Campaign Finance & Elections

Birthright Citizenship Is Not New Issue for GOP

Washington Post: “Donald Trump has reignited the immigration debate in the United States.  But while this is one of the more radical elements of Trump’s broader immigration reform proposals, the issue of birthright citizenship is not new.”

“Between 1993 and 2015, 247 representatives in the House sponsored or co-sponsored legislative efforts to deny birthright citizenship. These efforts have been highly partisan. Out of these 247 representatives, 96 percent were Republican.”

“Let’s look at this using one of the most widely used measures of left-right political ideology, the DW-Nominate score. The higher the score, the more ideologically conservative the representative. The median score for GOP representatives who have supported changes to birthright citizenship is 24 percent higher—that is, more conservative—than the median score for all other Republican representatives in the House. Figure 1 illustrates the ideological differences between legislators who have and have not sponsored or co-sponsored legislative efforts to deny birthright citizenship, for both Republicans and Democrats.”


“But here’s what we do know. Policymakers who have sponsored or co-sponsored legislative efforts to deny birthright citizenship represent districts that, demographically, resemble a bygone America—this version of America may very well be what GOP presidential candidates are appealing to.”


The GOP Has a Bigger Problem Than Trump

Jamelle Bouie, in Slate, notes that Trump and Carson “will eventually fade from view—or at least the Republican nominating process—as voters start the more serious search for a nominee. The problem, this time, is that there isn’t a Romney—an obvious choice for consolidation who is on the steady march to inevitability. Instead, there’s a collection of ‘plausible’ candidates who all seem too flawed to succeed.”

“If a ‘plausible’ nominee needs to be acceptable to conservatives, Kasich is at a serious disadvantage … New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie—a relative moderate—is in the same boat, with the added anchor of scandal. He’s trying, though; on Saturday, in an awkward pitch to conservative voters, he promised to ‘track‘ unauthorized immigrants like FedEx packages, if elected president.”

Like Scott Walker, Jeb Bush “has stumbled over Trump and his attacks, with ineffectual pushback that leads to more mistakes.”

“The only ‘plausible’ candidate left—someone to bridge the gaps among all party factions—is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. What he lacks in Bush’s money or Walker’s electoral success he has in raw talent: Rubio is the most gifted communicator of the field, with enough savvy to avoid Trump’s traps. He doesn’t engage Trump on immigration or try to swat him away. Instead, he talks policy, tries to distinguish himself with substance, and marches toward his goal.”

Poll: Republicans Fail Birther Quiz

Think Progress: “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), was born in Calgary, Alberta in Canada in 1970, according to the birth certificate he released two years ago. But a Public Policy Polling poll released on Monday found that 40 percent of Republican voters falsely believe Cruz was born in the United States — compared to just 29 percent who believe the same of Hawaiian-born Barack Obama. Just 22 percent of Republicans said they believe Cruz was born abroad.”

“The poll indicates that a misinformation campaign by Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans has successfully convinced a large plurality of Republicans — 44 percent of those polled — that President Obama was born outside of the United States.”

Among Trump supporters “61 percent said Obama was not born in the U.S., while a mere 21 percent concede that he was American born. The poll also found that a 54 percent of Republican voters believe the president is a Muslim, versus just 14 percent who believe him to be a Christian.”

Do Trump and Sanders Defy Conventional Wisdom on ‘Big Money?’

Robert Litan in the Wall Street Journal: “In one sense, the Citizens United ruling has helped Mr. Trump and Sen. Sanders to set themselves apart from the crowd by emphasizing their lack of support from big donors.”

“Mr. Trump criticizes his rivals–Jeb Bush in particular–for taking contributions from big donors and says that his wealth immunizes him to pleas from special interests. As Mr. Trump continues saying things that in past campaigns might have ruled him out as a viable candidate, his rhetoric keeps drawing free media coverage. If he keeps this up, and eventually wins the Republican nomination–an outcome that looks less and less implausible–he might not need to use public funds, for which he would qualify as a major-party nominee, for advertising.”

“The Bernie Sanders boomlet also defies the conventional wisdom that big money talks when it comes to presidential races. An Iowa poll out Saturday showed  Sen. Sanders gaining on Hillary Clinton. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders can point to the big donors supporting Mrs. Clinton and say that he will not be beholden to them.”

Conservative Trump is Not Conservative About the Budget

Albert Hunt contends that the biggest budget-buster would be “the self-styled arch-conservative, Donald Trump.”

“The front-running Republican makes lavish promises to boost spending on immigration, the military, veterans and other causes while cutting taxes for the middle class and resisting proposals for offsetting savings.”

“The most detailed Trump plank is on immigration, including plans to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and to erect a 1,900-mile wall along the Mexican border. Jeb Bush has said those would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Some analysts say that’s a conservative estimate.”

“Trump has also vowed to build up the U.S. military, charging that enemies know America ‘is getting weaker.’ That’s big-ticket budgeting … The money apparently won’t come from trimming entitlements. ‘I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,’ Trump insists.”

“Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on Chinese and other imports, suggesting that would provide cash and improve American competitiveness. More likely it would raise the cost of products to American consumers without those accompanying benefits.”


Trump Isn’t the Only Candidate Talking Policy Nonsense

Paul Krugman: “Both the Republican establishment and the punditocracy have been shocked by Mr. Trump’s continuing appeal to the party’s base. He’s a ludicrous figure, they complain. His policy proposals, such as they are, are unworkable, and anyway, don’t people realize the difference between actual leadership and being a star on reality TV?”

“But Mr. Trump isn’t alone in talking policy nonsense. Trying to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants would be a logistical and human rights nightmare, but might conceivably be possible; doubling America’s rate of economic growth, as Jeb Bush has promised he would, is a complete fantasy.”

“The point is that those predicting Mr. Trump’s imminent political demise are ignoring the lessons of recent history, which tell us that poseurs with a knack for public relations can con the public for a very long time. Someday The Donald will have his Katrina moment, when voters see him for who he really is. But don’t count on it happening any time soon.”

What the ‘Berni Coefficient’ Tells Us About Support for Sanders

Nate Cohn uses the Gini coefficient (a measure of distribution), which he terms the “Berni coefficient,” to measure the turnout for Bernie Sanders. Despite Sanders’ big crowds, that fact is “as convincing as saying the Connecticut economy is booming because the houses in Greenwich are so big and pretty.”

A Berni coefficient of “one would mean that all Sanders’s volunteers were in one congressional district; zero would mean every district had the same amount. By this measure, the Sanders coalition is even more unequal than the wealth in the United States. The Sanders coefficient clocks in at 0.483. It basically resembles the state of Connecticut, the second-most unequal state in the country (New York is No. 1).”

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“The public opinion polls show the problem. While Mr. Sanders is in striking distance of Hillary Rodham Clinton in Oregon and Wisconsin — and a second New Hampshire poll shows him leading — there are vast swaths of the country where Mr. Sanders has little support at all. He’s down by 68 points in Alabama, 78 to 10.”

Sanders “needs to compete outside his strongholds. Whether he’s doing so — not whether he has great crowds — is the real measure of his success, just as the real measure of the economy is the success of the average worker, not the opulence of the 1 percent.”

Trump Takes Populist Stance on Taxes

Jim Tankersley, in the Washington Post, observes that Trump’s views on taxes “will absolutely chill establishment conservatives.”

“Trump isn’t running as a supply-sider. He’s running as a populist. He’s not arguing for lower top marginal tax rates or a flat tax, like most of his Republican rivals. He doesn’t appear to want to eliminate investment taxes, as Rubio proposes. He wants rich people to pay more.”

Asked in an interview if he was proposing to raise taxes on himself, Trump replied: “That’s right. That’s right. I’m okay with it, ready, willing. And you’ve seen my statements. I mean I do very well. I don’t mind paying some tax. The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. The middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys. But I know people in hedge funds, they pay almost nothing, and it’s ridiculous, okay?”

Trump Exposes the Real Motivations of the GOP

Paul Krugman, reflecting on Trump’s popularity, asks: “What happened to conservative principles?”

“Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship.”

“It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.”

“The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.”

Is Obamacare Still a Campaign Issue?

Drew Altman: “Campaign rhetoric may give the impression that the ACA is a threshold issue for Republican voters, but polling indicates that it is just one of many issues GOP voters care about.”

“In the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August tracking poll, 69% of Republican registered voters said they would consider a candidate’s views on the ACA as one of many factors determining their vote; just 12% said they would ‘only vote for a candidate who shares their views on the ACA.’ Eighteen percent said this issue would not be a factor in their vote. The findings suggest that Republican candidates are not likely to win many primary votes based solely on their ACA positions.”

“Separately, a challenge for those candidates offering replacement plans is that Republican voters are somewhat divided on what they would like Congress to do next about the ACA … There is no groundswell of support–at least not yet–among the Republican base for replacement plans. That could be because there is no consensus replacement idea around which to coalesce, or because voters are tiring of the debate, or for other reasons.”

“Overall … it’s not clear that any position will distinguish one candidate from the others in a crowded field.”


Republicans Support State Marijuana Laws

Christopher Ingraham: “By significant margins, Republican voters in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire say that states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Sixty-four percent of GOP voters in Iowa say that states should be able to carry out their own laws vs. only 21 percent who say that the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

“These numbers come from recent surveys conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by reform group Marijuana Majority. They come as some GOP candidates, such as Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), have stepped up their anti-marijuana rhetoric in recent weeks.”

“Marijuana policy is not a make-or-break issue like jobs or the economy for most voters. But in a crowded primary field, it could mean the difference between, say, a seat at the main debate table and relegation to the sidelines.”

Trump Remains Deeply Unpopular with Hispanics

Gallup: “U.S. Hispanics are still getting to know most of the Republican contenders for president. At this point in the campaign, less than half have formed an opinion of any Republican candidate except Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. Partly because of this, Hispanics’ views of most GOP candidates range from mildly positive to mildly negative. The sole exception is Trump, whose favorable rating with Hispanics is deeply negative.”

Hispanics' Views of GOP Presidential Contenders, July-August 2015

German Lopez in Vox: “Hispanic voters are an increasingly important demographic for both political parties, since they’re expected to make up more and more of the electorate in the next few decades and are already a prominent force in several battleground states. Political opinion research group Latino Decisions has estimated, for instance, that a Republican presidential candidate will need more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the election.”

“It’s especially concerning for Republicans because Hispanic voters seem to really, really like Hillary Clinton. Gallup found that the Democratic frontrunner has a very strong 40 percent approval rating among Hispanic Americans.”