The Advantage Of Running Against Bat-Shit Crazy Opponents: Obama Leading All Republican Candidates In Ohio

The conventional wisdom is that Obama is doing poorly in the rust belt and that will have difficulty holding on to states he picked up in 2008 such as Ohio. Polls a year out are hardly conclusive, but a Public Policy Polling survey does show that Obama has large leads over his potential rivals in Ohio:

One person who should be feeling particularly good about last night’s election results in Ohio is Barack Obama. On our weekend poll, which got the final result of Issue 2 correct to within a point, Obama led all of his Republican opponents in the state by margins ranging from 9-17 points.  After a very tough year for Democrats in Ohio in 2010, things are looking up.

Obama led Mitt Romney 50-41 on our poll. He was up 11 points on Herman Cain at 50-39, 13 on Newt Gingrich at 51-38, 14 on Ron Paul at 50-36, 14 on Michele Bachmann at 51-37 and a whooping 17 points on Rick Perry at 53-36. It used to be Sarah Palin’s numbers that we compared to Barry Goldwater, but Perry’s deficit would represent the largest Republican defeat in Ohio since 1964.

The biggest thing Obama has going for him right now is an extremely unified Democratic base. Obama gets 88-92% of his party’s vote against the six Republican candidates.  What makes that particularly notable is that his approval rating with Democratic voters is actually only 73%. But these numbers suggest that when election time comes around the party base will get around Obama whether they’re totally thrilled with him or not, and that’s a very good sign for his reelection prospects.

Obama continues to suffer from poor approval ratings in Ohio with only 41% of voters approving of him to 49% who disapprove. But voters don’t seem to consider any of his opponents to be viable alternatives. Cain has the best favorability of the bunch at a still poor 33/43 and it just gets worse from there- 28/48 for Romney, 31/51 for Gingrich, 24/47 for Bachmann, 20/50 for Paul, and a truly woeful 17/58 for Perry. This field of GOP contenders just doesn’t seem to have much appeal to swing state voters.

Besides calling into question the predictions that Obama will lose Ohio next year, this poll also shows that there is limited correlation between approval ratings and ability to win a state. With the Republican Party now under the control of extremists who have moved far to the right of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, it is possible that Obama can win states despite mediocre approval ratings. It is also very likely that Obama’s approval will improve once he is seen in a head to head contest with a bat-shit crazy Republican.

David Letterman: Top Ten Signs Herman Cain’s Campaign Is In Trouble

David Letterman: Top Ten Signs Herman Cain’s Campaign Is In Trouble

(List from last week before the sexual misconduct allegations)

10. Can’t afford cigarettes for new campaign ads
9. It’s been fun, but there’s no way we’re actually electing a guy named ‘Herman’
8. While campaigning, kissed a photo of himself and signed a baby
7. New campaign slogan ‘Mayday!’
6. Even Michele O’Bachmann thinks his ideas are nuts
5. He trails Gadhafi’s corpse in the polls
4. Refuses to acknowledge the road to the White House goes through me, Dave
3. He’s acting less fun-crazy and more crazy-crazy
2. Just accepted million-dollar offer to pose nude in Playboy
1. There’s a 0-0-0 chance he’ll be president

Tea Party Group Calls On Bachmann To Leave Presidential Race

While the Tea Party supporters show an astounding degree of ignorance regarding public policy matters, they are not total fools regarding politics. They realize that Michele Bachmann is an embarrassment to their cause and some want her to drop out of the presidential race. Following is from a statement posted at Liberty Rising (a poorly named site from a group with so many members who support the agenda of the authoritarian right, but is expected from the Tea Party movement which takes a symbol of the American Revolution while opposing the principles promoted by that revolution):

It’s time for Michele Bachmann to go.  For the last two years, I’ve been cautioning about the dangers of individuals or organizations trying to present themselves as leaders of the Tea Party movement.  An individual personality or organization purporting to be a “leader” of what is truly a grassroots movement can hurt the tea party brand by creating false impressions about its core beliefs.  Bachmann, the leader of the so-called tea party caucus in the House and the most vocal about her affiliation with the Tea Party than any other Presidential candidate, has consistently presented herself as a champion of the movement and its values.  Bachmann has ridden her tea party credentials from obscurity to a national platform like no other.

