Nov 072012

punditsElection night is not quite over, but the networks have called it for Obama. Politico has a quick view of the many pundits who were off – some very, very off – base in their predictions. No doubt there will be much more analysis of who was right and who was wrong in the coming weeks but in the heat of the final night of a long election year (really more than 18 months), it’s a fun read.

Here’s some of the quotes from those who were most off-base:

Newt Gingrich:

“I believe the minimum result will be 53-47 Romney, over 300 electoral votes.” – Oct. 25, on Fox News.

Karl Rove:

Romney 285, Obama 253. “If crowds at his recent stops in these states [NV, WI and PA] are any indication of his supporters’ enthusiasm, Mr. Romney will likely be able to claim victory in these states as well.” — Nov. 5, on his website.

Fox News contributor Dick Morris:

Romney 325, Obama 213. “It will be the biggest surprise in recent American political history. It will rekindle the whole question as to why the media played this race as a nail biter where in fact I think Romney’s going to win by quite a bit.” — Nov. 4, on Fox News. 

Conservative columnist George Will:

Romney 321, Obama 217. “The wild card in what I’ve projected is I’m projecting Minnesota to go for Romney.” — Nov. 4, on ABC’s “This Week.”

UnskewedPolls’ Dean Chambers:

Romney 311, Obama 227. “Despite the pattern of skewed polls, most of them commissioned by the mainstream media, the overall electoral landscape is looking more and more favorable for Romney.” — Nov. 1, on

The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone:

“Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223. That sounds high for Romney. But he could drop Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and still win the election. Fundamentals.” — Nov. 2, writing in The Washington Examiner.

CNBC’s Larry Kudlow:

”I am now predicting a 330 vote electoral vote landslide. Yes, that’s right — 330 electoral votes.” — Oct. 25, on CNBC.

Rush Limbaugh:

“All of my thinking says Romney big. All of my feeling is where my concern is. But my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this — factoring everything I see plus the polling data — it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.” — Nov. 5, on his radio show.

Nov 062012

Twitter Political Index siteThere are a number of different ways to follow the election tonight through an online election guide if you dread listening to the TV pundits or would rather just have something to balance their unsubstantiated claims. First, here’s a list of poll closing hours from First Read; early results from these states will reveal how the election is going. I’ve highlighted the swing states in red:

How to watch tonight: With several battleground states having poll-closing times at 8:00 pm ET or earlier (Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania), we’re going to know a lot about how the race is breaking fairly early in the evening. How long does it take to call North Carolina (a state Romney probably wants to put away early) and Pennsylvania (ditto Obama)? Will Florida and Virginia take hours to call? (Remember, no state better matched the 2008 popular than Virginia did four years ago.) Here are all the final poll closing times in ET (NBC News will not call a race until all polls have closed in that state):

7:00 pm: GA, IN, KY, SC, VT, VA
7:30 pm: NC, OH, WV
8:00 pm: AL, CT, DE, DC, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, MS, MO, NH, NJ, OK, PA, RI, TN
8:30 pm: AR
9:00 pm: AZ, CO, KS, LA, MI, MN, NE, NM, NY, ND, SD, TX, WI, WY
10:00 pm: IA, MT, NV, UT
11:00 pm: CA, HI, ID, OR, WA
1:00 am: AK

And here’s three sites I’ll be watching tonight:

  • The Twitter Political Index will be interesting given the out-sized role that social media is playing in the 2012 election. Not really a results site, but a snapshot of what’s going on in terms of the election in the Twitter stream.
  • Politico has a good map and site that provides results from a more or less neutral perspective. Just good solid data on a nicely designed map.
  • FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s blog at the New York Times. I still like Silver the best as he is the only one that seems to do probability analysis and lay his cards on the table.

Indeed, Silver has become the big story over the past week as a number of political consultants have taken him to task for doing only a “cold” mathematical calculus. Silver did exceptionally well in the 2008 and 2010 elections and it remains to be seen if he continues the same level of accuracy. Maybe there is something of a “gut instinct” to polling; but there’s also something to mathematics that is hard to deny. With Silver now projecting Obama having a more than 90% chance of winning re-election, you’ll get to see him solidify his reputation or make a fool of himself. I think Silver will be proven right, but we’ll see.

