Monday, March 18, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Grant Hart, 52

Some good stuff:

1. Adam Serwer takes down Jennifer Rubin (and updates us on Justice Department scandals and non-scandals).

2. Why Paul Ryan isn't courageous, by Ezra Klein.

3. DLC veteran Ed Kilgore assesses GOP reform.

4. Sarah Posner and Wil Gafney on the History Channel's "The Bible." As usual when I link to a bloggingheads episode.

5. And Seth Masket on GOP reform. As I've said, my basic sense is that at least for presidential elections, GOP extremism is probably a very minor negative for them at most, but it is a big deal when it comes to governing.


  1. I think you are underestimating the costs to the GOP in purely electoral terms of ideological extremism. For one thing, I am a little bit puzzled by people who argue *both* that (1) Obama's victory was predictable (regardless of "self-deportation", the 47 percent video etc.) because after all the economy was growing, though hardly robustly; and (2) that Clinton's victory in 1992 was equally inevitable because the economy was so poor in 1992. The fact is that the economy was not in recession in 1992, any more than it was in 2012. Just look at the GDP growth for 1992 at It compares pretty favorably to 2012.

    Admittedly, there was the difference that the recession that the economy was recovering from in 1992 (that of 1990-91) had taken place under the incumbent president and could not easily be blamed on a predecessor. Still, the fact remains that if you regard an incumbent president as a favorite to win re-election in a non-recession year, GHW Bush should have won re-election in 1992. That he didn't may owe something to Perot (though exit polls showed Perot taking votes from both major candidates) but also may have something to do with Clinton being preceived as less of a "liberal" than Mondale or Dukakis.

    And by the way, it is not true that all prediction models favored Obama's re-election in 1992, and even those that did often forecast a much narrower race than in fact took place.

  2. Oops, of course I meant "Obama's re-election in 2012" not 1992.

  3. It's true that not all of the prediction models had Obama winning, but most of them did, including simple and sophisticated averages of the models.

    Several big differences between 1992 and 2012. 1. The GHWB recession began during his presidency, BHO's started during the previous, Republican, administration; the GHWB recession as such ended IIRC during the election year (might have been late 1991?), while this one technically ended way back in 2009; it appears to be the case that incumbents are favored when their party is new to the WH, but the longer the party is in the WH the worse it is for them.

    And that's without the Bartels finding (which probably didn't hold up, I suspect) that first year growth is inversely related to election results; IOW, awful 2009 economy (not 2008, but 2009) may have helped Obama.

    1. @JB, do any models have a measure for and take account of ideological extremism? How could it be done? I sense that extremism and moderation have affected Democratic electoral success, but couldn't point to strong evidence.

    2. Generally the studies on extremism do show an effect, but it's not large.

      IIRC, however, Romney was not perceived as ideologically extreme. OTOH, the GOP remains unpopular...I'm not sure if we know how much of that is extremism and how much is Bush/Iraq/recession.

    3. That's ironic--extremism has a small effect. Then it's not doing its job.


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