Ten Miles Square

October 2012 Archives

October 31, 2012 12:48 PM No Atheists in Foxholes …

… and no anti-government conservatives in hurricanes.” – Alex Wagner Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Romney is not backing off on his earlier...

By Mark Kleiman

October 31, 2012 12:38 PM The Tobacco Industry’s Longstanding Desire to Sell Marijuana Cigarettes

In one of the last Newsweek magazine cover stories we will ever see, Tony Dukoupil offers a fascinating inside view of the business people who are making millions by selling...

By Keith Humphreys

October 31, 2012 12:11 PM A Bit More on How Undecided Voters Might Break

In a recent piece, I modeled the choices of decided voters and then looked to see what that model would predict about the remaining undecided voters.  The apparent answer was...

By John Sides

October 31, 2012 11:43 AM Obama’s “Legitimacy” and a Popular-Electoral Vote Split

Lots of chatter throughout Blogistan if President Obama is re-elected with more than 270 Electoral votes but with fewer popular votes than Mittdrake the Magician. Much of it is silly.First...

By Jonathan Zasloff

October 31, 2012 11:32 AM Exhale!

Keith Humphreys is worried that Big Tobacco would invade a legal cannabis market. Well, anything’s possible, but I’d bet against it. I don’t see what they’d bring to the table...

By Mark Kleiman

October 31, 2012 9:29 AM Tony Dokoupil on the Downsides of Marijuana Legalization

Over the past few years, public opinion and media treatment of marijuana legalization have both shifted (presumably interdependently): it’s gone from being a weird, feaky idea to seeming no more...

By Mark Kleiman

October 31, 2012 8:47 AM Romney, Dixie, and the Future of the Electoral College

As election day quickly - nay, mercifully - approaches, commentators have been contemplating the possibility that Barack Obama might win the election while losing the popular vote, and fact that...

By Colin Woodard

October 31, 2012 8:41 AM I Support Obamacare for the Same Reasons I Support FEMA: We Must Take Care of Each Other

The New York Times features dozens of fabulous pictures today. I especially like the one by Michael Kirby showing several police officers rescuing three-year-old Haley Rombi from dangerous flood waters....

By Harold Pollack

October 31, 2012 8:20 AM The Myth About Strangers Poisoning Kids’ Halloween Candy

I think I’ll likely just post this every Halloween: As October draws to a close and children begin to pick their Halloween costumes and anticipate candy feasts, a barrage of...

By Aaron Carroll

October 30, 2012 4:03 PM “A New Reality, an Old Infrastructure”

Earlier today New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a press conference (no video or transcript yet, but I’ll be happy to provide it later if I can find it)...

By Andrew Sabl

October 30, 2012 3:52 PM Government IS Good at Some Things

I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth bringing it back to add in some numbers. Let’s recap my prior argument: There are plenty of things that government does poorly....

By Aaron Carroll

October 30, 2012 3:45 PM A Libertarian Case for Obamacare

Mike Godwin has a post up at Reason.com making a libertarian case for Obama over Romney. I’m really interested in the parts concerning Obamacare. First, he acknowledges the “true” libertarian...

By Aaron Carroll

October 30, 2012 3:38 PM First Responder-in-Chief, 1965 Edition

Thanks to Will Nelligan for alerting me to this— Kent Germany of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center has produced an on-line exhibit giving – thanks to Lyndon Johnson’s proclivity...

By Andrew Rudalevige

October 30, 2012 3:29 PM The Track Record of Pre-Election Polls (in 2 Graphs)

How trustworthy are this year’s presidential polls?  On Monday, November 5, will they be able to tell us who is likely to win the election?  We’ll know soon enough, but...

By John Sides

October 30, 2012 3:22 PM Forecasting Elections with the Gallup Likely Voter Numbers

Jay Cost took a look at how Gallup’s final likely voter poll was associated with the Electoral College vote share.  Here’s the picture: The advantage of using Gallup is it...

By John Sides

October 30, 2012 3:16 PM Insider Knowledge

Paul Krugman writes about journalists’ obsession with the quest for insider knowledge. A lot of political journalism, and even reporting on policy issues, is dominated by the search for the...

By Henry Farrell

October 30, 2012 3:10 PM Inside Outside (Where Have I Been?)

Paul Krugman channels Bill James at his best in explaining why "outside" knowledge sometimes trumps "inside" knowledge: But Martin’s tweet also reveals a broader issue in reporting, which I’ve commented...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 29, 2012 2:21 PM Are You Better Off Now?

Why did the Republicans decide to make the question "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" a central theme to their national convention this year? Isn't...

By Seth Masket

October 29, 2012 2:00 PM How Hurricane Sandy Could Matter on Election Day

I’ll speak to three possibilities, just for starters:1) Sandy hurts Obama.  As Larry Bartels wrote about a few months ago, incumbent presidents can be punished for natural disasters, including floods. ...

By John Sides

October 29, 2012 1:49 PM Some Quick Thoughts on Energy Drinks

I have a number of friends who are quite concerned over this: Monster Beverage Corp.’s energy drinks have been cited in the deaths of five people in the past year,...

