Saturday, August 11, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

Okay, I'll take the obvious one: Veepstakes matters because if Mitt Romney wins then Paul Ryan and not someone else will play a role in his administration, and because it's now far more likely that Ryan will someday be the GOP nominee for president, and therefore possibly president. That's all big stuff, even in the age of the partisan presidency.

What didn't matter is the stuff I wrote about earlier; this doesn't make the election "about" Ryan's budget.

But enough about that already, at least in this thread: what else? What do you think mattered this week?


21 comments:

  1. What do you make of Dylan Matthews' post on the electoral effect of vice presidents? Seemed to imply that while it averaged out to a couple points in a home state, each individual VP pick could matter a lot more.

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  2. First, I just want to note my skepticism that Ryan is now more likely to be nominated for President. If Romney wins and is then re-elected, I'd agree with that. If he's not, I think Ryan becomes another Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich kind of figure- someone who the real ideologues really like at the expense of the candidate who's supposed to be more competitive. If Romney loses, I kind of imagine him as the right wing candidate making trouble for Susanna Martinez, Brian Sandoval, or Bobby Jindal- if he even runs at all.

    I was oddly amused by the flap over that Priorities ad in which a man blames a Romney-related plant closure for the loss of his wife's health insurance at a time when she apparently needed it. The conservative opinion media and several prominent Beltway political reporters went nuts with cries of unfairness. Yet, the Romney campaign didn't seem to push it too hard. This could be because the ad was not that nasty and it absolutely reflects what people often think of bosses following a big layoff. It was just really something to see people like Mark Halperin chase the shiny ball that right-wing writers threw at them. I don't quite understand what causes this to happen.

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    1. Disagree with your first paragraph. Ryan has a standing in the Republican Party that neither Santorum and Gingrich have. The Ryan agenda is what the power players in the GOP really want. If Romney loses, it will be blamed on Romney not on the agenda. I mean, it's not as if the GOP has shown a capacity for self-correction or self-reflection lately. As of now, I would bet on Ryan to be the Republican nominee in 2016 (if Romney loses) or in 2020 (if Romney wins).

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    2. I've seen clips of that TV ad; I may not have seen the whole thing, so maybe I should shut up, but I won't. It seems to me that the real issue raised by it is health insurance rather than bad behavior by Bain. Obama hasn't promised to ban Bain, or abolish private equity, or end layoffs forever. Obama has promised to extend health insurance to more people, and Romney opposes it. That's the issue. Romney's spokeswoman understood that when she said the guy in the ad would be better off if he lived in Massachusetts. (She didn't seem to understand her own party, but she understood the issue raised by the ad.) If the Republicans are offended by the suggestion that their candidate might have indirectly killed someone, then they shouldn't make opposition to health insurance their principal goal in life.

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    3. @Scott, I largely agree with you. The ad worked on several levels. One was a reminder of Romney's involvement in people losing their jobs. Another level was the general insouciance of corporate executives, another level was finding yourself without health insurance at a time when it really matters. Also, this a very personal story that a lot of people should be able to relate to. The GOP doesn't look good in any of these story threads.

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  3. "What didn't matter is the stuff I wrote about earlier; this doesn't make the election "about" Ryan's budget."

    If Romney doesn't come out with a budget plan of similar detail, I think it's fair to assume that he will be constantly asked about (and associated with) Ryan's. I assume his campaign has considered this, so we'll see how it goes.

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  4. I don't know how much it matters here, but it seems that a number of active and former generals in Russia are criticizing former president Anatolii Medvedev for his handling of the 2008 invasion of Georgia, which they say former former president Vladimir Putin had planned months in advance. (Of course, at the time, it was explained as an incredibly swift response to Georgian provocations that had occurred earlier that evening.)

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    1. Sorry, that should be Dmitrii Medvedev. (His middle name is Anatol'evich, meaning that his father's name was Anatolii.) We'll see if this means Medvedev has reached the end of his usefulness.

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  5. The other day, Obama's Gallup approval rating dropped 3 points, and his disapproval rating jumped 3 points. In one day. That "Romney killed the guy's wife" ad hurt Obama, make no mistake.

    And nobody should spend too much time claiming that they don't know what those Superpacs are doing. They know.

    Obama is smart to attack Romney, but he doesn't want to overcook it.

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    1. ^ Three points in a tracking poll is also known as "statistical noise."

      I'm not sure what I think of the ad-- I honestly haven't sat down and watched it, and it may be a bit of overkill-- but I'm pretty sure I've seen Gallup go up or down further than that for no reason whatsoever.

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  6. No, it was actually a 6 point swing, and that ain't "statistical noise". It's real movement. Sudden movement. The kind that occurs for a reason.

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    1. Nate Silver called it statistical noise, FWIW

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    2. It COULD be statistical noise. That's the problem with statistical noise....it's IMPOSSIBLE to know what is noise and what small changes are not noise. Not difficult, or tricky, but actually impossible without more data.

      Is it likely to be statistical noise? Oh, you bet your sweet bippy it is. In order for this to be real, 3% of the country had to be: 1) approving of Obama on the first day, 2) have seen the ad in question (despite it only getting shown in a few states, and replayed on (mostly conservative) media, and 3) been so offended by this ad that after 3.5 years of Obama, THIS ad changed their mind. I'm sorry, but that dog just don't hunt. We're not talking about the Daisy ad. Heck, the Daisy ad wouldn't have had an effect that big.

      Around 40% of the country has firmly made up their mind to vote for Obama. Around 40% is firmly going to vote against Obama (with Romney being the beneficiary, as was Kerry against Bush and Dole against Clinton). So, somehow, this ad flipped 1/6 of people who could be flipped within a day, and despite them having no way of having seen it?

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    3. Of course that dog hunts. The Obama people accused Romney of killing that guy's wife.

      People tend to hear about those sorts of accusations, and respond accordingly.

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  7. Hey, since no one said it yet: we put a thing on Mars.

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  8. earthquakes in Iran

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  9. Jonathan Bernstein -- Yep, we put an unmanned rover on Mars - a dandy job by the JPL folks. A bit later than originally hoped by a couple of years, and a bit more expensive than originally hoped, but what the hey.

    Other hand, while it's of interest, it's hard to argue Curiosity is politically signficant. It doesn't lead to anything. Once upon a time, back in the 1960's, it was possible to imagine that the space program was going to lead to colonies on the moon and planets and that humans would build an interplanetary civilization. It's pretty clear now that Americans don't want any part of that. You can't even make the argument that space exploration is good for driving R&D any more -- every economist on the internet, right or left, just barfs whenever space programs get mentioned.

    So we landed a thingy on Mars. As a space buff, I'd like to celebrate, but the reality leaves me glum.

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  10. I don't know if it counts as this week or next, but Hirono defeating Case 58-41 for the Democratic Senate nomination from Hawaii is what I'm all excited about.

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    1. I hadn't been following that race. Why do think this result is exciting?

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    2. Here's my post on it. Short version: it was a pretty serious left-right battle, with Hirono being a solid liberal and Case being a longtime supporter of the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts. This keeps another Lieberman out of the Senate, and is a nice show of electoral force for the left wing of the Democratic Party.

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  11. National Journal put out this poll that shows the universe might be about to end:

    http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowldc/nj-poll-media-influencing-the-insiders_b17069

    Honestly, Peggy Noonan? Oh and they forgot Cersei Lannister.

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