Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Last Call For The WInning Strategy

New Republic reporter Sasha Issenberg takes us through the Democratic Party's strategy for winning in 2014, the so-called "Bannock Street Project".   It's predicated on two ideas, first, there are only two kids of voters in America: Reflex voters who vote in midterms, and Unreliable voters who don't.

Add it all up, and the Democrats’ midterm conundrum comes to look like an actuarial one. “If twenty years ago, you said the midterm electorate is older, I would have said, ‘Yahoo! Glad to hear it,’ ” says Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. “But now the Roosevelt seniors are dead and the Reagan seniors are voting.” Increasingly, those older voters are backing the same side: In 2000, Al Gore won the youngest and eldest bands of the electorate by slight margins; in 2012, the over-50 vote broke for Mitt Romney by 12 points.

There are also simply more of those older voters overall. Since Obama’s first appearance on a presidential ballot, the population of Americans over the age of 55 has increased by nearly 13 million. By 2022, it will have increased by another nine million. People tend to grow more conservative as they age, but as a cohort, Generation X—whose oldest members will soon reach their fifties—is appreciably more conservative than the Millennials who follow them. “When the Millennials are fifty-five, they’re going to vote more Democratic,” Lake says, not exactly cautioning patience. “That’s thirty years away.”

The Reflex voters are more conservative than ever, and over half identify as Republicans.  Getting the Unreliables out matters, but so does winning over the Reflex voters.

Second, mobilizing the Unreliables is far more expensive.  But going after the Reflex voters isn't as bad.

The real reason Democrats have embraced a progressive agenda has not been to energize their own base but to lure Reflex voters from the other side. Obama and his party’s candidates talk about the minimum wage in the hope that working-class whites skeptical of Democrats on other matters will become more ambivalent about voting Republican. Democrats’ renewed interest in women’s issues—including a defense of Planned Parenthood and embrace of equal-pay standards—is also designed with defections in mind. In 2012, the Obama campaign’s entire direct-mail program on women’s issues was targeted at reliable voters who leaned Republican: Field experiments in the first half of that year had showed that the messages were most persuasive among voters whose likelihood of voting for Obama previously sat between 20 and 40 percent.

So yes, the Democrats are going after the Reflex voters first and then worrying about the Unreliables.

The question is, will it work?  The latest ABC/Washington Post poll seems to indicate that the Democrats have their work cut out for them at best on this front.

Weary of waiting for an economic recovery worth its name, a frustrated American public has sent Barack Obama’s job approval rating to a career low – with a majority in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll favoring a Republican Congress to act as a check on his policies.

Registered voters by 53-39 percent in the national survey say they’d rather see the Republicans in control of Congress as a counterbalance to Obama’s policies than a Democratic-led Congress to help support him. It was similar in fall 2010, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and gained six Senate seats.

Obama’s job approval rating, after a slight winter rebound, has lost 5 points among all adults since March, to 41 percent, the lowest of his presidency by a single point. Fifty-two percent disapprove, with “strong” disapproval exceeding strong approval by 17 percentage points. He’s lost ground in particular among some of his core support groups. 

The big problem is the perception of Obamacare.

One reason is that the law seems to have opened an avenue for public ire about health care costs to be directed at the administration. Six in 10 blame the ACA for increasing costs nationally, and 47 percent think it’s caused their own health care expenses to rise. Regardless of whether or how much those costs would have risen otherwise, Obamacare is taking a heavy dose of the blame.

There's good news:

None of this means the GOP is home free. A robust improvement in the economy could change the equation. (As many, at least, say it’s currently holding steady, 35 percent, as think it’s getting worse, 36 percent.) And even as the brunt of economic unhappiness falls on the president, the public divides essentially evenly on which party they trust more to handle the economy – suggesting that the Republicans have yet to present a broadly appealing alternative.

In another example, for all of Obamacare’s controversies, the Democrats hold a slight 8-point edge in trust to handle health care, again indicating that the Republicans have yet to seize the opportunity to present a compelling solution of their own. Indeed, the Democrats have a 6-point lead in trust to handle “the main problems the nation faces” – although, as with all others, that narrows among likely voters, in this case to 37-40 percent, a numerical (but not significant) GOP edge. 

But that motivation factor, as much as the Democrats running the show are loathe to admit it, is starting to become a real problem.

Preferences on which party controls Congress may reflect a general inclination in favor of divided government – and don’t always predict outcomes, as in 2002, when more registered voters preferred Democratic control yet the GOP held its ground. It’s striking, nonetheless, that this poll finds Republican control favored not only in the 2012 red states, by 56-36 percent, but also by 51-41 percent in the blue states that backed Obama fewer than two years ago

If that's truly the case, then getting out the vote may be a matter of sheer survival for the Democrats at this point.  A GOP controlled Congress would be a disaster for the next two years, but people want to put Obama "in his place" including it seems Democrats.