By Aaron Carroll

October 29, 2012 1:39 PM How Will the Undecideds Break?

This question obviously has important implications for who wins this election. We can start by dismissing the blanket statement that “undecideds break for the challenger.”  [NB: That phrase was garbled...

By John Sides

October 29, 2012 1:18 PM Election Reflections

I don’t have a twitter account (and can’t imagine how folks who do can find time for much else).  But here are four quick election-related reactions to recent events: POLLS...

By Dan Hopkins

October 29, 2012 1:11 PM Cool Visualization of Precinct-level Votes

Jonathan Rodden sends along this interactive webmap of 2008 precinct election results: Rodden writes: It is a pretty big improvement over the old county-level maps, and you can zoom in...

By Andrew Gelman

October 29, 2012 10:00 AM Medicaid

Paul Krugman steps up to talk about Medicaid: There’s a lot we don’t know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes...

By Aaron Carroll

October 29, 2012 8:56 AM The GOP's One, Tiny Concession to the Latino Vote

Brad Bailey stalked restroom entrances for days at the Republican National Convention before he finally met Ann Coulter. A blond, seafood restaurateur from Houston who looks like he should be...

By Terrence M. McCoy

October 29, 2012 8:15 AM Who is the Future U.S. Senator from Maine?

Last February, my home state of Maine was thrust into the national political spotlight by US Senator Olympia Snowe’s sudden and surprising announcement that she was abandoning her reelection bid....

By Colin Woodard

October 29, 2012 8:10 AM Voting as Though Reality Matters

Matt Stoller thinks this would be a good time to vote for a third-party candidate. His case, approximately, comes in two parts. The first is a sheet of charges against...

By Michael O'Hare

October 26, 2012 3:23 PM Misreporting Voter Turnout

President Obama is currently leading by as much as 4-5 points in the polls if attention were restricted to registered voters. Yet, polls based on the subsample of “likely” voters...

By Erik Voeten

October 26, 2012 3:12 PM If States Embrace Romney’s So-called "Moderate" Stance, They Would Ban 90 percent of Abortions

In 2004, Lawrence Finer, Lori Frohwirth, Lindsay Dauphinee, Susheela Singh, and Ann M. Moore surveyed women patients at eleven large abortion providers. Their numbers, though imperfect, are pretty compelling when...

By Harold Pollack

October 26, 2012 2:55 PM In Defense of the Electoral College

Over the past few weeks, I have had the enjoyable opportunity to lecture on the subject of the US Electoral College to a variety of different audiences in Poland and...

By Joshua Tucker

October 26, 2012 2:42 PM Senate Roundup: Every Seat Matters

The important thing to remember about Senate elections is that every single one counts. It's not like the House, where for the next two years it doesn't matter all that...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 26, 2012 2:37 PM If Elected, Moderate Mitt Will Disappear

You have to hand it to Mitt Romney and his team. Starting in the first debate, he pivoted almost effortlessly to the center, which is where elections are won. If...

By Jonathan Alter

October 26, 2012 10:01 AM Deus vult!

Richard Mourdock’s moral theology leaves Jeremy Paretsky, O.P., Professor of Scripture at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, unimpressed. Fr. Paretsky writes: There is a problem with people using theological language...

By Mark Kleiman

October 26, 2012 9:07 AM Obama-Trump: How the Grudge-match Started

Obama explains to Jay Leno: [Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]...

By Mark Kleiman

October 26, 2012 8:17 AM Party Networks vs. Party Organization: the Republicans

This Politico article caught my eye last week. Its title is, "Playing to donors, GOP Groups Spill some Secrets" but, from a MoF perspective, this undersells the article. It is...

By Gregory Koger

October 25, 2012 12:06 PM The Asymmetric Ground Game Continues

Two months ago, I noted the striking differences in the numbers of field offices the presidential campaigns have established in the swing states. I figured I'd check up on those...

By Seth Masket

October 25, 2012 11:59 AM What Company’s Employees Gave the Most to Obama and Romney?

From Open Secrets: Hat tip to Tobin Grant. [Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]...

By John Sides

October 25, 2012 11:50 AM The Most Effective Voter Suppression Strategy: Requiring Polling Places

As a former Oregon Secretary of State (and chief elections official), I’m glad the courts have invalidated or postponed various voter suppression laws cynically cloaked as “election fraud prevention.” Yet...

By Phil Keisling

October 25, 2012 11:48 AM This Election Is All About Health Care

According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 55 percent of registered voters say the outcome of this election will make “a great deal of difference” in their lives....

By Ezra Klein

October 25, 2012 9:52 AM Mitt Romney vs. the English Language

My favorite moment of the 2012 presidential debates came at the beginning of the final confrontation Monday night. The moderator, Bob Schieffer, invited both candidates to “give your thoughts” on...

