The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

Never Underestimate the Guy Who Beat Hillary

Posted by demkid on November 8, 2012

I did it again!  I underestimated Barack Obama.  The President exceeded my slightly conservative expectations on Tuesday night, beating Willard in the Electoral College 332-206 (the Romney campaign conceded Florida earlier today).  So, I missed my toss up (Colorado) and Florida, which I said he could win if he had a good night.  Hard to believe that the national race was called a mere 12 minutes later than it was in 2008…I was expecting somewhat of a longer night.

How about my other predictions?  The popular vote currently stands at 50.4%-48.0% for the President.  My guess was 50.7-48.3, the exact margin of 2.4%.  I will not claim victory, however, because they are still counting votes around the country, and some have speculated that the final popular vote margin could be over 3%.  Still, I’ll take what I can get!

In the Senate, it was a good night for Democrats, as they actually managed to increase their majority in the upper chamber with some key, close victories.  They’ll have 53 senators (plus the 2 independents) for a total of 55, 2 more than I expected.  2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the “Year of the Woman,” when my former boss, Senator Feinstein, and her California colleague, Barbara Boxer, were elected, along with 2 other women, to the U.S. Senate.  This was the first time 4 women were elected to the Senate in a single year.  I remember wearing a shirt stating, “A Woman’s Place is in the House…and the Senate!”  It was appropriate that in this 20th anniversary year, Senator Feinstein was re-elected, and a NEW “Year of the Woman” happened.  For the first time, there are 20 women senators (naturally 16 are Democrats), and there will be at least 77 women in the House, a new record.  With Tammy Baldwin being the first openly-gay person and first woman elected as a senator from Wisconsin, the Democratic Party and the country are continuing to move forward.

In the House, it looks like Democrats could wind up with a 7-seat pick-up for an even 200 representatives, but there are still a handful of races to be decided.  I’d say my guess of +4 was fairly accurate.  It will probably take a couple of more election cycles before the Dems will have a legitimate shot of reclaiming the majority, as gerrymandering has made many districts non-competitive.

To wrap up my predictions, it looks like I was a little too optimistic in Ohio.  When all the votes are counted, the President will probably win by a margin of about 2%; a bit lower than my 3.5% guess.  The closest state was not, in fact, Virginia, as the President won there by around 3%.  Could the Commonwealth be turning into a light purple state?  We’ll give it another couple of elections to see, for sure.  VA actually ranked 4th on the list of close states, with Florida taking top honors.  They were still counting votes down there as of today, and the President’s margin should wind up perhaps a little less than a full percentage point.  Here are your 10 closest states, via the Washington Post.  I did nail the largest swing from the 2008 election, which was Utah.  John McCain won Utah by about 28 points in 2008, and Romney increased that margin 20 points, winning there 73-25.  It must be tough to be a Democrat in Utah (or a non-Mormon.)  Other big Romney gains were in West Virginia, North Dakota, and Montana (the GOP can have those.)  The votes have also been counted in my domicile, and it was a close, close race for the District of Columbia’s 3 electoral votes.  The President beat John McCain 4 years ago 92-7, and this time around it was a squeaker, with the margin being 91-7.  Apparently a few votes went to Jill Stein.

Finally, I will give myself a pat on the back because my last prediction was dead on: Dick Morris still is the worst political pundit in the entire nation.  I’ve been debating which video of his to post, his initial prediction or his video entitled, “Why I Goofed,” when he stated, “I’ve been in a bit of a mudslide on my face,” but the latter is full of too much BS (even for Dick), so here’s the master prognosticator with his flawless prediction, made a day before the President’s re-election:


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President Obama to be Re-Elected; Little Change in Congress

