ballots that may determine the outcome of legislative elections continue to trickle in, Sen. Randi Becker today announced she will introduce a bill to require ballots to be in hand on Election Day, rather than just in the mail.
“We’re now more than a week past Election Day and in some areas of the state, people still don’t know who their elected officials are going to be. Those races may be determined by ballots that haven’t even been received yet,” said Becker, R-Eatonville. “Washington has the slowest system in the country for receiving votes, and it’s simply one that needs to be improved.
“This isn’t just a matter of convenience. I can tell you personally that there are many things an incoming legislator must do to get up to speed for a legislative session. Delaying an outcome by days or weeks inhibits their ability to effectively represent their district.”
Becker sponsored a similar bill in 2011. That measure was met with concern that large numbers of ballots would arrive late and be disqualified. Becker acknowledged the concern, and said she is confident that voter education could head off the issue and ensure ballots are received in time.
“As the senator from the 2nd Legislative District, which has a large contingent of military voters, I am aware of the concern about disenfranchising people and take it very seriously,” Becker said. “If we take the proper steps to educate voters, I’m confident that people can get their ballots in the mail or in a drop box in time to be received by and counted on Election Day.”
As evidence Becker pointed to the example of Oregon, which has had an Election Day-ballot requirement in place since 1998, and it has worked well there. In fact, in the 2008 presidential election Oregon had a higher turnout rate than Washington.
“No one has the ‘silver bullet’ to perfect our election system, but this is a positive step we can take,” Becker said. “The bill may change as it moves through the legislative process, but we need to get the ball rolling today, while the issue is fresh in people’s minds.”
End press release
By John Stark
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal didn’t pull any punches in a post-election critique of his own Republican Party.
In this interview with Politico, Jindal tells the GOP to “stop being the stupid party.”
EXCERPT: “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.”
Jindal’s comments are getting a lot of circulation on Facebook, but Democrats and liberals appear to be doing most of the circulating.
Jindal is about to become chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which now includes 30 of the 50 U.S. governors. He is widely mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016. (I know you all are anxious to get the 2016 campaign under way.)
By John Stark
Washington state residents had to wait three whole days after the Nov. 6 general election to find out for sure who their next governor will be, and a lot of people seem to find that kind of delay unacceptable.
I don’t know about you, but I slept quite well during this long statewide nightmare. My appetite was also not affected.
But it is a fact that this state’s election procedure is untypical. Around the nation, residents of many states still expect to take time off from work to wait in line at fire stations and schoolhouses to cast ballots that can be quickly tabulated on election night.
In other states with mail-in ballots, voters are required to mail early, because ballots that don’t arrive in the mail by election day are tossed. Procrastinators are disenfranchised.
In Washington state, if you can get an election day postmark on your envelope, you’re good. Election officials check the mail bag on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and beyond in search of ballots that must be counted. When a race is close–as in this year’s contest between Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna in the race for governor–the state’s residents live in a fog of uncertainty for days. Even worse, political reporters have to keep coming up with new versions of their “too close to call” story for each day’s edition.
Jason Mercier, Director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center, provides a roundup of election laws in other states, as well as a link to a roundup of newspaper editorials demanding reform.
“According to the National Association of Secretaries of State, the vast majority of states require mail-in ballots to actually be received by Election Day:
“In three states, absentee ballots must be returned prior to Election Day.
“In 36 states, absentee ballots must be returned by Election Day.
“In 11 states and the District of Columbia, additional time for the arrival of absentee ballots is provided after Election Day, as long as the absentee ballot is postmarked by Election Day.
Thanks for the info, Mr. Mercier.
What do you think? Washington state policies seem to be designed to maximize voter turnout. Is that more or less important that instant election night gratification?
I do think that in the Presidential race, a quick determination has value. Uncertainty about which party will control our nation’s highest office can have harmful effect on financial markets, foreign policy matters, and so forth.
If Washington ever evolves into a swing state in presidential politics, our voting system has the potential to drive the entire nation insane.
But I remain to be convinced that a few days of uncertainty about a governor’s race is hurting much of anything. Maybe I’m missing something.
As of this morning, the election turnout in Whatcom County is a robust 74 percent, and election officials estimate that thousands more remain to be counted.
By John Stark
Historian Allan Lichtman brushes aside the polling data and political strategy chatter when he comes up with his own predictions of presidential election outcomes. As of this year his winning streak has extended to eight.
In this report from NPR, Lichtman explains how major economic and political trends seem to correlate with election outcomes for the party that holds the White House.