Reading further, I find their attempt to distance themselves from the religious right to be somewhat admirable, but also quite disingenuous considering the views held by a majority of Tea Party supporters. To say that the Tea Party is purely about matters such as fiscal responsibility and ignore all their other baggage is like saying Fascism was only about getting the trains to run on time.  (Not to mention that their bizarre concept of fiscal responsibility was advocate default on bills previously run up by Republicans, leading S&P to lower the nation’s credit rating.)

CNN reported further comments from the Executive Director of the misnamed American Majority:

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Michele Bachmann is about Michele Bachmann,” American Majority Executive Director Matt Robbins said.

“Anyone who knows the congresswoman, and knows her record, we appreciate a national figure standing up for the tea party types,” Robbins added.

Robbins said the statement is not about the group favoring one candidate over Bachmann.

“We are equal opportunity hecklers.” Robbins said. “We point out the foibles and the flaws in each one of the candidates. And we don’t care which one of the personalities wins, as long as they’re conservative.”

“Let’s face it: she’s a back-bencher and has been a back bencher congressperson for years,” Robbins added. “This is not a serious presidential campaign.”

Despite all my other disagreements, I do agree with this last line from Robbins.

David Letterman: Top Ten Things Michele O’Bachmann Said During Her Trip To New York City

David Letterman: Top Ten Things Michele O’Bachmann Said During Her Trip To New York City

10. ‘A pigeon just nested in my hair’
9. ‘Will the Holland Tunnel take me to Holland?’
8. ‘Where does Batman live?’
7. ‘Hold on, I’m getting a text from Anthony Weiner’
6. ‘Where are the Jews?’
5. ‘He has to be the tiniest mayor ever’
4. ‘It’s such an honor to be here in The Windy City’
3. ‘If you won’t endorse me, Mr. Trump, would you consider me for ‘Celebrity Apprentice’?’
2. ‘They’ve got more hookers here than a congressional Christmas party’
1. ‘There goes Letterman . . . Get him!’

Not-Romney Continues To Lead GOP Race

The Republican base remains desperate for a not-Romney candidate and Herman Cain remains the top not-Romney following the collapse of the brief leads held by Michele Bachmann and then Rick Perry. Cain has even moved to a lead nationally in the latest Public Policy Survey, leading Romney 30 percent to 22 percent. Newt Gingrich has managed to  move ahead of Perry.

National polls have their limitations in evaluating primary battles. The real question is whether the far right can deny Romney victories in the early contests. A Romney victory in New Hampshire would not help if the right wing can keep him from winning elsewhere. David Frum discussed why the far right does not want Romney to win:

Why is it that the GOP base seems not to care a whit about Mitt? Perhaps it’s because he is the anti-Tea Party, anti-talk-radio, anti-anti-government candidate.

Romney will never be able to appeal to those who want “limited government.” He fundamentally cannot; he is, at bottom, a center-right candidate who believes that government, when run effectively and efficiently, can produce the best results for the most people. It’s a noble view—one that the GOP base seemingly hates him for.

Anti-Romney sentiment is clearly connected to the idea that if Romney wins, the Reagan Revolution somehow loses. A Romney presidency could actually restore the average American’s faith in the competency of Washington—a notion that GOP base voters find intolerable.

Conservatives and Tea Partiers were supposed to put an end to people like Romney. They had convinced themselves that the era of the Bush 41-style Republican was over and done with, and that the GOP would now and forever be controlled by the purebred conservatives, the ideological offspring of Reagan and Goldwater, the true believers who would finally cut Washington down to size and starve the statist beast until you could see its ribcage.

If Romney becomes the GOP nominee, it will prove that the Tea Party project was an abject failure, and that the momentum of 2010 was only temporary.

Romney doesn’t represent “taking the country back.” To the contrary, he represents taking the country forward, and recognizing government’s appropriate role in doing so.

It is tough enough for the Tea Party now that they are being eclipsed by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has a major advantage over the Tea Party in at least recognizing were the problems are. The Tea Party, which is made up of ignorant pawns of the top one percent which seeks to replace American democracy and capitalism with plutocracy, would be seen as especially meaningless if they cannot prevent Romney from winning the nomination.

