Running Against Yourself: Romney v Romney, Gingrich v Gingrich

According to John Ellis of Real Clear Politics the “only thing that stands between Newt Gingrich and the 2012 GOP presidential nomination right now is Newt Gingrich. However, according to David Kurtz of Talking Point Memo, Mitt Romney is also running against himself.

Mitt Romney has stepped up his attacks on his political rivals lately, and a strange trend is emerging: time and again it sounds like the person Mitt Romney is attacking is… Mitt Romney.

 

Breaking News: Pennsylvania Redistricting Approved by LRC

The Republican majority Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Committee voted yesterday to approve a highly partisan preliminary redistricting plan. (Video available).

In a classic bait and switch, the commission’s Republican majority a redistricting plan that ignores the good faith negotiations of the previous months and is designed only to strengthen a GOP stronghold in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) argued the map is unfair for the people of Pennsylvania, politically motivated and shows a lack of respect for the constitution.

For the first time, this morning we have seen the map the House Republican have proposed that bears very little resemblance to the negotiations that took place over the last several months, makes changes to decisions which we thought were made as late as last Friday night, and although we would like to participate here today and vote yes for this plan, we also believe the people of Pennsylvania have the right to expect us to behave in a fair and equitable manner, and produce districts which are reflective of their wishes and the population. Right now we have a highly partisan plan offered by the House Republicans that does not do well and honor the people of Pennsylvania. We [Democrats] have a plan here which we are going to offer which complies with the Constitution of Pennsylvania, and complies with the Voting Rights Act, and deals with political fairness. There is no such thing as political fairness in the [short] length of time we have had to observe the Republican plan. And Mr. Chairman [Judge Stephen J. McEven (R)] I would ask, seeing as we have had just 10 minutes or half an hour rather to look at this. If we want to negotiate a plan that is fair, out of fairness, I would request more time to review this plan. We actually have several days into November in order to comply with the law on presenting a preliminary plan, but as it stands right now I certainly can not vote for [this plan], and would request the opportunity to study this plan more diligently and more carefully, other than this half-hour we just had. And I would like the opportunity with honesy and fairness to negotiate a fair plan for all of us.

Pennsylvania State Senate: Interactive Online Google Map, KML File, ESRI Shapefile, PDF File, Text.
Pennsylvania State House: Interactive Online Google Map, KML File, ESRI Shapefile, PDF File, Text.

Anyone who objects to this preliminary plan should file their objection in writing by November 30 to Charles E. O’Connor, Jr., Executive Director, 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commission, 104 North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120. A public hearing will be held on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 12 noon in Hearing Room #1, North Office Building, Harrisburgh, PA 17120. Please call O’Connor at 717/705-6339 for additional information.

Independents: Might 2012 be the Year of the 3rd Party Candidate?

Two-Party System— Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

The current winner take all system for U.S. Presidential elections certainly encourages a two-party system. Candidate from smaller parties do run, along with independent candidates, but their vote totals are usually a small footnote in the records of history.

Might this coming election be one of the occasions where a third-party candidate or independent candidate can make a major splash, affect the election or even win? According to Politico:

The public has had it with Washington and conventional politics. It has lost trust and respect in the conventional governing class. There is mounting evidence voters don’t see President Barack Obama or the current crop of GOP candidates as the clear and easy solution. As Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg argues, it seems likely if not inevitable an atmosphere this toxic and destabilized will produce an independent presidential candidate who could shake the political system.

Polito suggests six possible independent candidates and invites readers to nominate their own.

I see three kinds of candidates who might be motivated to run for President:

  • Far Left,
  • Right, and
  • Far Right.

Right

Their is a heated battle for the soul of the Republican party between establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney and Jon Hunstman which represent its corporate base, and Tea party candidates with a lot of grassroots momentum behind them.

If a tea party candidate like Rick Perry,  Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain wins the Republican Nomination and the economy continues to show weakness, many experts would see an opportunity for a third-party to seize the center. One possibility is Mayor Michael Bloomberg (NY). He was a registered Democrat until he ran for Mayor of New York City in 2001 as a Republican, and has been an independent since 2007. He has a net worth of over $18 billion, so he could easily get in late and still run a self-finance (Perot-style) campaign.

Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R-UT) has had a peculiar performance at the Republican Presidential debates often criticizing the Republican party as a whole for its backwards stands on issues from global warming, evolution and homosexuality. This does not sound like a good strategy for winning the Republican nomination, but it does lay the ground for a possible third-party bid next year.

Similarly, more “moderate” candidates like Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Mayor Rudy Giulliani (R-NY), and Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) refused to run in a race in which they would be more moderate than the majority of Republican primary and caucus goers. Similarly, Gov. Tim Pawlenty performed anemically and had to drop out. However, they may be willing to try their luck to pick up a plurality of the vote against President Obama and a tea party candidate especially if the economy continues to show weakness.

Far Right

Mitt Romney is the current leader in the Republican primary. He is polling around 25%, has considerable money behind him and the prediction market inTrade gives him a 55.8% chance of getting the nomination. However, most Tea Party supporters can not tolerate moderate positions which Romney holds (or at least once held when he was Governor of Massachusetts). For example, some of them equate abortion to murder and consider Romney to be insufficiently pro-Life. They would consider opposing Romney to be a moral imperative and could jump behind a third-party candidate on the extreme right.

Perhaps Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is waiting for just such an opportunity. We could also see current Republican party candidates such as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) or Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) willing to jump ship and run as an independent against Romney. Other people mentioned in the past like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Donald Trump could or have considered running as an independent.

With all these possible candidates being discussed, how much of an impact will they make. Will they pass by unnoticed? Will they be kingmakers? Do they have any chance to win? Prediction market inTrade shows a 2.7% chance of a successful Presidential bid by a third-party or independent candidate, so I guess “the market has spoken”. A win by a third-party or independent candidate is not totally out of the question.

Keep your eyes and ears open. This may be an election which will make history yet again.

More after the jump.
Far Left

Some supporters of Obama in 2008 are unhappy Obama’s willingness to compromise with Republicans, but getting nothing in return. They are upset that the Defense of Marriage Act has not been repealed, the Bush tax cuts were extended, no cap has been placed on carbon emissions, we did not get a single payer health care system, and we have not pulled out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanimo.

Perennial candidate Ralph Nader will surely run again. Perhaps he will be joined by film-maker Michael Moore, or Democracy for America founder, former DNC Chairman Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT), or Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Already, Nader is planning “to run a slate of six primary “challengers” to the president, with each focusing on issues of ideological concern. The point of this initiative is not so much to displace the president as it is to move Obama and the party toward the left — an in so doing to provide the themes and the energy to excite the Democratic base and draw new voters to the polls in 2012.”

Even candidates with small amounts of support can affect to overall result of the election. For example, the “official result” of the 2000 race between Al Gore, Jr. and George W. Bush hinged on a 537 vote margin in the State of Florida. This margin was dwarfed not only by the vote count of the 3rd party candidate Ralph Nader (Green Party, 97,488 votes) but also by

  • 4th place Pat Buchanan (Reform Party, 17,484 votes),
  • 5th place Harry Browne (Libertarian, 16,415 votes),
  • 6th place John Hagelin (Natural Law/Reform Party, 2,281 votes)
  • 7th place Monica Moorehead (Workers World Party, 1,804 votes),
  • 8th place Howard Phillips (Constitution Party, 1,371 votes),
  • 9th place David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA 622 votes),
  • and even 10th place James E. Harris, Jr. (Florida Socialist Workers Party, 562 votes).

History of Third-Party and Independent Presidential Campaigns

Sometimes third-party candidates achieve stronger results. These are the candidates since the Civil War which gathered double-digit support on election day:

  • 1992: Businessman Ross Perot ran as an independent. He got 18.9% of popular vote, and came in second place in Maine (ahead of George H. W. Bush) and Utah (ahead of Bill Clinton).

  • 1968: Former Gov. George Wallace ran on the American Independent Party line. He got 13.5% of the popular vote, winning 5 states totally 46 electoral votes (AR, LA, MS, AL, GA).