Posted by demkid on November 5, 2012

Well, I indicated in my last post that I may be blogging more frequently, but that just didn’t come to pass.  However, I did catch the twitter bug during this campaign season, so if you’re into tweeting, you can follow me on there (@brightcoast).  This blog began 4 years ago, in the midst of the 2008 campaign season, as a tongue-in-cheek response to some of our wonderful USD Law professors who blog over at The Right Coast.  (Now that blog just seems to be dominated by one professor who tends to re-post conservative articles without commenting much on them.)  Like many conservatives, The Right Coast has envisioned some sort of landslide (or smaller) victory for Willard Romney when all the votes are counted on Election Day, which is tomorrow.  In August, I stated that the conservative dream would never come to pass, and said, “I can almost guarantee that President Obama will be re-elected in November.”  Now that we’re a day from voting, I’m going to put it all on the line and officially get rid of the “almost.”  I guarantee that the President will serve another 4 years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before I give you my predictions, I’ll note my accuracy in 2008.  Then, I predicted an Obama popular vote margin of 6.7%.  He won by 7.2%.  I predicted an electoral vote for Obama of 349.  He exceeded my expectations and garnered 365.  In the Senate, I predicted 41 GOP Senate seats; they got 41.  In the House, I predicted a Dem majority of 260-175; the margin was 257-178.  So, I think I did pretty darn well.  Let’s hope that I can repeat my accuracy this time around.  Here’s how the map will look this year:

The President’s Path to Re-Election

There you have it.  294 electoral votes for the President.  Many of the s0-called “swing states” will be close, but I believe the President has a slight edge naturally and a significant built-in advantage in many of the important states.  His easiest path to victory is the “firewall” of Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  Winning these, plus not losing Pennsylvania (which trust me, won’t happen), gets him to 271.  I also think he wins Iowa by at least a few points, and Virginia, which is the closest of my Obama states, but which I think he’ll hold onto by the slimmest of margins.  The closest Romney state is Colorado, which I’ve been going back and forth on.  Many think Obama will hold onto Colorado and wind up with 303 votes, which is significant because it’s the same number Presidents Truman and Kennedy won.  That’s a distinct possibility, but I’m being a little more conservative, based on early voting figures.  As for Ohio, the big battleground, I think the President will win there fairly easily.  I’m actually a little more concerned about Wisconsin (a state Gore and Kerry won by less than a point), but the President has been there 3 of the last 5 days, and I think he’ll hold on.  Take away Virginia and Wisconsin, and the President has 271.  This is why Iowa is an important back-up, and why the President is finishing his campaign there, today.  It could also be close in New Hampshire, but recent polling has shown a slight but steady Obama margin there.  By the way, if it’s a slightly better night for the President, he could very well win Florida, but I think the odds are against it.  Here are my other predictions:

Popular Vote: Obama 50.7%, Romney 48.3% (The exact margin when Bush beat Kerry in 2004.)

Senate: Democrats (+2 Independents) 53, Republicans 47 (no change)

House: Republicans 238, Democrats 197 (Dems gain 4 seats).  I was tempted to make this dead even too, but there has to be SOME change out of 435 races, right??

Ohio: Obama 51.2%, Romney 47.7%

Closest State: Virginia

Largest Swing from 2oo8: Utah (secondary choices: Hawaii, Oregon, or Wisconsin)

Worst Political Pundit: Still Dick Morris

There you have it!  It’s been an entertaining election season and hopefully it’ll be a fun night, tomorrow.


Posted in Election 2012, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

One Year Seems Like a Good Enough Break…

Posted by demkid on August 10, 2012

I wonder how many people have come to The Bright Coast in the past year and have been utterly disappointed due to the lack of any new posts.  Probably not a whole lot, but I can live with that.  The fact is, “brightcoast” and I have moved on to bigger and better things in the past couple of years, and we simply don’t have nearly the same amount of time to devote to crafting award-winning blog posts on “law, politics, and culture,” to use part of the tagline we borrowed from our rival blog.  (That “other” blog has still been going strong, though, as our USD Law professor friends generally have plenty of time on their hands to write about all things conservative.)  The two of us, on the other hand, have become USD Law alums, and neither of us even lives in San Diego, anymore!  That being said, and especially since we’re less than 3 months from what many are calling “the biggest election of our lives,” I’ve caught the blogging bug again, at least to write the occasional election-related post.  Where better to start than to talk briefly about some of my favorite subjects: polling, the state of the race as I see it, and the electoral college.

