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, September 8, 2012

State of the Race – September 8 (And Wrap Up of the Conventions)

With President Obama's speech on Thursday night, the conven-tion season came to a close, so let's take a look at where we are. Keep in mind, as I said last week any postconvention bounce for the candidates would not be felt for a week or two after their respective convention finished. So here is the electoral vote breakdown:



If you want to see a visual breakdown of where states fall, see the photo above or click here for a map. Obviously, the darker the shade of blue or red, then the safer that state is for that candidate. If you want to see how I arrived at these categories, I would encourage you to review the first “State of the Race” post I did on August 11 which can be found here.

There are only two changes from last week as New Jersey moved from “Safe Obama” to “Likely Obama” and more significantly, North Carolina moved from tossup to “Lean Romney.” At this point, there's been very little movement in any of the states since I started doing this and this is reflected in the national polling as well, as most national polls continue to show President Obama having a narrow lead over Governor Romney, although those leads are within the margin of error. However, I also looked at the polls being used by 270towin.com and I noticed that there wasn't as much polling being done state-by-state as I would've thought. For instance, I have gone into this election paying close attention to 11 states that I feel are the true battlegrounds (CO, FL, IA, MI, NV, NH, NC, OH, PA, VA & WI), but only five of those states have had any polling come out since the Republican convention ended on 8/29 (CO, FL, MI, NC & OH). Therefore, it has been hard to judge what, if any, bounce Romney got as a result of his convention. Hopefully, as the election nears, state-by-state polling will pick up and we will be able to pick up on any movement that occurs in a much more timely way.

Now for some random thoughts about the two conventions:

1. Objectives Met. From what I observed, both candidates achieved one of their primary objectives. Romney has had a likability gap as people seem to prefer President Obama over Governor Romney on a personal level, so one of the Republican goals for the convention was to humanize Romney. This was effectively done especially with Ann Romney's speech and to a lesser degree with Romney's own speech.

On the Democrat's side, the gap they were dealing with was the enthusiasm gap, as Republicans are much more enthusiastic about beating Obama than the Democrats are about reelecting him. As a result, many of the speeches at the Democratic convention were designed to fire up the base including Vice President Biden and President Obama himself. Many of the criticisms I heard about President Obama's speech missed the point of what he was trying to accomplish. He wasn't necessarily trying to win over undecided voters. He was trying to make sure his voters were engaged and will show up on Election Day.

2. Upstaged. Interestingly, both candidates and their acceptance speeches seem to be upstaged. For the Republicans, Governor Romney's speech seemed to go well and accomplish a lot of what they wanted to, but it was Clint Eastwood's rant at a chair that got a majority of the press coverage in the days following. However, President Obama didn't fare much better when everyone compared his speech to former President Clinton's speech the night before.

3. Clinton's Brilliance. Speaking of former President Clinton, I would be remiss if I did not talk about his speech. I have never been a fan of the former president, but I have always thought he was an effective communicator. That was certainly on display Wednesday night. In fact, I was watching the NFL's opening game between the Cowboys and Giants when I decided to flip over and check in on what was happening with his speech. Well, the speech was just getting ready to start and I was not able to flip back to the football game until he had finished – it was that good. How good was it? Even the conservative press couldn't criticize the speech. The “worst” thing I saw someone write about it was actually a clever line saying that Clinton was a good lawyer for a guilty client. In my opinion, it was clearly the best speech of either convention.

4. Platform Nightmares. Both parties ended up having issues arise as it related to their party platforms. The Republicans had to relive the whole rape/abortion issue as the platform calls for the elimination of abortion even in the instances of rape. After the comments by Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, the language in the Republican platform made them spend a lot more time answering questions about rape and abortion when I'm sure they would have rather been talking about the economy and their plan to fix it.

However, that was nowhere near the issues that the Democrats had with their platform as it originally did not include any reference to God nor did it have language that previously existed saying that Jerusalem was the rightful capital of Israel. After this came up in the press and the conservatives pounced on it, the Obama campaign asked the platform be amended to change those two items. When those amendments were brought up before the convention, several delegates booed as they believed the voice vote was close but the convention chair ruled that the amendments had been accepted by the delegates thereby reinserting God and Jerusalem.

Party platforms are not as important as they used to be and very little attention is paid to them, so for either party to have to spend any time discussing it with the press and answering questions about it serves as a distraction from what the parties are really attempting to do which is highlight their candidate. My guess is that both campaigns wish they would have spent more time looking at the proposed platforms ahead of time and I also think that it might change the way candidates deal with their party’s platforms in the future. Right now, platforms are generally written by party activists and don't always coincide with their candidate's views. This might be the last year that the candidates and their campaigns take a relatively hands-off approach in constructing the platform.

5. What's the Point? I'll leave you with one final thought. As I watched bits and pieces of both conventions, it made me wonder why they even have them anymore. All they do is spend a large amount of money to arrive at what was a foregone conclusion. Couldn't the whole convention be boiled down to one day? If the parties feel the need to go through the formality of actually calling the role in nominating their candidate for president, this could still be accomplished during the day with the candidate speaking that evening to accept the nomination. As I hinted at above, the party platforms mean less than they ever have, and I would say that they are downright useless and a waste of the paper they are written on. The only thing that people generally pay attention to is the speech by the candidates and perhaps a keynote address.  All the rest is just the pomp and circumstance and leftovers from a previous time when the parties actually chose their nominees at the conventions.  Don’t think they should be drastically shortened? Think about it this way – the conventions usually are four days long and this year both parties conducted their conventions in three – Republicans shorten theirs due to Hurricane Isaac and Democrats had only scheduled three due to Labor Day. And what was missed? Nothing! It's time to end these four-day infomercials where millions of dollars are spent and not much is accomplished. If either party has the guts to do this in the future, I might be inclined to vote for them regardless of which one it is.


  1. Karl-

    I love good political debate, and you and I could probably have at it pretty well. But not on this post. Not a thing I can counter here. Though I would also add that I think Sen. Kerry made an excellent partisan speech on Thursday as well. Alas, most of the lesser speakers in both conventions could probably have been skipped. Mostly, I think it's a good excuse to party. :-)

    1. Thanks for reading Craig. I'll admit I only heard a small part of Kerry's speech, so I can't really comment on that.