Now, here’s why 50.1% of me thinks Obama will win and 49.9% of me thinks Romney will win:
The Case for Romney
Intuition and common sense suggest a Romney win. Here’s why:
2. There will be fewer crossover Republicans voting Democrat.
3. Democrats will turn out in lower numbers than they did in 2008.
4. There will be more crossover Democrats voting Republican.
5. Romney will take NC and FL.
6. Independents are going for Romney.
7. Evangelicals will show up in higher numbers.
8. Some 2008 Catholic Obama voters will switch to Romney because of the contraception mandate issue.
The Case for Obama
Polls. Every poll outside of Rasmussen and Gallup suggest that Obama is leading by a few points in almost every swing state. That being said, Rasmussen has a decent track record and its conclusion that R party identification could outpace D identification this election is a huge deal.
The NYT’s Nate Silver’s model suggests that a narrow Obama victory is likely. Even though his model says that Obama has a 90%+ chance of winning the election, he says it will be close because the swing state polls are all close.
Polls vs. Common Sense
Common sense suggests a Romney win. Polls suggest an Obama win. Both rest on certain assumptions. My intuitive points for why Romney will win have assumptions. Every poll and Nate Silver’s model has assumptions. The question is, whose assumptions more accurately reflect reality? Honestly, I think polls suggesting a greater than a +6 D representation are way off. Republicans are far more motivated to vote this year than they were in 2008, and Democrats are at least marginally less motivated to vote. That being said, I’m just not that confident in my predictive abilities, so I’ll defer to the only non-anecdotal evidence available–polls.
My Utterly Unconfident Predictions
Popular Vote: Romney wins by 1%, +- 0.5%
Electoral Vote, Obama wins 281 to 257. Most plausible scenarios:
1. Obama 281 to Romney 257
Romney takes back aberration 2008 Obama victories (NC and IN), barely holds on to VA, wins CO, but loses the deciding state of OH.
2. Romney 275 to Obama 263
Everything is the same as above but Romney wins OH.
3. Obama 294 to Romney 244
Same as #1 but Obama takes VA.
4. Obama 303 to Romney 235
Same as above but Obama takes CO.
5. Romney 321 to Obama 217
Romney takes traditional D strongholds such as PA, NH, IA, and MI
The House of Representatives is a near-guarantee to remain Republican. If that happens and the popular vote goes to Romney, that would signify that the country wants Republicans in control. How so? The House is to the popular vote what the Senate is to the electoral. Whereas the makeup of the House and of the popular vote represent the mood of the nation, the Senate and electoral vote are the two political institutions that restrain the democratic elements of democracy.
The loss of the Hispanic vote is a big problem for the GOP going forward. CO, NV, and even NM should all be GOP states, but because a strong segment of the Republican party is sacrificing the party on the mantle of illegal immigration. I wouldn’t be surprised if AZ is in play in 2016 or TX in 2020 or 2024.
The lack of states in the Democratic armory is its main problem going forward. If the GOP changes course, and nominates, say Marco Rubio in 2016, NV, NM, CO, and VA (also many Hispanics) could all go Republican, leaving Democrats with an electoral deficit of 10 votes. With a not anti-illegal immigration candidate, the GOP could then focus on getting the golden prize – Pennsylvania, and bringing Ohio back to the lean Republican column.
The only reason Romney had to campaign in NV and CO was because Hispanics are scared of the GOP, putting those states in play. Imagine down the road if a Republican candidate has to spend time and money campaigning in Texas and Arizona. Then Ohio, Pennsylvania, and maybe even Virginia and North Carolina could fall off the map.
For the GOP to remain competitive, it has to push the Democrats back into its standard coalition of Northeast, Pacific West, and the “progressive” Midwest (WI, MN, MI, IA). If it can’t get VA, CO, and NV back into lean GOP territory in the next few elections, AZ and TX will be in play. Perhaps that’s what it will take the Republican Party to realize that illegal immigration is a political loser.
Finally, I think the GOP will have to find a way to appeal to more than 5% of black voters. If Republicans could create a small (let’s say 15%) core of black voters who vote Republican, winning elections would be much more difficult for Democrats. This is a potential downside of the Democratic Party’s identity politics. It allows the Republicans to try to “pick off” Democratic voting blocs (blacks, hispanics, single women, college students). While the Republicans certainly have their own voting blocs (married women, white men over 30, Cubans, seniors), the Republican strategy is not to say, “White men over 30, here’s why you should vote Republican.” But Democrats do say, “[Insert group here], here’s why Republicans are bad for you.” It’s a risky strategy. It may work for the near future, but I think it can be attacked relatively easily.