At this point it looks like the primary race will play out one of two ways. Most likely, without credible opposition, Romney will gradually accumulate delegates until he is unstoppable. The second most likely alternative is that one not-Romney candidate will peak early in the primary battle and, with the support of the GOP base, manage to defeat Romney. The manner in which different conservatives have peaked at different times raises a third possibility. Perhaps different conservatives will win at different times and in different states, preventing Romney from getting enough delegates to win, leaving an open convention battle between a large Romney delegation and multiple conservatives whose total delegates outnumber Romney’s. While unlikely, it is possible that it will be left to the Republican convention to choose  the not-Romney candidate.

Quote of the Day

“YouTube has launched a politics channel so that people can easily find videos of the presidential candidates. Today they posted their first video, ‘Cat Winning a Debate Against Michele Bachmann.'” ” –Jimmy Fallon

Perry’s Palin-Style Surge

It is not surprising that, soon after entering the race, Rick Perry has moved to the lead in the Republican race considering the weakness of the field. As Governor of Texas, he avoids the problems of candidates (and potential candidates)  such as Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin of not appearing qualified to hold national office. By taking extreme conservative positions, he avoids the problems of candidates such as Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. He has even taken a lead over Obama in the latest Rasmussen poll, although if you believed the results from this right -wing polling outfit  the country would be far to the right of where it is now, Hillary Clinton would have beaten Barack Obama, and a Republican would already be in the White House.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think it is possible for Perry to take a lead in the legitimate national polls. I would not be at all surprised if Perry doesn’t enjoy a huge bounce, similar to the one which Sarah Palin briefly enjoyed. Once people learn more about his ideas and past, his public support will undoubtedly fall. For the sake preserving a United States which the founding fathers might still recognize, I sure hope that happens before November, 2012. Otherwise we will believe that the ancient Mayans were right.

Republicans who consider electability as opposed to extremist right-wing philosophy and the anti-Americanism/anti-intellectualism of the so-called Tea Party will realize that Perry is a potential disaster, but they might not have a choice. If the election can be limited to a vote based upon the economy in 2012, then there is the danger that Perry, and even Bachmann or Palin, could actually win, regardless of the fact that Republican economic ideas are responsible for creating and prolonging the recession. If Obama has any success in broadening the playing field to a vote as to what type of American voters really want, Obama still can win big. Republicans already have the burden of running with their Congressional votes to essentially abolish Medicare.  Add to that Perry’s opposition to Social Security, support of theocracy over liberal democracy, and support for plutocracy over capitalism, and we could see a replay of 1964, assuming the Democrats can actually get their message out.

It is far too early to predict the GOP race, but many pundits are now describing it as a battle between Romney and Perry. The two have one thing in common. Both have taken more moderate positions in the past, and have more recently espoused nutty right wing views to improve their position it the GOP. The difference is that, despite pandering to the far right on a number of issues, Romney has avoided a handful of extremist views while Perry has gone as far right as possible without donning a white sheet or brown shirt, giving him far more credibility on the right.  Plus having actually implemented a health care plan similar to Obama’s is a far more serious offense than just writing in support of Hillary Clinton’s plan as Perry once did. After all, the plan which passed is essentially the Republican counter-proposal to Clinton’s plan with most leading Republicans already being on record as supporting its features in the past.

Perry’s entry does alter Romney’s game plan. Until now, Romney has been able to get away with raising tons of money while generally keeping a low profile and limiting attacks upon him. He must now campaign more openly and  gamble by showing that Perry is too radical to become president, recognizing that doing this might actually endear him even more to Republican primary voters. At least having Romney and Huntsman exposing Perry’s most radical viewpoints will make things easier for Obama should Perry become his opponent, potentially reducing his national support to Palin-levels as soon as he is nominated.

Mitt Romney Attempts To Raise Money From Extremely Uninformed Donors

Mitt Romney is having unexpected difficulty raising money:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing a new challenge: He’s having trouble raising money from some Jewish donors who mistakenly believe one of his opponents, Michele Bachmann, is Jewish.

Some Jewish donors are telling fund-raisers for Romney, a Mormon, that while they like him, they’d rather open their wallets for the “Jewish candidate,” who they don’t realize is actually a Lutheran, The Post has learned.