Despite what our professor friend hopes will happen, that being, a landslide for Willard Romney, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it will never come to pass.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that President Obama will be re-elected in November.  Why am I so confident?  Well, besides the fact that Romney is a super weak candidate, the economy will slowly improve over the next few months, and it’s just generally difficult to defeat an incumbent, the electoral math is clearly on the President’s side.  For Romney to win, there would have to be a pretty significant shift across the country to his side (Obama currently leads nationally by a few points or so), and he would almost have to sweep all of the major swing states.  For an excellent state of the race, check out Nate Silver’s page here, which currently gives President Obama almost a 75% chance of winning re-election.  For me, the proof is in the electoral math, and I’ve created a couple of maps over at to illustrate my confidence.  The following map shows the lay of the land, that is, I would be absolutely shocked if any of the colored states goes the other way on Election Day:

My Solid States

As you can see, I believe that President Obama is a mere 23 electoral votes from re-election.  If he fails to win any of the above blue states, he’ll be in real trouble.  I just don’t see that happening.  So, if he’s at 247, where does he pick up the other 23?  In my mind, there are two clear paths to victory.  Here’s the first:

Nevada (or Iowa) plus Ohio = Victory

In the above scenario, President Obama wins Nevada (where he’s currently up 5 in the polls with a 79% chance to win) and Ohio (also currently up 5 and a 72% chance to win.)  He could also replace Nevada with Iowa, where he’s up 3 and has a 67% chance to win (these percentages come from Nate Silver’s page.)  So, let’s leave in either Nevada or Iowa, and show you the second-easiest path to re-election:

Nevada (or Iowa) plus New Hampshire and Virginia = Victory

New Hampshire and Virginia will get the President to exactly 270.  In New Hampshire, he’s currently up 4 with a 74% chance, and in Virginia, he’s up 3 with a 68% chance to win.

In conclusion, I recommend focusing on polls from the above-mentioned states over the next 3 months.  If you see a bad couple of polls from any of the blue states in the first map, President Obama should be very concerned.  But, if all those hold up, simply look at Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Virginia.  Winning Florida, North Carolina, or Colorado would just be a bonus…these aren’t needed to win.  Also as shown, the President doesn’t need Ohio to win, if he can get Virginia, New Hampshire, and either Nevada or Iowa.  Many paths to victory, and many fewer paths to victory for Romney.  That’s the state of the race as I see it, and that, my friends, is our first blog post in a year.  Perhaps there will be more soon to come!



Posted in Election 2012, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

President Obama and the Democratic Messaging Strategy

Posted by demkid on February 2, 2010

I finally got around to watching the full, over 1-hour, question and answer session between President Obama and the House Republican Caucus members during their recent party retreat in Baltimore.  I found the President’s performance so impressive that I decided to post it here:

Tom Schaller over at fivethirtyeight sums things up pretty well:

Give the Republicans credit: During the past year they have successfully depicted the country’s economic and fiscal ills as not merely Obama’s inheritance but somehow his legacy. After a decade of Republican-sponsored free lunches, coupled with legitimate but insufficient proposals like earmark reform (which account for about 1 percent of federal spending) and tort reform (which would have a similarly small effect reducing overall health care costs), it’s convenient to chastise the president for fiscal irresponsibility. Equally convenient is the memory hole politics conservatives play: Still blaming Jimmy Carter for the economy 32 years after he left Washington, yet insisting that the statute on Bush-blaming be no more than one year even if the reach of fiscal choices made during those eight years is and will be felt long into the Obama era.

What Obama did Saturday is take the fight to his detractors. It was a certifiable bully pulpit moment, and one that could signal a shift in political posture for the White House. Although the president stressed that he has read the GOP’s proposals and taken into consideration their suggested alternatives, the broader message from the Baltimore meeting is the President is ready to fight. He promised to listen, and called for good faith negotiation; he kept his cool and was funny at key moments. But the subtext was clear: “Enough is enough from you guys.”

Yes, Democrats…start fighting, for once!  Give the public clear examples of how Republicans are obstructing bills merely as a way to score political points.  Don’t give people the perception that you’re being anything but open and transparent.  Don’t let things like the public option twist in the wind forever and destroy the overall health care reform effort.  Work with moderates in the party (and in the GOP!) to find solutions to pressing economic problems, and give independent voters a reason to have a little more faith in how the government is run!  If things are looking up in America come November, voters will know who was working for them throughout 2010.  If things aren’t anymore rosy than they are now, at least a proactive approach will combat GOP attacks, and will put doubt in people’s minds as to whether they want to drastically change course and go forward with another Republican Revolution.

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More on Massachusetts

Posted by demkid on January 21, 2010

First, what went wrong?  Nate Silver uses some hypothetical numbers to explain how President Obama’s 26-point November 2008 MA victory moved to a 5-point Martha Coakley loss yesterday:

If you follow through on the math, this would suggest that Coakley would have won by about 8 points, rather than losing by 5, had the national environment not deteriorated so significantly for Democrats. It suggests that the Democrats would have won by 9 points, rather than losing by 5, had the candidate been someone other than Coakley. And it suggests that the race would have been a 1-point loss (that is, basically too close to call), rather than a 5-point loss, even if Coakley had run such a bad campaign and even if the national environment had deteriorated as much as it has, but had there not been the unusual circumstances associated with this particular election.

Second, what does this all mean going forward in this election year?  Well, if you like punditry, like I do, there’s enough to read coming out of yesterday’s senate election to keep a political junkie occupied for a long while.  Some of my favorites:

Obama has one big job ahead: He has to let people know not only that he won’t fold his tents but also that he understands the anger, confusion, impatience, irritation, and skepticism that are abroad in the land.

Obama’s attempts to find compromise solutions did not stop Republicans from labelling him as a radical – or their nutty tea-party allies from calling him a “socialist” and worse. And, in retrospect, that was going to happen no matter what he did. His real problem has been that, to his supporters, he looked as though he’d been sucked into the very system he was elected to reform.

The White House and the Democratic Party still have time to change course. Surely Obama knows his strategy of reaching out to Republicans was an utter failure. It’s time to try something new – not necessarily a lurch to the left, but a move toward passion and populism and idealism of the sort that impressed so many millions of Americans during Obama’s historic presidential campaign, and that we’ve seen so little of since then.

But if the lessons gleaned from Massachusetts stop with healthcare, something far more profound and potentially disruptive will have been missed. There is a deep and increasingly restive anger stirring in the country. Its focal points at the moment may seem to be healthcare and “big government,” but if there were a Republican in the White House, they might just as well be tax cuts and “limited government.” The fact is that the president and both parties’ congressional delegations have approval ratings under 50%.

For the moment, Mr. Obama enjoys no such reputation. His own starry-eyed supporters, who believed his rhetoric of change, are disillusioned to discover that he is a politician, not a messiah. His opponents, who once pretended to share his bipartisan instincts, are delighted to obstruct his agenda, even though they have no solutions of their own. He seems to be locked in partisan stasis despite the great mandate he won in November 2008 and the overwhelming Democratic majority. The result is that too many Americans today believe that he has accomplished little and forfeited their trust. They happen to be wrong—just as they were wrong when they dismissed the Clinton presidency less than halfway into his first term.

Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts tried the same old approach to wooing these independents. Yet, in this environment, traditional attacks aren’t the silver bullet. Voters want to end “politics as usual” — grainy attack ads with forbidding disembodied voices sure doesn’t sound or look like change. This isn’t to suggest that Democrats simply drop negative advertising and go for a purely positive approach in the 2010 midterms. That won’t work. But they do need to do as much work in defining themselves as they do their opponents. This means finding a way to meet independent voters where they are now — angry and frustrated and fed up with Washington. Joining with them in this frustration while upholding the importance of a Democratic majority and a Democratic president is a tough balancing act. Good thing they have nine more months to figure out how to do it.