This type of pundit is like the kid who, for image and ego purposes, skips out on group events and instead smokes tobacco pipes while listening to Brahms. He just always has to be different, giving his unique, if often wrong interpretation of reality.
“Silver-lining” explanations were on full display after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, with John Roberts, a reliable conservative, affirming that the federal government has the constitutional right to require citizens to purchase a company’s product and tax them for failure to purchase.
Perhaps some good will in fact come of the Court’s limitations placed on the Commerce Clause. Additionally, the majority ruled that state governments can choose to opt-out of some major planks of the law.
But these rulings may or may not have a significant impact on future law. We don’t know, so conservatives who view these as a major victory are fooling themselves.
I’m not a law student, much less a constitutional scholar, but I’m fairly certain of the following:
Chief Justice Roberts and the four left-wing justices ruled that under Congress’s Constitutional power to tax, (“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises”) the federal government can “tax”, or what we would know as “fine” or “penalize”, a citizen for failing to purchase a product that Congress says you must purchase.
Obamacare says that if you do not purchase a health insurance policy (which only private businesses offer) you will have to pay the IRS a penalty. Tax, penalty, fine, whatever. If you don’t purchase a private product, you must pay the government.
If you refuse to pay the government, you go to jail. Any intellectually honest observer must acknowledge that this law coerces the individual into purchasing a product sold by a business. Maybe that’s good. Maybe it’s bad. But at the law’s core is the police taking you away if you do not comply.
Do people on the left who support this law really want their government to have the power to order them to purchase something?
America has been blessed with relatively benevolent governments since its inception. But why is it inconceivable that a not-so-nice government could one day gain power and mandate that every citizen purchase, say, a gun? After all, it would certainly make the nation more secure.
My reading of this decision suggests that a minimum home-security mandate would be constitutional. Am I wrong?
This law strongly suggests that Roberts was grasping for ways to uphold this law. He said that the Commerce Clause does not apply to this law. And neither does the Necessary and Proper Clause. He instead affirmed the last and least-defended defense from the government’s Solicitor General…that Congress’s taxing power makes the mandate constitutional.
A friend of mine who knows a great deal about constitutional law wrote to me:
“I read all 193 pages…The court had only 21 lines of briefing dealing with the issue of whether it was an unapportioned direct tax and thus shouldn’t have ruled on that issue without supplemental briefing…the government’s brief to the court (the written argument they submit) included only 21 lines explaining why this tax wasn’t a direct tax not properly proportioned (and hence unconstitutional). To decide such a monumental case on such a tangential point after not even asking for supplemental briefing on that point is grossly irresponsible.”
Not only did Roberts use the least argued and least relied-upon argument by the government, but he also ruled that if a law can be read as being constitutional, then the Court must read it that way, even if Congress wrote it differently. Roberts explains that a penalty for failure to purchase an insurance plan is unconstitutional. But because a tax is constitutional, and because one could understand a penalty as also being a tax, the Court should read the law as if it says tax. The Democrats intentionally avoided calling this a tax because the bill would have never passed had its centerpiece included a tax. But Roberts argues that the Court can call it a tax because reading the bill that way would make it constitutional.
This seems absurd to me. It’s Congress’s job to write laws that explicitly do not violate the Constitution. It should not be able to write a long, complex piece of legislation knowing that the Court will bend over backwards to read it as constitutional.
The Roberts ruling effectively will allow Congress to avoid the political difficulties of raising taxes while raising taxes. By calling something a “penalty”, the federal government can require you to purchase a product, confident that the Court will say, “Fine by us because they could have called it a tax if they wanted to.”
As the Wall Street Journal put it so clearly, Roberts rewrote the law so that he wouldn’t have to throw it out.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a piece on Sunday about what she terms the “moral dystopia” revealed by the passivity of Penn St. faculty who did little or nothing to stop Jerry Sandusky from raping boys.
Mike McQueary, who has been a coach on the Penn St. football team for many years, was a key witness for the prosecution in the trial that may end as soon as Friday. He testified to the court that in Feb. 2001, he walked into the Penn St. locker room, and witnessed what was likely Sandusky raping a boy in the shower. Instead of overpowering Sandusky and stopping the rape, he left the locker room and told not the police – but his father. It took more than 10 years for Sandusky to be arrested for his allegedly many instances of rape.
There were many people over the course of Sandusky’s nightmare-like manipulation of children who could have stopped it. Dowd’s explanation for their lack of temerity is, in my opinion…out there:
Inundated by instantaneous information and gossip, do we simply know more about the seamy side? Do greater opportunities and higher stakes cause more instances of unethical behavior? Have our materialism, narcissism and cynicism about the institutions knitting society — schools, sports, religion, politics, banking — dulled our sense of right and wrong?
