Posts By Author » Michael Barone
Obama’s Numbers Went Down, but Romney Never Inspired Voters to Vote
27 Dec 2012 12:02 am
In combing through the results of the 2012 election — apparently finally complete, nearly two months after the fact — I continue to find many similarities between 2012 and 2004, and one enormous difference.
Both of the elections involved incumbent presidents with approval ratings hovering around or just under 50 percent facing challengers who were rich men from Massachusetts (though one made his money and the other married it).
In both cases, the challenger and his campaign seemed confident he was going to win — and had reasonable grounds to believe so.
Here Comes the Cliff
24 Dec 2012 12:02 am
Last week, Republicans proved they are not a governing party. Next week we will see whether Democrats are.
A governing party would have, reluctantly, passed Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B, which would have preserved the current tax rates on everyone with incomes under $1 million.
Passage would have put Senate Democrats on the spot, since they voted for a similar measure in 2010. They might have engaged in negotiations with Boehner that could have been more productive than his negotiations with Barack Obama this month and in the summer of 2011.
Then, as …
Tim Scott and Daniel Inouye Show a Better America
20 Dec 2012 12:02 am
On Monday, the U.S. Senate got its newest member and lost its most senior member.
The newest senator is South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, whom Gov. Nikki Haley said she would appoint to fill the vacancy caused by the pending resignation of Jim DeMint.
The most senior senator was Hawaii’s Daniel Inouye, who died at 88 just a few hours after Haley’s announcement.
Much has been made of the fact that Scott will be the only black senator and the first black Republican senator since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, who was elected in …
While Feds Dawdle, States Tackle Fiscal Problems
17 Dec 2012 12:02 am
Democrats in Washington declare that they will absolutely, positively allow no changes whatever in the nation’s unsustainable entitlement programs — Social Security and Medicare.
But out in the states, politicians of both parties aren’t averting their gaze from impending fiscal crises. They are working to change policies that put state governments on an unsustainable trajectory.
The most obvious example was the passage of a right-to-work law last week in Michigan, the birthplace of the United Auto Workers union.
This was retaliation for a failed power grab by both the UAW and public sector …
Fiscal Cliff Creates Problems That Don’t Faze Obama
13 Dec 2012 12:02 am
Is Barack Obama bluffing when he threatens to go over the fiscal cliff if Republicans refuse to agree to higher tax rates on high earners?
Some analysts think so. Keith Hennessey, a former top staffer for the Bush White House and Senate Republicans and a veteran of budget negotiations, argues that Obama’s whole second term would be blighted if he allows the fiscal cliff tax increases and sequestration budget cuts to take place next month.
His argument is based on three assumptions. One is that going over the fiscal cliff would trigger …
Mexican Migration May Be Over
10 Dec 2012 12:02 am
Is mass migration from Mexico to the United States a thing of the past?
At least for the moment, it is. Last May, the Pew Hispanic Center, in a study based on U.S. and Mexican statistics, reported that net migration from Mexico to this country had fallen to zero from 2005 to 2010.
Pew said 20,000 more people moved to Mexico from the United States than from there to here in those years. That’s a vivid contrast with the years 1995 to 2000, when net inflow from Mexico was 2.2 million people.
Higher Tax Rates Won’t Support Entitlement State
6 Dec 2012 12:03 am
The fiscal cliff negotiations seem to be foundering on Barack Obama’s insistence on higher tax rates on high earners and House Republican leaders’ insistence on opposing them. The president believes he has a mandate from voters for his position, and House Republicans believe they have a mandate from voters for theirs.
The real argument here is over the size and scope of government. Under Barack Obama, federal outlays — the technical term for federal spending — have increased to 24 and 25 percent of gross domestic product.
That’s a higher level of …
Men Find Careers in Collecting Disability
3 Dec 2012 12:02 am
Americans are very generous to people with disabilities. Since passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, millions of public and private dollars have been spent on curb cuts, bus lifts and special elevators.
The idea has been to enable people with disabilities to live and work with the same ease as others, as they make their way forward in life. I feel sure the large majority of Americans are pleased that we are doing this.
But there is another federal program for people with disabilities that has had an unhappier …
The Tyranny of Good Intentions at U.S. Colleges
29 Nov 2012 12:02 am
In 1902, journalist Lincoln Steffens wrote a book called “The Shame of the Cities.” At the time, Americans took pride in big cities, with their towering skyscrapers, productive factories and prominent cultural institutions.
Steffens showed there were some rotten things underneath the gleaming veneers — corrupt local governments and political machines, aided and abetted by business leaders.
In recent weeks, two books have appeared about another of America’s gleaming institutions, our colleges and universities, either of which could be subtitled “The Shame of the Universities.”
In “Mismatch,” law professor Richard Sander and journalist …
States Choose Own Paths With One-party Governments
26 Nov 2012 12:02 am
In Washington, Americans have two-party government, with a Democratic president and Senate and a Republican House. We had it before November’s election and will have it again for the next two years.
Looking back from 2014, we will have had two-party government for most of the preceding two decades, for six years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, three and a half years of George W. Bush’s and four years of Barack Obama’s.
But in most of the 50 states, American voters seem to have opted for something very much like one-party government.
Starting next …
Dems Have Edge, but Presidency Still in Play
22 Nov 2012 12:02 am
A funny thing happened as I was looking at the political map of this year’s presidential election: It began to look like the map of the presidential election of 2004.
I’m not talking about the superficial similarity, the fact that in both elections an incumbent president beat a challenger from Massachusetts by a 51 to 48 percent popular vote margin.
I’m talking about the fact that the large majority of states voted just a little bit more Democratic in 2012 than they did in 2004.
Enough to give 2012 nominee Barack Obama 332 …
Both Sides Must Give Ground To Avoid Fiscal Cliff
19 Nov 2012 12:02 am
In his first formal press conference in months, Barack Obama showed that getting re-elected can increase a president’s confidence and combativeness. He staked out tough stands on several issues, especially on the looming budget negotiations.
Looking ahead to the “fiscal cliff” on Dec. 31, when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire and sequestration cuts government spending sharply, Obama demanded $1.6 trillion of increased revenues as part of any budget bargain.
That’s twice the number he and Speaker John Boehner agreed on in the grand bargain talks in the summer of 2011.
To Win, Obama Sacrifices House, State Legislatures
15 Nov 2012 12:02 am
Barack Obama attended more than 200 fundraisers for his presidential campaign, but he refrained from raising money for congressional Democrats.
That proved to be a wise move for him, as were his strategists’ decisions to run heavy ad campaigns against Mitt Romney and to build an even more effective turnout machine in target states.
But it proved to be less than helpful to his party. Democrats did gain two Senate seats thanks to clueless Republican candidates and Republicans’ failure to produce better turnout.
But Democrats got beaten badly in races for the U.S. …
Obama Wins by Going Negative and Turning Out Base
12 Nov 2012 6:00 am
Lukewarm. That’s the feeling I get from the election numbers.
Turnout was apparently down, at least as a percentage of eligible voters. The president was re-elected by a reduced margin. The challenger didn’t inspire the turnout surge he needed.
Every re-elected president since Andrew Jackson has won with an increased popular vote percentage. Barack Obama didn’t. He won 53 percent to 46 percent in 2008. His numbers as I write are 50 percent to 48 percent over Mitt Romney. That could go up to 51 percent to 48 percent when California finishes …
America Is Two Countries, Not on Speaking Terms
7 Nov 2012 12:15 am
You know who won the election (or whether we face another Florida 2000), and as I write I don’t.
But whether Barack Obama is re-elected to a second term or Mitt Romney is elected the 45th president, the contours of their support during this fiercely fought campaign show that we live in Two Americas.
The culturally cohesive America of the 1950s that some of us remember, usually glossing over racial segregation and the civil rights movement, is no longer with us and hasn’t been for some time.
That was an America of universal …
Going Out on a Limb: Romney Beats Obama, Handily
5 Nov 2012 12:02 am
Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections. That’s bad news for Barack Obama. True, Americans want to think well of their presidents, and many think it would be bad if Americans were perceived as rejecting the first black president.
But it’s also true that most voters oppose Obama’s major policies and consider unsatisfactory the very sluggish economic recovery — Friday’s job report showed an unemployment uptick.
Also, both national and target state polls show that independents — voters who don’t identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans — break for Romney.
That might not matter …
Romney Pressures Obama by Expanding Electoral Map
1 Nov 2012 12:02 am
As the East Coast recoils from Hurricane Sandy, the political news is of new states suddenly inundated with presidential campaign ads. First Wisconsin, then Pennsylvania, more recently Minnesota. Ann Romney is campaigning in Michigan; Bill Clinton in Minnesota.
All these are states Barack Obama carried by 10 points or more in 2008. Why is the electoral map scrambled this year?
One reason, which I wrote about last week, is that Mitt Romney seems to be running better in affluent suburbs than other recent Republican nominees. That’s one reason he made big gains …
Changing Demographics Won’t Mean the End of Republican Party
29 Oct 2012 12:02 am
When reading one of the endless stories about a just-released poll Thursday night, a pair of numbers struck my eye: 60 and 37.
Those were the percentages of white voters supporting Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll. Overall, the poll showed Romney leading Obama 50 to 47 percent.
The reason those two numbers struck my eye is that they are identical to the percentages of white voters supporting Republicans and Democrats in elections for the House of Representatives in the 2010 exit poll. Overall, Republicans won the …
Affluent Suburbs Swing to Debate-tested Romney
25 Oct 2012 12:02 am
Back in May, I wrote a column laying out possible scenarios for the 2012 campaign different from the conventional wisdom that it would be a long, hard slog through a fixed list of target states like the race in 2004.
I thought alternatives were possible because partisan preferences in the half dozen years before 2004 were very stable, while partisan preferences over the last half dozen years have been anything but.
Now, after Mitt Romney’s big victory in the Oct. 3 debate and his solid performances in the Oct. 16 and 22 …
If Obama Wins, Will He Be Another Woodrow Wilson?
22 Oct 2012 12:03 am
How will this election be seen in history? Obviously, it depends on who wins.
If Barack Obama is defeated, the irresistible comparison will be with Jimmy Carter. A one-term president was rejected after pursuing big government programs amid high energy prices and attacks on America in the Middle East.
Actually, that’s not entirely fair to Carter. His budget deficits were minuscule next to Obama’s, and in response to the Soviet attack on Afghanistan he began the defense buildup that Ronald Reagan accelerated.
Carter supported airline deregulation, which made air travel widely accessible, as well …