“Focusing on the campaign is like focusing on the froth of the wave, instead of the wave itself,” Lichtman tells NPR.
Read more about Lichtman’s methodology here on Wikipedia.
What do you think? Among other things, I’m wondering if this methodology could be tweaked to predict Bellingham and Whatcom County elections. I’m thinking it probably could.
By John Stark
Right-wing media such as Fox and Rush Limbaugh let their audiences down by telling them what they wanted to hear: Barack Obama was going to be swept out of office.
As Friedersdorf sees it, the “liberal” mainstream media did a better job of both predicting the election results and offering critiques of the strengths and weaknesses of both presidential candidates. Fox et al focused on Obama’s failings, and portrayed everything that happened in the last four years as another Obama failure.
People who watched CNN or one of the old big three networks, or read the New York Times, were probably not surprised by Tuesday’s vote, Friedersdorf says.
As the right sees it, the MSM won the election for Obama by failing to focus on his failings.
What do you think. As my teachers used to say, “Let’s hear from somebody who hasn’t already spoken.”
By John Stark
It was a long, long ballot bristling with people and issues that mattered, from the White House to the Port of Bellingham offices on Roeder Avenue. The local races are in some ways the most suspenseful, because there is seldom any polling data to warn us what the voters are going to do.
What election result was most surprising to you? Was it Obama’s win? Rob McKenna’s seemingly weak showing? (People are saying that one is too close to call, but McKenna’s weak showing in King County makes it hard to visualize a comeback for him in late rounds of vote counting.)
How about Democrat Suzan DelBene’s rather healthy margin over hardy perennial John Koster in the redrawn 1st District, which includes most of Whatcom County outside Bellingham?
Or was it the big margin of victory for the Bellingham Home Fund, with city residents once again enthusiastically embracing a tax increase?
How about the port commission expansion, which seemed to have broad-spectrum support in Bellingham but looks headed to a narrow defeat in countywide voting?
Please share your thoughts once or twice.
By John Stark
After the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, some people feared that unregulated contributions would pour into politics and buy elections.
NPR has a report outlining several key Senate races in which massive amounts of SuperPAC money failed to buy the desired outcome for SuperPAC contributors.
I don’t want to minimize the impact that money has on our political processes. But the fear that advertising money will buy voters’ allegiance has always seemed more than a little elitist. At its core, that argument boils down to “Political advertising will sway the ignorant masses.” Nobody making this argument claims to be a part of the ignorant masses. Nobody ever says, “I’m afraid political advertising will hypnotize me into voting Republican.” The fear is that some other guy–that dumb guy down the street–won’t be smart enough to do his own thinking and is at risk of political hypnotism.
Advertising may get me into a car company’s showroom but it won’t make me buy the car. Advertising may get me to try your brand of beer or eat at your restaurant, but if I don’t like your beer or your restaurant I won’t be back.
By John Stark
As I write this, (9:43 p.m.) everyone agrees that Obama has the electoral votes to win–even though Florida and Ohio are still too close to call. Were’t we being assured that it would all come down to Ohio and Florida?
By John Stark
This afternoon I expect to interview Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, before her appearance at Western Washington University.
Stein’s public address is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19 in Academic Instructional Center West, Room 219. It is sponsored by the campus group Socialist Alternative.
The campaign website has extensive information about Stein and the Green Party platform.
In 2008, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney got 210 votes in Whatcom County. Stein’s showing in November might be an interesting gauge of how many local environmental activists and liberals have become disenchanted with Barack Obama.
Here is the press release announcing Stein’s Bellingham appearance:
“Jill Stein will outline the Green New Deal for America, which would expand on the most successful aspects of the New Deal crafted by FDR that pulled our country out of the last great depression, in order to create sustainable green jobs and stronger communities in America instead of costly overseas military entanglements. She will also talk about why she thinks voting for either of the corporate-sponsored parties is a wasted vote and her proposals for reducing medical costs by her version of Health Care instead of Sick Care from the aspect of a trained physician who has worked extensively on public health issues.
Also speaking will be Green Party candidate Howard Pellet, running for Representative of the 40th district. Jill Stein’s and Howard Pellett’s opponents have been invited to this forum, but have either declined or not responded to invitations.”
(End press release)
By John Stark
The Rev. Billy Graham’s website has deleted an article that referred to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) as a cult.
This may be further evidence that evangelical Protestants are smoothing over their theological differences with the Mormons, whose members include not just Mitt Romney but (lest we forget) Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Theology aside, the Mormons would be relieved of any taint of cultishness based on author Tom Wolfe’s definition: “A cult is a religion without political power.”