But of course, you can always turn to the pundits if you need your (political) ego stroked.



Oct 052012

The first debate dissected by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show: one candidate seemed like he was on Ambien and the other appeared to have tried caffeine for the first time in his life. As Politicalwire says, priceless. Obama looked like a loser even when he was silent and if history is any guide to the power of image in the debates, that’s devastating. If Nixon appeared sinister and Carter seemed defensive, Obama looked like he just didn’t want to be there.

Oct 012012

John Dennis campaigns against Nancy PelosiThis political ad by John Dennis (R) in his battle against Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has to be one of the most bizarre ever. Pelosi and zombies seem to be the ultimate target here. I’m not at all clear how effective this might be – or even the intended demographic – Republicans? Independents? Former Pelosi voters? I just don’t know.

Dennis is a sharp Libertarian so he is both to the left and right of Nancy Pelosi on the political spectrum. From the SF Weekly:

But John Dennis, who says he’s raised $2 million to unseat Pelosi, is a “Liberty” Republican. And for committed Libertarians, the notions left and right don’t have quite the same meaning as they might with traditional liberals such as Pelosi. Sure, Dennis supports Proposition 19, the marijuana initiative. But he also backs San Francisco left-wing anathema Proposition L, which would prohibit sitting or lying on public ways between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

“In a strictly Libertarian world, the roads and sidewalks would be private property,” Dennis explained. “If you’re obstructing private property, you should be able to get people out of the way.”

This is not the only strange political ad that Dennis has done but it definitely ranks as his most bizzare. Hard to imagine this builds support for a campaign – but definitely a 1:42 of unusual entertainment. From Politicalwire.

Sep 192012
Romney teleprompter meme


As the full Romney video of the infamous fundraising dinner talk is released, the campaign is in damage control mode. While the rest of the video is not as damning as the initial clips released, it does nothing to help his case and even adds a few other choice lines to an already full platter of them.

The main sign a campaign has derailed when figures in your own party turn against you. Here’s a selection of Republican barbs from Politico in an article by Katie Glueck, “The right’s many attacks on Mitt Romney“. 

Check out the piece for all the quotes on Romney and the additional criticisms of his foreign policy remarks:

Here’s a look at who’s keeping some distance from Romney…

On the “47 percent ” comment:

Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard: “… Romney’s comments, like those of Obama four years ago, are stupid and arrogant.”

David Brooks, The New York Times: “[As] a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.”

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: “It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one.”

Kevin Glass, “Romney’s just wrong on the facts here.”

Jonah Goldberg, “The Corner” blog, National Review: “Ultimately Romney’s division of the electorate has an odd Marxist twang to it, as if those dependent on government are simply voting their naked economic self-interest.

“… Which raises the other, bigger, problem with the blanket derogation of people who don’t pay income taxes. Undoubtedly moochers and layabouts are overrepresented in the ranks of the non-filers of income taxes. But so are the working poor (thanks to, among other things, the Earned Income Tax Credit), retirees, college students, et al.”

David Frum, Newsweek/The Daily Beast: “Mitt Romney has just committed the worst presidential-candidate gaffe since Gerald Ford announced in 1976 that ‘there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.’

“Irreparable? To Romney’s image, yes; to his election chances … we’ll see.” 

. . . .

W. James Antle III, The Daily Caller News Foundation: “Since when has it been the job of Republicans and conservatives to make sure everyone has IRS obligations?”

Linda McMahon, GOP Senate candidate, Connecticut: “I know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be. People today are struggling because the government has failed to keep America competitive, failed to support job creators, and failed to get our economy back on track.”

Ross Douthat, The New York Times: “… Romney finds himself conducting a winnable (yes, still) campaign from the weakest possible position.”

Reihan Salam, National Review: “We need conservative politicians who are willing to explain why low-income and middle-income parents should be removed from the tax rolls during the years they are making the biggest investments in their children, and who are willing to make the case for the EITC program as an alternative to worklessness and lifelong dependency.”

