Assessing Republican Seriousness on the National Debt

A bit ago Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Mr. Ryan’s speech focused heavily on the national debt, which he declared as a one of his “greatest concerns as a parent.” The representative used the example of his three children to emphasize the grave importance of the issue, which was the main theme of his speech.

Mr. Ryan’s call to reduce the national debt, while necessary and useful, was also somewhat lacking in specifics – because many of the specific actions required to reduce the debt either are unpopular, or go against the priorities of the Republican Party.

Take, for instance, the extension of the Bush tax cuts. A true deficit hawk would be horrified at extending these tax cuts; doing so adds an estimated 4 trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s former budget director stated that, “If we actually ended the Bush-era tax cuts, that would pretty much do it [balance the budget],”

Despite Mr. Ryan’s purported concern over the national debt, he and almost the entire Republican Party supported extending these tax cuts.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this; most Americans, the president himself, and this blogger were with Mr. Ryan on extending the Bush tax cuts. There are legitimate reasons to do so. One may believe in the value of tax cuts, or in the value of stimulating the economy.

But to support adding 4 trillion dollars to the debt over the next decade, and then to make a speech calling the national debt the greatest threat to the country’s future, is a tad hypocritical.

There is another way to test Republican seriousness on the national debt.

Many Republicans like to call for cutting spending and reducing the size of government as a way to reduce the national debt.

This is quite reasonable. In fact, let’s talk about the most wasteful part of America’s government. Today the United States lavishes hundreds of billions of dollars on this bloated organization – an organization which is very often ineffective at doing what it is supposed to do, yet constantly screams for more money and is given that money by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

I am talking, of course, about the military.

America spends six times more on the military than any other nation on Earth. Of the top ten military budgets in the world, the U.S. and its allies (France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, and Italy) compose 79.8% of the money spent on the military.

There is quite a bit of waste in this spending, too. Take the infamous F-22, a $65 billion program which was finally ended in 2009. The F-22 was originally envisioned to fight high-level Soviet planes two decades ago. Each plane cost approximately $44,000 to fly for one hour. Despite spending $65 billion on the F-22, the plane was never been used once in combat – not a single time.

This is the very definition of wasteful government spending that Republicans like to complain about.

If one is serious about reducing the debt, a great way to start is by cutting military spending. Military spending, for instance, is ten times what the federal government spends on education every year.

Unsurprisingly, however, Republicans have no plans anytime soon to reduce military spending.

If one adds just these two items together – extending the Bush tax cuts, and refusing to cut military spending – one gets ten trillion dollars over ten years, which the Republicans have declared off-limits in their attempt to reduce the debt. That’s a lot of money that can be saved, but which Republicans refuse to due to their ideological priorities.

In Mr. Ryan’s rebuttal to the president, he said the following words:

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis.

We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly.

And that is exactly what Republicans pledge to do.

So much for that.

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

 

The Future of the Asian-American Vote

Asians are one of the most ignored constituencies in American politics. When most politicians think about the Asian vote, they don’t.

Yet the Asian-American population is increasing, both in absolute terms and relative ones. By 2050, the Census estimates that Asians will compose 7.8% of the American population. Although their voting rates will still fall far short of this, the population is becoming more influential. Predicting their future voting path therefore has some utility.

In previous posts, this blogger has argued that the Latino vote will likely trend Republican, as Latinos follow the path of previous immigrants and become more assimilated.

Will the same happen for Asian-Americans?

Probably not:

Link to Graph of Asian Vote Over Time

As the graph above shows, the Asian vote has steadily moved Democratic, in quite a significant manner. In 1992 Republican President George H.W. Bush won 55% of the Asian vote while losing the popular vote. 12 years later, his son won only 41% of Asians, despite winning the popular vote.

The trend also does not look bright for the Republican Party. Asian-Americans who have been born in the United States are, if anything, more Democratic than those who immigrated into the country (to be fair, the latter group dominates the Asian population and will continue to do so unless immigration is drastically curtailed).