I can’t decide what is the most surprising about this report. Is it harder to believe Bachmann is Jewish considering her extremely conservative Christian beliefs or that Jewish voters would consider voting for a Republican presidential candidate, period? Of course we are dealing with a tiny sub-group of Jewish voters here if they are considering a Republican. I imagine that any Jewish voter who is misinformed enough to consider voting Republican might also be unaware of any significant information regarding Bachmann. At least we know that the Florida Jews who voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000 did so unintentionally. I doubt it is the case, but hopefully these are actually more informed people with a sense of humor who would never contribute to any of the current Republican candidates and are just playing with Romney’s campaign staff by giving this answer.

The Rick Perry Nightmare

Rick Perry has jumped into the lead in the GOP nomination battle. Walter Shapiro points out that Rick Perry is a liberal’s worst nightmare:

Perry is not only a presidential candidate, but also a cowboy-booted sociological experiment. It is almost as if Perry’s political persona was constructed by bundling together all the fears and phantoms in the left-wing anxiety closet. Since the hysteria of the 1950s Red Scare, no Republican figure has matched Perry in his God-given ability to give liberals the heebie-jeebies. Others can rival the governor’s disdain for academic achievement (Palin), his cross-on-the-sleeve religiosity (Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee), and his antipathy to Social Security and Medicare (Paul Ryan and Barry Goldwater). But never before has a top-tier presidential candidate embodied the whole lethal package—and more:

From there, Shapiro discussed five specific areas:

  1. Anti-Intellectualism
  2. The God Card
  3. The Living Constitution in which “Perry stands out for his creative cut-and-paste approach to the Constitution.”
  4. Pistol-Packing President
  5. Daring to Call It Treason such as “Perry’s claim that Ben Bernanke would be ‘almost treasonous‘ if he persisted in loosening monetary policy to ward off a double-dip recession.”

Shapiro also referred to other views of Perry, such as the “theory of Dave Mann, editor of the Texas Observer, that Perry’s only governing ideology is ‘crony capitalism.'”

This description of Perry should not only be considered nightmares for liberals. Perry should be nightmares for any thinking American.  There is hope that Americans will see how far Perry’s views are from mainstream American values since, as Greg Sargent discussed, his views are out there in black and white. I recently noted how Perry’s campaign is embarrassed by Perry’s writings which oppose Social Security. His latest embarrassment is Perry’s comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism in a 2008 book. With the number of extremist views present in his book, Rick Perry should even be a nightmare for any Republicans who realize that they have to appeal beyond the far right in order to win.

Will The Economy Alone Decide The 2012 Election?

Barack Obama said in a recent interview that he will be judged by the state of the economy and whether things are getting better. Normally that would be expected, but we need voters to look at far more than just the state of the economy. Unfortunately, both for Obama’s reelection prospects and for the country, Republicans made such a mess of things that nobody could have fixed them in just four years. Towards the end of the Bush administration, I was predicting it could take a whole generation to undo all the damage that was done.

In order to win, Obama needs voters to remember who it was that made a mess of the economy, and question whether a return to similar policies is a good idea. Voters need to look at how the Republicans in Congress used their power to increase unemployment (the inevitable result of their spending cuts), prolong the recession, and caused Standard and Poor’s to reduce the credit rating of the United States, triggering a crash in the stock market. Of course to benefit from this Obama must reduce his emphasis on compromise with Republicans and stress their differences (which there are signs he plans to do).

While, baring some other unexpected event, the economy will dominate the election, Obama must also try to expand this playing field. While the economy generally impacts voters more than social issues, it is a different ball game when the Republicans are promoting the extremist views of the religious right, and have become the party of outright opposition to science and reason. In 2008 a handful of candidates outright admitted that they do not believe in evolution. Belief in creationism is increasingly becoming the norm for the GOP. While such scientific ignorance remains far too high in the United States, over the last decade belief in creationism in the overall population has fallen.

Going by past measures of incumbents running for reelection when the economy is doing poorly, we would expect Obama to lose. However, never before has a major political party had so many leading candidates who are outright bat-shit crazy. No matter how bad the economy is, it is hard to conceive of serious people voting for candidates such as Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann.