Category Archives: Elections

Choosing a VP

When Paul Ryan was named as the Vice-Presidential nominee by Republican Mitt Romney, I was asked about his impact on the Presidential race.  I said many times that the Ryan pick would finally energize the conservative base of the Republican Party who were skeptical of their nominee in Ryan.  Ryan’s youthful enthusiasm coupled with his wonkish policy appeal was just what the Romney campaign needed.  The bland Romney campaign searched for its voice throughout the primary season and through the early stages of the general campaign.  Ryan would be that shot in the arm.  For a short time, the Ryan pick did help pull even with President Barack Obama in the polls.  That momentum seems to have been lost in the last week, as recent reports from the Romney front have stated that Ryan has been muzzled by his Romney’s staffers.  Romney’s team wants Ryan to speak less on his “bread and butter” topic, the budget, and more on how badly Obama has run the country.  Conservative pundits and grassroots supporters wonder why this is so?  Without Ryan’s budget appeal, the Romney campaign was back to where it started, in search of a voice.

How much of a factor should a Vice Presidential pick be for a Presidential ticket? What criteria would you look for when choosing a VP nominee?

 

 

The Politics of Celebrity

At the Republican National Convention in 2012, it was Clint Eastwood who made a splash with his speech regarding President Obama.  At the Democratic National Convention in that same year, Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame, made a veiled reference to Eastwood’s speech and made overtures toward younger Americans to vote.  In 1964, actor Raymond Massey made a campaign commercial for Republican Barry Goldwater.  Actor E.G. Marshall filmed a spot for Hubert Humphrey in 1968.  Paul Newman campaigned for another Democrat in 1968, Eugene McCarthy.  Sammy Davis Jr. endorsed President Nixon.  Singer Pearl Bailey in 1976 for President Ford.    Even Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000.   The list of celebrities endorsing and campaigning for Presidents and presidential candidates is almost endless.  I once watched a PBS documentary entitled, “Vote For Me”, where the then head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party referred to politics as “show business for ugly people.”  He was alluding to the entertainment value of political campaigns and how the political process had become superficial over the years.  This documentary was filmed in the mid-1990s.

Today, it seems as if politics and entertainment industry have come together as one.  Entertainers of all political stripes are now engaged in the political process by adding their opinions to the issues, events, and candidates of the day through social media and traditional media outlets alike.  Has the separation between politics and entertainment become blurred over the years?  Do you believe that entertainers have any influence on the political process?

Who Paid For That Ad?

A common misperception from the 1988 Presidential campaign between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis is that Bush team produced and ran ad that prominently featured Willie Horton.  The “Willie Horton ad” is it was to be called, featured a criminal (Horton) and how he was allowed out of prison on weekends by a Massachusetts Governor (Dukakis) in part to that state’s prison furlough program.  The ad mentions that while Horton was out on one weekend pass, he kidnapped, stabbed, and raped a woman and brutally beat that woman’s boyfriend.  The ad struck a nerve with the public, hurt the Dukakis campaign, and Dukakis never recovered.  Many who watched the ad would reference it as “Bush’s Willie Horton ad” when in fact the ad was created by the National Security PAC (Political Action Committee).  This PAC ran an ad, by federal law, independent of the Bush campaign.

How would the public know if the ad was paid for and produced by an outside or independent organization?  Sure, there was a disclaimer at the bottom of the “Horton” ad that disclosed the source.  The disclaimer was about the size of the type of disclaimers that you see in a car commercial.  A magnifying glass is a necessity for proper reading.  In the last twelve years, identifying a commercial’s source became a bit easier for the public.  With the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (2002), candidates at the federal level who run ads from their own campaign coffers must say, “I am so and so and I am approve this message.”  Most campaign commercials are run by outside organizations, so this BCRA requirement is not applicable.

What are your thoughts on the amount of ads that you have seen in the last few months?  Now that the elections are over, you perhaps can fully process what has been transmitted over the airwaves in this election season.

 

2012 Presidential Election Results (Updated)

Here are the 2012 Presidential Election Results (Popular Vote) as of Sunday, January 13, 2013.  Not all votes have been tabulated at this point.

2012 Presidential Election

Barack Obama (D) 65,899,583

Mitt Romney (R) 60,928,966

Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 1,275,821

Jill Stein (Green) 468,907

Virgil Goode (Constitution) 121,754

Roseanne Barr (Peace and Freedom) 67,436

Rocky Anderson (Justice) 43,088

Tom Hoefling (America’s) 40,624

Others:  288,664

What are your thoughts on these updated totals?

Source:  Dave Leip’s Atlas of US Presidential Elections

Can Hillary Win in 2016?