By John Stark
Mitt Romney’s recent statements on abortion have brought that divisive issue back into the spotlight in the last 48 hours.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Romney said there was “no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
It’s worth a listen. In this interview, Romney himself introduces the subject and takes pains to refute what he says is the false charge that he opposes all abortions, including in cases of rape, incest and risk to the life of the mother. Romney says he does NOT oppose abortion in those circumstances.
When that remark was interpreted as a shift, on Romney’s part, toward a more moderate position on the pro-life/pro-choice spectrum, he and his campaign people moved quickly to reaffirm the GOP Presidential candidate’s pro-life credentials.
“Soon after his remarks were posted online Tuesday, a Romney spokeswoman told the Associated Press, “Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president,” the Los Angeles Times reported. “Gov. Romney would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
Kaiser Health News offers a good list of links to several different news reports about this issue.
By John Stark
Did the Wednesday night faceoff between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, change your view of either man?
If you are a devout follower of either one, that’s fine. But spare us the partisan cheerleading, if you can. Tell us if the debate shifted your thinking, your leanings, your attitude in any way.
I’ll confess to tuning in a bit late, but from what I saw, Obama’s vaunted debate and speaking abilities were not much in evidence. To me he seemed tired–the Presidency seems to do that to people– and his delivery was often halting.
It was clear that Romney was working hard to convince us he’s a sensible moderate alternative–not a wild-eyed right-wing radical. He spoke earnestly about the need for government regulations.
In the discussion of Medicare, it seemed as though the world was turned upside down. Romney–standard-bearer for the party of fiscal conservatism–repeatedly bashed Obama for cutting billions from Medicare by reducing the reimbursement rates the government pays to health care providers.
But both Romney and Obama agreed on the obvious need to bring down the cost of health care. The fact is that private insurers are also trying to control costs by holding down reimbursement rates. Here is a local example.
Cutting back on reimbursements is a simple way to force health care providers to cut their own costs. Maybe too simple. But if health care costs are really going to be cut, then we need to spend less on health care. Am I missing something?
By John Stark
When President Barack Obama announced he would “defer” the deportation of some illegal immigrants and allow them to apply for temporary work permits, he was denounced for enacting “amnesty” without action from Congress. Now, Mitt Romney says he has no immediate plans to undo Obama’s action, if elected.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Romney said he plans to take no action against those who have already taken Obama up on his offer of a two-year work permit. To qualify, “those eligible must have arrived in America before they turned 16, be under the age of 30, have been living in the country for five or more years, and be either in the military, in school or graduated,” acording to The Post.
The Post story also quotes an Obama spokeswoman saying that Romney’s recent remarks to the Post have not clarified his position on immigration issues, and on whether he would enact the hard-line measures that some Republican factions would prefer.
UPDATE: Immigration attorney Margaret Stock notes that Romney misused the term “visa” in his remarks. The temporary work permits authorized by the Obama administration are not visas, Stock said.
UPDATE 2: Here’s the New York Times take on this episode, with expanded remarks from Margaret Stock.
UPDATE 3: Stock also suggested this link to a page on the State Department website, explaining exactly what a visa is.
By John Stark
Political analysts of every stripe are weighing in on the significance of the upcoming presidential debate on Wednesday, and the conventional wisdom is that this is Mitt Romney’s best hope to reverse Obama’s recent gains and pick up some momentum in the final weeks before the election.
In the Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib offers a thoughtful and refreshingly non-partisan overview of the debate. Key excerpt:
“… the difficulty Mr. Romney faces is that the kinds of attacks most likely to change the dynamic of the race or produce a memorable moment also happen to undermine a parallel Romney need, which is to make more voters warm up to him. Even candidates who successfully attack in a debate often make themselves less likable in the process. And Mr. Romney doesn’t have much likability to spare. On the other hand, he has less to lose at this point, which can be a liberating condition.”
In the Boston Globe, Callum Borchers notes recent poll data that shows Obama widening his lead over Romney in key swing states, even as the two men appear to be neck-and-neck in the overall popular vote.
Borchers offers this quote from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, predicting that the debate will shift many voters back to Romney.
“You saw the change in those polls happen very quickly, and I’m here to tell you this morning it can happen very quickly back the other way,” Christie said. “And I think the beginning of that is Wednesday night, when Governor Romney, for the first time, gets on the same stage as the president of the United States, and people can make a direct comparison about them and their visions for the future.’’
BTW– if you or your organization is planning any kind of public-invited debate-watching event in Bellingham and Whatcom County, feel free to post that info here as a comment.