Republicans Should Move to Middle and Shouldn’t

Mitt Romney lost Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States because the incumbent did particularly well among racial minorities, young voters and women — three groups that are likely to determine the outcome of future elections as well. For Republicans to appeal to them and remain competitive, they have to moderate their positions on some issues but stay the course on others.

If Tuesday’s election had been a referendum on President Barack Obama, there’s a good chance that Romney would have won. A slim majority of voters indicated that they trusted him more to handle the economy than the Democrat. Republicans won overwhelmingly in 2010’s congressional and gubernatorial elections because voters trusted them more to reduce the deficit and boost employment than the president’s party. But on cultural and social issues, public opinion increasingly favors Democrats over Republicans. Read more “Republicans Should Move to Middle and Shouldn’t”

Barack Obama Reelected on Edge of Fiscal Cliff

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama participates in a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in Hempstead, New York, October 16 (Obama for America/Scout Tufankjian)

Incumbent president Barack Obama won a second term on Tuesday after a hotly-contested election. While his Democratic Party did not regain control of the House of Representatives, it hold on to its majority in the Senate, inaugurating four more years of divided government.

The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, had been neck and neck with the president in national preelection polls. But in most of the crucial swing states, including Ohio and Virginia, the incumbent eked out sometimes narrow victories, providing him with a comfortable Electoral College majority — even if the race in Florida was still too close to call on Wednesday morning.

Americans elect their president and vice president not by popular vote but through an electoral college system that advantages smaller states. Nevertheless, the outcome of the popular vote hardly ever differs from the outcome in the Electoral College. The most recent exception was in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore won roughly half a million more votes nationwide but George W. Bush won five more points in the Electoral College. Obama on Tuesday won a little over one million more votes than his challenger. Read more “Barack Obama Reelected on Edge of Fiscal Cliff”

Auto Bailout, Energy Loom Over Election in Rust Belt

Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States may well be decided in the northeastern “Rust Belt” states of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and the demographically comparable state of New Hampshire. Together, these states account for 58 electoral votes in the election, more than enough to tip the balance in either candidate’s favor.

Incumbent president Barack Obama has almost consistently polled ahead of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in all five states but the latter cannot win the election without carrying either Pennsylvania, Ohio or two of the three remaining northeastern swing states. That is, assuming he wins in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia which seems likely. Read more “Auto Bailout, Energy Loom Over Election in Rust Belt”

Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!

View of Las Vegas, Nevada
View of Las Vegas, Nevada (Shutterstock/Andrey Bayda)

Often forgotten amid the larger, classic swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the American West is finding itself in a new position of prominence in the 2012 election and will likely retain that prominence as the country’s demographics shift in the Democrats’ favor over the coming years.

With the Midwest probably in President Barack Obama’s column and the entirety of the South probably in Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s (with the possible exception of Virginia), Tuesday’s election may come down to three states in the Rocky Mountains that all went for Obama in 2008, George W. Bush in 2004 and split between Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

The region was uncompetitive for Democrats in 2000, with the exception of New Mexico which Al Gore won by a mere five hundred votes that year. In 2004, the region was one of John Kerry’s many “backup” paths to victory (besides Florida and Ohio) that didn’t pan out. In 2008’s election between Obama and John McCain, it didn’t make the difference — preelection polls weren’t close and the election was effectively decided well before results came in from the West.

What will happen this time around? Recent history might offer a clue as to what we can expect — history as recent as the 2010 congressional elections. Read more “Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!”

Barack Obama Deserves Second Term

Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama participates in a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in Hempstead, New York, October 16 (Obama for America/Scout Tufankjian)

Regardless of whether or not this presidential election is a referendum or a choice, President Barack Obama deserves to be reelected on both counts. On the economy and foreign affairs, the Democrat has shown himself to be a better candidate than any of Mitt Romney’s public personas. Read more “Barack Obama Deserves Second Term”

Mitt Romney Offers Real Hope of Change

If an election is primarily a referendum on the incumbent, Barack Obama does not deserve to be reelected this November.

When he came to office, the Democrat promised to transcend the traditional party divides to cut the federal budget deficit in half and revitalize the nation’s economy.

Four years later, none of those promises have been met. The political culture in Washington is more toxic than ever. Read more “Mitt Romney Offers Real Hope of Change”

Atlantic Sentinel Responds to Final Obama-Romney Debate

Incumbent president Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, debated foreign policy in Boca Raton, Florida tonight in what was their third and last televised debate before November’s election.

The Atlantic Sentinel‘s Christopher Whyte said the debate was “not a blowout for either candidate.” Both held their positions well on a number of fronts, he said. Read more “Atlantic Sentinel Responds to Final Obama-Romney Debate”

Obama, Romney Could Be Locked in Electoral College Tie

The South Portico of the White House in Washington DC, July 27
The South Portico of the White House in Washington DC, July 27 (Wikimedia Commons/Carlos Delgado)

Less than four weeks before Americans are scheduled to elect their next president, the race is anything but over. Incumbent president Barack Obama is virtually tied with his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in preelection polls. There is a chance that neither candidate secures the majority they need to win.

Americans elect their president and vice president not by popular vote but through an electoral college system that advantages smaller states. Nevertheless, the outcome of the popular vote hardly ever differs from the outcome in the Electoral College. The most recent exception was in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore won roughly half a million more votes nationwide but George W. Bush won five more points in the Electoral College.

With 538 Electoral College votes up for grabs, it is possible that neither candidate wins the 270 that are needed to win.

NBC News’ Chuck Todd explored three scenarios for an Electoral College tie on The Daily Rundown on Thursday.

In the first, the president wins Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin while Romney wins a majority in all the other of the nine battleground states — the least likely scenario given Virginia’s traditional Republican preference.

