Why Mitt Romney Shouldn’t Ignore Iowa

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Former Massachusetts governor and Republican candidate for president Mitt Romney has embarked upon an utterly stupid political strategy: ignore Iowa, the first voting state in the 2012 Republican primary. As Frank Bruni of the New York Times puts it:

If the Iowa Republican debate were to provide a truly accurate mirror of the race at this juncture, Tim Pawlenty would wear a sandwich board, with a scrawled plea to the state’s voters: “Save me.” Michele Bachmann would spin onto the stage in a giant teacup, to find a microphone three times the size of anyone else’s and a spotlight four times as bright. Newt Gingrich, looking characteristically put out, would unveil a new campaign slogan: “The Glower for This Hour.”

And the party’s most likely nominee, Mitt Romney? He wouldn’t show. The less seen of him, after all, the better.

That’s not my harsh assessment. That’s been his de facto campaign strategy this summer.

Mr. Romney is following this strategy due to his failure to win Iowa during the 2008 Republican primary. After spending enormous amounts of time and money on the state, Mr. Romney found himself outflanked by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. Despite running a number of negative ads on Mr. Huckabee, the former Massachusetts governor lost the primary by a considerable margin. Crucial to his loss was the perception of Mr. Romney as a flip-flopper who wasn’t a true conservative.

So this time the candidate is ignoring Iowa.

Unfortunately, Mr. Romney simply cannot ignore Iowa, whatever he may wish. If he does so, then he will certainly lose the state. No state likes to be ignored, and Mr. Romney is weak in Iowa already.

Most probably, either Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann or Governor Rick Perry will win Iowa if Mr. Romney does not compete. A victory in Iowa will then set up either candidate as the Republican alternative to Mr. Romney. The media pays huge amounts of attention to the Iowa caucuses. Whoever wins them, if Mr. Romney does not, will instantly be catapulted into national attention. And, given Mr. Romney’s weaknesses on consistency, there’s a very good chance that he will lose the nomination to them.

So Mr. Romney shouldn’t ignore Iowa. He has to compete; if he wins, than he can eliminate the threat to his candidacy early on. If he loses, he’ll more likely than not lose the nomination.

It’s a tough choice. Mr. Romney will more likely than not lose Iowa even if he does spend the next few months of his life campaigning in the state.

Once again Mr. Romney’s problems fundamentally boil down to the fact that he is a terrible politician. Given the weakness of the current Republican field, by all rights Mr. Romney should be leading his opposition by double-digits. And if he were doing that, then Governor Rick Perry would never have joined the field in the first place.

Unfortunately, there is little that Mr. Romney can do about this anymore. The only thing that he can do at this point is to stop ignoring the most important caucus in the nation.

 

 

Misunderstanding the “Osama” Bounce

A number of Beltway pundits have remarked upon the effect that bringing justice to Osama bin Laden had on President Barack Obama’s approval ratings. The conventional wisdom is that Mr. Obama enjoyed a brief “Osama bounce” in polling. Now, with yet more bad economic news, Mr. Obama’s Osama bounce has faded.

This is a complete misunderstanding of what the killing of Osama bin Laden actually means for the president.

A “bounce” in one’s approval ratings is the result of a fleeting event which temporarily makes one look good, but which nobody will remember in a year. The political conventions that take place during every presidential election result in bounces. Modern political conventions make the presidential nominee look good, but nothing meaningful ever happens in them.

Another example of a bounce: Mr. Obama’s well-received speech after Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s shooting. This was a fleeting event which temporarily made Mr. Obama look good. But the average American probably has already forgotten who Ms. Giffords even is. (Don’t believe me? Try testing your neighbor.)

In contrast, nobody will forget the death of Osama bin Laden for a long, long time. When the history books are written one hundred years later, they will still mention it.

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

Politically, Bin Laden’s death means far more than just a mere “Osama bounce” for the president. It rips an enormous hole through the Republican critique of Mr. Obama on foreign policy.

This critique is best described by the titles of two articles by conservative magazines The Weekly Standard and The National Review. Their titles are “A Leader From Behind” and “The Embarrassed Superpower.” Republican criticize Mr. Obama as weak on national security, uninterested in American exceptionalism, too apologetic for America’s mistakes, and so on. It’s a very classical critique of any Democratic politician.

That Mr. Obama’s administration brought the Al-Qaeda leader to justice fundamentally works against these themes. How can one say that the president apologizes too much after Bin Laden’s death? How can one say that the president is too “soft” after he ordered one of the most macho operations in American history?