Materialism, narcissism, and cynicism? Institutions knitting society?
I don’t understand what Dowd is talking about.
The moral failings of McQueary and everyone else who willfully blinded themselves to what Sandusky was doing was primarily the result of a missing character trait. This incredibly useful trait is in fact perhaps the hardest one to find in humanity. It’s…
Better 20 years late than never. American media acknowledges that there may be a link between increased government college aid and rising college tuitions.
The Wall Street Journal reports: “[A] new study found that tuition at for-profit schools where students receive federal aid was 75% higher than at comparable for-profit schools whose students don’t receive any aid.
“The tuition difference was roughly equal to the average $3,390 a year in federal grants that students in the first group received.”
I reported on this obvious economic result a few months ago. When the government implicitly tells colleges that it will subsidize tuition increases, for-profit and non-profit ones alike will generally increase tuitions.
A spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan–who heads an agency that is hostile towards for-profit colleges–admits that for-profits take advantage of the government’s generosity, but that non-profits are completely different.
The distinction between for-profit schools and non-profit schools is a technical absurdity. Columbia University and ITT Technical Institute both want to maximize their income. The difference between the two is that Columbia reinvests all profits in the university while for-profits such as ITT can distribute their profits to management.
All Columbia administrators, faculty, and staff have defined salaries independent of how much revenue the university collects. This is generally how any non-profit works. Unlike a restaurant owner, the director of a non-profit does not keep any of the left over revenue (profits). But Columbia, like any non-profit university still wants to maximize that left over portion.
Whereas ITT may distribute some profits to its management, Columbia will invest in its endowment, pay for numerous extracurricular (or non-curricular) events, increase salaries for coming years, etc. Both schools want to maximize revenues and minimize costs. They just spend the difference between the two…differently.
According to the WSJ, the authors of the study that motivated its piece say that non-profits “are different because they aren’t motivated by profits”.
From Columbia to Emory to Rice, non-profits are just as pro-profit as for-profits. How else do you explain $50,000 tuition?
The Huffington Post, via the AP, had a great piece last week ridiculing Vladimir Putin’s new law that fines protestors who participate in “unsanctioned” protests. Protestors at rallies not licensed by the Russian government will be fined 300,000 rubles, which is the equivalent of $9,000…about the average Russian yearly income.
Most ludicrous part of Russia’s system of fines: violating nuclear storage rules yields a 5,000 ruble fine for private citizens and 40,000 rubles for public officials.
Non-violent protests can yield a fine 60 times as high as sloppy nuclear storage. Note: I can’t find major sources that discuss nuclear storage violations other than the AP. It sounds like a vague rule that could use some more description.
Illegal use of an automobile, whatever that means, nets a fine less than half as much as illegally protesting. Using nuclear facilities in a way that could risk radioactive contagion costs you 100,000 fewer rubles than ticking off Vladimir.
Sadly, this is the government with which our current administration has pursued a “reset” policy. President Obama scrapped a plan to place missiles in Eastern Europe to protect the continent against an Iranian strike. Putin did not want American toys in what he sees as his region, so we bowed.
Russia has not changed from its Cold War macro-policy, in which any action that is in opposition to the US is a plus. Russia is still close with China and North Korea. Putin applies little if any pressure to Iran. And most recently, Russia (and China) has been the main roadblock towards the UN Security Council passing stronger resolutions (perhaps even authorizing force) against the Syrian military.
Our past and present semi-alliances with Arab authoritarians (Hosni Mubarak, the Saudi government) have at least some legitimacy because the realistic alternatives to those regimes are usually anti-American ones who would even further suppress liberty (Shah vs. Khomeini in Iran). The alternative to Putin’s government could very well be a more liberal one, which would not purposely seek alliances with America’s enemies.
When America folds to Russian pressure, it emboldens the authoritarian, anti-free speech government. Folding to Russia’s missile defense complaints; acting as if we “can’t” support Syrian rebels until the Russian government allows us. It all strengthens the same government that fines protestors the equivalent of a year’s salary.
One of my colleagues at NextGenJournal wrote this piece today, arguing that the roots of the current Israeli-Arab conflict lie in Israel’s victory of the 6 Day War. Before reading my post below, read his piece.
Below, I address in bold italics where I think his column is wrong.
Israel was the cause of the 1967 Six Day War
No mention that Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, and Saudi forces were all mobilizing to attack Israel. Israel’s strike against Egyptian air bases was the only way they could gain an advantage in what was an inevitable war. Israel had no incentive to initiate a 1-on-6 war. The Arabs simply wanted to exterminate Israel.