  • 1924: Sen. Robert M. La Follette (WI) ran as a progressive, splitting the Democratic vote, leading to the reelection of Republican incumbant President Calvin Coolidge. He got 16.6% of the popular vote and won his home state of Wisconsin (13 electoral votes).

  • 1912: Theodore Roosevelt ran as the Bull Moose Party candidate hoping to return to the White House. He finished with 27.4% of the popular vote (winning 6 states totaling 88 EV). He bettered the incumbent William Howard Tart (23.0% of popular vote, 8 EV) but in the end he lost of the Democrat Woodrow Wilson (42.0% of popular vote, 435 EV).

  • 1860: Abraham Lincoln (R-IL) won in a 4-way race with 39.8% of the popular vote, carrying 18 states which gave him a majority in the Electoral College (180 electoral votes). John C. Breckinridge (Southern Democrat-KY) took 18.1% of the popular vote during 11 southern states (72 electoral votes). John Bell (Constitutional Union-TN) took 12.6% of the popular vote carrying his home state of Tennessee as well as Virginia and Kentucky (39 electoral votes). Finally, Stephen Douglas (D-IL) took 29.5% of the popular vote but only carried Missouri (and splitting New Jersey with Lincoln).

The President’s Pennsylvania Problem

Crossposted from DemConWatch.

Obama has his polling problems. In Pennsylvania, his approval rating has fallen to 46/48, his approval amoung Democrats is below the national average and PPP says:

Obama's poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President's persistently poor numbers in a state that's gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.

PPP goes on to attribute Obama's problem to Hillary Democrats. PPP also has bad news for Obama in North Carolina. Florida, even with Rick Scott, is not any more friendly.

There is something more concerning about Pennsylvania than the polling numbers, though, and that's the dollar numbers. First, let's look at the 2008 vote totals by county:

 

Philadelphia is actually the little blue area where the last “a” in “Philadelphia” is located. The big blue area to the left is Delaware County, To the left of Delaware County is Chester County, Above that, the dark blue is Montgomery County, and the light blue on the right is Bucks County. This is what gave Obama his win of the state with 54.7% of the vote, with, yes, an assist to the north, plus Pittsburgh, Erie and State College. 

Let's look at the money raised in 2008: (data from Open Secrets, all numbers rounded)

Totals 2008, Pennsylvania, $25.3 million collected statewide:

Top recipients:

Obama $ 11.4 million
McCain $ 4.6 million
Clinton $ 4.3 million
Giuliani $1 .3 million
Biden  $ 950,000
Romney $ 650,000

Overall for the Philadelphia Region (the counties cited above, plus the counties of Gloucester, Camden and Burlington in Southern NJ):

Obama $ 8.5 million
McCain $ 2.7 million

While other candidates received funding (for example, Romeny received $ 476,000) if you look at the ratio of Obama to McCain money, it's about 76% to 24%. 

In the top 4 zip codes, these were the Obama/McCain splits:

19103 (Philadelphia)
     Obama $ 557,000 (85%)
     McCain $ 98,000 (14%)
19010 (Philadelphia)
     Obama $ 307,000 (70%)
     McCain $ 129,000 (30%)
19087 (Wayne)
     Obama $ 264,000 (65%)
     McCain $ 139,000 (35%)
19085 (Villanova)
     Obama $ 186,000 (57%)
     McCain $ 137,000 (42%)

The Philadelphia Inquirer (17 July 2011, p. A3) took a look at the 2011 Q2 money in the Philadelphia area. (The counties above from PA and NJ.) Overall, Obama collected $ 227,190 and Romney collected $ 204,000. An additional $ 125,000 was taken in, in descending order by Santorum (PA only, he didn't get a dime in south Jersey), Paul, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Cain, Bachman and Johnson. The split here is 53%/47%, Obama to Romney. That's a little concerning. 

Also of concern is the money collected in the top ten zip codes. The data is arranged from most to least money, and identical zip codes are highlighted. All cities/town in Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted.