By Michael Kinsley

October 25, 2012 8:03 AM $750 Billion out of Medicaid

Here’s the math.And here’s the human reality: Mitt Romney wants to throw your mother out of the nursing home, or bankrupt your family with the expense of keeping her there.The...

By Mark Kleiman

October 24, 2012 12:19 PM Romney’s Geography Problem

I missed this on Monday night: Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. Apparently, it was no mere slip of the tongue:...

By Mark Kleiman

October 24, 2012 12:09 PM How Strong Is the U.S. Navy Really?

This is a guest post by political scientists Brian Crisher and Mark Souva.*****In the last debate, Governor Romney made the claim that the US Navy is the smallest it’s been...

By John Sides

October 24, 2012 12:03 PM Is Positive News from Intrade a Good Use of Campaign Resources?

I wrote a piece recently about the link between the cost of an “Obama wins” futures contract on Intrade and Nate Silver’s 538 blog’s probability of an Obama victory. At...

By Joshua Tucker

October 24, 2012 11:58 AM The Politics of Dillon, Texas

That taxes, the national debt, or health care reform have been central issues in this presidential campaign is hardly surprising.  But the same can’t be said for the slogan “Clear...

By Dan Hopkins

October 24, 2012 11:50 AM On Moneyball and Romney’s "Momentum"

The lesson of this debate over Romney’s momentum—see James Fallows—is this: reporters have to ground their stories in data.  It’s fine to quote from campaign officials and gauge their mood. ...

By John Sides

October 24, 2012 9:28 AM No, Health Reform Won’t Hurt Women on Medicaid

Avik Roy is a Romney outside advisor on health policy who writes for Forbes. He seems like a decent guy. He helped me on a Washington Monthly story. I just...

By Harold Pollack

October 24, 2012 8:14 AM I Guess the Young Ain’t Buying Physicians’ Complaints

I do a lot of posting on my annoyance at doctors’ complaining a bit too much about their financial and professional problems. I’ve said many times that, even accounting for...

By Aaron Carroll

October 23, 2012 5:06 PM Candidates Avoid Hard Argument for Democracy

During democratic revolutions, terrorists often attempt to control the political process, and disempowered elites attempting to regain their authority may try to provoke nationalist sentiment into violence. While mature democracies...

By Max Ehrenfreund

October 23, 2012 12:26 PM When Do People Vote?

Not surprisingly, they vote when the polls first open and shortly before they close. From a study of voting patterns in three California counties by Douglas Spencer and Zachary Markovitz:...

By Seth Masket

October 23, 2012 12:14 PM How Obama Just Won Ohio: Moderate Isolationism

In 2004, John Kerry said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention, we shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad and shutting them in the United States of America. The...

By Andrew Sabl

October 23, 2012 12:07 PM The Obvious Way to Fix the Electoral College Tie Problem

Necessary preface: I think it's highly unlikely that we'll get an Electoral College tie, and I don't really think it's a big deal if we do -- assuming that Republicans...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 23, 2012 12:05 PM Arlen Specter

Rich Yselson called Arlen Specter, who died last week, a "poor man's Richard Nixon." Something about Specter brought out the snark, didn't it? At least in me it did. I...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 23, 2012 8:56 AM Zombie Politics: Redistricting and Party Polarization

Aaron Blake: The once-in-a-decade redistricting process has taken the nation’s already-polarized congressional map and — you guessed it! — made it even more polarized, says a new study from the nonpartisan...

By John Sides

October 23, 2012 7:43 AM George McGovern and the 1972 Election

The death of George McGovern has got people thinking again about the 1972 presidential election. In Salon, Joan Walsh gives what might be called the extreme “journalistic” view of that...

By Andrew Gelman

October 22, 2012 4:10 PM Health Care’s Huge Contribution to Current Debt, in Two Charts

A nice, short post by Robert Dittmar makes a great point in a few charts. Here’s his chart, using Bureau of Economic Analysis data, of the total U.S. federal deficit,...

By Austin Frakt

October 22, 2012 4:04 PM “Accelerated Regular Order”: Could it lead the parties to a grand bargain?

Suzy Khimm reports on a proposal from the Bipartisan Policy Center that would establish a framework for reaching a grand bargain on deficit reduction in 2013.  In short, the BPC...

By Sarah Binder

October 22, 2012 12:36 PM Why The Foreign Policy Debate Matters

Americans care a lot less about foreign policy than the economy. So will the foreign policy debate matter at all? There are two reasons to believe that it will be...

By Erik Voeten

October 22, 2012 12:30 PM The Great Train Ticket Scandal of 1948

The George Osborne micro-scandal (apparently, he doesn’t like mixing with the plebs on the train, but doesn’t like paying the first class fare either) is reminiscent of the C.E.M. Joad...

By Henry Farrell

October 22, 2012 11:53 AM George McGovern

I've seen a lot of good items about George McGovern (here's the NYT obituary) so I'll focus on what I know the most about: presidential nomination reform. Granted, I may...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 22, 2012 9:18 AM What Do Indian Health Service Patients, College Students Receiving Work Study and Pell Grants, and Members of Rural Communities Receiving Water and Waste Disposal Grants Have in Common?