The 2002 invasion of Iraq was as poorly strategized as Israel’s capture of Arab land
There’s no comparison to Iraq. The Six Day War was entirely a self-defensive action aimed at preserving the existence of a country. The war in Iraq was an offensive war designed to a) secure apparently non-existent WMD’s, b) remove a hostile dictator, and c) establish a relatively free democracy in the Arab world. Anyways, the US did have a plan, however faulty, once Hussein fell. How could Israel have had a plan regarding the Golan, Sinai, and West Bank, when the capture of those three areas happened in such a short time span?
The Golan Heights, West Bank, and Sinai were unjustly captured by Israel
Syria: The Golan is a strategically crucial piece of land because Israeli artillery can perch on the mountains, undisturbed by conventional ground forces, making a Syrian invasion incredibly difficult. I’ve never heard anyone suggest that Israel’s capture of the Golan Heights was immoral. It was a geographical necessity for Israel to capture that land once Syria invaded. After witnessing how Bashar Assad treats Syrians who oppose him, imagine what he’d do to Israeli Jews if he controlled the Golan. Israel’s capture of the Golan has in fact resulted in decades of non-war with Syria, because the would-be aggressor has a strategic disadvantage.
Jordan: The West Bank is quite poorly named. It’s really “West Jordan”, but only called the West Bank because it’s on the western part of the Jordan River. When the Six Day War began, Israel told Jordan that if they stayed out of the war, Israel would not attack, but if the Jordanians invaded Israel, the Israeli military would open a new front. King Hussein invaded and was militarily castrated. What moral philosophy demands that Israel return the land of an invading enemy?
Egypt: Gamal Abdel Nasser was the antagonist of the Six Day War, massing military forces near Israel’s southern border in the hopes of finishing off the Jewish state. Israel captured the Sinai and used it to extract a peace treaty from the Egyptians. Israel could have used the Sinai as a massive buffer against future Egyptian invasions, protecting its interior against a first wave of Egyptian bombers.
Instead, Israel valued a peace treaty more than it did a military advantage. Whether that was a wise decision is still unclear, evidenced by the post-Mubarak political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leader is dedicated to destroying its neighbor.
Israel is the main barrier to peace
Were peace with the Jews a goal of the majority of Palestinian society, the Palestinians would have had an autonomous country 64 years ago, when the United Nations put forth a plan, agreed to by Israel, that would have established neighboring Jewish and Palestinian states. The Israelis have consistently negotiated with the Palestinians and offered land. After Arafat rejected Israel’s offer at the 2000 Camp David Accords, he unleashed the second intifada, consisting of Palestinian men and women strapping themselves with explosives, and blowing up Israeli men, women, boys, and girls wherever they could reach them; pizza shops, malls, buses, Passover meals. That the intifada was a result of “growing Palestinian frustration with the occupation” is simply false.
The intifada was a result of Palestinian loathing of Jews and Israel. And following a lull in Palestinian barbarity, Ariel Sharon tore out Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and gave it to the Palestinians, who elected Hamas, which went on fire thousands of missiles at Israeli border towns until Israel invaded Gaza in 2008 to subdue Hamas.
As long as there are Israeli settlements in the West Bank, there can’t be peace
Why not? Arab-Israelis make up 20% (1.5 million) of Israel’s population. They have homes, go to supermarkets, own cars, and have jobs. Yes, there is discrimination in Israel against Arabs. Show me a society without discrimination.
Better yet, imagine if Israeli settlers in Hebron said, “We don’t want to be guarded by Israeli soldiers and we don’t want any fences or walls separating us from the Palestinians. We want to be integrated within Palestinian society in the West Bank.”
Settlements in the West Bank would come to a bloody end. Why is it that Israelis can live with 1.5 million Arabs within its borders, but if 300,000 Jews want to have their own communities in the West Bank, the Palestinians say their land is stolen? Because as a general rule, Israelis can live with the Palestinians but the Palestinians don’t want to live with the Israelis.
Al Jazeera reports that the Syrian military, wait, according to the Assad government, terrorists (sorry for that slip up) have shot and stabbed dozens of Syrian civilians in al-Kubeir.
A similar massacre happened less than two weeks in the same city. Mousab al-Hamadee, an anti-Assad activist in Hama summed up the UN’s uselessness:
“Unfortunately they do nothing to protect us, they just come the next day after the massacres to film the corpses and see how we bury our victims … They are just watching us die.”
Every Assad massacre is a testament to the UN’s fecklessness in the face of evil. America won’t overtly provide any meaningful military assistance until Russia and China “allow” us to do so.