A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Saturday, August 11, 2012

State of the Race – August 11

I thought for the general election I would post an ongoing analysis of where I think the race stands. For a bit of background, I'll explain where I am getting most of my data to do this analysis. A lot of my polling comes from the website www.270towin.com as they collect polling data from numerous sources including: Rasmussen, Quinnipiac, Purple Strategies, NBC News/Marist, Fox News, Survey USA and Public Policy. They then use that polling data along with past electoral history and assign a percentage likelihood that a state will go for one candidate or the other. In 2008, I used this data to track the election and I found it very interesting.  For a breakdown on the analysis from that election, feel free to review my first post on this blog which can be found here.

For this election cycle, I decided to do some different categories for where states fall and the percentage likelihood that it will go one candidate or the other. Based on the app that 270towin.com put out, there are three possibilities for each candidate and a tossup category. The three categories are: Safe, Likely and Lean. If the state fell in the percentage of a 99% chance that it would go one candidate, I placed it in the Safe category. If the state fell in the percentage of a 80-98% chance that it would go for a candidate, I placed it in the Likely category. If the state fell in the percentage of a 60-79% chance that it would go for a candidate, I placed it in the Lean category. Finally, if a state was between a 50-59% chance, I placed it in the tossup category.

The current breakdown is as follows:



If you want to see a visual breakdown of where states fall, click here for a map. Obviously, the darker the shade of blue or red, then the safer that state is for that candidate.

Since this is my first post doing this analysis, there's really nothing to discuss regarding the change in the states. One thing I will point out though is that it is very early and I think that as we go through the election cycle this race will tighten up. Right now, the lead that President Obama enjoys is due to the inherent advantage the Democrats have with the electoral map. For instance, if you look at states that have gone for the same party in the last five elections you will find that the Democrats have 242 electoral votes in those states where the Republicans only have 102 electoral votes in their states. One thing that President Obama was able to do in 2008 was win in states that typically went red. Despite their attempts in the last several elections, the one thing Republicans have not been able to do was win in traditionally blue states. I'm sure that Romney will try to win in some of those states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin and his selection of Paul Ryan for the ticket is most certainly aimed at these very states. In order to win, Romney will either need to win some of these blue states or he faces the same road that George W. Bush took to win – sweep all of the swing states (i.e. Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa).

Finally, since Governor Romney announced Congressman Ryan as his running mate today, I would be remiss if I did not give my thoughts. First of all, in the spirit of full disclosure I should say that I do plan to vote to reelect the president. I don't want to get into all the reasons why and I will say that I have been somewhat disappointed in his presidency, but I still agree with his policies on a whole more than I do Governor Romney's. All that said, I do think that Representative Ryan is a very interesting candidate. In many ways, I think he helps both sides.

On the Republican side, he helps Mitt Romney shore up his conservative base. Ever since this election started in the primaries, Romney struggled with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. While there was never a chance that these voters would vote for Obama, there was a chance that they would not get excited about Governor Romney's campaign and not show the support that Romney needs, or worse yet, they stay home on Election Day. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Ryan has been one of the key players in the budget battles over the last year and a half and of course, he is the author of the Ryan budget plan that the conservatives absolutely love. By choosing Ryan, Romney makes it clear that he is embracing the economic policies that the conservative wing of the Republican Party wants to see enacted. This pick wins Romney a lot of favor with the conservatives and will certainly give them a reason to get excited about his campaign. As for the pick itself, I do think that it is a fabulous choice for Romney if he wins. I say that because I think that Ryan will do a great job in helping him govern. Being in Congress will give Ryan a lot of insight in helping Romney get his agenda through the legislative branch and for that reason, Romney deserves a lot of credit with his choice.

However, I also think that it helps the Democrats. The Ryan budget plan has gotten a lot of criticism from the Democrats as they are fond of saying that his plan would “end Medicare as we know it.” I will say that I think a lot of the criticism that the Democrats have made of the plan is unfair and it is actually outright misleading. However, the plan clearly would be a radical change from the status quo and this will give the Democrats an issue that they will be able to campaign against rather than just defending what they have done. Medicare and Social Security are often referred to as the third rail in American politics because if you touch them, you die. Well, Ryan has touched that third rail and now by extension, Romney has too. This election may just prove whether that axiom is true or not. The other reason that I think this selection helps the president is because Ryan is part of Congress which has some of the lowest approval ratings that the institution has ever had. While Obama's approval ratings have not been stellar, Congress's approval ratings are downright ghastly.

Of course, one thing that should be noted is that vice presidential candidates have very little effect on the outcome of the election, but in this case I think it's clear that the choice of Paul Ryan will serve to galvanize both sides. In the end, it probably will not dictate who wins, but it will frame the debate. One thing is certain and that is the next three months will be very interesting. I will try to post an update every weekend regarding the status of the race so that we can see how things progress.

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