Take, for instance, the Vietnamese-American population – strong supporters of the Republican Party. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, after conducting an extensive exit poll of Asians (perhaps the only detailed exit poll of the group in the country), found that:

Vietnamese American voters gave McCain the strongest support of all Asian ethnic groups at 67%. However, further analysis of Vietnamese American voters revealed 69% of those born in the U.S. and 60% of those 18-29 years old voted for Obama. Among Vietnamese American respondents, 15% were born in the U.S. and 25% were between the ages of 18 and 29.

The analysis goes on to conclude that:

AALDEF’s exit poll data shows that younger, U.S.-born, more recently naturalized, and English proficient Asian American citizens voted for Barack Obama for President by wide margins. Older, foreign-born citizens with limited English proficiency and who had been naturalized more than ten years ago voted in greater proportions for McCain.

There are several explanations for why this is happening. One quite plausible argument is that immigration has shifted the Asian-American population from Orange County anti-communists to Silicon Valley liberals.

Another revealing insight can be gained by comparing Asians to another very Democratic group: Jews. In many ways the two have a startling amount in common. Both groups are highly educated; both are primarily located in urban metropolitan areas; both have achieved substantial success in American society; and both have encountered quite similar types of discrimination. Even the stereotypes are similar.

Given these similarities, it is very conceivable that Asians could end up voting like Jews – one of the most liberal-minded groups in the nation.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

 

Reflections on Joe Lieberman

Senator Joe Lieberman has recently announced his resignation, pending expectations that he will probably lose his next Senate race. For many on the far left, Mr. Lieberman was a hated figure; a traitor on issues beginning from his loud support of the Iraq War.

Mr. Lieberman, on the other hand, came to dislike the far left in equal measure. After they defeated him in the 2006 Democratic primary, he ran for Senator as an independent. He went on to win that race by the high single-digits and never forgave the netroots or the Democratic Party for what he thought they had done to him.

Mr. Lieberman has spent the rest of his life attempting to block all that the netroots hold dear. He was the only Democratic senator to support Republican candidate John McCain, even going as far as to speak at the Republican National Convention. During that time Mr. McCain seriously considered the Jewish senator as his running mate.

Then, during the health care debate, it was Mr. Lieberman who put the death blow onto the public option. This was probably the dearest provision in the bill to online activists, hoping to use it to create a single-payer, universal, government-run health care system (what conservatives call socialist health care, an accurate description in this case). Mr. Lieberman’s role in the defeat of this dream further enraged the netroots community.

All this does little to speak well of neither the netroots community nor Mr. Lieberman. The former overestimated their power in attempting to defeat the senator; their influence over the Democratic primary electorate turned out not to extend to the general electorate, where Mr. Lieberman won as an independent. Since that election, the senator has made the far left pay far more than it would have if the netroots had just stayed quiet.

But Mr. Lieberman comes out the worst. A high government official should never let his or her emotions drive him to make decisions. Doing so can be dangerous for the country’s health. Yet since 2006 Mr. Lieberman’s entire career seems to have been dedicated to anger-fueled retaliation.

Perhaps the senator deserves to be angry, perhaps not. But public servants should not behave in the manner Mr. Lieberman been doing. Things such as the public option are serious matters, not tools to get petty personal revenge. They affect hundreds of millions of Americans. They are part of a very important debate over what policies the United States must take. Deciding to oppose something like the public option as retribution for a personal matter is not responsible.

It is probably a good thing that Mr. Lieberman has declared his resignation.

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

 

 

The American Dilemma in Egypt

Should the people of a given country be allowed to vote in free and fair elections, even if the people they elect are fundamentally hostile to the United States?

That is the great question which is facing America today, as protests have toppled the leader of Tunisia and now threaten the presidency of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Almost everybody agrees that Mr. Mubarak is a dictator who does not respect human rights or promote democracy. He is a typical example of the authoritarian leader, whose values are fundamentally at odds with those of the United States. It is quite conceivable that the current protests will end in bloodshed, with the military firing upon civilians in a Bloody Sunday-style massacre.

In a perfect world, a peaceful revolution would topple Mr. Mubarak and install a new democratic government.  Said government would be moderate, friendly to the West, and firmly against Islamic extremism.

Unfortunately, the truth is that Mr. Mubarak’s strongest political opponents are the Muslim Brotherhood, a proudly Islamist movement with broad popular support. If the protests in Egypt succeed in toppling the dictator, the most likely situation is the formation (through free and fair elections) of an Islamist government hostile to the United States.