Apparently, they are all welfare recipients. In this clip, FOX News’ anchor Eric Bolling announced that federal spending on welfare has now reached $1.03 trillion. As Senator Jeff Sessions put...

By Harold Pollack

October 19, 2012 12:55 PM Another Court of Appeals Strikes Down DOMA

The Second Circuit joints the First, and finds that discrimination by sexual orientation calls for heightened scrutiny. Good. But of course this is going up to the Supreme Court. When...

By Mark Kleiman

October 19, 2012 12:00 PM How the Parties Approach "Hardball"... Differently

Earlier this week, I attended the Politics to the Extreme conference at Cal State Channel Islands. I got to see an interesting presentation by Doug Harris of Loyola University Maryland....

By Seth Masket

October 19, 2012 11:56 AM A Garth Strategy for Obama?

Why isn’t President Obama running harder against Congress? The president was effective in Tuesday’s debate, but he won only narrowly, even though Mitt Romney revealed an ugly side of himself...

By Jamie Malanowski

October 19, 2012 11:44 AM Continued Collapse of the Information System: Two More Dead Canaries

Two significant pieces of news: Google’s earnings (and stock price) are down, and Newsweek has given up on a paper edition.The Newsweek story is only the latest step down a...

By Michael O'Hare

October 19, 2012 11:37 AM When Facts Don’t Meet Your Worldview, Just Stop Talking

Mouth, meet foot: Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) said Thursday that abortions are “absolutely” never necessary to save the lives of pregnant women. “With modern technology and science, you can’t...

By Aaron Carroll

October 19, 2012 11:25 AM Old Old Senate Update

I don't think I've said anything about this one since Tommy Thompson (71) won the GOP primary in Wisconsin. It's time for an update. Recall the basics here: Congress has...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 19, 2012 8:00 AM Yes, Gallup Is Probably Goofy. So What?

Yesterday's Gallup numbers? In their likely voter screen, Mitt Romney lead by a whopping 7 points, 52-45. On the other hand, they have registered voters at 48-47, with Romney barely...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 18, 2012 12:00 PM Who Really Gives? Partisanship and Charitable Giving in the United States

Michele Margolis and Michael Sances write: Conservatives and liberals are equally generous in their donation habits. This pattern holds at both the individual and state level, and contradicts the conventional...

By Andrew Gelman

October 18, 2012 11:56 AM Presidential Debates and the Low Information Voter

The brilliant Flip Wilson once took a camera crew into the street and asked passers by whether the United States military should pull out of Provolone. Person after person gave...

By Keith Humphreys

October 18, 2012 11:22 AM The Debate Questions? Fair

There's an early consensus that, in the words of Jonathan Chait, "Obama enjoyed friendly questions from an audience that obviously leaned left" in the second debate. Naturally, conservatives agree. I...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 18, 2012 11:17 AM Are We Crazy Yet?

Tim Murphy says that "we're all slowly going insane," but I'm not so sure. The occasion is a Public Policy Polling poll that finds that everyone predicts one thing: fraud by...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 18, 2012 11:08 AM George W. Bush Haunts Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney has a George W. Bush problem. In fact, that’s Romney’s biggest problem. It’s George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who has made voters skeptical of many of...

By Ezra Klein

October 18, 2012 9:35 AM Convergence between Polls and Prediction Markets in US Presidential Election

I’m intrigued by the recent convergence between Nate Silver’s 2012 US Presidential Election forecast (which incorporates most of the publicly available polling data) and the futures contracts being sold on...

By Joshua Tucker

October 18, 2012 8:42 AM Yes, Undecided Voters Are Partisans and Have Opinions

Several of the questions from the last debate led commentators to joke about whether the participants were truly “undecided voters,” as they were billed.  Jonathan Chait, for one, says that...

By John Sides

October 17, 2012 10:51 AM Reports of Media Polarization Effects Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Via Brendan Nyhan on Twitter, a new paper by Mike LaCour arguing that partisans are far less likely to consume exclusively partisan television news than many accounts would have it....

By Henry Farrell

October 17, 2012 10:41 AM The Missing Famous Town Hall Debate Moment

The most famous Town Hall debate moment, as far as I can tell, came from the first time the format was used; it was the woman who asked George H.W....

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 17, 2012 10:00 AM In Search of the Swing Voter

The Huffington Post poll tracking chart that Kevin Drum posted looked like a cave to me. Somewhere in there is the elusive swing voter. I just had to do this:...

By Austin Frakt

October 17, 2012 8:35 AM The New York Debate

My Washington Postpostdebate piece is about Libya, lazy mendacity, and the conservative information feedback loop. What I didn't realize when I wrote it is that Team Romney and conservatives in...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 17, 2012 7:29 AM Romney's Cynical China Strategy

Florida Senator Marco Rubio recently appeared for coffee at Bloomberg View in New York and made a good impression, if you don't count his failure to identify even one tax...

