Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Q Day Leftovers

Lots of questions that I think I can give short answers to. Sorry if I didn't get to everything...thanks for a lot of great questions, everyone.

Anon says:
I once saw a chart that mapped the partisan lean of a age demographic over the perceived success of the President that was in office when that demographic came of voting age...
Yup, I remember seeing that too, perhaps in the NYT? I'm not an expert on voters/socialization, so I'm not sure what to add beyond that I found it interesting, too -- but I will point you to comments that political scientist Matt Jarvis made in an interesting discussion just yesterday. I'll note that Matt is to be trusted on this sort of thing, but he's using an Eric Cantor strategy for a roto trade negotiation that we're currently in the middle of, which is too bad, because I'd like to make a deal.

[Lots more after the break]

Another anon asks:
Should NH and VT switch from a two year election cycle to a four year election cycle for their governors? Is the two year cycle better in any way?
As a political scientist, I'd like to see one of them switch...and a few big states switch the other way, thus giving allowing for the production of some interesting data. Let a thousand articles bloom! Beyond that...I don't really have a particular sense of it one way or another, but I like the founding generation's preference for frequent elections.

David Gill asks:
So why do you think Obama didn't make the argument that we're having the wrong discussion and that jobs are still what's most important?
Hmmm...I think there are a couple things going on with his rhetoric. One is that he probably (for better or worse) believes in some sort of world in which making a big, long-term deficit deal will make it easier to pass liberal programs later. I wrote about this yesterday at the Plum Line; I think he probably believes it, and that there's a plausible case to be made for the strategy, although there's also a strong case that he's wrong.

The second thing is that he's apparently made the choice that "above the fray" is a better place to be, at least rhetorically, then to be on one side of squabbles with Congress. Especially since he'd be on the losing side (that is, the stuff he'd be advocating wouldn't pass).

And third thing is that he may believe, correctly in my view, that advocating for Congress to do things such as passing a jobs program wouldn't be productive at all.

In my view, none of that applies to his actual foolish rhetoric about budgets (e.g. comparing the federal government budget to household budgets); I think that's just a mistake.

Yet another anon asks:
How does Gavin Newsom fit into your Iron Law of Politics (big city mayor).
Not at all. The Iron Law of Politics is only that New York City Mayor is a dead end job. It's probably true for Los Angeles and Chicago as well, but it's not true for medium-sized cities. I'm not aware of whether anyone has done a proper study of this...it may the case that states with dominant cities (NY, IL, GA, AZ) are different than states with several medium-sized cities (OH, CT).

Bajsa asks:
Why have recent Democratic Presidents been so bad at (playing hard ball) politics compared to Republican ones?
This is an Iron Law question too: the answer is that partisans always believe that the other side is better at hard ball, more ruthless, better organized. In particular, I very much do not believe that the last three Republican presidents have been better at negotiating than the last two Democrats -- although with Obama, it's still early to draw many conclusions.

Anon asks:
What could Obama have done differently in 2009/2010 instead of focusing on health care. Climate or Financial reform - more stringent and faster implementation or more economic stimulus - housing and state aid?
Really hard to say. I don't think climate (or immigration) was available, although there's no way to know for sure. For the rest...I just don't know. One could argue -- I would -- that some of it was available anyway, while it's very possible that if it wasn't available as is, it wouldn't have been in a world without health care. Obviously there's plenty more one could say, but I'll stop there for now.

Via twitter (and, yes, I'm trolling for follows; sorry), Hunter Owens asks:
What is the most effictive way to mobilize college voters?
That's easy: I'd recommend a military draft and an unpopular war. Barring that, a massive recession.

No, really. I'm sure there are GOTV/mobilization techniques that are recommended (it's been a long time since I've done any GOTV), but for large-scale stuff, people care when they see something they care about go wrong.

Of course, I'd recommend expanding voting to at least 16 year olds and removing voting obstacles (registration, etc.), but those are going to work on the margins, too.

And, last one...Nicolas Mendoza asks:
Given your unorthodox pro-politician views, who do you think is acting more responsibly, Boehner and/or McConnell, or Cantor?
Eh. I think they're all basically trapped by an irresponsible party, at this point. To the extent that they've encouraged within their own rank-and-file any sense that up is down, or 2+2=5, or that default would be just great for the economy, or otherwise to believe in six impossible things before breakfast, then they've been irresponsible. But for the most part, my sense is that they're just reacting to it, not instigating it.


  1. Thanks for addressing my question! I agree that a new jobs program is out of the question and would be bad politics. My thinking was more along the line of the President strongly arguing that irresponsible cuts would cost jobs and increase the threat of a second recession.

    I wrote a speech I thought he could give, which you can read by going to the google profile this comment's posted under. I'd love to know what you think about it. It's partly influenced by your post Friday, so thank you!

  2. It's difficult to judge whether Obama and Clinton were actually worse negotiators than Bush I or Bush II. However it is certainly true that there is a large difference in how Democrats and Republicans have acted in Congress to a President of the opposing party. Democrats didn't try to take hostages when the debt limit needed to be raised under Bush nor did they require 60 Senate votes on every single one of his appointments and bills. That Obama has to overcome an opposition party that acts like that may well make him appear to be much weaker than he would seem if Republicans acted like they did decades earlier.


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