Politics of UAW strike

Now there are plenty of interesting things to say about the economics of the UAW strike. But let’s talk politics.

What are the Dem candidates going to do? Does John Edwards run to join the picket lines? Does Hillary Clinton, confident in her primary victory, stay lukewarm? Or, sensing that she needs the votes of those struggling factory workers in Ohio, feel forced to say something?

What are the implications for the calendar debate? Doesn’t this put Michigan even more at the forefront of the debate?

What about the fact that the Democratic Party is going upscale? I suspect that the anger in the new upper-middle class progressive voters isn’t going away. But do they really want a full-throated rally against globalization?

UPDATE: Marc Ambinder asks the UAW. They say, basically, that this is tactical not strategic, and the strike should be very short.

The environment among conservatives?

Last week, I criticized my friend Robert Bluey’s reading of Michael Gerson’s position on immigration. My criticism was, on a broader level, that the conservative movement has very little capacity to understand conservatives who disagree with it on principal. More specifically, when deeply held beliefs begin to come into conflict with the increasingly interest group driven conservative movement agenda, the conservative movement struggles. This is, of course, where constituencies are gained and lost.

So what will happen with the environment? The Catholic Church is taking a strong position on global warming, H/T Andrew Sullivan:

The Pope is expected to use his first address to the United Nations to deliver a powerful warning over climate change in a move to adopt protection of the environment as a "moral" cause for the Catholic Church and its billion-strong following.

Will this have any impact on the conservative movement? Will this have any impact on Catholic voters in the US? (In Rob’s case, almost certainly not. But he didn’t care what his church said about immigration either) Is this growing disconnect going to matter?

2008 a 1992 redux through housing

This struck me as an interesting point from Capital Commerce, one of my favorite blogs that links economics and politics:

"A record 26 percent of U.S. homeowners say the value of their homes has fallen during the past year, above the previous peak of 24 percent seen in 1992, a survey released on Friday showed. Reflecting the extent of the prolonged housing slump, 21 percent of homeowners polled in September expect the value of their home to decline in the year ahead, up from 18 percent in August, according to the data from Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers." By the way, 1992 was a year when a Republican lost the White House despite a so-called good economy as measured by GDP growth.

Patrick Ruffini has pointed out to me that we lost New Hampshire and California in that year over the housing slump.

Immigration and the GOP

My friend Robert Bluey really laid into Michael Gerson’s piece in the Post today. But I think that Rob missed the point. For him, the focus of the piece was this paragraph:

It is a strange spectacle. Conservatives are intent on building a more appealing, post-Bush Republican Party. But their most obvious change so far is to reverse remarkable Republican gains among one of the fastest-growing groups of American voters. The renovators seem more like the wrecking crew.

Rob’s consistent critique of immigration reform has been that it is driven more by politics than by values and policies. From this view, the debate over immigration reform seems clear cut. However, that’s clearly not where Gerson is coming from. I took the key paragraph to be:

One gets the impression of decent men, intimidated by the vocal anger of elements of their own party.

As I have argued before, all the first tier Republican candidates have been what is called by restrictionists "open borders" people. Sam Brownback and John McCain have actually maintained their positions, while Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani have complicated their positions but not caved too much.

What about Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson who have simply sold their principles down the river on this issue?

One gets the impression of decent men, intimidated by the vocal anger of elements of their own party.

So why have McCain, Brownback, and, to a degree, Huckabee, maintained their positions?  My gut is that it is because their positions are deeply grounded in their values and, in particular, their religious values. Gerson actually praised McCain’s religious argument for immigration reform:

For McCain, they were not "illegals," they were human beings, with names. "We can’t let immigrants break our laws with impunity," he said. "But these people are also God’s children who wanted simply to be Americans."

This is not moral exhibitionism; it is just morality. And my respect for McCain, it turns out, is less and less grudging.

It should not be surprising that the two serious candidates of religious voters, Huckabee and Brownback, are members of the two major denominations that have taken a position in support of immigration reform. Their values are deeply grounded.

Some people, myself included, view immigration reform as a moral issue. And a simple one. And a deep one.

Now, Rob doesn’t understand this. For Rob, Gerson’s argument is about politics.  It is about Hispanic votes for the GOP. But for Gerson, McCain, and President Bush, that is a secondary argument. As Gerson said, "it is just morality."

Gerson’s point is, in part, also about integrity. People who are not haters have adopted the language and stance of hatred for votes. That is immoral. Tom Tancredo’s position on immigration is at least sincere. It is a serious position, even if it is irresponsible and wrong. However, the position of Thompson and Romney are different. They are weak. They are insincere for transactional reasons. They are simply acting out of politics. They are, as Gerson points out:

One gets the impression of decent men, intimidated by the vocal anger of elements of their own party.

The Republican Party deserves better than this from its leaders. They are to be leaders. They are to be men of principles. Riding the mob to victory is no way to lead or rule. But some parts of the conservative movement don’t understand that.

Romney (Reform-MA) on Republicans

Mitt Romney’s new ad says that too many Republicans "act like Democrats". Quotes:

When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses.

It is time for Republicans to start acting like Republicans.

