Friday, June 24, 2011

Mom, Please Pick Up ...

Same-Sex Marriage Soon Legal in NY

This is a great civil rights victory and I suspect California is not going to be far behind in getting this done (through the courts and at the ballot box). And, of course, the substantive policy change is what really matters most.

But, since this is a site focused on politics, let's take a moment to think about the politics of the NY vote. Andrew Cuomo is a big, big winner in all of this. This happened because of his dogged determination to get it done and he made it happen by working with the handful of Republican state senators he needed to get on board. In a previous post, I commented on Cuomo's very high approval rating despite the fact that most governors (from either party) are not very popular right now. Cuomo is going to be discussed as a 2016 presidential contender and this is going to accelerate that kind of talk.

Want to identify a loser in all this? How about Mitt Romney? New York is not a bellweather state nationally so you might think this does not tell us much that is useful about the policy issue nationally or about where the nation is headed nationally. But this bill doesn't pass in NY without the support of some Republican legislators from Republican districts. Those Republicans that vote for this legislation are looking at where the independent voters in their districts are headed and they know that it is not just right to be for the bill but it is good politics. Now, cut to a picture of Mitt Romney. Whatever Romney's real, private thoughts on same-sex marriage, Romney knows he cannot win the Republican nomination without being opposed to same-sex marriage. So, he will tow the party line on this issue. When the general election rolls around, taking that position will help Romney in the key swing states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah. But it will not help him in Colorado or in Virginia or in Wisconsin or in Minnesota. All of these are states Obama won in 2008 but Colorado and Virginia in particular are states the Republicans need to win back to defeat Obama in 2012. As independents rapidly move towards approving of same-sex marriage, absolutist positions like the one Romney is going to have to take are not going to be winning positions.

UPDATE: And now it is done. Here is Andrew Cuomo's speech after the vote. Skip to the 2:50 minute mark and you can see the presidential campaign roll out before your eyes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Redistricting and the 2012 House Elections

After the 2010 elections, the conventional wisdom was that Democrats had virtually no chance to take the House back in 2012 both because of the toxic political atmosphere for Democrats and because the Republicans had won control of a lot of state legislatures so they would stand to gain another cushion through the redistricting process.

Since then, both variables have changed in the Democrats favor. The Democratic brand is doing better (though it is probably more accurate to say the Republican brand is really hurting again) and Democrats appear to be doing much better in the redistricting processes around the country than most analysts first thought. Stu Rothenberg argues that Democrats will likely gain a handful of seats through redistricting alone and, as a result, Democrats will only need to pick up a net of another 20 seats from the 60+ districts Republicans won in 2010 but that Obama won in 2008. That is still a very tall order (see incumbency effect) but it is not impossible.

The bottom line is that the House is in play in 2012.

Republican NY State Senator Roy McDonald

I like this guy. A Republican state senator in New York who came out in favor of gay marriage, he was asked to explain why he was a "yes" vote. Andrew Sullivan posted his response:

"You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I'm trying to do the right thing, and that's where I'm going with this."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Demographics and the 2012 Election

It is true that some states Obama won in 2008 (like Indiana) are not likely to be blue states in 2012. But it is also true that there are some states that Obama did not win in 2008 that are going to be in play in 2012.

I came across this fascinating interactive map from the Economist that provides demographic, economic, and political data by state. If you look at some of the demographic data, you can see why Obama's people think some states like Arizona and even Texas can be in play in 2012. Obama lost Arizona by just 8.5 points in 2008 despite it being McCain's home state. The large numbers of Hispanic voters in Arizona can flip the state in 2012 just as they have flipped states like New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado. Texas is 37% Hispanic and 12% Black. Assuming Rick Perry is not the GOP nominee, Obama's people believe Texas will be in play in 2012. And if Perry is the GOP nominee, the GOP will likely win Texas (though even that is no sure thing as this new poll has Obama's approval rating in Texas at 51% and not far behind Perry) but will have a whole bunch of other problems.

Another interesting data category in this map is age. Pennsylvania's population is one of the older populations in the country and that tells you a lot about why Obama had a little more trouble nailing down this blue state. But old people are not happy about the Ryan Medicare plan and that means Obama is gaining among older voters in states like Florida and ... Arizona.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Anthony Weiner

Just wanted to post that name to improve the traffic on the blog. Nobody will read what's here otherwise.

And, on the topic of Weiner, I like this piece by Peter Beinart. Weiner should not resign.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy

Somebody needs to start the slow clap because Rudy Giuliani is looking like he's going to run again.

But here's the really stupid part. Bill Kristol says:

"Rudy's theory of the race: In the fall of 2007, he decided he couldn't compete with both Mitt Romney and John McCain in New Hampshire, and disastrously decided to try to pull back there and pitch his tent in Florida. This year, he'll commit everything to New Hampshire, where he thinks he has a good shot at beating Romney -- whom he criticized there earlier this week. He then thinks he can beat whichever more socially conservative candidate(s) is left by winning what are still likely to be winner-take-all primaries in big states like California, New York, and New Jersey."
That's arguably the most idiotic "theory of the race" I've heard yet. How many poor assumptions can you count here?
1) "Committing everything to New Hampshire." Who has that ever worked for? McCain tried it in 2000 and eviscerated Bush there ... and then got his clock cleaned the rest of the way. Lieberman tried it in 2004. Romney tried it in 2008. Do I need to go on?
2) New Hampshire ... "where he thinks he has a good shot at beating Romney." Yeah, because New Hampshire loves people who ignored them for years and certainly has no ties to Romney. Romney may or may not win New Hampshire. But he WON'T lose it to Giuliani.
3) "He thinks he can beat whichever more socially conservative candidate is left" by winning big states like CA, NJ, and NY. Right. Because McCain had no trouble beating Bush in liberal CA in 2000. Oh, wait ...
Bottom line ... Rudy has as much of a chance of winning the Republican nomination as I do.