Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Last Call For The State Of The States

Business Insider has ranked all 50 states based on their 2013-2014 economies, using cold hard stats:

Previously, Business Insider examined ranked every state by how quickly the economies were growing. This time around, we calculated which states had the best economies outright.

We ranked each state on seven economic measures: the July unemployment rate; the change in non-farm payroll jobs from June to July 2014; the 2013 GDP per capita; the 2012 per capita consumption; the 2013 average annual wage; the 2013 exports per capita; and the 2012 government expenditures.

So which state is where?  The top 10 are actually surprising:

10) Wyoming
9) Vermont
8) Delaware
7) Connecticut
6) Massachusetts
5) Washington
4) Alaska
3) New York
2) Texas
1) North Dakota

Several blue states, but 3 of the top 4 are red states with energy industry booms.  Fracking has been really good for the bottom lines of several state budgets, not so good for the people who live there.  It put Wyoming the the top 10 and knocked California to 11.

Meanwhile the bottom 10 will surprise precisely nobody:

41) Hawaii
42) Idaho
43) Nevada
44) Kentucky
45) West Virginia
46) South Carolina
47) Maine
48) Arkansas
49) New Mexico
50) Mississippi

States with dwindling natural resources and little to no investment in infrastructure?  Check across the board.  Nevada has bet the state's economy on that Tesla gigafactory in an effort to get out of the basement, but the rest of this pack have several problems.Hawaii has the highest cost of living of any state, Kentucky and West Virginia's coal industries are dying, as is Maine's fishing.  Idaho, Arkanas and Mississippi have all made brutal education cuts and GOP Gov. Susana Martinez has run New Mexico's budget into the ground.

How long will North Dakota's boom last?

We'll see.

Nobama Country Is Killing Grimes

The NY Times crew is being awfully nice about it, but they see a near-lock for Mitch McConnell to win at this stage of the campaign, and the reason why is Kentucky's pure hatred of Obama.

Mr. Clinton won eastern Kentucky coal country, defined here to include both Democratic and Republican-leaning areas, by 11 points. He lost the rest of the state. Since then, the Democrats have fared worse and worse in coal country. The Democrat Daniel Mongiardo, who nearly won a Senate contest in 2004, won coal country by eight points in 2004. Mr. McConnell then carried coal country by five points in 2008, and Rand Paul by 13 points in 2010.

The inexorable decline of Democratic standing in coal country has been driven by the collapse of the national Democratic Party in this region, where environmental regulations on coal-fired power plants are deeply unpopular, as are Democratic positions on cultural issues. Like in West Virginia, Kentucky coal country first swung to the Republicans in 2000, and the G.O.P. presidential nominee made additional gains in every successive election. Mr. Obama suffered cataclysmic losses between 2008 and 2012 because of the so-called War on Coal.

Knott County, the most Democratic county in the heart of coal country, was perhaps the most Democratic county of the 20th century. It never gave less than 64 percent of its vote for the Democratic presidential candidate. Mr. Clinton won by a margin of 73 to 18 percent. Barack Obama won just 24 percent of the vote here in 2012. 
As a result, the traditional and narrow Democratic route to victory in Kentucky might not exist anymore, at least for a candidate seeking federal office. Ms. Grimes would need to fare better in the rest of Kentucky than any federal candidate since 1976.

"War on Coal" is to Kentucky what "optics" are to DC, a not-so-subtle code switch that has everything to do with Barack Obama's race and how Kentucky Democrats feel about him.  Here's a hint:  people around here despise the man.  Democrats would rather chew off their own arms than deal with him.  I bet in 2016 they'll pull the lever for Hillary, EPA support and all.

But keep telling yourself it's President Obama's position on the EPA that cost him 40 points in the most Democratic county in the country and is in turn costing Alison Grimes this race in 2014.

Let Slip The Polls Of War

The latest WaPo poll on foreign policy shows that the recent beheadings of two US journalists by Islamic State terrorists has galvanized the country towards taking military action in both Iraq and Syria.

Americans overwhelmingly view Islamic State terrorists as a serious threat to vital U.S. interests and, in a significant shift, widely support airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll
The nation’s increasingly hawkish mood will form part of the backdrop fora speech by President Obama on Wednesday, when he will outline his thinking on how to confront the threat from the Islamic State. Obama’s remarks will come a day after he confers with congressional leaders at the White House about the administration’s planning.

Those meetings with Congress are taking place today, and I'm sure that the results will be historic. Good, bad, and historic, actually.

His overall foreign policy ratings are his lowest yet in a Post-ABC News poll. A majority says the president is too cautious when it comes to international problems and specifically in dealing with Islamic State militants. His handling of Russian aggression in Ukraine receives somewhat better marks, but more than 4 in 10 still say he is too cautious.

The war drums are beating pretty loudly and the people are forgetting the last ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, 71 percent of all Americans say they support airstrikes in Iraq — up from 54 percent three weeks ago and from 45 percent in June. Among those who say Obama has been too cautious, 82 percent support the strikes; among those who think his handling of international affairs has been about right, 66 percent support them.

Nearly as many Americans — 65 percent — say they support the potentially more controversial action of launching airstrikes in Syria, which Obama has not done. That is more than double the level of support a year ago for launching airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons. 
Support for arming Kurdish forces opposing the Sunni insurgents in Iraq also has risen over the past month, from 45 percent in August to 58 percent in the new survey. 
Republicans are most supportive of military action, but sizable majorities of Democrats and independents also support airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq.

So will this be Libya, where airstrikes and Libyan rebels were able to defeat Qaddafi, or will this be Iraq War III: This Time We're Serious?

We'll see what Wednesday's speech holds.


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