Of course, this is the same guy who said:

My R doesn’t so much stand for Republican as Reform

Jonathan Martin asked recently why people dislike Romney so much. For me it is not so much that he is dishonest, venal, and hypocritical. I am a political professional. I deal with politicians all the time, and I am used to that. But he is so brazen. I am pretty cynical, but he is too much even for me.

After all, this is the guy who has flip-flopped on abortion, gay-rights, taxes, guns, embryonic stem-cell research, Ronald Reagan, the Contract with America, his draft-dodging, education, immigration, and campaign finance-reform. And now he is lecturing people on being Republican enough?

GOP Fav/UnFavs

Favorability of Republican Candidates
Among Republicans/Republican Leaners

Sept. 14-16, 2007




No opinion

  % % %
Rudy Giuliani 70 22 9
John McCain 65 25 9
Fred Thompson 55 9 36
Mitt Romney 39 23 37

I thought this Gallup poll was fascinating.  There are two very different things going on here.

First, three of the GOP candidates have problems with, roughly, one quarter of the GOP base. Fred Thompson, is the only GOP candidate with low unfavorables inside the party. Let’s be clear, last month, analysts were pointing at McCain’s GOP Fav/UnFavs and they were used as prima facia evidence that he couldn’t win a GOP primary. If those arguments are correct, then neither can Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson.

It seems that based on these numbers, there are really three very distinct candidates. McCain and Giuliani have good numbers both inside the party and outside. Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are still, basically, unknown. However, Romney’s numbers inside the party suggest that there may be a ceiling. Thompson’s don’t so much.

The second point is the Fav/UnFav’s in the general electorate. Gallup says:

For most of the year, Giuliani has been the most favorably rated Republican candidate in the eyes of the American public. But in the current poll, McCain’s ratings have moved up to the point where he is essentially tied with Giuliani as the most positively evaluated of the four leading Republican candidates. More than half of Americans have a favorable opinion of McCain (53%) and Giuliani (52%). Thirty-eight percent rate Thompson favorably, and 27% favorably rate Romney. (It should be noted that the lower "favorable" ratings for Thompson and Romney are in part due to their overall lack of familiarity — 39% of Americans have no opinion of Thompson and 38% have no opinion of Romney.)

As Gallup notes in their title, Mitt Romney’s continued decline is a little striking:

While Romney’s favorable rating is the same as it was earlier this month, his unfavorable rating has increased and is now at its highest point to date (35%). Romney’s ratings had improved following his win in the Iowa straw poll in August, after which 33% rated him positively and 24% negatively. Since then, his ratings have quickly deteriorated. Romney now has a net negative image in the eyes of Americans (27% favorable, 35% unfavorable), as was the case in several polls this summer.

That said, Romney’s strategy is clear. The only numbers that matter to his campaign are in Iowa and New Hampshire. And he is doing fine there.

Again, it is clear that McCain and Giuliani are probably electable. Fred Thompson’s negatives are not a problem yet. If he is able to define himself, as opposed to his opponents in either the primary or the general, he could be in good shape.

Romney’s Keyes problem?

The other day, I reviewed the history of the 2000 election in which Alan Keyes served as a conservative attack dog. He attacked every candidate from the right and helped make arguments that prevented the consolidation of the right. It appears that he might have that effect by attacking Mitt Romney this time:

Keyes, on addressing marriage, was the first candidate to take a swipe at the frontrunners and argued Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, was "single handedly responsible" for the gay marriage issue.

These restate Keyes’ 2006 attacks on Romney (emphasis in the original)

It’s because Mitt Romney, who’s now running around the country telling people he’s an opponent of same sex marriage, forced the justices of the peace and others to perform same sex marriageall on his own with no authorization or requirement from the court. Tells you how twisted our politicians have become. On the first day, he forces homosexual marriage through in the state of Massachusetts without any warrant or requirement from the court. And the day after that, he goes to a conference sponsored by Focus on the Family to announce what a strong supporter he is of traditional marriage. Ah! God help us, please.

A number of friends have stumbled on the question: Who is actually going to attack Mitt Romney and expose him? None of the candidates can really get away with it. Alan Keyes may be the answer.

Foreclosures up… Again

Top line numbers:

The number of foreclosure filings reported in the U.S. last month more than doubled versus August 2006 and jumped 36 percent from July, a trend that signals many homeowners are increasingly unable to make timely payments on their mortgages or sell their homes amid a national housing slump.

Same bad places for both primaries and swing states:

Nevada, California and Florida had the highest foreclosure rates in the country last month, the firm said.

Nevada reported one foreclosure filing for every 165 households — more than three times the national average. The state had 6,197 filings in August, an increase of 21 percent from July and more than triple the year-ago figure.

California’s foreclosure rate was one filing for every 224 households. The state reported the most foreclosure filings of any single state with 57,875, up 48 percent from July and an increase of more than 300 percent from August 2006.

Florida had one foreclosure filing for every 243 households. In all, the state reported 33,932 foreclosure filings, up 77 percent from July’s total and more than twice the year-ago total.

Georgia, Ohio, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Indiana rounded out the 10 states with the highest foreclosure rates.

I don’t know all the details, but we are looking at over 30k foreclosures in Nevada so far this year.