In the second, the president wins New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin — more likely as these three states tend to favor Democrats.

Recent polls in New Hampshire suggest that Romney could win there, however, while the president has consistently polled ahead in Nevada. A third scenario gives Obama the states Colorado, Ohio and Nevada but splits the Electoral College votes in Maine, a largely Democratic state that could award one of its electoral votes to the Republican candidate.

Maine is one of two states that splits its Electoral College votes. The other is Nebraska. It first split its votes in 2008 when Republican John McCain won a statewide victory there but Barack Obama won one electoral vote.

An Electoral College tie only once occurred before. In 1800, both Thomas Jefferson and his vice presidential candidate Aaron Burr won 73 electoral votes. They were nominated by the same party but ballots did not distinguish between presidential and vice presidential votes at the time. The election was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives.

That could happen again if neither candidate emerges with an Electoral College majority in November. The lower chamber of Congress elects the president but the Senate elects the vice president. Because Republicans are likely to retain their majority in the House while Democrats could well hold on to their majority in the Senate, such a procedure could see Mitt Romney elected president and Joe Biden remaining vice president.

Before a vote comes to Congress, the electors who are actually appointed on November 6 meet to validate the election results on December 17. They are not bound to vote for the winner of the popular vote in all states. If there is a tie, one “faithless elector” in Iowa or New Hampshire could sway the election in either candidate’s favor. The last time an elector voted for another party than he was supposed to was in 1972.

No such “faithless” electoral vote has ever changed the outcome of a presidential election. The last time the electoral college failed to deliver a majority for a vice presidential candidate was in 1836 when the Virginia delegation refused to vote for Richard Mentor Johnson. He was subsequently elected in the Senate.

Based on opinion polls, it is likelier that either Obama or Romney secures a slim Electoral College majority than neither candidate winning 270 votes or more. If it does happen, it could be weeks or months — Congress doesn’t convene until January — before Americans know who their president will be for the next four years.

Whoever Wins in November, Divided Government Likely

The sun rises over the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009
The sun rises over the United States Capitol in Washington DC, January 20, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons/Bgwwlm)

Whichever party wins the American presidency in November, Republicans are likely to remain in the majority in the House of Representatives while the Democrats could well retain their control of the Senate.

After the spectacular success of the Republican Party in the 2010 congressional elections, when it won 63 House and six Senate seats, the 2012 election seemed a golden opportunity to reclaim control of both chambers of Congress. Republicans are defending only ten Senate seats next month compared to 23 on the Democratic side, several of them in conservative states such as Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Virginia.

Preelection polls suggest that a Republican sweep is anything but likely, however. Even in Arizona and Indiana, deep red states, the race is far too close for Republicans’ comfort.

The possibility of the Democrats retaining their majority in the upper chamber stems at least in part from the same mistake that the Republicans made in 2010 — nominating candidates that are too far out of the mainstream to appeal to centrist voters. The nomination of outspoken Tea Party candidates in Delaware, Colorado and Nevada two years ago denied the Republicans three Senate victories that could have been achieved if moderate conservatives, such as Scott Brown in Massachusetts, had been on the ballot.

Brown may yet lose this year’s election to Democrat Elizabeth Warren but the fact that he won a seat that had been occupied by a Democrat since 1972 in one of the most left-wing states in the country was remarkable. By contrast, Harry Reid decisively defeated Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle in Nevada in 2010 even if his approval rating had been under 40 percent during the summer.

This year, Republican primary voters have nominated a professional wrestling magnate in Connecticut, a congressman who believes that there is a distinction between “legitimate” and illegitimate rape in Missouri and voted out one of the most conservative members of the Senate, Richard Lugar, in Indiana in favor of a more right-wing candidate who is struggling to protect a seat that has been in Republican hands since 1977.

Republicans are also almost certain to lose the Maine Senate seat that opened up due to Olympia Snowe’s retirement. She was considered one of the most centrist Republican legislators and cited Washington’s “hyperpartisan” environment as reason to quit.

If the United States continue to have divided government post November, partisanship will have to be reined in, however — and quick because the “fiscal cliff” looms. Unless Congress acts, $100 billion in spending cuts and $440 billion in tax increases will be automatically enacted in January of next year. Economists predict that half a trillion in sudden deficit reduction will plunge the country back into recession, even if it won’t actually balance the budget.

To balance spending in the long term, comprehensive entitlement and tax reform is needed. For the last two years, the two parties haven’t been able to compromise. Democrats refuse to reform entitlements; Republicans won’t raise taxes. Neither party has yet given any indication that is willing to meet the other halfway on these issues.

For Republican lawmakers in particular, to compromise could be dangerous. If they vote to raise taxes, they may well face a primary challenge from the right in two years’ time.

Obama Doesn’t Really Believe in Free Enterprise

American president Barack Obama participates in a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in Hempstead, New York, October 16
American president Barack Obama participates in a televised debate with his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in Hempstead, New York, October 16 (Obama for America/Scout Tufankjian)

President Barack Obama hailed free enterprise in his debate with Republican Mitt Romney in Hempstead, New York on Tuesday night. His policies in the last four years have shown anything but an appreciation of capitalism.

“I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known,” said the president. “I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But,” he added, “I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules.” Specifically, he called for tax increases on the rich as part of a “balanced” approach to fiscal consolidation.

Even if taxes on incomes over $1 million were raised to 100 percent, the revenue would fall roughly $300 billion short of mending a $900 billion deficit. That is assuming those people would keep earning money and why should they?

So the president’s program of giving everyone a “fair shot” isn’t really about taxes. It’s about the government deciding that certain people and certain industries don’t have a “fair shot” in the free enterprise system and should intervene to make sure that they do. Read more “Obama Doesn’t Really Believe in Free Enterprise”