2012 Presidential Election Results (Updated)

Here are the 2012 Presidential Election Results (Popular Vote) as of Wednesday, November 28.  Not all votes have been tabulated at this point.

2012 Presidential Election

Barack Obama (D) 64,916,510

Mitt Romney (R) 60,493,449

Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 1,266,693

Jill Stein (Green) 459,125

Virgil Goode (Constitution) 119,364

Roseanne Barr (Peace and Freedom) 64,742

Rocky Anderson (Justice) 41,233

Tom Hoefling (America’s) 38,903

Others 225,930

There were significant increases in the vote totals since I first posted them on November 8.

What are your thoughts on these updated totals?

What was most surprising to you? (Election Edition)

2012 Presidential Election Results

Here are the 2012 Presidential Election Results (Popular Vote) as of 12:09pm on Wednesday, November 7.  Included in the data are the popular vote totals from the 2008 Presidential Election.  The 2008 results are listed in parentheses.

2012 Presidential Election

Barack Obama (D) 59,725,608 (69,498,215)

Mitt Romney (R) 57,098,650 (59,948,240)

Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 1,139,562 (523,713)

Jill Stein (Green) 396,684 (161,680)

Virgil Goode (Constitution) 108,195 (199,437)

Roseanne Barr (Peace and Freedom) 48,797 (116,385)*

Rocky Anderson (Justice) 34,521 (N/A)**

Others 177,996 (323,984)

Vote totals for both the Democrats and Republicans were down from 2008. Libertarian and Green Party candidates saw an increase in their respective party’s vote totals from 2008.  The Constitution Party also saw a decrease from 2008.

*Ralph Nader ran as the Peace and Freedom Party candidate in 2008 in California and Iowa.  However, his status on many ballots was listed as “Independent”.

**The Justice Party did not run a candidate in 2008.

What are your thoughts on these totals?

Will Anyone Receive 5%?

George McGovern and the Primary System

Former Democratic United States Senator George McGovern died early Sunday morning, October 21, 2012.  He was 90.  He leaves a legacy of being a champion of liberal causes in the United States.  McGovern is also remembered for losing to Richard Nixon in the 1972 Presidential election by a landslide.  He tried again in 1984, but was beaten in the primaries that year. What George McGovern should be remembered for, however, is his role in how we nominate our Presidential nomination process.

In 1968, the Democratic Party nomination for President was in disarray.  Senator Robert Kennedy, the likely nominee of the party, had been assassinated after the California primary.  The candidate with the most delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago was Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota.  Having the most delegates gave McCarthy the inside track to the nomination.  McCarthy was deemed to be too much of a “peace candidate” for President by the Democratic establishment.  So much so, that party leaders including President Lyndon Johnson and Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley took liberties with the delegate selection process and worked to nominate Vice President Hubert Humphrey for President.  Humphrey did not compete in any primaries.  After an arduous primary season, Democratic voters had been shut out essentially in the Presidential nomination process.

This is where George McGovern comes in.  He, and Minnesota Representative Donald Fraser, headed a commission that would streamline the nomination process so that voters would have a direct say on who their nominee for President would be.  The McGovern-Fraser Commission, as it was informally called, was charged in part with making sure that party leaders would not work behind closed doors to manipulate the nomination process.

National party convention delegates were to be chosen through direct primary elections.  Previously to the Commission, primary results were binding in some states and non-binding in others.  In those states with binding results, the number of delegates sent to the national convention was known by the public.  In those states with non-binding primaries, the primary looked more like a beauty contest.  In those cases, the delegate selection process was more likely to be determined by party leaders and not the voters.  In some states, delegates were chosen in state conventions.  Convention attendees tended to favor party leader-backed candidates.  Outsider or anti-establishment candidates for President (or any office) had little chance of gaining their party’s nomination.

McGovern-Fraser created uniformity in the delegate selection process.  Party leaders now had less of say in the selection of a Presidential nominee.  Primaries have been the deciding factor in the nominating process since McGovern-Fraser.  McGovern was the first to benefit from the change in the rules, as he became the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 1972.

Not since 1968 has either party had a contested nomination for President.  It is highly unlikely that the major parties will have another convention like the one in Chicago where party leaders ignored the will of people and selected a candidate for President who did not run in one single primary.  George McGovern made the process simpler and gave the public its rightful say in selecting its Presidential nominees.  For that, George McGovern should be remembered.

You can follow the link below for a 1972 campaign ad for George McGovern.

George McGovern Voting Booth Ad

What are your thoughts on the McGovern’s legacy? What are your thoughts on the McGovern ad?