Susana Martinez, governor, New Mexico: “We have a lot of people that are at the poverty level in New Mexico, but they count just as much as anybody else.”

Scott Brown, U.S. Senator, Massachusetts: “As someone who grew up in tough circumstances, I know that being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in.”

Matt Welch, Reason: “This is economic determinism at its worst, going against the very message the Republican Party was trying to sell to the world during its quadrennial national convention last month.”

Dean Heller, U.S. Senator, Nevada: “You got to understand, I grew up with five brothers and sisters. My father was an automechanic. My mother was a school cook. I just don’t view the world the same way he does.”

Sep 182012

Romney video and quote

Whatever your political view, the Romney campaign is not in good shape this week. With rumors of a dysfunctional campaign staff and the too-quick remark on foreign policy, the secretly recorded video may prove to be one of those classic campaign moments, the kind that remain in the public’s consciousness for years to come.

A few have rushed to Romney’s defense, including Herman Cain, Erick Erickson of, and conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. But you know things are in turmoil when major figures criticize their party’s candidate; Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, said that Romney’s remarks were “stupid and arrogant” and David Brooks argued that:

It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney . . . He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. 

The Victims

What is so strange about the remarks – putting aside for a moment the question of what Romney actually believes – is that it reveals a deeply flawed political assessment of the voting public. A significant portion of the 47 percent who do not pay income taxes are in the military, working lower income people and those on social security – and probably a majority are inclined to vote Republican.  To speak of them as an entitlement group, or as Andrew Sullivan notes in his devastating analysis (recommended reading), to use the word “victim” with this group is astonishing.

Yes, there are people in this group with a victim mentality, just as – we should note – there are apparently a number of millionaires with a victim mentality. It’s hard to describe it as anything else when you think you’re entitled to something and that others are out to get you.

It’s hard to say what the ultimate fallout of the video will be, but you don’t elections by writing off the people already on your side. If you want a detailed analysis of who pays what in taxes, and who the 47% are, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a good place to start.

The Video

The video was done in Boca Raton, Florida at the home of Marc Leder, a private equity executive. More details are coming out and it seems the video was leaked by James Carter IV, former President Carter’s grandson. Is it legal? That’s not clear given that it was done in the State of Florida which stipulates that all parties must consent. On the other hand, it was (more or less) a public campaign event so it may very well be considered within the bounds of the law.

One can almost guarantee that more more details will come out on the making of the video and quite possibly some legal moves down the road.

The “YouTube Era”

In 2006, when then-Sen. George Allen singled out a man videotaping his talk and called him "Macaca," the video went viral and Allen's campaign for re-election collapsed.

In 2006, when then-Sen. George Allen singled out a man videotaping his talk and called him “Macaca,” the video went viral and Allen’s campaign for re-election collapsed.

I’m using Romney’s own words here. Seriously. This is not (was not?) a man like Anthony Weiner who had no understanding of technology except how to click the “Send” button. No, Romney himself has been quite aware that something like this can happen in our age of increasingly miniaturized electronics and the fact that every moment has the potential to be a public event. Listen to Romney talk about this possibility five long years ago:

Running for president in the YouTube era, you realize you have to be very judicious in what you say . . . . You have to be careful with your humor. You have to recognize that anytime you’re running for the presidency of the United States, you’re on.  (Daily Beast)

Well, Mitt, you were definitely on, and the “YouTube era” is much more pervasive now than it was in 2007 (when it was only two years old, though already popular).

But at least Marc Leder and his guests kept their clothes on for this event – now THAT is about the only thing that could top the video as it is – but they haven’t always been so modest.

Jan 172012

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Madison – Democrats and organizers filed petitions Tuesday afternoon with more than a million signatures as they sought to force a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker – a massive number that seems to cement a historic recall election against him for later this year.

It would mark the first such gubernatorial recall in state history and would be only the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch as well as petitions against four GOP state senators including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.

With almost double the signatures required, this just about guarantees a recall election. However, Governor Walker has fundraising on his side and the Democrats have yet to agree on a candidate to run against him. Walker has become notorious for his public employee union-busting efforts; with the recall push with these numbers, it will make for an interesting race in the fall.

