Campaign Finance & Elections

Car Dealers Get Pushed Out by Political Ads

“When political campaigns begin to flood local TV markets with commercials, car dealers get squeezed for airtime more than any other advertisers,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Local automotive dealers predominantly buy ads during the local news—the same programming where political campaigns and outside groups concentrate much of their spending, according to research from analytics firm Kantar Media. In fact, Kantar Media’s analysis of eight markets in 2014 showed that car dealers ran slightly more than half of all their ads during local news shows, while more than 60% of political ads appeared on those same programs.”

A Nation Free of Lead? Clinton Says She’ll Do It

Philip Bump examines the viability of Hillary Clinton’s pledge that should she be elected president she will “within five years to remove lead from everywhere.”

“That’s almost certainly impossible.”

“Lead isn’t only transmitted in water through lead pipes. It exists, as Clinton pointed out, in paint in homes. For decades it was added to gasoline — an initiative of the auto industry that once made Flint prosperous. Once in gasoline, it spread throughout the environment, contaminating the dirt around roads and the houses adjacent to those roads … Getting rid of those pipes alone within five years would be hugely difficult and massively expensive.”

“The Centers for Disease Control notes that most housing built prior to 1978 uses some lead paint. According to the Census Bureau, there are nearly 70 million houses in the United States that meet that standard. Seventy million.”

“The problem of lead in the United States is a problem for which there is no easy solution. At best, we’ve reached a stalemate with lead, doing our best to reduce our children’s exposure to the metal, an effort that extends back to the late 1970s.”

It’s About the Economy, Stupid

Gallup: “More than six in 10 Republicans and independents who lean Republican say Donald Trump would be best at dealing with the economy/jobs and the federal budget deficit as president, compared with less than 20% who pick either Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.”

160303GOP_1

“Republicans choose Donald Trump, who promises to “make America great again” — as the best GOP candidate for handling the economy and federal budget deficit as president. These strengths appear to be at the core of his support, tying in with the persistent economic anxiety Republicans express on a host of Gallup measures, such as confidence in the economy and their own economic progress.”

“At the same time, Republicans — including many who favor his nomination — seem to be well aware that Trump has weaknesses. They implicitly acknowledge Trump’s unusual brashness, giving Rubio the most credit for having the right temperament to be president. Republicans also acknowledge that Trump is not the most conservative candidate, giving Cruz credit for the conservatism that has become his signature message. Given that Republicans in this poll favor Trump to win their party’s nomination, they appear to be willing to overlook the front-runner’s deficiencies.”

Trump Reflects the Transformation of the GOP

John Cassidy comments on the “larger reality” that Trump’s style of campaigning reflects.

“With Trump in a strong position to win the primary, Republicans are engaged in a bitter battle not just about who will represent them in November, but about the broader nature of their party. For the past forty years, the G.O.P. has been an uneasy alliance of social conservatives, free-market conservatives, and corporate interest groups, with the latter largely dictating economic policy. Trump has been drawing on a base of alienated white working-class and middle-class voters, seeking to remake the G.O.P. into a more populist, nativist, avowedly protectionist, and semi-isolationist party that is skeptical of immigration, free trade, and military interventionism.”

“To transform a political party, you need a clear message, a broad electoral base, and allies within the existing power structure. Trump now has all three of these things. As I’ve pointed out before, his claim that Washington is broken and can only be fixed by an outsider resonates with many Americans, and not just arch-conservatives. So does his demagoguery about illegal immigrants and the supposed threat that Muslims present. What is perhaps more surprising, at least to Washington-based conservatives, is how many Republicans are also embracing Trump’s populist lines on ending free trade, protecting Social Security, and providing basic health care.”

What Were the Top Topics in Last Night’s Debate?

Philip Bump: “The 11th Republican debate was pretty insane, even measured against the high bar for craziness that the preceding 10 had set. Google makes neat little charts showing what topics people were Googling, but they don’t include topics like ‘Trump’s steak brand’ or ‘Trump’s meat.'”