By Jonathan Alter

October 16, 2012 1:00 PM Arlen Specter and “Moderation”

Longtime senator Arlen Specter (R, er, D-PA) has died and is being largely lionized as a man of the now-missing middle. As one such headline suggests, “Centrist Sen. Specter Died...

By Andrew Rudalevige

October 16, 2012 12:05 PM Gerrymandering! Booga booga!

I was a bit annoyed with Robert Draper's Atlantic article about redistricting. I mean, it does a decent job explaining redistricting's history, some modern innovations in redistricting technology, and Texas' recent drama...

By Seth Masket

October 16, 2012 11:57 AM Three Myths about ObamaCare

My Doctors for America colleague Chris Lillis has made a nice video about health reform. Enjoy. [Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]...

By Harold Pollack

October 16, 2012 11:49 AM HPV and Sexual Activity

Back during primary season, I got a little hot and bothered when some candidates made some crazy claims about the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Those claims were, of course, completely...

By Aaron Carroll

October 16, 2012 11:45 AM George W. Bush Takes Up Painting

No, really. Politico says so.  Apparently mostly dogs and Texas landscapes.If you want a presidency studies spin, all I’ve got is that Dwight Eisenhower enjoyed painting too, as you can...

By Andrew Rudalevige

October 16, 2012 11:30 AM Was it the Debate?

Kevin Drum notices something interesting in the polling averages: According to both Pollster and Real Clear Politics, Mitt Romney began his big surge well before last week's debate. In the...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 16, 2012 11:21 AM Check Arguments, Not Facts

This political campaign has been a frustrating blizzard of numbers and studies. One side says $344 billion over 21 years, then the other side calls that a desperate lie and...

By Michael Kinsley

October 16, 2012 10:46 AM Bringing a Little Moneyball to Debate Watching

Last week at the outset of the vice-presidential debate, I offered a few thoughts at the New York Times Campaign Stops blog on how to use political science to inform...

By John Sides

October 16, 2012 9:02 AM A GOP Gaffe, and the Hack Gap

I’m not sure how I missed this when it came out: “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys...

By Mark Kleiman

October 16, 2012 8:10 AM Pre-Debate Blogging

Ezra Klein writes: I hate that debate rules are effectively set by the campaigns rather than by a body representing voters. Okay, three things. First of all: the campaigns do...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 15, 2012 11:27 PM Today in Strange Romney-Ryan Prizes: The Kid Rock Guitar

Last month I wrote that for a $6 donation one could receive a Team Romney slap bracelet. It turns out some lucky Republican out there can come away from this...

By Daniel Luzer

October 15, 2012 12:21 PM The Buck Stops at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Peter Bach, Leonard Saltz, and Robert Wittes write in an NYT op-ed, At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, we recently made a decision that should have been a no-brainer: we are...

By Austin Frakt

October 15, 2012 11:47 AM "They’re Spinning the Centrifuges Faster"!

Paul Ryan, in the debate with Biden: Let’s look at this from the view of the ayatollahs. What do they see? They see this administration trying to water down sanctions...

By James Wimberley

October 15, 2012 11:42 AM Broaden the Base. Don’t Touch the Rates.

Governor Romney has proposed cutting federal income tax rates by 20 percent, and paying for this by removing various loopholes and deductions. The math doesn’t add up, which is a...

By Harold Pollack

October 15, 2012 11:15 AM Yellow May Be the New Blue: What Voters Think of the “Big Bird” Ad

This is a guest post from political scientist John Geer, who runs the Vanderbilt/YouGov Ad Rating Project.  More on the ad is at that link.*****The Obama campaign released an ad...

By John Sides

October 15, 2012 8:26 AM My Favorite Quote from sort-of Supportive Academic Study of Romney Tax Plan

Governor Romney has proposed a 20-percent cut in federal incone tax rates, and that the numbers don’t add up. Josh Barro*–not exactly a left-winger–posted a withering analysis here. The Romney...

By Harold Pollack

October 12, 2012 3:00 PM We Should Be Talking About Medicaid More

It is a shame that the VP debate did not delve into the proposal of Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan to block grant Medicaid in a way designed to greatly...

By Don Taylor

October 12, 2012 2:00 PM Biden's Career Path

Dave Weigel makes an interesting aside in the midst of a piece about Joe Biden's debate style that I enthusiastically recommend. He says that after the 1988 presidential campaign fiasco,...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 12, 2012 12:45 PM The Church of Paul Ryan

In last night’s vice presidential debate Martha Raddatz asked the vice president and Congressman Paul Ryan to discuss the role that their Catholic faiths “played in your own personal views...

By Daniel Luzer

October 12, 2012 11:00 AM Could Biden Be Obama’s Savior?

Who woulda thunk that Joe Biden, of all people, would drag a onetime rock-star president over the finish line? Only a few months ago, plenty of Democrats wanted the vice...

By Jonathan Alter

October 12, 2012 10:00 AM Only 11% of Americans Grasp the Ryan Budget

Under the budget proposed by Paul Ryan, federal spending on everything other than Medicare and Social Security would decline over the next 20 years … (a) from 22% of GDP...

