Weekly Musing 9-6-15
Days until the 2015 election: 58.
Days until the 2016 election: 429.
How Social Media Is Ruining Politics
Twice before in the last hundred years a new medium has transformed elections. In the 1920s, radio disembodied candidates, reducing them to voices. It also made national campaigns far more intimate. Politicians, used to bellowing at fairgrounds and train depots, found themselves talking to families in their homes. The blustery rhetoric that stirred big, partisan crowds came off as shrill and off-putting when piped into a living room or a kitchen. Gathered around their wireless sets, the public wanted an avuncular statesman, not a firebrand. With Franklin Roosevelt, master of the soothing fireside chat, the new medium found its ideal messenger.
In the 1960s, television gave candidates their bodies back, at least in two dimensions. With its jumpy cuts and pitiless close-ups, TV placed a stress on sound bites, good teeth and an easy manner. Image became everything, as the line between politician and celebrity blurred. John Kennedy was the first successful candidate of the TV era, but it was Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton who perfected the form. Born actors, they could project a down-home demeanor while also seeming bigger than life.
Today, with the public looking to smartphones for news and entertainment, we seem to be at the start of the third big technological makeover of modern electioneering. The presidential campaign is becoming just another social-media stream, its swift and shallow current intertwining with all the other streams that flow through people’s devices. This shift is changing the way politicians communicate with voters, altering the tone and content of political speech. But it’s doing more than that. It’s changing what the country wants and expects from its would-be leaders.
Hillary Clinton is not an email crook
Last month, famed Washington Post reporter and Watergate investigator Bob Woodward said that the email scandal engulfing former secretary of State Hillary Clinton “reminds me of the Nixon tapes: thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversations that Nixon thought were exclusively his.”
Woodward’s impression is justified, and not just by the steady drip, drip of new secrets in the latest batch of Clinton emails released by the State Department on Monday. There is also a remarkable resonance between Nixon’s statements during the evolving Watergate crisis and Clinton’s public statements regarding her emails:
The people come first
Paul Krugman: Thank Goodness Democrats Don’t Create Cults of Personality Around Undeserving Politicians
Paul Krugman’s latest column at the NY Times uses the 10th anniversary of hurricane Katrina as a pretext to attack the Republican presidential field. Midway through his shallow, lazy partisan screed Krugman uncorks the laugh-out-loud line of the day:
“I know, now I’m supposed to be evenhanded, and point out equivalent figures on the Democratic side. But there really aren’t any; in modern America, cults of personality built around undeserving politicians seem to be a Republican thing,” Krugman writes.
When you think politician and “cult of personality” in the same sentence, what comes to mind? Is it something like this?
…The real nature of a cult of personality is that it doesn’t look at things like accomplishments. It’s about a persona — an individual who becomes a locus of aspirations. Krugman’s whole suggestion that some cults of personality are justified is at odds with how a cult of personality actually works. They defy justification because they aren’t based on such things in the first place. You’d think a professional political writer would know this.
But it’s not even necessary to argue the point, because even if a cult of personality could be justified, Krugman is cheating the timeline. In 2008 Obama had been a Senator for four years. In that time he had accomplished nothing of real significance. Whatever achievements Krugman points to after his election can’t retroactively justify the wave of unearned political hysteria that preceded it. The fainting, chanting, halos and very personal adulation came first. The disappointing reality came after. The fact that Krugman is eager to tap dance around this tells us more about his own political blind spot than it does about his opponents.
Early 2016 forecasts show Democrats’ huge Electoral College edge
Democrats will hold onto the presidency in 2016 by the narrowest of electoral vote margins, according to the first 2016 prediction of Moody’s Analytics presidential model.
“The Democrats should win 270 electoral votes to 268 for the Republican,” writes Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi. “The key swing state to push the election to the Democrats is Virginia.”
If the Electoral College result did eventually follow the Moody’s prediction, it would be the closest margin ever. The only election in the modern era that even comes close to such a slim margin was in 2000, when George W. Bush won 271 electoral votes to 266 for Al Gore (and yes, we know, Bush lost the popular vote).
Republicans and Democrats Have Record Presidential Winning Streaks in 36 States
Three-dozen states across all regions of the country are in the midst of their longest ever Democratic or GOP winning streaks in presidential elections.
Earlier this summer, Smart Politics issued a report demonstrating how.
The 2012 presidential map recorded the lowest ever rate of statewide cycle-to-cycle partisan change in the two-party era and the nation is also currently in the midst of its lowest rates of change in its electoral maps across the last three-, four-, five-, six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-cycle periods.