For those who think the dream is over, the proper response is: politics is not a dream to begin with. It’s hard work. And it rarely goes the way one expects it to go. Tuesday was proof enough of that.

Posted in Election 2010, Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Right Coasters’ Favorite Pollster Under Fire

Posted by demkid on January 3, 2010

And that pollster is none other than Scott Rasmussen.  A story posted at Politico over the weekend discusses the “hardening conventional wisdom among prominent liberal bloggers and many Democrats that Rasmussen Reports polls are, at best, the result of a flawed polling model and, at worst, designed to undermine Democratic politicians and the party’s national agenda.”  As a moderate and someone who’s been interested in polling for many years, I try and be as fair as possible when the issue of pollster bias arises.  More needs to exist than simply a consistent skewing of poll results from the average for me to believe that the pollster has an ulterior motive or hidden agenda.  Who’s to say that the pollster whose results generally swing to one side or the other isn’t, in fact, the most accurate?  As Nate Silver explains in his post responding to the Politico story:

What Rasmussen has had is a “house effect”. So far in the 2010 cycle, their polling has consistently and predictably shown better results for Republican candidates than other polling firms have. But such house effects can emerge from legitimate differences of opinion about how to model the electorate.

To his credit, Rasmussen has had some accurate results in recent,  high-profile contests (2008 general election and NJ governor’s race, for instance).  However, even though Rasmussen Reports has had some good final poll results, evidence seems to continue piling up that more is going on than the utilization of a polling model that normally features a more conservative electorate. 

It’s not just the data that Rasmussen’s critics object to — they also have a problem with the way the firm frames questions in its automated polls, which are the staple of its work.

In August, for example, Rasmussen asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “It’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.”

“I think they write their questions in a way that supports a conservative interpretation of the world,” said [Democratic pollster Mark] Mellman. “In general, they tend to be among the worst polls for Democrats, and they phrase questions in ways that elicit less support for the Democratic point of view.”

Nate Silver expands on why Rasmussen should be questioned:

Likewise, Rasmussen recently produced a poll in which they purported to describe the Democratic health care plan to their respondents. Several other pollsters have found that support for the plan increases when it is actually described to respondents, but Rasmussen showed no such increase. However, the second sentence in their description reads: The plans before Congress would prohibit people from choosing insurance plans with lower premiums and higher deductibles. I don’t particularly know where this comes from; Rasmussen claims that its questions came from a ‘summary of the legislation provided by the New York Times’, but such a depiction of the health care policy appears nowhere in the New York Times article. But there it is in the Rasmussen survey, where it appears to be designed to build a relationship in the respondent’s mind between the Democratic plan and higher premiums.

[W]hen they do use unorthodox question wording, nine times out of ten it favors the conservative argument.

Silver also discusses Rasmussen’s choice of subject matter, and explains that “they have a knack for issuing polls at times which tend to dovetail with conservative media narratives.”  So, there are clear examples of why Scott Rasmussen shouldn’t be considered the most independent pollster out there.  However, I’m sure his polls will become more frequent in 2010, and conservatives (like our Right Coast friends) will continue to cite to these polls disproportionately to argue that President Obama and/or the Democratic Party are in trouble.  I get a kick out of how conservatives over-utilize Rasmussen polls, and many times his is the only poll cited in a particular blog post.  Conservatives particularly like to talk about Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll, which always has President Obama’s approval numbers significantly lower than the average of other pollsters.  This poll has always seemed a little weird to me, because Rasmussen also compares people who “strongly approve” of the president’s job performance with those who “strongly disapprove.”  He deems the difference in the numbers the “Presidential Approval Index.”  Sounds fancy, but when you think about it, isn’t there a significantly higher number of rabid right-wingers than their left-wing counterparts?  In this country, self-described conservatives always outnumber self-described liberals.  While a Presidential Approval Index of -18 seems dire for President Obama, should we really be surprised.  In any case, the main approve/disapprove figure can be (and has been) called into question, as well.  Rasmussen likes saying that he always uses “likely voters” in his polling, as opposed to all voters, or registered voters.  This may be the best way to go when polling just before an election, but presidential approval is another matter.  Unless I’m missing something, we don’t vote on whether or not we approve of President Obama’s job performance.  Why should only likely voters be used, then?  The Politico article discusses this:

But critics note that the practice of screening for only those voters regarded as most likely to head to the polls potentially weeds out younger and minority voters — who would be more likely to favor Democrats than Republicans.

 Alan Abramowitz, an Emory University political scientist, said there was “huge concern right now” that Rasmussen was polling a universe of largely conservative-minded voters.

 “How is Rasmussen selecting likely voters almost a year before the election? And why would you even screen for likely voters in measuring presidential approval?” said Abramowitz. “My guess is that it’s heavily skewed toward older, white, Republican voters.”

There you go.  Sure, Rasmussen may be using this voter model, and there’s nothing wrong with doing so, but people should just be sure and think twice before viewing numbers from Rasmussen Reports as the most accurate around, and conservatives in the blogosphere should think twice before citing to Rasmussen 95-100% of the time.  I expect a decent amount of bias coming from the other side, but utilizing Rasmussen over and over again gets to be a little ridiculous!

Edit: Nate followed up with another post, entitled, Putting the [R] in [R]asmussen?  He starts:

ThinkProgress has discovered, by way of a cool new invention known as The Internet, that Scott Rasmussen has in fact been conducing polling on behalf of partisan clients, in particular the RNC and the Bush re-election campaign, both during 2003-04.

This appears to contradict all but the most absurdly lawyerly readings of a statement on Rasmussen Reports’ website, which reads: “Scott [Rasmussen] maintains his independence and has never been a campaign pollster or consultant for candidates seeking office.” The statement was also repeated word-for-word in a Politico article without any qualification.

OK, so we’ll score this The Internet 1, Politico’s fact-checking department 0, and Rasmussen a negative something for posting a blatantly misleading statement on their website.

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Mommy, What’s A Republican?

Posted by demkid on April 27, 2009

If things keep going the way they are, the Republican Party could soon become as obsolete as rabbit ears and phone sex.  According to a new ABC/Washington Post poll (main story here), only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, the fewest in over 25 years.  This number is striking, and it really gives credence to arguments made by people like Meghan McCain, that the GOP is becoming more and more of a fringe party that totally ignores important groups of the electorate, like young people and minorities. 

So what does this mean for American politics if the Republican Party continues to shrink?  Fights between liberals and moderates in the Democratic Party?  I’m not so sure that would be the best thing in the world.  I think a loyal and moderately strong opposition party is necessary to keep things in check and move the dialogue forward in Washington.  I fear that moderate voices would be drowned out completely if the liberal wing of the Democratic Party was able to act with little or no constraint.  At least, where the President is concerned, moderates like me give him high marks for job performance in his first 100 days.  75 percent approve of the job he’s doing, and I hope this number remains high.  A President with strong appeal to the middle can help diminish left-wing activism in his own party.  This is clearly a good thing, as we’ve seen where fringe activism has gotten the GOP in recent years.  If the Democrats are perceived to be out-of-step with most Americans (moderates and independents), they too could soon be on the way to 21 percent. 

Note: Other interesting findings in the poll show that President Obama is in a good position 100 days into his presidency.  No matter what many in the GOP think, a good portion of Americans (62 percent) call him “about right” on the ideological scale.  This represents the highest rating in 30 years.  50% of Americans think that the country is on the right track, up from 19 percent just before Obama’s inauguration, and it’s the highest level in 6 years.  Americans also trust Obama more than Republicans in Congress when it comes to handling the economy by a 61-24 margin, the biggest advantage for a president since 1991.  Most intriguing to me though, is that the ugly GOP/Cheney/Right Coast argument that President Obama is making this country “less safe” has no traction with Americans: just 21 percent (funny!) agree with this assessment, where the rest say his policies are either making the country more safe or that they make no difference.  There’s a lot of other good stuff in the poll (especially when it comes to international affairs), but I’ll let you take a look at it yourself.

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