Therein lies America’s dilemma – betray its ideals and support an “ally,” or keep its ideals and allow an anti-American government to take power.

Historically, the United States has chosen the former option. During the Cold War, dictators were always perceived as better than popularly elected Communist governments. Today replace Communism with Islamism, and one gets the same idea.

Yet think about this: why do the people of Egypt so dislike the United States? Why would they most likely elect, if given a choice, an anti-American government?

The answer, of course, is because the United States keeps on supporting dictators like Mr. Mubarak! In fact, that is why Osama bin Laden attacked the United States – because it continues allying with dictators in the Middle East, in direct contradiction of its democratic values.

Why does the United States support these dictators? Because it knows free democratic elections will result in anti-American governments. Why would elections result in anti-American governments? Because the United States keeps on supporting dictators who oppress the people. And on and on the cycle goes.

The problem is that dictators may not stay in power forever. A U.S.-supported dictator, if unpopular enough, may fall. Iran and Vietnam are just two examples in which this happened. Today Iran is a determined foe of the United States. On the other hand, the communist government in Vietnam is quite friendly to America.

In the short term supporting friendly dictators might benefit American interests. In the long run, however, supporting those who oppress their people probably does more harm than good to America – and more importantly, to the cause of freedom and democracy.

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

 

 

William Daley – A Poor Choice for Chief of Staff

President Barack Obama has recently chosen businessman William Daley to be his next Chief of Staff. Some liberals have criticized the choice of Mr. Daley as too corporate and too moderate. They say that Mr. Obama should have selected a different person as Chief of Staff.

Mr. Daley indeed is a poor choice for Chief of Staff, although perhaps for a different reason than the above criticism. It is what Mr. Daley represents that makes one uncomfortable with him.

The American Dream is based upon that great premise that everybody can succeed in America, regardless of who their parents were, or the place they were born in, or the color of their skin, or anything else that has no effect on merit. All are created equal, paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence. Anybody can become president, even if their father was a failed alcoholic, or happened to come from Kenya, or worked as a shoe salesman.

William Daley, in many ways, stands out as the opposite of this great ideal. Mr. Daley has succeeded not because of any personal qualities – intelligence, leadership, ambition – but merely because of his last name. Mr. Daley’s father, Richard Daley, famously ruled the city of Chicago for decades and accumulated enormous power and massive political connections. Without those inherited connections, William Daley would not be were he is now.

Take, for instance, Mr. Daley’s job before being appointed Chief of Staff. He was an executive at Morgan Stanley who supervised its Washington lobbying efforts. Here is how Mr. Daley got the job:

He was hired, company officials said, as something of consolation prize to Chicago when Chase, which has its headquarters in New York, was taking over Bank One, which was based in Chicago. Chase executives, including Jamie Dimon, its chairman, wanted to bring in someone with Chicago connections who could smooth over relations with wealthy clients and corporations there.

One Chase official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter, recalled, “A few bankers said we should hire a Bill Daley,” meaning someone with Chicago political connections and clout who could serve as a new public face for Chase.

The primary reason, then, that Mr. Daley got his job was because his father happened to be Mayor of Chicago. Without the last name Daley, William would not be a top executive at a corporate bank. Without that prestigious position, he would not be the president’s Chief of Staff.

This stands in stark contrast to the man who hired Mr. Daley. President Barack Obama rose to power based on his intelligence, his ambition, and his political skill; not because his father incidentally happened to be rich and famous. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s last name is probably more of a liability than an advantage for him.

One should not need to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth – to be as lucky as William Daley, in other words – to succeed in this nation. Barack Obama is better than this. Ultimately, America is better than this.

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

 

The Biggest Threat to President Barack Obama’s Re-election Chances

Almost everybody agrees that President Barack Obama’s re-election chances depend almost exclusively on one thing: the state of the American economy. If, for instance, unemployment is below 7% by November 2012, Mr. Obama could very well win a Reagan-style blow-out. If, on the other hand, unemployment is still in double-digits by November 2012, Mr. Obama may as well kiss his re-election chances goodbye.

The second scenario would probably occur in the event of another recession. The greatest danger, therefore, to the president’s re-election chances would be something that would hurt the economy badly enough to knock it back into recession.

What could cause such an event?

There are a number of possibilities, ranging from the very unlikely to the frighteningly possible. The latter – “the frighteningly possible” – actually has occupied the front pages of newspapers for almost a year. This is the continuing European debt crisis, which started with Greece, moved to Ireland, and is currently searching for its next victim.

The worst case scenario would involve a country such as Italy – the world’s seventh largest economy – going bankrupt, or a collapse of the euro (and with it, the European Union). Such scenarios are far-fetched, but quite within the realm of possible. They are what many analysts spend hours worrying about every day.

A bankruptcy of a major European country, such as Spain or Italy, would do major damage to the United States. As Paul Krugman writes:

 

Nor can the rest of the world look on smugly at Europe’s woes. Taken as a whole, the European Union, not the United States, is the world’s largest economy; the European Union is fully coequal with America in the running of the global trading system; Europe is the world’s most important source of foreign aid; and Europe is, whatever some Americans may think, a crucial partner in the fight against terrorism. A troubled Europe is bad for everyone else.

Indeed, the United States has already experienced the consequences of Europe’s debt troubles, minor as they may seem compared to the worst-case scenario. It is no coincidence that job growth, after increasing steadily in the spring of 2010, stalled right as Greece’s budget woes hit the front pages that summer.

The most troubling thing about all this, for Mr. Obama, is how little control he has over this event. It is Germany, not America, which holds the fate of the European Union in its hands; German decisions – or, more specifically, the decisions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel – will either save or destroy the European Union. Mr. Obama can successfully influence Germany; indeed, his behind-the-scenes lobbying was one factor behind the trillion-dollar European bail-out fund. But ultimately the fate of Europe, and with it the American economy, may lie in Germany’s hands.

And whither goes the American economy, so goes Mr. Obama’s re-election chances. In the end the president may lose re-election because of events thousands of miles away, over which he has precious little control, which seemingly have nothing to do with American politics.

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

 

 

One Factor Behind America’s Poor K-12 Education System

During my high school years, I had the acquaintance of a fellow student – a person who still holds a strong presence in my memory. This person was one of the most ambitious, most determined individuals in the school; today she goes to one of America’s top universities. She may very well be the next president of the United States – and this is a serious statement.

One day this student asked me an interesting question: “What do you see me doing when I’m fifty years old?”

I teased, “I see you as a high school English teacher.”

She laughed, “I would kill myself if that happened.”

This simple sequence provides a powerful illustration on why America’s K-12 education system is so bad. The best and the brightest view teaching K-12 as a demeaning profession. Go to a class in Harvard, for instance, and ask what the students there want to do after they graduate. There will be lots of future investment bankers, lawyers, and politicians. There will probably very few K-12 teachers, if any at all.

In the countries with the world’s best education systems, places like Finland and Singapore, the conversation above makes no sense. Ambitious, talented people – like the classmate mentioned above – actually want to be teachers in Finland and Singapore. In America this isn’t the case.

This is a big reason why America’s public education system is so weak. A strong education system has good teachers. Logically, a country in which talented people want to be teachers will have good teachers. A country in which talented people belittle the K-12 teaching profession – say, a country like the United States – will probably not have good teachers.

The college system provides another example of this. In America being a professor is quite a desireable job; a lot of very intelligent people dream of teaching college students. Not coincidentially, America’s university system is the best in the world.

The great conundrum, then, is making the K-12 teaching profession desireable to people like the classmate mentioned above. In other words, one needs to change the culture. That is a very hard thing to do. Short of boosting teacher salaries to lawyer-like levels – something which will cost at least several hundred billion dollars, and which nobody is thinking about even in their wildest dreams – there is no easy solution in sight.

There is, of course, more to the problem of American public education than this. Education involves not just teachers, but students as well (indeed, students are actually more important than teachers). Even the best teachers cannot make gold out of students who just do not care for school. And, if one is honest, there probably is also something to the claim that American students are generally less motivated than students in, say, South Korea.

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

 

 

The Worst Republican Senate Candidates of 2010, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The previous part can be found here.

The previous post presented a table ranking the worst Republican candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. The model used to create the table is also explained in the previous post.

Let’s take a look at this table once again:

State                Margin (R) Cook PVI Overperformance

South Dakota    100.00%      8.9%        91.10%

North Dakota     53.91%       10.4%      43.51%

Kansas              43.72%       11.5%      32.22%

Iowa                 31.05%        -1.0%     32.05%

Idaho                46.25%       17.4%      28.85%

Oklahoma         44.50%        16.9%      27.60%

Florida              28.69%        1.8%       26.89%

South Carolina  33.83%        7.8%        26.03%

New Hampshire 23.22%        -1.6%       24.82%

Arizona             24.14%        6.1%       18.04%

Alabama            30.47%        13.2%     17.27%

Ohio                  17.44%        0.7%      16.74%

Georgia             19.31%        6.8%       12.51%

Arkansas           20.96%        8.8%       12.16%

Missouri            13.60%        3.1%       10.50%

Illinois              1.60%          -7.7%      9.30%

Louisiana          18.88%        9.7%       9.18%

Utah                 28.79%        20.2%     8.59%

Indiana             14.58%        6.2%       8.38%

North Carolina   11.77%        4.3%       7.47%

Wisconsin          4.84%        -2.4%      7.24%

Pennsylvania     2.02%        -2.0%       4.02%

Kentucky          11.47%       10.4%      1.07%

Washington       -4.73%       -5.0%      0.27%

Alaska              11.94%        13.4%    -1.46%

Colorado          -1.63%        0.2%       -1.83%

California         -10.01%      -7.4%     -2.61%

Nevada            -5.74%        -1.3%     -4.44%

Connecticut      -11.94%     -7.1%      -4.84%

Delaware         -16.58%      -7.0%      -9.58%

Oregon            -17.98%      -4.0%     -13.98%

New York (S)    -27.84%     -10.2%    -17.64%

Maryland         -26.44%      -8.5%      -17.94%

West Virginia   -10.07%      7.9%       -17.97%

Vermont          -33.41%     -13.4%    -20.01%

New York        -34.10%      -10.2%    -23.90%

Hawaii            -53.24%      -12.5%    -40.74%

Total/Average  5.54%          2.3%         8.08%

(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).

There are six possible outcomes which are possible here. This post will look at each outcome.

Outcome #1: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, wins while overperforming.

This outcome was by far the most common in the November elections: indeed, 18 Senate races fit this category. In a way this is not too surprising: the definition of overperforming here is doing better than the state’s Cook PVI (how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). The average Republican should have “overperformed” in this sense, given how Republican a year it was.

Another factor is incumbency. Red states generally had Republican incumbents. Facing little serious competition in a Republican year and benefiting from their incumbency status, these people were probably expected to overperform – and they did.

Outcome #2: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, wins while underperforming.

Technically this did not happen once in this election. The race that comes closest is Alaska , where Republican candidate Joe Miller did better than the Democratic candidate while doing worse than Alaska ’s political lean (on the other hand, he still lost to Independent Lisa Murkowski).

This is actually quite surprising. There were twenty-one Senate contests in red states – and in just one (or zero, depending on how you count) did the Republican underperform while still winning.

In fact, this outcome is quite rare, for whatever reason, throughout American politics. If a Republican underperforms in a red state, he or she usually loses. Rarely does a Republican candidate underperform in a red state but still win (another variant along the same theme: out of the counties Senator John McCain won, he almost always improved on Republican performances in 1992 and 1996). Why this happens is something of a continuing mystery to this blogger.

Outcome #3: A Republican candidate, running in a red state, loses while underperforming.

This was another rare occurrence in the 2010 Senate elections. Only two states fit this category: West Virginia and Colorado . The performance of Democratic candidate Joe Manchin is especially remarkable. Mr. Manchin was the only Senate Democrat to win in a deep red state this year, and his name stands out as an outlier everywhere in the table.

Outcome #4: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, wins while overperforming.

There are five states that fit this category: Illinois , Iowa , New Hampshire , Pennsylvania , and Wisconsin . These account for three of the Republican pick-ups this cycle. Interestingly, four of these states are in the Midwest , where Democrats were pummeled this year.

Among these states, Illinois stands out the most. It is the only deep blue state that a Republican candidate overperformed in. Although much of this is due to other factors – the continuing Blagojevich scandal, the weakness of the Democratic candidate – credit goes to Republican Mark Kirk for an outstanding overperformance.

Outcome #5: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, loses while overperforming.

This is another outcome that, for whatever reason, rarely seems to happen in American politics; if Republicans overperform in blue states, they generally tend to win.

In 2010 this happened in exactly one state: Washington , where Republican candidate Dino Rossi did 0.27% better than the Cook PVI, but still lost.

Outcome #6: A Republican candidate, running in a blue state, loses while underperforming.

This was the second-most common outcome in 2010; ten states fit this category. These states tended to be the bluest states in America . The fact that Republicans tended to underperform a state’s political lean in the deepest-blue states is another strange pattern in American politics. This is something that the previous post analyzes extensively.

All in all, the table reveals a lot of surprising patterns – things which were not expected when this blogger initially made it. And as for the worst Republican candidate in 2010? That was Campbell Cavasso of Hawaii, who won a mere fifth of the vote against the Democratic institution Daniel Inouye.

--Inoljt

 

The Worst Republican Senate Candidates of 2010, Part 1

This is the first part of two posts analyzing patterns in the 2010 Senate midterm elections. The second part can be found here.

The 2010 congressional midterm elections constituted, by and large, a victory for the Republican Party. In the Senate Republicans gained six seats. While this was somewhat below expectations, it was much better than Republican hopes just after 2008 – when many expected the party to actually lose seats. The Senate results provide some interesting fodder for analysis. The table below indicates which Republicans Senate candidates did the worst in 2008. It does so by taking the Republican margin of victory or defeat in a given state and subtracting this by the Cook PVI of the state (the Cook PVI is how a state would be expected to vote in a presidential election in the event of an exact tie nationwide). Given that Republicans won the nationwide vote this year, the average Republican candidate would be expected to do better than the state’s PVI. A bad Republican candidate would actually do worse than the state’s PVI. Let’s take a look at this table:

State                Margin (R) Cook PVI Overperformance

South Dakota    100.00%      8.9%        91.10%

North Dakota     53.91%       10.4%      43.51%

Kansas              43.72%       11.5%      32.22%

Iowa                 31.05%        -1.0%     32.05%

Idaho                46.25%       17.4%      28.85%

Oklahoma         44.50%        16.9%      27.60%

Florida              28.69%        1.8%       26.89%

South Carolina  33.83%        7.8%       26.03%

New Hampshire 23.22%        -1.6%     24.82%

Arizona             24.14%        6.1%       18.04%

Alabama            30.47%        13.2%     17.27%

Ohio                  17.44%        0.7%       16.74%

Georgia             19.31%        6.8%       12.51%

Arkansas           20.96%        8.8%       12.16%

Missouri            13.60%        3.1%       10.50%

Illinois              1.60%          -7.7%      9.30%

Louisiana          18.88%        9.7%        9.18%

Utah                 28.79%        20.2%      8.59%

Indiana             14.58%        6.2%        8.38%

North Carolina   11.77%        4.3%        7.47%

Wisconsin          4.84%        -2.4%       7.24%

Pennsylvania     2.02%        -2.0%       4.02%

Kentucky          11.47%       10.4%       1.07%

Washington       -4.73%       -5.0%      0.27%

Alaska              11.94%        13.4%     -1.46%

Colorado          -1.63%        0.2%       -1.83%

California         -10.01%      -7.4%     -2.61%

Nevada            -5.74%        -1.3%     -4.44%

Connecticut      -11.94%     -7.1%     -4.84%

Delaware         -16.58%      -7.0%     -9.58%

Oregon            -17.98%      -4.0%     -13.98%

New York (S)    -27.84%     -10.2%   -17.64%

Maryland         -26.44%      -8.5%     -17.94%

West Virginia   -10.07%      7.9%       -17.97%

Vermont          -33.41%     -13.4%    -20.01%

New York        -34.10%      -10.2%    -23.90%

Hawaii            -53.24%      -12.5%    -40.74%

Total/Average  5.54%          2.3%           8.08%

(Note: The data in Alaska and Florida refer to the official candidates nominated by the parties, not the independent candidates – Senator Lisa Murkowski and Governor Charlie Crist – who ran in the respective states).

This table reveals some fascinating trends. There is a very clear pattern: the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states – and the bluer the state, the more the Republican underperformed. This does not just mean that these Republicans lost, but that they lost by more than the average Republican was supposed to in the state. Republican candidates did worse than the state’s PVI in thirteen states; nine of these states had a Democratic PVI.

There seems to be a PVI tipping point at which Republicans start underperforming: when a state is more than 5% Democratic than the nation (PVI D+5). Only one Republican in the nine states that fit this category overperformed the state PVI (Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois ).

Something is puzzling about this pattern. It is true that states like Connecticut or Maryland will probably vote Democratic even in Republican victories. The Cook PVI predicts that Democrats will win by X% in the event of a national tie in the popular vote. One would thus have expected Republican candidates to do better than this in 2010, given that 2010 was the strongest Republican performance in a generation.

Yet this did not happen. In a lot of blue states Democrats actually did better than the Cook PVI would project them to do - that is, said blue states behaved like the Democrats had actually won the popular vote, which they certainly did not in 2010. The bluer the state, the stronger this pattern.

There are a couple of reasons why this might be. The first thing that comes to mind is the money and recruiting game. The Republican Party, reasonably enough, does not expect its candidates to win in places like New York and Maryland . So it puts less effort into Republican candidates in those states. They get less money – and therefore less advertising, less ground game, and so on. Nobody had any idea who the Republican candidate in Vermont was, for instance. That probably contributes to Republican underperformance in deep-blue states.

The second factor might be a flaw in the model the table uses. Democratic and Republican strongholds, for whatever reason, behave differently from “uniform swing” models. In almost all the counties President Barack Obama won, for instance, he improved upon President Bill Clinton 1992 and 1996 performance – despite the fact that Mr. Clinton won by similar margins in the popular vote. This holds true from San Francisco to rural Mississippi . In the 2010 Massachusetts special Senate election, the most Democratic areas of Massachusetts swung least towards Republican Senator Scott Brown. The fact that the worst Republican candidates ran in the bluest states fits the pattern.

The table presents another startling pattern, which will be discussed in the next post: there are surprisingly few Republicans who did worse than they were supposed to in red states.

--Inoljt

 

 

 

The Republican Party and the Elderly: An Anecdote

It’s often said that as one ages one becomes more conservative. Young people supposedly constitute the stuff which spark revolutions; the elderly prefer enjoying life as it is rather than rising up against injustice.

This has political implications. Young, liberal-minded people generally tend to vote more Democratic. As people age and have children they become more Republican; if everybody voted the same way they did in college, the Democratic Party would truly have a permanent majority.

Young, liberal-minded folks – people like me – also tend not to spend much time with elderly folks. The college student and the retired steelworker occupy separate worlds, by and large. They do not meet.

Recently, I bridged this divide in a way most young people do: by staying with my grandparents. Two utterly different worlds crossed. The experience provided some interesting insights, which are noted below.

The life of my grandparents is, one imagines, the type of life that leads one to vote Republican. There were a number of things which hint at this – not explicitly political things, but rather more subtle indications. My grandfather, for instance, insists upon drinking a cup of water just before sleeping and just after waking. My grandmother, watching a basketball game, commented on how disgusting one athelete’s extensive tattoos were. Both constitute fullhearted patriots, exhibiting the type of national pride that rarely graces the halls of an American college.

If I were to guess who my grandfather would vote for in a given election, I would probably choose the Republican candidate. The type of social conservatism it endorses – moral values, traditional families, stability – probably strongly appeals to him (to be fair, it probably also appeals to the majority of Americans, much like the Democratic Party’s economic platform). This is not to say that social conservatism is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but merely that it holds a strong attraction to many people.

All in all, I find it hard to place myself in the lifestyle my grandparents lead. Then again, in several decades a young person will, in all likelihood, find it just as hard contemplating him or herself living my own elderly lifestyle.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

 

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