“We track the topics people were most interested in minute-by-minute. And the biggest spike came as Ted Cruz was talking about his postcard-sized tax form (which was actually supposed to be an answer about who does the work of the IRS if you get rid of the IRS).”

Rising searches for Trump:

  • trump debate
  • trump steaks
  • donald trump age
  • how old is donald trump

We’ll note that the Cruz lip incident coincided with the tax discussion. So the rising searches for Cruz:

  • ted cruz booger
  • ted cruz mouth
  • ted cruz tax postcard

We are an elegant species.

Democrats’ Apathy About Candidates Could Hurt Voter Turnout

Gallup: “In November, and again in January and February, we asked Americans, just after they told us what they consider to be the most important problem facing the nation, whether they think any of the presidential candidates have come up with good ideas for solving that problem or not.”

“A little more than half of Americans — 52% — said yes in February. That’s up slightly from January and November. Forty percent say ‘no,’ and the rest say they don’t know.”

“These views vary quite a bit by partisanship, and this becomes a significant finding. Republicans are more positive than Democrats. To be specific, 65% of Republicans say a candidate has come up with good ideas for solving the most important problem facing the nation, compared with 45% of independents and 49% of Democrats.”

160301_Candidates_2

“Bottom line: This lack of conviction among Democrats that candidates have answers, along with other indicators of lower enthusiasm about the election, could portend poorly for Democratic turnout next November, providing a distinct advantage for Republicans.”

Could Florida Decide the Election Again?

Ian Millhiser in Think Progress: “Elections are not simply fought out at the polls … after legislators enact laws that could change who actually gets to cast a ballot, elections are fought in courts as well.”

“As election law expert Rick Hasen notes, there is already one early sign that Scalia’s death has moved the Court’s center of gravity in voting rights cases. After a lower federal court held that two of North Carolina’s congressional districts are unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, many experts (including Hasen) expected the Supreme Court to stay this decision. It didn’t.”

“Because the Court denied such a stay without explanation, it is impossible to know what the vote was among the justices or why the stay was not granted. Nevertheless, as Hasen explains, the Court’s decision in this North Carolina case may be a sign that the justices will no longer keep such a tight leash on lower court judges who decide voting rights cases close to elections.”

Of the ten closest states in the 2012 presidential election, half (North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and New Hampshire) are located in federal appellate circuits with fairly solid left-leaning majorities. Meanwhile, two states, Iowa and Ohio, are located in conservative circuits. The remaining states, Colorado, Florida and Wisconsin, are located in circuits that are evenly divided or that are close to evenly divided … The biggest wildcard, meanwhile, may be Florida.

Despite Low Unemployment, Job Security Remains Top Concern

Kaiser Family Foundation:  “With the 2016 primary election campaign in full swing, three-fourths of Americans (73 percent) report they are following news about it closely with the economy/jobs currently being the most important issue to voters in the upcoming presidential election (27 percent).  Health care ranks fourth at 8 percent, behind presidential candidates’ characteristics or positions on the issues (21 percent), and foreign policy (16 percent). Similar shares of Democratic voters (7 percent), independent voters (10 percent), and Republican voters (7 percent) say health care is a top voting issue.”

Figure 1: Economy/Jobs Is Top Voter Issue Across Parties, Health Care Ranks Lower

GOP Delegate System Favors Trump

Andrew McGill, writing in The Atlantic, comments on how the GOP’s new delegate-allocation system for the primaries has actually helped Trump.

“But another well-intentioned tenet of the GOP’s reform—a strong preference for proportional delegate selection—has also come into question. Through a series of baffling rules that defy flowcharting, states like Texas and Alabama have effectively unhooked a candidate’s popular vote from the number of convention delegates they receive, the real currency of the election. Because of these rules, a candidate could get 30 percent of the vote in several Super Tuesday states and walk away with only a quarter of its delegates—or, conversely, more than half.”

“This system could seriously skew results. The congressional-district delegates would seem to introduce geographic variability, punishing candidates who don’t enjoy widespread support.  And cutoffs—especially ones that consider how the surrounding field performs—could lock contenders out of a supposedly ‘proportional’ race.”

“To test this, I built a quick computer simulation focusing on Texas.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 9.41.42 PM

“I was surprised by the sheer spread of possibilities. If Texas was truly a proportional state, a candidate with 33 percent of the vote could expect 51 delegates. According to the simulation, the probabilities actually stretch from the low 50s to above 100.”

“Texas is not alone in this; Alabama has virtually identical rules, and states like Georgia have clauses that switch the election into a winner-take-all contest if one candidate reaches a certain percentage.”

Hillary Clinton Regains Popularity Vote

Gallup: “Hillary Clinton has reclaimed her position as the best-liked presidential candidate among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, a sign that her candidacy is recovering a key advantage she recently surrendered to rival Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s net favorable score stands at +55 for the week of Feb. 18-24, 2016, a 10-percentage-point increase from her low point recorded over Jan. 27-Feb.10. This latter time period overlapped with her landslide loss to Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. Sanders’ net favorable over the past week, by contrast, stands at +44, well below Clinton’s score and a steep fall from the +57 he boasted in late January/early February.”

Net Favorable Ratings of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Among Democrats/Leaners

Trump Politics is American Politics

David Brooks: “People say that Trump is an unconventional candidate and that he represents a break from politics as usual. That’s not true. Trump is the culmination of the trends we have been seeing for the last 30 years: the desire for outsiders; the bashing style of rhetoric that makes conversation impossible; the decline of coherent political parties; the declining importance of policy; the tendency to fight cultural battles and identity wars through political means.”

“Trump represents the path the founders rejected. There is a hint of violence undergirding his campaign … Trump’s supporters aren’t looking for a political process to address their needs. They are looking for a superhero. As the political scientist Matthew MacWilliams found, the one trait that best predicts whether you’re a Trump supporter is how high you score on tests that measure authoritarianism.”

“This isn’t just an American phenomenon. Politics is in retreat and authoritarianism is on the rise worldwide. The answer to Trump is politics. It’s acknowledging other people exist. It’s taking pleasure in that difference and hammering out workable arrangements.”

Americans Want to Improve, Not Repeal, Obamacare

The Kaiser Family Foundation 2/25/16 Newsletter reports on the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which finds the “public as divided as the remaining presidential candidates over their vision for the future of the nation’s health care system.”

“When asked to choose among four broad approaches for changing the health care system currently being discussed, the largest share (36%) say lawmakers should build on the Affordable Care Act to improve affordability and access to care, while fewer choose establishing guaranteed coverage through a single government plan (24%), repealing the ACA and not replacing it (16%), or repealing the law and replacing it with a Republican alternative (13%).”

Figure 2: Views of the Future of the U.S. Health Care System

“The survey also finds that the words to describe such a plan clearly affect how people view it … When asked directly about “guaranteed health insurance coverage in which all Americans would get their insurance through a single government health plan,” the poll finds half (50%) in favor and 43 percent opposed. Majorities of Democrats (70%) and independents (54%) support the concept, while few Republicans (20%) do.”

“The poll also finds the public’s view of the ACA largely stable so far this year, with 46 percent holding an unfavorable view of the law and 41 percent holding a favorable view.”

Republican Lawmakers Receive Failing Grades on Environmental Report Card

Think Progress: “Congress’ annual environmental scorecard is out, and it doesn’t look good for Republican lawmakers and some presidential candidates.”

“The League of Conservation Voters’ National Environmental Scorecard gave House Republicans an average score of 3 percent, while Senate Republicans got just 5 percent. Republican Presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) both got scores of zero, as they issued what the report calls the “anti-environment vote” every time throughout 2015.”

“The 2015 scorecard describes a Republican-led Congress that the report calls ‘the most anti-environmental Congress in our nation’s history.’”

 

senate map