links for 2007-12-31

Fred giving up?

Fred Thompson seems to be throwing himself under the bus. From ABC in Iowa:

By declaring that he needs to do better than he’s polled for months, Thompson risks setting a bar so high for himself that a third-place victory — which would be something of an achievement for his struggling campaign — is a self-imposed disappointment. Under his own rules, Thompson could beat Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the caucuses and still be setting himself up to drop out of the race.

links for 2007-12-30

Anecdotes ? Data

But it sure is interesting:

OTTUMWA, Iowa–Last night, I attended a Mike Hucabee event at the Bridge View Center here and made the conservative estimate that he drew a crowd of 400 to 500 inside an auditorium that held 650. When I noticed that Mitt Romney had an event at the same place this afternoon, I looked forward to getting an apples to apples comparison. I showed up again today and walked into the auditorium where I had seen Huckabee the night before, only to find it empty. The Romney event "is in a much smaller room on the other side," I was told. Whereas the room where Huckabee spoke was the size of a large movie theater, for the Romney event I was directed to "Conference Room 1," where I counted about 100 people once the event started.

If this is real, and I am not necessarily advocating the position that it is, you have to wonder what the head of the Iowa Christian Alliance was thinking. That said, nice get by Mitt Romney.

Pro-Huckabee group goes up with anti-Romney ad

Trust Huckabee, the somewhat controversial pro-Huckabee 501(c)(4), has gone up on the air with a pro-Huckabee ad and launched an anti-Romney site.

No news yet about the size of the buy. It does strike me that, at this point, Mike Huckabee is more likely to lose votes to someone else than to Romney. Romney’s ads probably remove some votes from Huckabee and add them to someone other than either one of them. Similarly, these ads may not add votes to Huckabee, but they may tear down Romney.

It is unclear how big this buy is. Previous attacks on Romney have been press releases.

UPDATE: Bob Novak notes that, in a suspicious poll that puts Fred Thompson below 1%, John McCain is the 2nd choice of Huckabee and Romney supporters. If they tear each other up this week, does it mean that McCain rises? I doubt that you can come to any meaningful conclusion in an unpublished poll with silly answers. But something to ponder.

Red states gaining, but beware of resting on laurels

I highly recommend the book How Congress Evolves by the late Nelson Polsby to any student or practitioner of politics. Polsby documents the interplay between Congressional rules, demographic shift, and partisan realignment. The essential fact was that Southern congressional districts fell to the Republicans as a result of southern migration from the traditionally Republican Northeast and Midwest. (Polsby points to the rise of residential air-conditioning and military-industrial complex) The first seat to go reliably Republican was in St. Petersburg, FL. Gradually, the loss of conservative Southern Democrats shifted the Congressional Democratic Party to the left. Gradually, a more liberal Democratic Caucus changed House and Caucus rules to force conservatives to concede, retire (usually handing seats to Republicans), or switch parties.

Winners Losers
Texas +4 Ohio -2
Florida +2 New York -2
Arizona +2 California -1
North Carolina +1 Massachusetts -1
South Carolina +1 New Jersey -1
Georgia +1 Pennsylvania -1
Utah +1 Michigan -1
Nevada +1 Illinois -1
Oregon +1 Minnesota -1

It is with that context that I look at a post by Brian Faughn over at the Weekly Standard. His thesis is simple:

The New York Times reports that while the subprime mortgage crisis has slowed the population shift away from states such as California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, the trend for the decade is clear: the red states are gaining people and electoral votes while the blue states are losing them

With the conclusion:

This would represent a shift of eight seats from Kerry states to Bush states. A Democratic candidate who held all of Kerry’s states would also need to win Florida, or a similar combination of smaller states, to gain the presidency.

I quibble with his language here. He says "a shift of eight seats" when it is really a shift of eight electoral votes. And that’s the rub. I have two points that I significantly differ with him. The first is that I wonder who actually fills those seats. The second is captured by his caveat, "states change character and become more or less competitive for parties over time."

First, who fills the seats. Let’s take the states one at a time. Based on Polidata projections, Brian lists the states that win and lose. While I only have specific knowledge about some of these states, we can do some rough estimates. It seems that a large source of migration into Texas is Hispanic which is still significantly Democratic. It seems that the Texas seats would go GOP/Dem 1/3 or 2/2. The growth in Florida is in South Florida, which went substantially blue in the last election. Perhaps a split, although gerrymandering could result in a 0/2 GOP pickup. Arizona is unclear to me. Most of the Southern states are likely to be GOP pickups.

Out West, it is probably a different story. My gut is that Nevada’s seat goes blue or we lose Rep. Jon Porter (R)’s suburban Clark County seat, resulting in a wash. It is hard to imagine that Oregon’s growth is somewhere other than the Portland area, which we lose. Utah is, of course, the exception.