That's a problem.

Of Sterling Character, Con't

Today NBA Commissioner Adam Silver didn't just throw the book at professional racist and LA Clippers owner Don Sterling, he dropped several libraries on him and then set them on fire.

Clippers owners Donald Sterling has been banned for life from associating with the Clippers and the NBA, and fined the maximum of $2.5 million. In addition, commissioner Adam Silver said he has asked the Board of Governors to force a sale of the Clippers.

Silver said the NBA's investigation included an interview with Sterling, who confirmed that the voice on the tape was his. "Deeply offensive and harmful," Silver called Sterling's words. To the game's long history of black players, Silver said simply: "I apologize."

Forcing Sterling to sell the team will require a three-fourths vote, but Silver added that he has "the full support" of the league's other owners.

Silver said Sterling's sordid history was not taken into account when handing down the ban and suspension, that that it will be considered when owners decide whether to compel Sterling to sell the franchise. Silver notably dodged a reporter's question over why the NBA did not act until now.

When asked if Sterling ever displayed remorse for his comments, Silver merely said "Mr. Sterling did not express those views to me."

Yes, Sterling is going to make hundreds of millions if not a billion plus from the sale of the Clippers.  It's still forward progress and the Clippers organization is now moving on without him.

The Los Angeles Clippers supports NBA commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life following his racist comments.

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins," the team said in a statement.

The turd in the punchbowl?  FOX News, of course.

Jo Ling Kent, a reporter for Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show, was the first and possibly only voice offering a defense for Donald Sterling at Tuesday’s NBA press conference by asking the commissioner if it was a “slippery slope” to punish him for racist comments.

We're not racists, just #1 with racists.

 But Kent became the first to offer what sounded like a defense of the accused racist.
“Should someone lose their team for remarks shared in private?” she asked. “Is this a slippery slope?”

Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public,” Silver explained. “And they represent his views.”

BOOM.  Bye Don.

Lost Little Lamb Named Paul

BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins gives us this long read on Rep. Paul Ryan's trips into the inner city to learn about poverty.  At best it's black comedy, at worst it's self-serving tripe. About a third of the way in he talks about his "unfortunate" use of "inner-city" to suggest that black families were doing badly because black men were lazy and bad fathers.  It's about this point of the article that I call bull:

Dog whistle… I’d never even heard the phrase before, to be honest with you,” he says. The admission isn’t meant as a dodge, or an excuse. He hails from a state where “diversity” means white people swapping genealogical trivia about their Polish and Norwegian ancestry — his hometown of Janesville, Wis., is 91.7% Caucasian, according to the 2010 census — and he is coming to terms with the fact that he is not equipped with the vocabulary of a liberal arts professor. The fallout from his gaffe has been a “learning experience,” he says, one that he predicts conservatives will have to go through many more times if they are serious about building inroads to the urban poor. 
“We have to be cognizant of how people hear things,” he says. “For instance, when I think of ‘inner city,’ I think of everyone. I don’t just think of one race. It doesn’t even occur to me that it could come across as a racial statement, but that’s not the case, apparently… What I learned is that there’s a whole language and history that people are very sensitive to, understandably so. We just have to better understand. You know, we’ll be a little clumsy, but it’s with the right intentions behind it.” 
If the episode has brought Ryan a heightened degree of self-awareness, it has also infected his rhetoric with a persistent strain of insecurity. He is like a singer who has suddenly discovered his lack of relative pitch while on stage, and now worries that every note he’s belting out is off-key. As we talk, he chooses his words with extreme care, and is prone to halting self-censorship. 
At one point, as he tells me about his efforts during the presidential race to get the Romney campaign to spend more time in urban areas, he says, “I wanted to do these inner-city tours—” then he stops abruptly and corrects himself. “I guess we’re not supposed to use that.”

Ryan's only problem is political correctness, you see.  It's not like his processions of budget cuts would obliterate programs that serve the very impoverished Americans he's trying to help, right?

When Ryan released his annual budget in the beginning of April, it lacked the poverty-related proposals he had supposedly been honing for the past year. Instead, it was largely a rehash of his past budgets, focused on shrinking the deficit by scaling back federal welfare and entitlement programs. One study by the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimated that two-thirds of his proposed cuts came from expenditures that benefit low-income Americans.

Oops.  But Ryan ambles out there among the people, trying desperately to understand poverty in America, and he's confused most of all as to why people "choose" to remain poor.

Sarah Palin would have been a comically disastrous Vice President, but Paul Ryan would have been devastating.  And no amount of "Well, he's really trying hard, you guys!" reporting from BuzzFeed is going to fix the tens of billions he wants to take away from the poorest people in the country.


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