Campaign Finance & Elections

The Political Environment on Social Media

A new report from the Pew Research Center analyzes public opinion on the role of social media in political discourse.

One key finding: “Some 82% of social media users say they have never modified their views on a particular candidate – and 79% say they have never changed their views on a social or political issue – because of something they saw on social media.”

The Left vs. A Carbon Tax

Vox: “This is not an election year in which it is easy to get attention, unless your name rhymes with Gump. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking note of a colorful, contentious, and counterintuitive political drama playing out in the top left corner of the country.”

“Here’s the situation. There’s a carbon tax on the ballot in Washington this November, meant not just to put the state on the path to its climate targets but to serve as an example to other states.”

“The measure, called Initiative 732, isn’t just any carbon tax, either. It’s a big one. It would be the first carbon tax in the US, the biggest in North America, and one of the most ambitious in the world.”

“And yet the left opposes it. The Democratic Party, community-of-color groups, organized labor, big liberal donors, and even most big environmental groups have come out against it.”

Key Facts About the Latino Vote in 2016

Pew Research Center: “Here are key facts about the Latino vote in 2016.”

“Among Latino registered voters who are ‘absolutely certain’ they will vote, one-in-five will be voting for the first time…”

“Hispanic registered voters have grown more dissatisfied with the nation’s direction.”

“Hillary Clinton has more enthusiastic support from older Latinos than from Millennial Latinos.”

“Three-quarters of Hispanic registered voters say they have discussed Trump’s comments about Hispanics or other groups with family, friends or coworkers.”

By 2025, the Majority of Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts Would Go to the Wealthiest 1% of Americans

Washington Post: “By 2025, about 51 percent of the benefits of Trump’s tax plan would accrue to the wealthiest percentile of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis. Those wealthy taxpayers would save $317,000 on average each year, increasing their incomes by more than 14 percent.”

“Reducing taxes on the grand scale that Trump has proposed would mean far less revenue for the federal government. The government would have to either reduce spending, or borrow more to make up the difference.”

Designing a Better Ballot

Adrienne LaFrance: “Even among those who do vote, an alarming number of ballots don’t end up getting counted. In each of the presidential elections that took place between 1992 and 2004, according to a 2005 analysis in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Politics, more than 2 million votes were cast but never tallied—totaling nearly 9 million votes that went uncounted because they were blank, marked incorrectly, or otherwise spoiled.”

“‘It’s a wicked problem,’ says Whitney Quesenbery, a co-director at the Center for Civic Design. ‘We’ve always been in this battle between good, fast, and easy—but still accurate, reliable, accessible and all those other good things voting needs to be.'”

How America Will Accidentally Join the Syrian War

Micah Zenko: “During Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, there was a brief exchange between the moderator and candidates that perfectly captured the muddled confusion over potential new U.S.-led military missions in Syria. It showcased the type of slippery and imprecise rhetoric that could easily result in the United States entering a war the public opposes.”

Pence called for the U.S. to “immediately establish safe zones so that vulnerable families with children can move out of those areas, work with our Arab partners real-time, right now to make that happen.”

Kaine’s response: “I said about Aleppo, we do agree [that] the notion is we have to create a humanitarian zone in northern Syria.”

“People running to serve as commander in chief, or even commander in chief in-waiting, should not be allowed by debate moderators or interviewers to toss out distinct military missions offhandedly without being pressed for specifics on how they would be implemented. A humanitarian zone is not a safe zone, which is not a no-fly zone. Each requires different levels of military commitment, different basing and overflight rights, different degrees of logistics and analytical support, and ultimately would affect the behavior of the combatants in the Syrian civil war differently.”

Why More Doctors Need to Vote

Dhruv Khullar: “Doctors don’t vote — at least not enough.”

“We’re less likely to vote than lawyers, other professionals, farmers, and the general population. In some recent elections, less than one-third of doctors voted.”

“Regardless of party affiliation, more politically active physicians could add an important voice to our political and social discussions. Health care accounts for the largest share of the economy, at more than 17 percent of the gross domestic product. In the 2012 presidential election, health care was the second most important issue to voters. This year, prescription drug pricing emerged as a major public concern, and both Republican and Democratic voters favor government intervention to help reduce prices.”