 

If you do the math, you'll find out that Romney collected $ 117,150 and Obama collected $ 85,193. Now admittedly, Obama tends to raise money from smaller donors, while Romney collects from larger donors. Thus, it's very likely that more humans (and ergo voters) donated to Obama than Romney. Further, it's early and the economy is in a completely different solar system than it was in 2007. But there are these two things…

The two most concerning zips to me are 19103 and 19087. 19103 (map) is part of Center City, and there is a concentration of über rich there, which can account for the relatively large Mittens draw. But it's also a very young area, with the largest proportion of residents being between 25 and 30 years old. (Source) Like I said, concerning.

And then there's Wayne. Zip code 19087 has an interesting history. It, along with zip code 19335 had their geographic areas defined well BEFORE zip codes were designated in the 1960's, by two very enterprising Postmasters. It used to be that the Postmasters were paid based on how many people received mail.  These guys took HUGE land areas, back when properties were large, even though the population wasn't there. Currently, 19087 is in three counties (Chester, Delaware and Montgomery). It's rich. It's educated. Data here. Most of all, though, it was an Obama stronghold in 2008. Again, like I said, concerning. 

More after the jump.

I live in 19087. And I know what the deal is here. For a candidate to win a precinct, or a zip code, a county or a state takes one of two things: a hugely strong, well-organized, on-message, well-funded candidate organization or an incredibly well-run, lock-step local party organization (think political machine). A combination of the two is optimal, but incredibly rare. 

In 2008, the Obama campaign officially arrived to our area on 1 April. Prior to that, Steering Committees had been put into place, including fund raising arms, outreach had been accomplished to online Obama support groups, and virtually no formal contact had been made with the local Democratic organizations, except to certain individuals who spanned both the Steering, etc., committees and the local organizations. 

The first full week, locations were operational and hundred of pairs of boots were on the ground, calling, fund-raising, holding voter drives, door knocking, lit dropping. This was, you may remember, for a primary. It became more intense after the primary: no one left, more paid interns were dropped on the area. 

The local organizations across the counties were split between Obama and Clinton, but most fell in line after the primary. However, the canvass, phone bank, fundraising and all other aspect's organization and leadership came exclusively from the campaign. This was a problem for the primary in Philadelphia as the Obama campaign refused to work in concert with the machine, which held down Obama's numbers in the city. The mistake was not repeated in the general.

OFA is still here: they have some events, do some phone banking and fund raising. Their numbers are far below what they were in 2008. And support, as shown by polls, fundraising totals, and general conversation is well below the last campaign. A lot of people who worked, and worked HARD in 2008, won't be doing it again. Obama cannot win Pennsylvania without winning Philadelphia and running up huge numbers in the surrounding counties. This is more important this year given the decreased population in southwest Pennsylvania. He cannot win Delaware nor Chester Counties without their parts of zip 19087. (He can still win Montco without 19087.) 

Q2 fundraising, and the current polling data should be a wake-up call for the campaign. While Pennsylvania has gone blue for the last five presidential elections, the 2010 elections were a rout: we lost the Assembly, Senate, Governor's Mansion, a Senate seat, and four House seats. All that, and current statewide Democratic registration is 50.8%. (Since you want to know, its 37% GOP, with the rest minor parties or unaligned.) 

The local Democratic organizations will not be of much help. They are fractured: disheartened by 2009 and 2010, split by a very ugly Democratic Congressional primary in 2010, underfunded, and without a functional GOTV program. This means that OFA has to hit here hard, and start culling support if Pennsylvania is to stay blue for the 6th presidential election in a row. 

Will this happen? It's uncertain, and the is a microcosm of what could conceivably cost Obama the 2012 election. Sure, there's a lot of time, and Mittens may well not be the candidate. That would be good for Obama as he polls much better against all the other current characters. But no matter who the Republican is, Obama still needs to get his people out, ground up, as worked in 2008. To win here, Obama needs people like me. I gave money, collected money, ran voter drives, ran a call center, canvassed, fielded canvassers, housed an intern, blogged, and above all, got my people out. From March to the election, I conservatively put 30 hours a week into Obama's campaign. Obama has about 8 months to win me over: I'm hoping…