Friday, February 17, 2012

Question Day

Well, it's Friday, and it's raining here, and my solution: Question Day! You ask 'em, I'll answer. Leave your questions in comments below, or tweet them or email them, and I'll give it my best shot.

In the meantime...Intrade thinks that there's a 25% chance for a "brokered" convention??? That's nuts! And how exactly are they defining it, anyway? I mean, it's unlikely that we'll hit the end of the primaries and caucuses without someone getting to 50% + 1 of the delegates, but it's even less likely that no one will go over the top by getting pledges from unbound delegates before they arrive in Tampa, and even less likely that the nomination will go beyond a first ballot. Which of those are they counting as "brokered"?

Not to mention that a true "brokered" convention is of course impossible under the current process (someone, please, tell John Avlon, and while you're at it tell him that he really shouldn't be writing about how the GOP switched to proportional representation in this cycle months after Josh Putnam exploded that particular myth). Once again, what we're not going to have is a "deadlocked" or perhaps "contested" convention.

At any rate: Question Day!


  1. Tell me about Fernandomania in the southwest in 1981, so I can put the Jeremy Lin story in perspective. I know you can't compare the media trappings now and then, but what is your impression of the relative hype/substance?


  2. Do you have any idea what the GOP is thinking by going all-out on this war against contraception? I can't imagine what possible political benefit it could have. They might as well campaign in favor of segregated water fountains.

  3. Is there anyone who analyzes where the MONEY in the primary season is being spent? TV? local parties? local consultants? Who is benefiting from an extended primary?

  4. What congressional race should people be talking about more? Is there some unwatched district or state that you think will become a big story?

    For example, the occupier-turned-primary-democrat in Pennsylvania's CD-13...

  5. Intrade define a brokered convention as being one that goes beyond a first ballot...

    Can you see anyone other than Romney winning on a first ballot? Romney will still pick up a few big prizes and Ron Paul will keep picking up delegates wherever they're given out proportionally, so it seems to me that if Santorum were to win the nomination or if Gingrich were to somehow resurrect himself for a fourth (fifth?) time to get the nomination, they'd do it on the second ballot.

    So if InTrade's punters are saying there's a 25% chance of a deadlocked convention, they mean there's a 25% chance that Romney will slowly deflate between now and the summer.

  6. The volume on those Intrade shares is so low that it should be ignored. There are always a few people willing to take silly risks.

  7. Do you think it makes sense, or at some point might make sense, to consider the possibility that significant portions of GOP party actors aren't concerned with getting an electable presidential candidate this year? Will there be particular signs to look out for eventually to know whether the energy of the party has shifted to holding and adding congressional seats or ensuring a particular ideological composition of seat-holders, rather than making a drive for a presidential win? Or is my tentative framing here just wrongheaded?

  8. How soon do Congressional candidates need to declare? How early do the need to be preparing for a run?

  9. I'm working through Polsby's How Congress Evolves, which details how liberal Democrats overcame the conservative coalition in the House. In the course of doing so, the House reforms seem to have aided in the sharp polarization of the parties and tighter Leadership control of the House. Question is a two-parter: In your view, (1) would decentralization of power in the House reduce partisanship, and (2) would that be a good thing?

  10. Does the weakness of the Republican presidential field have anything to do with Obama's strength as an opposing candidate? Were younger guys who would've been stronger candidates than Romney or Santorum like Jindal, Ryan, Christie, and Thune actually whittled by party actors, or does their decision not to run have to do with them wanting to pick their spot better and wait until the Democrats run a weaker candidate?

    Thanks a lot!

  11. Do we have any idea what the real delegate count is right now?

  12. The biggest counterargument to your argument for third-party irrelevance is Ross Perot. If 3rd parties can't break 3 to 5%, how did Perot get over 20%? Under what conditions, if any, would that be likely to happen again?

  13. A lot of people think that the Republican Party is heading towards irrelevancy demographically because of its increasing trend to the right unless there's some kind of significant change. I'm less curious as to whether it will happen than I am curious about the mechanics of it. How could a party disappear? How could another rise to take its place? It's hard for me to see a 3rd party growing like that or the Republican party disappearing like the Whigs did. Any ideas on what will happen if these demographic predictions are correct? Will one faction take over the Republic brand while another heads out on its own? WIll both parties change based on new wedge issues?