Jan 172012

Another very funny ad from Stephen Colbert’s SuperPac, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” this one aired during the South Carolina Republican debate. The ad urges a vote for Herman Cain as the only American who is not a Washington insider. Even though Cain long dropped out of the race, he is still on the official ballot.

A moment of levity in the context of a depressing debate where the candidates seem to fall all over themselves to celebrate killing and selfishness. Sadly, that seems to play all to well among the born-again Jesus crowd.

Colbert expertly masters the infamous Cain smile in the last seconds of the ad:

Jan 162012

Most depressing aspect of the Republican debates has been the audience reaction. From booing gays to the tonight’s boos of someone with a connection to Mexico. Clearly Romney is trying to avoid releasing his tax returns (a “problem”) but will probably try to hold out so that he can do the 2011 return and make it look better than the current return from 2010. A quick wrap-up from Political Wire:

Mitt Romney wasn’t his best tonight as he faced scathing attacks from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. It’s unclear how long either of them will remain in the race, but they’re doing Romney no favors as the likely GOP nominee.

The most interesting moment of the debate was Romney’s reluctant statement that he would release his tax returns around the April 15th deadline. It’s very possible the issue of his effective tax rate will be an even bigger in the general election than his record as head of Bain Capital.

The most depressing moment of the debate was when it was pointed out Romney’s father was born in Mexico and the audience booed.

And finally, Jon Huntsman had a good debate.

Newt Gingrich had one of his best moments with a standing ovation with his response to Juan Williams on giving poor kids to get them out of poverty (he raised this idea earlier in the campaign when he suggested that NYC School janitorial duties be turned over to the students in the schools. The clip is is going to get a lot of airplay.

Jan 152012

The political landscape continues its surreal metamorphosis in our post-Citizens United environment. The SuperPac founded by Colbert and now under the control of Jon Stewart has released its first attack ad in South Carolina targeting Mitt Romney. Pinning Romney to his own words on “corporations as people” – in his work at Bain Capital, he must have been a serial killer.

As the Daily Beast notes, political satire has a long and storied history:

Greek playwright Aristophanes’ satirical comedies were filled with jabs at influential citizen leaders of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. While in exile, Dante Alighieri wrote his “Divine Comedy,” in which he placed prominent political figures directly in hell. Even Shakespeare is thought to have ridiculed Elizabethan politics in some of his plays, notably “Richard II.” More recently, Mark Twain and Will Rogers stood out as eminent political satirists of their respective times. (“Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress,” Twain famously wrote. “But I repeat myself.”)

And Colbert continues the tradition, reshaped for a media-saturated culture:


Jan 132012
Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert continues to play up the absurdities of our post-Citizen’s United political environment by putting his own SuperPac, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow”  in the hands of his close business partner Jon Stewart and announcing an exploratory committee for a run in the South Carolina Republican primary.

From tonight’s show and quoted in Politico:

I am proud to announce that I am forming an exploratory committee to lay the groundwork for my possible candidacy for president of the United States of America of South Carolina . . . 

. . . This is a difficult decision. I’ve talked it over with my money. I’ve talked it over with my spiritual adviser. 

It’s a total stunt but entirely warranted in the absurd environment that allows unfettered spending by the supposedly “uncoordinated” activities of SuperPacs. In reality, Colbert isn’t going far as the filing deadline has already passed and there’s no write-in provision in the South Carolina primary.

Jan 112012

The New Hampshire results for Romney were expected, as perhaps are the political pundits falling over themselves to announce that he has the nomination wrapped up or that the race is still wide open. But the best commentary of the morning comes from an Alexander Burns essay in Politico, “Mitt Romney still must answer 5 questions after New Hampshire.”

The major challenge for Romney now is, well, Romney himself:

  • How does he address the Bain Capital issue?
  • Does he have a message if the economy continues to improve?
  • Will Republicans ever really like him?
  • How will he handle a more challenging press corp?
  • Which Republicans will risk their own political careers for him?

These questions will come up in the primaries but, more importantly, in the general election itself.

Jan 042012

What to do when the Republican primary race is a mess, the polling data utterly confused and your show is taped a few hours before the Iowa caucus results come in? If you’re Stephen Colbert, you just go with the extraordinary, if agonizingly slow, good judgment of Megyn Shelly, the psychic snail. Of course, Megyn, faced with pictures of the candidates on cucumber podiums under the glare of flashlghts, chose . . . . no one.

Here’s Colbert doing what he does best in a clip from Comedy Central:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Indecision 2012 – Iowa Caucus – Megyn Shelly’s Prediction
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive
Jan 042012

Not sure how or why I even ended up looking at this – guess I’m just preparing myself to fly back to the States tomorrow and trying to pre-adjust to the stranger elements of American “culture”. From the Montana Cowgirl blog - the Christmas card sent from Montana governor candidate Neil Livingstone and running mate state Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish. As described:

This is certainly the weirdest holiday card I’ve ever seen from…well…anyone.  What says “Merry Christmas” less than Livingstone and Zinke in a sleigh with Zinke brandishing a scope sighted M-16, a dead wolf on the front of the sleigh, drone wings, hidden pistols, and an unintentional homage to Obama–a crossed out face of Osama bin Laden. And don’t forget the bag of extractive-industry-only jobs and the PhD certificates.

Indeed Cowgirl, I bow down to your astonishing ability to deal with this stuff. If someone knows of a more oddball political card, please pass it along.

Jan 042012

This is definitely the political diss of the week, if not the entire past month of the campaign season. Sometimes, the simplicity of being limited to 140 characters just makes something razor sharp. For those of you with a bit of philosophy in your diet, it is more or less the comedy version of “Occam’s razor” from the 14th-century English philosopher, theologian and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. Go with the simple unless forced to do otherwise.

But I digress. Here is the tweet from the Ron Paul account to Huntsman the other night, tweeted, pulled back and then republished without comment (via Buzzfeed). Actually, no further comment is needed:

Ron Paul Tweet Dissing Huntsman

All I can say is – Ouch!

Jan 042012

There’s been enough of a media circus around the Iowa caucuses and now we go off to New Hampshire. And as you know, money talks as the SuperPACs made clear. But another revealing set of statistics is the direct spending in media advertising per voter by each of the candidates:

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry spent the most per voter. $4.5 million on media for roughly 12,604 votes. That works out to be $357 per vote. No wonder he’s on his way back to the ranch in Texas.
  • Ron Paul did well but his $2.7 million in media spending for 26,219 votes works out to be $102 per vote.
  • Mitt Romney did significantly better in this regard since he gained almost 30,000 votes for his $1.47 million in media spending. That comes to $49 per vote. But Romney also benefited from the highest SuperPAC spending of all the candidates.
  • Gingrich spent $1 million on media for 16,251 votes or $61 per vote.
  • But Rick Santorum who surged late and ended only 8 votes shy of beating Romney comes in first for the smallest amount spent per voter. With only $21,980 spent on 29,908 votes he managed to do this for about 73 cents per vote. That’s why all eyes are on him now.

Note that the above numbers cover only traditional paid media and not the SuperPacs or new media spending (which would much more difficult to determine since much of it is largely “in house”). The paid media breakdown along with the Super PAC spending is charted over at Buzzfeed:

Paid Media Spending Breakdown

Paid Media Spending Breakdown

Jan 032012

Though I’m quite happy to be on vacation this week and off in a remote part of the Rhodope Mountains on the Greek – Bulgarian border, I will miss the initial results on the Iowa caucuses given the time difference. Some thoughts later tomorrow if there are any surprises in the results. For now, I’ll leave you with the Google Insights for Search chart that represents the Web interest on the major candidates over the past 30 days. No surprise that Ron Paul comes out on top, with Romney in second and a surging Rick Santorum to round out the top three.

You may also want to see how the Washington Post’s new MentionMachine does as it is tracking both Twitter and Media mentions. I can’t decide if it will be that accurate a barometer or is just the Post trying anything to be innovative. Based on Twitter activity over the past week, it also has Paul – Romney – Santorum in that order. It will be interesting to see how both tools do in contrast to more traditional polling techniques.