By Larry Bartels

October 12, 2012 9:47 AM The Veep Debate, and What Commentators Don’t Understand about Who Watched It

All throughout last night’s debate, I read a zillion tweets wondering how the exchange between Biden and Ryan, deemed “aggressive quarreling” on the front page of my New York Times...

By John Sides

October 12, 2012 9:00 AM Did the EU Cause Peace?

So the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize today for “ for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” It is...

By Erik Voeten

October 11, 2012 2:42 PM Only 47 Percent of Americans Pay Income Taxes; Almost 80 Percent Think They Pay Income Taxes.

Let's put this one under the politics of ignorance. About half of Americans don't pay income taxes. How many of them realize it? When last month David Corn of Mother...

By Daniel Luzer

October 11, 2012 12:17 PM Mitt Romney Made Big Money From Big Tobacco

The first story about Mitt Romney’s Bain years that genuinely angers me. I haven’t paid much attention to the debates over Romney’s Bain years. His behavior struck me as par...

By Harold Pollack

October 11, 2012 11:43 AM Which Americans Have Switched their Votes?

I might want to get back into the discussion of whether and how twitter changed debate coverage, but one thing in Richard Just's column on it caught my eye: [I]f...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 11, 2012 11:35 AM Maybe President Romney Wouldn’t Be So Bad

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not hoping for this or expecting it, but maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Mitt Romney became president. Never in...

By Michael Kinsley

October 11, 2012 9:49 AM Romney’s Pivot to the Center Hasn’t Worked. (But It Didn’t Need To.)

Perhaps you’ve heard about Romney’s pivot to the center in last week’s debate—what it means, whether it will work, how Obama is responding, etc.  Yesterday, Bill Clinton described his reaction...

By John Sides

October 11, 2012 8:05 AM The Politics of Pinocchios

Both left wing and right wing commentators complain frequently about the rise of journalistic ‘factchecking’ columns arguing that they substitute personal (and perhaps biased) opinions for purportedly neutral evaluations of...

By Henry Farrell

October 11, 2012 8:00 AM The Presidential Candidates and Health Care

Given the nature of campaigns, answers to difficult policy questions are often reduced to soundbites. This holds true even in debates. While the campaigns will say that they have made...

By Aaron Carroll

October 10, 2012 11:30 AM How Conservative Is Scott Brown?

A new UMass poll finds Elizabeth Warren leading Scott Brown by 3 points among likely voters.  You can see that poll here and other polls from that race here.  (The...

By John Sides

October 10, 2012 10:59 AM Not in the News

Dogs, not barking: Items that are not in the news, which is newsworthy. 1. I did an item on this last week, but I'll repeat it here: the debate over...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 10, 2012 9:50 AM The Politics of Competence

The political scientists Jane Green and Will Jennings have an interesting project tracking evaluations of political party competence in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.  Here’s a description: This project...

By John Sides

October 10, 2012 9:45 AM Romney Beats Obama on Hope

This U.S. presidential election has come down to a candidate without real policies against a candidate without a compelling vision. Republican nominee Mitt Romney can tell you exactly what he...

By Ezra Klein

October 10, 2012 9:36 AM The Republican Party and the Defense Budget Problem

Republicans have long complained about the fiscal profligacy of the Democratic party, and it's about time someone had the cojones to challenge the GOPs sacrosanct white elephant: defense spending. Because...

By Sean McElwee

October 10, 2012 9:20 AM Contra David Brooks, There Is no “Market System” Alternative to the Political System in Running Medicare

Pardon the boring title.Until late August, Republicans’ political and policy approach to entitlements rested on four pillars: Deep cuts to Medicaid, accompanied by a block grant structure which shifts costs...

By Harold Pollack

October 10, 2012 8:16 AM What Does “Debates Matter” Mean?

I got into this with Noam Scheiber on the night of last week’s debate, and now I see David Frum making the same point: Political science proclaims, “debates don’t matter.”...

By John Sides

October 09, 2012 11:00 PM Damage Assessment

Ed Kilgore is right that the Red team is reading more into a couple of good (for them) polling results than is really there. But it’s also fair to say...

By Mark Kleiman

October 09, 2012 10:00 AM Could Republican Governors Help Obama Win?

It is commonly argued in the media that a presidential candidate will be helped in a state by having a governor of the same party in office. However, there is...

By John Sides

October 09, 2012 9:10 AM Making the World Safe . . . for the Other Party to Mess it Up

Mark Lilla writes: Reagan did in fact restore (then overinflate) America’s self-confidence, and he did bequeath to Republicans a clear ideological alternative to Progressivism. But he also transformed American liberalism....

By Andrew Gelman

October 09, 2012 8:50 AM Economic Polarization

Some interesting findings from the new post-debate poll of Colorado voters conducted by the University of Denver with Selzer and Associates: 58% of Democrats say the economy has improved over...

