Jamelle Bouie

Romney Says He Lost Because Obama Gave "Gifts" to Blacks and Latinos

(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) The former Massachusetts governor speaks to delegates at the New Hampshire Republican Convention in Concord, N.H Saturday. When the “47 percent” video first hit, there was a question as to whether this was the “real Romney,” or someone pandering to the prejudices of the Republican donor class. If you stepped away from the passion of moment, you could easily see a scenario where Romney felt that it was in his best interest to adopt another bit of right-wing rhetoric, for the sake of cash and support. Then again, by that point it was more than clear that the Republican Party had been infected with a Randian mania. It wasn’t—and isn’t—hard to find conservatives who attack the mass of Americans as “takers” who rob the “makers” of their rightful wealth. Indeed, this was Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s central message until he was chosen for the national stage. And given the constituency for this ideology—wealthy (white) hedge fund managers and assorted rich...

Is Mitch McConnell the Worst?

Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Gage Skidmore / Flickr I think most people can agree that Kentucky's Mitch McConnell is one of the most innovative Senate Minority Leaders in recent memory. His insight—that the opposition party can obstruct and force the majority party to bear the public’s discontent—helped give Republicans a House majority in 2010, and gave the GOP a fighting chance in this year’s presidential election (see: Mitt Romney’s late-game promise to bring bipartisanship to Washington). If Romney had won—and if Republicans had taken the Senate—you could credibly argue that McConnell was one of the most successful minority leaders in modern history. Indeed, he would have been one of the chief architects behind a massive political comeback. In the real world, however, Barack Obama won reelection and Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate. And in the same way that Obama’s legacy would have been tarnished had he lost reelection, is it the case that McConnell’s is harmed because he failed to deliver the...

Give It Up, John Kerry

Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr
Center for American Progress Action Fund/Flickr J ust this morning , incoming Maine Senator Angus King, an independent, announced that he would be caucusing with Democrats, giving the party a working majority of 55 members—53 Democrats and two independents (the other is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders). Among many other things, this makes it more likely that Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will be plucked from Congress and given a job in the administration, where he would likely serve as Secretary of Defense. Indeed, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, administration officials see the larger Senate majority as an opportunity to grab a candidate that they like: [A]dministration officials, one of whom described Kerry as a “war hero,” said his qualifications for the defense job included not only his naval service in Vietnam but also his knowledge of the budget and experience in the diplomacy that has increasingly become a part of the defense portfolio. They said the Democrats’...

Nixon Can't Always Go to China

New America Foundation/Flickr
New America Foundation/Flickr By this point, it’s clear that former Clinton administration official and twice-failed North Carolina Senate candidate Erksine Bowles is on the short list to replace Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary. For reasons outlined by Paul Krugman, and our own Robert Kuttner, Bowles would be a terrible choice for Treasury: He’s a deficit scold more concerned with lowering taxes than reducing unemployment and providing a strong base for economic growth. But he has his advocates, among them William Cohan, a former investment banker and investigative journalist. Cohan sees the deficit as the chief problem facing the United States, and thinks Bowles is the only candidate for Treasury who can craft a bipartisan deal to get our “fiscal house in order” and bring some accountability to Wall Street. Wait, what? Yes, Cohan sees Bowles as a more progressive alternative to the other name on the short list, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew. Here’s what he has to say: For...

Election Results, Revisited

Mother Jones
Mother Jones The 2012 election results are close to finalized. Over the weekend, Florida was placed into President Obama’s column—giving him 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206—and while officials are still counting votes, the current tally gives Obama 50.6 percent the vote to Romney’s 47.9 percent . I hope we can all appreciate the irony of that. Compared to 2004 , which seems to be the election most analagous to this one, President Obama has outperformed George W. Bush by more than 40,000 votes, and Mitt Romney has underperformed John Kerry by more than 245,000 votes. It should be noted that that there are still a few million provisional and absentee ballots in California that need counting. If they look like the rest of the state, then Obama’s could move closer to 51 percent.

How the Fiscal Cliff Has Helped Clear the Air

Now that elections season is over, Washington has returned to obsessing over the “fiscal cliff,” a collection of tax increases and spending cuts that—if triggered—would gradually remove hundreds of billions of dollars from the economy and put the United States on the path to another recession. What’s interesting about the fiscal-cliff conversation is that this straightforwardly Keynesian argument—we shouldn’t reduce deficits during an economic recovery—is coming from people whose claim to fame is deficit reduction regardless of the circumstances. Erksine Bowles, for example, is a notorious deficit scold whose namesake—along with former Republican lawmaker Alan Simpson—is the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction proposal, which would reduce the debt by $4 trillion over the next decade through a combination of tax increases and cuts to entitlement spending. Bowles thinks it’s imperative that we avoid the fiscal cliff: “People are never going to understand how critical this particular time...

Why Republicans Can't Move Left on Immigration

Writing at The American Conservative , Michael Brendan Dougherty makes a few smart points about how the GOP can move forward. He contends that there is no reason for Republicans give up social conservatism—abortion will always be a contentious issue in American politics, and social conservatism is still prevalent. And he argues that there is no way to reconcile less restrictionist immigration policy with the GOP base, which consists of people who feel most threatened by mass immigration: The working-class white vote that created the modern Republican majority is precisely the subset of voters that feels most threatened by mass immigration, culturally and economically. They revolted when Bush tried to force it on them. They will revolt again. Conservative parties as a rule have constituents that resist the kind of social change brought on by mass immigration. You can be a conservative party or a mass immigration party, not both. Further, your ideas for middle-class entitlements also...