In essence, Bin Laden’s death has sealed off foreign policy as an avenue for the 2012 Republican nominee to criticize the president. Republicans will fight the 2012 presidential election on the economy and on domestic policy. They may win; they may lose. But due to his administration’s success in bringing the world’s number one terrorist to justice, Mr. Obama looks set to be pretty much invincible in the realm of foreign policy come 2012.

 

 

Analyzing the 2010 Midterm Elections – the Ohio Gubernatorial Election

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will analyze the Ohio gubernatorial election, in which Republican John Kasich narrowly defeated Democrat Ted Strickland.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Ohio’s Gubernatorial Election

In most of the 2010 midterm elections, Democratic performances were strikingly similar to President Barack Obama’s performance in 2008. If a place had generally voted Democratic in the past, but didn’t vote for Mr. Obama – it tended not to vote Democratic in 2010 either. An example of this is southwest Pennsylvania. The same holds true for places that generally voted Republican in the past but went for Mr. Obama this time (e.g. the Houston and Salt Lake City metropolitan areas.)

Ohio’s gubernatorial election was an exception to this trend. Democratic former Governor Ted Strickland built a very traditional Democratic coalition in Ohio:

(A note: Credit for the first three maps in this post goes to the New York Times.)

This map is strikingly similar to previous Democratic performances in Ohio, and less similar to Mr. Obama’s. Mr. Obama did unusually well in Columbus and Cincinnati and unusually badly in the Ohio’s northeast unionized industrial corridor. Mr. Strickland depended less on Columbus and Cincinnati and more on the northeast.

Ohio’s 2010 gubernatorial election looks very similar to previous elections. Here, for instance, is President George W. Bush in 2004:

Even more similarly, we can look at President Bill Clinton’s victory in 1996. Of course, Mr. Clinton won Ohio by a decent margin while Mr. Strickland lost. But if you simply imagine the Republican margins widening and the Democratic margins decreasing, you get something very similar to Mr. Strickland’s map:

One can go further back – to the 1976 presidential election or even the 1940 presidential election – and get similar results. (Note that in the link for the 1976 presidential election, blue indicates Republican victories while red indicates Democratic victories; this is the opposite of the norm.)

Republican Governor John Kasich thus won a victory based off electoral patterns more than three generations old.

Two Unusual Patterns

Let’s compare Mr. Kasich’s performance with Senator John McCain’s performance:

This is a very unusual map. When most Republicans win, Republican strongholds shift more to the Republican candidate, while Democratic strongholds shift less.

This did not happen with Mr. Kasich. Rather, Mr. Kasich seems to have improved the most in the more populated areas of Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland). He actually does worse than Mr. McCain in a number of Republican counties.

Notice also how Mr. Strickland improves upon Mr. Obama along the southeastern border of Ohio. This is not an accident; Mr. Strickland’s area of improvement directly traces the old congressional district he represented before becoming governor.

Here is a map of Ohio’s congressional districts. Mr. Strickland represented the 6th congressional district in the map:


There is one final interesting note about the 2010 Ohio gubernatorial election. Republican candidate John Kasich lost much of Appalachian southeastern Ohio. This is a rare occurrence; that part of Ohio is economically liberal but socially conservative and quite poor. It usually votes Republican but will occasionally go for a Democratic candidate.

Generally, this only happens when the Republican candidate is losing. That Mr. Kasich lost southeastern Ohio but still won the state is a rare thing.

The Democratic Party is in trouble in this part of America; it has gone from Clinton country to one of the few areas where Barack Obama did worse than John Kerry. The Democratic officeholders in this region are gradually being swept out of office.

Yet Mr. Strickland was able to win soundly in Appalachian Ohio, despite losing the state during the strongest Republican wave in a generation. That is quite a unique accomplishment. It offers a ray of hope to Democrats in Appalachian America.

--Inoljt

 

 

Are Activists at Elevated Mental Health Risk?

We’ve heard of mental health risks for trauma victims, models, high-performance athletes, people in the public eye, soldiers, executives, people living in poverty, and many other social demographics. As a political activist who studies and works in healthcare, is currently on a placement in a mental health unit, and has had personal struggles with mental health issues linked to depression, anxiety and emotion regulation, I have come to believe that political activists may represent another identifiable group at elevated risk for a series of  mental health issues. Read on.

 

 

Are Activists at Elevated Mental Health Risk?

We’ve heard of mental health risks for trauma victims, models, high-performance athletes, people in the public eye, soldiers, executives, people living in poverty, and many other social demographics. As a political activist who studies and works in healthcare, is currently on a placement in a mental health unit, and has had personal struggles with mental health issues linked to depression, anxiety and emotion regulation, I have come to believe that political activists may represent another identifiable group at elevated risk for a series of  mental health issues. Read on.

 

 

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