With historically few states flipping back and forth between their partisan preferences in presidential races, political parties are starting to rack up an impressive array of statewide winning streaks as a result.
GOP Nominee Needs 64 percent of the White Vote and 30 percent of the Non-White Vote to Win in ’16
It is well-established among pollsters that for either party’s presidential nominee to win in 2016 they must attract the correct balance of what is now commonly referred to as the white vs. the non-white vote.
This development has spawned numerous articles and demographic math games whereby one can plug-in the estimated turn-out for Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian voters and thus predict a party’s margin of victory or defeat.
For example, a recent Real Clear Politics interactive turn-out calculator shows that for the Republican nominee to win the White House, he or she must capture at least 64 percent of the white vote. (This assumes the white and non-white voter turn-out numbers remain historically consistent.)
The need to achieve 64 percent of the white vote should be extremely disconcerting for the GOP because since 1976 there have only been two presidential elections where the Republican nominees won over 60 percent of the white vote and that was in 1984 and 1988.
On the non-white vote side of the equation, respected Republican pollster Whit Ayres predicts that the Republican nominee must win at least 30 percent of the total non-white vote in order to win the White House.
PACs’ creative rule-bending
Presidential candidates and their “independent” super-PACS are finding increasingly creative ways to ensure they are coordinated in their strategies and messages, while not falling foul of the laws against coordination.
This legally ambiguous game of charades was foreshadowed by comedians Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, who established their own super-PACs and made fun of the “loop-chasm” (loophole) in coordination laws that allowed candidates and their supposedly independent groups to communicate, if not legally “coordinate,” during the 2012 presidential election.
But the loop-chasm has only widened since the Colbert-Stewart skit. Candidates and their super-PACs are today finding previously unimagined flexibility in campaign finance laws that forbid candidates and their teams from coordinating with super-PACs that can raise and spend unlimited money on the candidate’s behalf.
Canadian Federal election 2015: How data mining is changing political campaigns
Canvassing door to door, a time-honoured ritual of any political campaign, is more than it appears.
It’s a candidate’s chance to press the flesh, of course, but increasingly, it is the entry point for data mining, which is how parties collect as much data as they can about you and your voting intentions.
“It’s kind of scary in a way, because what are they going to do with all this in the future?”– Jill Mills – voter
Whether canvassers enter it into an iPad or scribble it in a notebook, the information you inadvertently give a prospective politician will end up in large databases jealously guarded by each of the parties – and closed to the prying eyes of privacy commissioners.
Europe Divided as Migrant Chaos Mounts
The struggle among European leaders to develop a coherent response to the spiraling migrant crisis intensified on Thursday as fresh calls for a blocwide plan were met with recriminations about the Continent being swamped with Muslims.
Even as wrenching photographs of a drowned 3-year-old Syrian boy riveted world attention and galvanized public demands for action, the leaders’ first fumbling efforts seemed only to highlight Europe’s divisions, as they bickered over who should take responsibility for the migrants rather than unifying around a new policy.
How the five wealthiest Gulf Nations have so far refused to take a single Syrian refugee More than four million Syrians have been forced to escape the never-ending civil war ravaging their country and the barbaric terror group carving a bloody trail across the Middle East.
The vast majority live in overcrowded refugee camps in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq – all under threat from ISIS – and record numbers are making the perilously long journey to Europe.
Yet, as debate rages between politicians in Europe over how many they should take, nearby super-wealthy Gulf nations of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain have refused to offer sanctuary to a single Syrian refugee.
Amnesty International’s Head of Refugee and Migrants’ Rights, Sherif Elsayid-Ali, described their inaction as ‘shameful’.
He said: ‘The records of Gulf countries is absolutely appalling, in terms of actually showing compassion and sharing the responsibility of this crisis… It is a disgrace.’
NEW Mobile App for Parties & Candidates
We launched it…finally a new mobile app to help parties and candidates keep in touch with their members.
Our apps are native meaning they use the full power of smart mobile devices to provide rich features such as video, navigation, customized alerts linked to specific content, events calendaring, conventions, ballot registration and voting, breaking news, donations, blogs, instant polls and surveys and more.
And they are fully customizable. So check out one or all of the first four live apps up this week. Just go to your app store on either an Apple, Android or Windows phone and search for:
Republican Party of Louisiana
Republican Liberty Caucus
Tea Party Nation
NYS Conservative Party
Lisa Posthumus Lyons
Follow the progress of Right Mobile and the various new parties and candidates that launch their own apps on Facebook at; https://www.facebook.com/rightmobileUS/
If any party or candidate is interested in getting an app of their own, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotel California – Cubanos Acapella
Just worth sharing…
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