  14. This is a variation on an earlier question about why the Republicans are going all out on contraception.

    In 1992, about 9 months before the election, the Seattle Times published a list of the issues that would be important in the upcoming presidential race (based, I presume, on the opinions of political scientists). At the bottom of the list was the dismissive catchall "Women's Issues" with an asterick. I followed the asterick to a list of issues, in tiny 4 pt. type; "Health Care, Social Security, Childcare, Education, Abortion." I thought, "oh, only life, death and a lot of the most troublesome and momentous concerns in-between." This was less than a year after the Clarence Thomas hearings and 9 months before "the year of the woman" swept the Republican President out of office and a record breaking number of women into office.

    Why do political commentators, Republicans and, more than one would ever think warranted given their base, even Democrats, tend, it seems, to be so dismissive of women as part of the political debate? Why do they, it seems to me, so often fail to consider, or at least minimize, their votes as a significant factor in the political outcome?

    I think it is possible that 9 months from now we may look back and realize women -- and the myraid assaults on their dignity and freedom that the Republican are handing out now -- were the most significant factor in this year's elections. Not just in the presidential race, but in the Senate too.

    If you don't think that's likely, why not?

  15. You said earlier that you believe that Republican party actors are better at weeding out viable candidates earlier than Democrats (witness Barbour and Daniels decisions not to contest the primaries). But you weren't sure why or how they do this, I think. Do you have any further insights into why this is a Republican phenomenon?

    Also a question for anyone. I am interested in reading about the differences between southern Democrats of yesteryear and their Republican counterparts of today. Can anyone recommend a good book on that topic.

  16. Something that I've been wondering for awhile now:

    Rick Santorum has not received a flood of endorsements following his recent rise to the top of the polls. The specific type of party actors who endorse candidates publicly are clearly still with Mitt Romney, or staying out of it all for now.

    However, you've referred to an expansive definition of party actors before. I forget what it was, "Anyone who does more than just vote, and tries to get other people to vote one way" or something like that. Is it possible that Santorum is getting a flood of support from these, non-endorsing party actor, that Newt clearly was not getting? I'm thinking the media, ground-level activists, etc. And if that's true, what are the implications for his candidacy?

    I think about Ron Paul and how his campaign is propelled by a very small group of these types of actors. He doesn't have the more-mainstream appeal to parlay that into a larger share of the electorate, but nevertheless benefits from it in a lot of different ways.

    1. Among all voters, Ron Paul is the only Republican with a positive approval rating.

      This might explain why:

  17. Are there right wing blogs that are of equivalent quality as the many left-leaning ones I read? (i.e. yourself, Klein, Cohn, Chait, etc)
    I'm feeling the need for balance but don't know where to look for quality conservative analysis.
    Bonus question, was it fair of me to characterise that list as left-leaning?

  18. From reading your blog, i gather that the health of the economy determines to some degree the success of the political prospects of the in-power party during an election season. Separately, it feels to me like the republican party has drifted rightward over the past 20 years. If indeed that is happening (question one, i suppose), and the economy determines the election season, is there ever any political fallout to taking increasingly extreme positions? Or can they go as extreme as they like and still do well if the economy tanks?

  19. In light of Ramesh Punnuru's article yesterday on Ron Paul's growing influence over Republican economic thinking, what do you think the medium-term future of the Ron Paul 'movement'--for lack of a better word--is within the Republican Party? Do you think they could take over after a Romney loss this fall? Could they wield influence with a President Romney?

  20. Oh man, am I way too late to get in on this?

    I just have kind of a stupid question. You've said plenty of times that nominations are where battles between party factions are fought, but I'm wondering how much the eventual nomination - and, later, electoral victory or defeat - decides that battle after the fact, all other things being equal.

    To put it another way: what would the Republican party look like if George Romney had (somehow, ignoring the implausibility of it) been the nominee in 1968? If he had gone on to lose? If he had gone on to win?

    Or, even more simply, and slightly less stupidly: would it have made a difference had Dewey actually won?


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