By Seth Masket

October 09, 2012 8:49 AM The GOP Versus the Reality Principle

I’m starting to think that my quip about the contemporary Republican party as a coalition between the folks who want to repeal the New Deal and the folks who want...

By Mark Kleiman

October 09, 2012 8:14 AM The Constant Attention to Individual Polls Is Hurting America

Yesterday Nate Silver tweeted: Retweeting individual poll results is probably disinformative on balance. Which I gladly retweeted.  And then came the new Pew survey.  I’m sorry, I mean THE NEW...

By John Sides

October 09, 2012 7:07 AM Bill Keller on End of Life Care

Bill Keller has an insightful piece on end of life care in England v. the USA, using the example of the recent death of his father in law. First, let...

By Don Taylor

October 08, 2012 1:17 PM A Possible Electoral Map

Tom Holbrook reports: Jay DeSart and I have done some work over the years on using September state-wide trial-heat polls to predict presidential election outcomes in the states. We pool state-level...

By John Sides

October 08, 2012 11:59 AM Voting, Action, and Talking

My Salon column this weekend took up Conor Friedersdorf's argument about voting against Barack Obama (because drones and civil liberties violations are in his view dealbreakers even if Obama is...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 08, 2012 8:29 AM The GOP Versus the Reality Principle

I’m starting to think that my quip about the contemporary Republican party as a coalition between the folks who want to repeal the New Deal and the folks who want...

By Mark Kleiman

October 08, 2012 8:23 AM The Debate Is Not a Campaign Reset

Gallup has a seven-day horserace tracking poll. For the past week, Obama has been at either 49 or 50, and Rommey at 44 or 45. This morning’s numbers are the...

By Mark Kleiman

October 08, 2012 7:01 AM Ethical Standards in Different Data Communities

I opened the paper today and saw this from Paul Krugman, on Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric, who posted an assertion on Twitter that the [recent unemployment...

By Andrew Gelman

October 07, 2012 11:53 AM The Jobs Report: Will It Matter on Election Day?

The jobs report is out and the numbers are, by the standards of the past few years, pretty good.  Could this help Obama on Election Day?The shortest answer is: probably...

By John Sides

October 07, 2012 10:07 AM The Left and Right Myths of Affordable Care Act's Path to Law

Ah, deflating myths. I've decided that the patron saint of those who attempt to deflate myths must be Pie Traynor. For some reason, Pie Traynor at one time wound up...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 07, 2012 8:45 AM Should Presidential Candidates Be Specific?

Mitt Romney has been (very selectively; he doesn't really mean it) arguing that making specific promises while you're running for president is a mistake. Matt Yglesias sort of buys into...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 07, 2012 7:09 AM Blowing the Whistle on Your Boss Should Be Mandatory

Government needs to have mandatory discipline for high-ranking officials who act like jerks, and a mandatory snitch rule for lower-level employees who pretend they didn’t see it. If Massachusetts had...

By Lowry Heussler

October 07, 2012 7:06 AM Understanding the "Romney Won Big!" Narrative

As promised, I watched the debate last night without looking at Twitter, reading live blogs, reading emails, etc. Here's what I saw: Unspun view of the debate - sticking by...

By Brendan Nyhan

October 05, 2012 11:40 AM What Happens if Washington State Legalizes Pot?

The Washington State marijuana-legalization initiative is now far enough ahead in the polls to make passage a good probability, though nothing like a lock. (Colorado’s proposition is ahead, but not...

By Mark Kleiman

October 05, 2012 8:50 AM How Much Will the Debate Shift the Polls? Here’s One Calculation

In my snap predictions last night, I was wrong about one thing: the post-debate insta-polls definitely suggest that most debate viewers believed Romney won: CNN had it 67-25.  A second...

By John Sides

October 04, 2012 12:56 PM Over the Fiscal Cliff

Okay.  So, I have an insatiable weakness for corny fiscal cliff puns.  Hopefully this 1915 Clifford Berryman cartoon makes up for it.In any case, I thought I’d weigh in...

By Sarah Binder

October 04, 2012 12:45 PM Voting Can Be Rational, and Don’t Believe Innumerate Arguments that Claim Otherwise

In an article entitled “Your Vote Doesn’t Count: Why (almost) everyone should stay home on Election Day,” Katherine Mangu-Ward writes: Your vote will almost certainly not determine the outcome of...

By Andrew Gelman

October 04, 2012 12:41 PM Colorado Debate

Short version: Romney performed well while Obama was flat; Romney's policies come out of the debate even more muddled than before; and the whole thing was probably dull for most...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 04, 2012 10:12 AM The Debate: What Happened?

I watched the debate from inside the media filing room in the Ritchie Center. You can see my perspective at left, which pretty much encapsulates my thoughts on the debate...

By Seth Masket

October 04, 2012 7:35 AM Debate Bumps, 1988-2008: The Chart

Courtesy of Thomas Holbrook.  More discussion is in his post.  These numbers show why, based on recent history, it would be unusual for the debates alone to close the gap...