Why Thousands of Millionaires Don’t Pay Federal Income Taxes

Washington Post: “About 46 percent of all tax filers (individuals or households) pay no federal income taxes each year because of various exclusions. High-income tax filers make up a tiny portion of that number, but they are by far the biggest beneficiaries. More than half of the tax revenue lost to the most common tax exclusions stays in the pockets of the richest one-fifth of Americans, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.”

“While it’s rare for high-earners to pay no federal income tax, it’s not unheard of. In 2011, for instance, about 433,000 tax filers with incomes over $100,000 paid no federal income tax, according to estimates based on limited IRS data by the Tax Policy Center, a nonprofit think tank. That number includes approximately 4,000 filers with an income of $1 million or more.”

The most costly loopholes: individual retirement accounts not subject to federal taxes, interest on municipal bonds, and reduced tax rates on capital gains.

The Markets Are Afraid of Donald Trump

New York Times: “During the debate, the overnight futures markets rallied, raising the value of broad stock market gauges like the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index by two-thirds to three-quarters of a percentage point. This was a consequential move, and because it was driven by the reduced chance of a Trump presidency, it reveals that the market believes that stocks would be worth more if he were to lose the election. Four pieces of evidence support this interpretation.”

“First, the rally played out in virtual lock step with Mr. Trump’s debate performance.”

“Second, the rally occurred between 9 and 11 p.m. on a Monday, typically a fairly tranquil time and, in this case, a stretch in which there was no other important economic or financial news.”

“Third, the rise in stock prices was unusually large for that particular time period — larger than during the same window on all but one of the 200 previous Mondays.”

“Finally, a particularly large rise in the value of the Mexican peso paralleled the rise in S.&P. 500 stock futures. The peso move, which appears to be linked to the reduced likelihood of Mr. Trump’s being able to put into effect his immigration and trade proposals, also suggests that the financial markets’ reaction was a judgment that Mr. Trump lost the debate.”

Ahead of Debates, Many Voters Don’t Know Much About Where Trump, Clinton Stand on Major Issues

Pew Research Center: “The first presidential debate Monday night offers Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton an opportunity to explain their positions on important issues facing the country. Two months after the party conventions, only about half of voters (48%) say they know “a lot” about where Clinton stands on important issues, while even fewer (41%) say this about Trump.”

History Says Trade Protectionism Has Never Worked

Third Way: “A central tenet of Donald Trump’s platform is to enact a series of protectionist trade measures to isolate the United States from the rest of the global economy. Specifically, Trump wants to levy tariffs of 45% on Chinese goods and 35% on Mexican goods, in addition to withdrawing from a number of multilateral agreements—all in the hopes of undoing globalization.”

“Would Trump’s isolationist policy work? If you look back, the United States has implemented protectionist policies on a number of occasions. And the results have been the same: grave economic consequences.”

Congress Needs to Warn Russia on Election Interference

Council on Foreign Relations: “…fortifying our voting system so it will deflect any attempts by Russia to interfere with it are likely to fall short. Instead, Russia must be deterred from making the attempt. That begins and ends with Congress.”

“Normally, the standard operating procedure following the leaked details of an FBI investigation would be some strong words at a White House press briefing, possibly followed by a formal rebuke from the State Department. Given the partisan nature of the issue and President Obama’s outspoken support for Secretary Clinton, Moscow is likely to interpret his administration’s threats as empty.”

“That is why Congress must take the first step in coordination with the Obama administration. Congress should issue a resolution condemning interference in our election by cyber or other means, accompanied by a joint statement of the leaders of the House and Senate. The resolution should make clear that the United States will regard any foreign attempt to interfere with the outcome of the election as a hostile act.”

For Every 10 U.S. Adults, Six Vote and Four Don’t. What Separates Them?

An interesting report from the New York Times: “For Every 10 U.S. Adults, Six Vote and Four Don’t. What Separates Them?”

“But what distinguishes voters from nonvoters can be only partly explained by demographics. Experts say individuals tend to be motivated by a combination of their priorities, their group culture, how competitive their state is, and how easy or hard it is to vote.”

“At the individual level, education and income are still two of the strongest predictors of whether someone will turn out at the polls.”