Looking to the states that lose seats, it is actually kind of grim for Republicans. Clearly we lose the California seat because of redistricting. There is no seat to lose in Mass. We will lose the Illinois seat because the partisan gerrymander will combine two GOP suburban districts. Michigan is also a highly gerrymandered state that over-performs GOP at the congressional level, not to mention the strong possibility that we lose MI-07 this cycle. New York lossage is almost certainly from upstate, and there is a strong chance that we lose the state senate by 2010, which could create the circumstances to lose more than 2 seats. Pennsylvania is another state with a strong partisan gerrymander that will likely be broken by a Dem governor and state House.

The upshot is that who fills the seats is, at least, mixed.

Second, the issue that "states change character." The swing states are different than they were several years ago. The argument for Colorado and Virginia being purple is now transparent, something that might not have been true in 2004. Selling a Southern evangelical in 2000 and 2004 to West Virginia and Arkansas seemed easy, but a zillionaire Massachusetts Mormon? Bush suprisingly pulled off New Mexico, but it seems unlikely to be a repeat performance for the GOP. The upshot is that the sentence, "[a] Democratic candidate who held all of Kerry’s states would also need to win Florida, or a similar combination of smaller states, to gain the presidency," seems remarkably un-farfetched.

Indeed, the challenge for the GOP is going to be fighting back against the intra-state trends. In Virginia, southeastern Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, the GOP needs an agenda that is more relevant to the suburbs. In the West and Florida — and nationwide — we need better Hispanic numbers. And in the rust-belt, we need a response to irresponsible Democratic anti-globalization demagoguing.

Interestingly, the 2008 GOP presidential field features three different kinds of heterodox candidates who try to address these failings. Rudy Giuliani might well offer an answer in the inner-suburbs. John McCain provides a path to greater penetration in the Hispanic vote and a personality that appeals in the upper-Midwest. And Mike Huckabee offers a populism that could help consolidate the weak Southern states and the rust-belt. The fourth option is, of course, the status quo. National Review, in an article about how broken the GOP coalition is, characterized it like this:

Romney and Thompson, meanwhile, are fighting over who is the most conventional, paint-by-numbers conservative circa 1987.

In conclusion, I think that Brian is right in some sort of static analysis. But the world isn’t static. The Reagan and even Bush coalitions are basically gone. It is very, very dangerous for the GOP to look at 2012 with anything but great apprehension. That’s why we need a candidate at the top of the ticket in 2008 who has something different to offer. And that’s why we need a Congressional party that is willing to substantially address some of our flaws. And I am not seeing it.

links for 2007-12-29

Romney ad “misleading”; McCain responds

Mitt Romney dropped a negative ad in New Hampshire attacking John McCain. However, it seems that Romney, again, has some truthiness problems. Given the factual errors below, it is clear why McCain goes straight to Romney’s credibility problem.

Factcheck.org, "More Mitt Malarky":

Romney’s latest ad attacks McCain in New Hampshire with false and misleading claims

WaPo’s Howie Kurtz:

Mitt Romney, who targeted Mike Huckabee in an earlier commercial, is now running the most negative campaign of any presidential candidate in either party. … Romney’s description of McCain’s failed immigration bill — which was backed by President Bush — is so selective as to be misleading.

New York Times:

Specifically, Mr. Romney assails Mr. McCain on both tax policies and immigration. On both topics, the commercial presents facts that could be construed either as selective or worse, misleading.

Mark Halperin from Time points out:

First negative ad against Romney by any candidate, first negative ad by McCain, first negative ad by any candidate besides Romney.

Negative campaigning. Lying. Debating what the definition of "saw" is. Who does that sound like?

Desperate Romney flip-flops and goes negative in NH

UPDATE: NYT fact-checks the ad. Some misleadin’ and some makin’ up.

This is pretty funny. Mitt Romney told Jill Zuckerman of the Chicago Tribune reporters should stop looking at his "old quotes":

"I know that there are some—particularly in opposing campaigns—who will try to look at old quotes, and perhaps take them out of context and perhaps not, and go back 14 years or 15 years, and say, ‘You said this here, you said that there,’ " said Romney. "But… if you want to know what I’d do as president, you can see what I did as governor."

14 or 15 years? How about 24 hours? The closing graf was:

Romney’s campaign produced two television ads Wednesday in New Hampshire. He said both were positive, containing his closing argument to voters, and that he has not yet decided whether to air any "contrast" or negative ads.

Let’s be clear. Wednesday (afternoon?) Romney told the Trib reporter that they are going positive. By Friday morning, they were going negative, according to the AP:

Mitt Romney takes GOP presidential rival John McCain to task on taxes and immigration in a new advertising push in New Hampshire as he seeks to fend off the Arizona senator’s challenge.

Of course, Romney’s problem is that he is out of credibility. As the Union-Leader pointed out, "the more Mitt Romney speaks, the less believable he becomes."

You know though. Maybe he was right. He did flip-flop in under 48 hours as governor in some cases. Or maybe the Wednesday night tracking polls were that bad. Or maybe (probably?) he just lied to a reporter. Again.