By John Sides

October 03, 2012 11:25 PM Should You Trust Campaign Pollsters?

In 2010, I complained when Charlie Cook suggested that somehow public campaign polls were worse than the private polls shared mainly with reporters and observers like him.  Cook wrote: The...

By John Sides

October 03, 2012 11:06 PM Real October Surprise Is Obama and Romney Agree

In heated elections like this one, there is a tendency in the U.S. to characterize the arguments between the two candidates as much more momentous -- world- historical, even --...

By Ezra Klein

October 03, 2012 5:23 PM In Denver Tonight, Remembering Aurora

Recent Syracuse University graduate and Fulbright recipient Stephen Barton was wounded in the massacre in Aurora, Colo. in July. This week, he's talking about gun violence in a 30-second television...

By Max Ehrenfreund

October 03, 2012 12:49 PM Obama to Regulate Satire Industry; GOP Calls Move Job Killer

In the wake of a series of satirical articles being mistaken for the real news, President Obama took steps today to regulate the satire industry. House Republicans immediately painted the...

By Hans Noel

October 03, 2012 12:46 PM Why the Conventional Wisdom Matters

DougJ at Balloon Juice mocks Mark Halperin for noting that Mitt Romney has decisively lost “the Tom Friedman primary.”Granted, as a thinker Friedman is a couple of chapters short of...

By Mark Kleiman

October 03, 2012 12:27 PM Michael’s a Republican, Susan’s a Democrat

Chris Wilson parsed the Federal Election Commission database by first name: (Click to get to the interactive version, also don’t forget to click on the dot in the lower-right to...

By Andrew Gelman

October 03, 2012 12:24 PM Capping Deductions Isn't a Cure-All

How do you get tax reform when everyone believes that lower rates and fewer tax expenditures is a good overall policy, but no one is willing to give up their...

By Jonathan Bernstein

October 03, 2012 12:18 PM Gaffe-Checking the Debates

A gaffe, as the fellow once said, is when a politician tells the truth. We might add: Or unintentionally reveals his or her true thinking. We journalists love gaffes. They...

By Michael Kinsley

October 03, 2012 8:43 AM In What Sense is Obamacare “Conservative”?

J.D. Kleineke of AEI states an important half-truth: the architecture of Obamacare is consistent with conservative principles of competition, transparency, and personal responsibilty, and conservatives who denounce it are mostly...

By Mark Kleiman

October 02, 2012 1:44 PM The Narcissism of the Narcissism of Small Differences

In an otherwise reasonable article, Felix Salmon writes: In America’s two-party system, you’re given a simple choice: this guy, or the other guy. If you find yourself in wholehearted agreement...

By Andrew Gelman

October 02, 2012 11:45 AM The First Debate: What to Expect

The University of Denver is hosting the first of this year's presidential debates this coming Wednesday. It's a thrilling, if rather disorienting, time on campus right now, but I thought...

By Seth Masket

October 02, 2012 8:23 AM Why News Coverage of the Debate May Matter More than the Debate

The upcoming presidential debates may not move the polls very much.  But if they do, credit may be due not to the candidates who have so assiduously prepared and practices,...

By John Sides

October 01, 2012 11:00 AM The Feminine Face of the GOP

Among Republicans, but not Democrats,women were more feminine than men were masculine, and these very factors related to the accuracy of political party judgments.Moreover, the sex-typicality of facial cues mediated...

By John Sides

October 01, 2012 10:48 AM Is India Unique in Having Higher Voter Turnout Among the Poor than the Middle Class and Rich?

Perry Anderson writes of “a truly distinguishing feature of Indian democracy – one that sets it apart from any other society in the world”: In India alone, the poor form...

By Andrew Gelman

October 01, 2012 10:42 AM The Right Perspective on Debates

Gwen Ifill: Gallup polls going back decades show precious little shift in established voter trends before and after debates. Chris Cillizza: …there are relatively few examples of times in which...

By John Sides

October 01, 2012 10:00 AM The Bayh Who Cried Wolf

Former Senator Evan Bayh wrote a September 27 Wall Street Journal op-ed which slammed the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices implemented within health reform. Bayh seems rather critical of...

By Harold Pollack

October 01, 2012 9:27 AM Romney’s Debate Strategy: Beavis and Butt-head Meet Charlie Brown

When I was a child, “Zingers” were a kind of packaged pastry made by Dolly Madison. They weren’t very good, but because they sponsored Peanuts specials, they had Charlie Brown,...

By Jonathan Zasloff

October 01, 2012 9:15 AM State Budgets’ Long Slow Climb Towards Fiscal Health

The Rockefeller Institute has reported some largely encouraging data on states’ fiscal health. Average tax receipts have risen for the tenth straight quarter following the bloodshed of The Great Recession....

By Keith Humphreys

October 01, 2012 8:36 AM Todd Akin’s Orthodoxy

Predictably, now that Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin has refused to step aside for a more presentable wingnut, the GOP operatives who tried to get rid of him are now rallying...

By Mark Kleiman

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