Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Election Predictions

Here are the 2012 election predictions from the Learning About Politics team:

President Popular Vote Winner

SB: Romney

MD: Obama

NN: Romney

KW: Obama

President Electoral College Vote Winner

SB: Obama, 286-252
Obama wins Colo, Iowa, Mich, Nev, Ohio, Penn, Wisc
Romney wins Fla, NC, NH, Va

MD: Obama, 294-244
Obama wins Iowa, Mich, NH, Nev, Ohio, Penn, Va, Wisc
Romney wins Colo, Fla, NC

NN: Tie, 269-269
Obama wins Colo, Iowa, Mich, Nev, Ohio, Va
Romney wins Fla, NC, NH, Penn, Wisc

KW: Obama, 290-248
Obama wins Colo, Iowa, Mich, Nev, NH, Ohio, Penn, Wisc
Romney wins Fla, NC, Va

Control of the Senate

SB: Democrats, no net change

MD: Democrats, no net change

NN: Democrats, Republicans net gain 1 seat

KW: Democrats, no net change

Control of the House

SB: Republicans, Republicans net gain 2 seats

MD: Republicans, Democrats net gain 2 seats

NN: Republicans, Democrats net gain 3 seats

KW: Republicans, Democrats net gain 4 seats

Will We Know the Results on Election Night? 

Shannon, Matt and Kevin predict that we will know on election night who the next president will be, though we will likely not know the results in every single state. Napp predicts that the race will still be undecided on election night.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

State of the Presidential Race, With 2 Weeks Left

With two weeks to go until election day, this is how I see the state of the race.

The popular vote is currently a tie. With only two weeks left, the advantage in a tie goes to whichever candidate has the momentum, which is clearly Romney. Looking at the recent RCP average of polls and the trend on Intrade, Romney is gaining.

But, while I expect him to win the popular vote, I'm less certain that he will be able to win the EC vote.

Much will hinge on what happens in Ohio. Obama is looking strong in Ohio, but it has also become a must-win state for him. If he loses Ohio, I expect him to lose the race.

If Romney, on the other hand, loses Ohio, he can still win but his path is narrow. He would have to pick up Wisconsin and Iowa.

I'm basing these calculations on the assumptions that Romney will win Fla., N.C., Va. and Colo., and Obama will win Penn., N.H., Mich., and Nev.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Will the Supreme Court Declare the Filibuster Unconstitutional?

Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein noted this week that lawyer Emmet Bondurant is working to get the Supreme Court to declare that the Senate's filibuster in unconstitutional. Klein's article does a good job of describing the history of the filibuster and why it was not the intent of the Founders.

I've argued before, on this blog and elsewhere (see below), that the Senate should abandon the filibuster. Whether or not the Supreme Court would actually strike it down, though, is difficult to say.

Filibuster supporters could point to the fact that the Constitution gives the Senate the authority to make it's own rules. Also, while it is true that the Founders intended majority rule in most cases, they could argue that the 60 vote requirement for cloture is not the vote on the bill -- it's the vote to end debate on the bill. The outcome of such a case would depend, in part, on whether the Supreme Court finds that to be a distinction with, or without, a difference.

For more info on the filibuster, see:

Why Don't U.S. Senators Filibuster Anymore?, Suite101

Guest Post: Where do Florida Senate Candidates Stand on Senate Filibusters?

Ending Filibuster Good for Both Parties, The Columbus Dispatch

Will Democrats Try to End the Filibuster?

Friday, April 6, 2012

VP Picks for Romney

Even though Mitt Romney is not technically the nominee yet, I don't think it's too early to offer my suggestions for vice presidential nominee. I did the same in 2008 when I suggested picks for Obama and McCain

The occasion also affords me the opportunity to express two of my frustrations. The first has to do with the way vice presidents are chosen. Too often they are picked to help the candidate win, and the most important consideration -- ready to be president -- is an afterthought. Out of this frustration, I have previously suggested that parties change how V.P. nominees are chosen.

Second, political experience is viewed as a negative, when it should be viewed as a positive. Like any professional job, experience matters, and business experience, though helpful, is not the same as political experience. This is why I prefer presidential and vice presidential nominees with some combination of executive and legislative experience, and experience at the national level.

Given that, here are 8 potential nominees, with a short summary of their political experience, that would meet those qualifications:

Sam Brownback: U.S. congressman, U.S. Senator, Kansas governor

Mitch Daniels: chief of staff for U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director, OMB director, Indiana governor

Nathan Deal: Georgia senator, U.S. congressman, Georgia governor

Mary Fallin: Oklahoma House member, U.S. congresswoman, Oklahoma lt. governor, Oklahoma governor

Bobby Jindal: U.S. congressman, asst. secretary of HHS for Planning and Evaluation, Louisiana governor

John Kasich: Ohio Senator, U.S. congressman, Ohio governor

Butch Otter: Idaho House member, U.S. congressman, Idaho lt. governor, Idaho governor

Rob Portman: U.S. congressman, U.S. trade representative, OMB director, U.S. senator

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What I Like Most About Ron Paul

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Republican Ron Paul is an unconventional candidate in many ways. I would appreciate other politicians mimicking Paul in at least one of those ways.

As I have watched Paul in the Republican debates, I've noticed that he does something unlike the other candidates on the stage, or even most politicians in general. After he is asked a question, he pauses to think about the question, and then he answers the question. Strange, I know.

The other candidates have obviously prepared their answers ahead of time on all the topics that they know they'll be asked about. Then, regardless of the question, they will most likely deliver their prepared remarks on the topic of the question. Even Herman Cain, who prides himself on being a "non-politician" does this.

This is not an endorsement of Ron Paul (Learning About Politics does not endorse candidates). When politicians do something that we appreciate, though, we should let them know, and maybe other politicians will begin to copy them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Proposal to Keep the BCA Joint Committee Moderate

The success, or failure, of the Budget Control Act's Joint Committee, which will have the resposibility to craft a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction package, will depend in large part on who is assigned to the committee.

Party leaders from both sides are facing pressure to pick party loyalists. Many Republicans don't want anyone appointed that will support revenue increases. Many Democrats don't want anyone appointed that will support reductions in the growth of entitlements. If party leaders appoint people who are unwilling to compromise, the committee will stalemate and no deal will be possible.

Here is a proposal that would help the party leaders, John Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell, avoid this situation: they could each agree to choose one person from the opposite party.

Each leader chooses three members. In this scenario, each would choose two from their own party and one person from the other party. So, Boehner and McConnell would each choose two Republicans and one Democrat, and Pelosi and Reid would each choose two Democrats and one Republican, for instance.

Since Boehner and McConnell would choose centrist Democrats, and Pelosi and Reid would choose centrist Republicans, at least four of the 12 member committee would be centrists and a compromise bill would most likely emerge from negotiations.

Congress would not have to do anything to make this happen. An agreement among all four leaders is all that would be needed to make this happen.

What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Bills are Long: A Response to Herman Cain

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain recently remarked that he would not sign a bill over 3 pages long. He later said that the comment was hyperbolic, but would prefer simple, short bills, "that the American public can read and understand," over long, complicated bills. This position is, understandably, attractive to many voters. It reflects the mistrust that many have of Congress. Also, stories of earmarks and tax breaks that are “slipped” into bills are common. Short and simple bills, therefore, are seen as a solution to a crooked Congress.

Additionally, in a political campaign, candidates often attempt to find simple solutions to our nations complicated problems because they are easier to communicate to voters, and easier for voters to understand. This may also be the source of Cain's pledge to not sign a bill over 3 pages. Tim Pawlenty's  “Google test” would be another example.

I can imagine scenarios where making a bill shorter would improve it. I am a long time advocate of a simpler tax code, for instance. Making bills shorter does not, however, improve them by default. In most cases it would make them worse—much worse. Here is why.

The implementation of legislation is the responsibility of government bureaucrats. Bureaucracies take laws written by Congress and put them into action. Sometimes this endeavor can be straightforward. Other times, however, there can be much gray area between the intent of Congress, as stated in a law, and its implementation by a bureaucrat. Congress cannot write a bill that accounts for every possible situation that the bill will encounter. The details of implementation, therefore, are left to the bureaucrats who are responsible for the implementation of a law.

Now, imagine you are a member of Congress. You know that you may have little control over the implementation of a bill after you have voted on it. How, then, are you going to do all that you can to make sure the law is implemented how you would like for it to be implemented? The answer, of course, is to provide lots of detail and use precise language. In other words, write a long, complicated bill.

When you see, therefore, legislation that is long, complicated and uses a bunch of legalese gobbledy-gook, you are seeing the results of congress members trying to have as much control as possible over the direction of that legislation. The next question you should ask is, who do you want to have the most control over the direction of that legislation? Unelected bureaucrats, or the members of Congress who can be held accountable by voters every election?