The Long Shadow of George W. Bush

At this point, there’s wide agreement that the GOP faces a profound demographic problem—its longtime coalition of middle-aged whites is not enough to win national elections. Rush Limbaugh’s lament is correct: Republicans are (increasingly) outnumbered. President Barack Obama won the overwhelming majority of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos; overall, his nonwhite share of the electorate was larger than any winning presidential candidate in history, and it contributed to his wins in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. It’s easy to focus on these demographic problems as the core challenge facing the GOP, but in reality, they’re only part of the problem. The larger issue—by far—is the extent to which Republicans have yet to reckon with the failures of the Bush years. Not one of the GOP candidates for president this year—including Mitt Romney—made a significant break with Bushism. Each, especially Romney, doubled down on the Bush agenda of belligerence abroad and fiscal...

Sitting on Top of the Senate

(AP Photo/Will Kincaid)
It’s safe to say that while the presidential race was the marquee contest, the bigger success may have gone to Democratic Senate candidates, who came back from certain failure to win a big victory—and deal a tremendous, unforeseen blow to the Republican Party. Against all expectations, Democrats easily kept their majority in the Senate, successfully defending seats in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin, while capturing Republican-held seats in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Indiana, where Joe Donnelly won an upset victory over Richard Mourdock, who crashed and burned following comments on how a pregnancy from rape is a “gift from God.” Taken together, at the end of last night, Democrats had control of 51 seats—or 53, if you include the two independents, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and incoming Maine Senator Angus King, who won the race to replace Republican Olympia Snowe. This afternoon, election officials in Montana called the race for Democratic...

Come at the King, You Best Not Miss

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green) President Barack Obama waves to the crowd at his election night party celebrating his victory over challenger Mitt Romney. I f you want a sense of how remarkable Barack Obama’s re-election victory is, think back to last summer. At the time, the president was struggling to reach a deal with House Republicans, who were threatening not to raise the debt ceiling and plunge the economy into a second recession. Unemployment was high—9.2 percent—Obama’s approval had dipped to the low 40s, and to anyone paying attention, the first African American president looked like a one-term failure. But beginning in the fall, Obama began to reassert himself. With the American Jobs Act, he outlined a viable plan for generating economic growth and kick-starting the recovery. With his widely praised speech in Kansas, he outlined a populist agenda of greater investment and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Over the course of 2012, he built good will with important...

Mitt Romney Falls Short with White Voters

Jamelle Bouie
If you’re looking for reasons to be confident of a Barack Obama win tonight, it’s worth noting Mitt Romney’s share of the white vote in the final pre-election polls: Given the likely composition of the electorate—74 percent white, 26 percent nonwhite—Mitt Romney needs to win at least 61 percent of white voters. But in this average, he roughly repeats George W. Bush’s 2004 performance. Then, this was good enough to eke out a small win in the popular vote. Now, it brings him within striking distance of 50 percent, but no further. What’s more, this is probably the last presidential race where Republicans can count on maximizing their share of white voters to win the election; as National Journal ’s Ron Brownstein points out , the white share of the electorate has steadily declined in every election since 1992, from 88 percent of all voters to 74 percent four years ago. Which is to say that if Republicans had made efforts to bring Latino voters in—or at least, not alienate them—they would...

The Economy Is Set for Big Growth Next Year

Bloomberg finds that—regardless of who wins the election tomorrow—the economy is set for stronger growth in 2013 and beyond: Consumers are spending more and saving less after reducing household debt to the lowest since 2003. Home prices are rebounding after falling more than 30 percent from their 2006 highs. And banks are increasing lending after boosting equity capital by more than $300 billion since 2009. “The die is cast for a much stronger recovery,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for Moody’s Analytics Inc. He sees growth this year and next at about 2 percent before doubling to around 4 percent in both 2014 and 2015 as consumption, construction and hiring all pick up. Yes, there’s the fiscal cliff. But odds are best that Congress and the White House will avoid a situation where the economy is hit with a burst of contractionary policy. In all likelihood, the winner of tomorrow will be able to claim credit for a growing economy, even if his policies...

Life Imitates "The Simpsons": Mitt Romney Edition

Mitt Romney, this morning in Sanford, Florida, where he made his final—painfully generic—pitch to the state’s voters: “Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow,” he told the crowd of over 3,000 people. “Your work is making a difference. The people of the world are watching. The people of America are watching. We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” The Simpsons , circa 1996, in the seventh “Treehouse of Horror” episode, where two aliens—Kang and Kodos—abduct and impersonate presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole: For those of you who can’t watch video: My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball. But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Say Hello to President Romney

For those of us who think Barack Obama will win re-election tomorrow, the weight of evidence is on our side. The most recent national polls—from Pew , NBC News , CBS News , YouGov, and ABC News —show the president with a slight lead over Mitt Romney. Obama holds leads by greater than two points in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada—the states that give him 271 electoral votes—and he's just as ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire. Like I said in my prediction yesterday , if you gave Obama every state where he held a lead, he would win with 303 electoral votes. It’s no wonder that the election forecasters— Nate Silver , Sam Wang , Drew Linzer —place Obama’s probability of winning in the 85 percent to 90 percent range: Barring a huge Obama bias in the polling, the president is virtually certain to be re-elected. With that said, life isn’t as predictable as we’d like to believe, and anything can happen. It is possible that the pollsters have failed—or at least, are missing something important in the...

Sorry Women, Blacks, Latinos, and Young People—You Don't Count

Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie A group of real Americans protest President Obama. It goes without question that, if President Obama wins reelection, he will have done so with one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee. He will have won large majorities of women, young people, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. To most observers, this narrow majority of voters represents a broad cross-section of the country. To Politico ’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, it’s a dangerously limited coalition. Why? Because it doesn’t include enough white people, and particularly, downscale white men: If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic...