Tag Archives: catholics

Sobriety, Thy Name is Barone

The only people who are always right are the people who never have opinions until after-the-fact.  Anyone dismissing Michael Barone for erroneous election day predictions will do so at their own peril.  His latest in the Washington Examiner is a sober reminder about the political realities for both parties:

Neither of our two political parties is going to be annihilated. Both have suffered far worse defeats than Mitt Romney and the Republicans suffered in 2012. Both have figured out how to adapt and win over voters who used to vote against them. Or at least to position themselves to win when the other side’s president is seen to have massively failed. The 2008-2012 Obama campaign — it never really stopped — did an excellent job of turning out just enough voters to win 332 electoral votes. But Obama carried just 26 states to Mitt Romney’s 24, which is relevant when you look at future Senate elections. As for House elections, Obama carried only 207 congressional districts to Romney’s 228. That’s partly because Republicans had the advantage in redistricting after the 2010 census.

Core constituencies:

Obama core constituencies — blacks, Hispanics, gentry liberals — tend to be clustered geographically in central city neighborhoods in big metropolitan areas. His big margins there helped him carry many electoral votes but not so many congressional districts. [But] Obama’s in-your-face liberalism, so apparent in last week’s inaugural speech, antagonized some groups in a way that may hurt Democrats for some time to come.

Changing constituencies:

The Obamacare contraception mandate helped Mitt Romney carry 59 percent of white Catholics — probably their highest Republican percentage ever — and 78 percent of white evangelical Protestants. These groups total 44 percent of the electorate. That’s a counterbalance to Obama’s 93 percent among blacks and 71 percent among Hispanics. They were just 23 percent of the electorate, and while Hispanics will be a growing percentage, blacks probably won’t.

Don’t get too comfortable in that “permanent majority”:

George W. Bush’s 51 percent re-election, with 11.5 million more votes than four years before, got his strategist Karl Rove musing about a permanent Republican majority. That didn’t happen. Now Barack Obama’s 51 percent re-election, with 3.5 million fewer votes than four years before, has Democrats talking about annihilating the Republican Party. That’s not likely to happen either.

Pennsylvania Catholics Micro-Targeted

More and more ground troops are flowing into Pennsylvania and outside groups are pitching in to flip the state red. Regular readers of this blog know I don’t delve into the social side of politics much, if ever, but Obama’s HHS mandate infringing on religious liberty was a fairly offensive act. Quite honestly I didn’t believe the critics when I first heard what they claimed Obama was doing. The tactical side of my brain said he can’t be that dumb or arrogant to pick such an outrageous fight with the Catholic Church and other religious institutions. Boy was I wrong. And his culture wars convention and campaign ads have doubled down on his lies of what he is trying to do as well as the complaints of his opposition. His campaign may think they needed to stoke the fires of his base but I sense he will disaffect more fence-sitters than he will inspire on his own side which can be the difference in some tight states.

According to Politico’s Morning score:

Convinced Pennsylvania is winnable for Romney, the conservative Catholic Association is digging into reserve funds and launching an effort to contact 584,000 Catholic voters ID’d in Pennsylvania as undecided or soft Obama/soft Romney. They have phone numbers for all of them and email addresses for about half. They will be phoned four times and emailed at least six times between now and next Tuesday. The theme for all avenues of communication in the Keystone State: ‘Obama has gone too far. Even Mother Teresa’s charity fails his religious test.’ Here’s the postcard that’s going out:

Here is an excerpted version of the back so you can (hopefully) read the text:


Battleground State Impact: Paul Ryan in Ohio

We blogged about the TV and print media have routinely misrepresented the Ryan selection as hurting Romney in Battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.  Unfortunately for the Obama cheerleaders in the media, objective analysis still seeps through their filter and unsurprisingly a careful look reveals real advantages for Romney with the Ryan selection. “It’s just a matter of being able to relate,” said Trey Grayson, director of the Harvard University Institute of Politics.

By choosing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney picked up an asset to help him win the Badger State, but some analysts say Ryan could also potentially benefit Romney in the crucial swing state of Ohio.

  • As a fellow Midwesterner, Ryan can evoke Ohio midwestern values
  • The midwestern roots would help the ticket throughout the Midwest – not just in Ohio and Wisconsin, but also in Pennsylvania
  • Being Catholic will help him appeal to the many Catholic swing voters in Ohio and he will directly take on Obama’s attack on religious liberty
  • Blue-collar background will balance the ticket
  • Direct connection to the state: he attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, graduating in 1992
  • Delivered the commencement address in 2009 lauding Miami (Ohio) “values” — “I remember my own transformative experience here quite well. … It is here at Miami that I was able to find myself. I found a sense of direction, and a sense of identity. “

The Battle for Iowa: Battleground Counties — Today’s Must Read

Normally in any given state we like to focus on a handful of the key populous counties that will swing this year’s election.  The Des Moines Register lays out all 12 counties in Iowa that are Battlegrounds this year including this super-cool interactive map with voting results of every county in Iowa:

 The Des Moines Register examined a dozen swing counties that have seesawed from Republican to Democratic, home to ticket-splitting voters that both presidential campaigns desperately want to win over this fall. Polling data for Iowa is scarce, but a rolling average shows a stubborn tie between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Such a tight race means a cache of votes here or there will save or kill a campaign. Both sides see opportunity in Iowa’s rural counties this cycle — Democrats in independent female voters and Republicans in white men without college degrees. The unemployment rate in Iowa’s 12 hottest swing counties ranges from 3.7 percent (Carroll) to 7.5 percent (Hamilton). Across the board, county leaders agree, the shaky state of the national economy is Obama’s biggest vulnerability.

And as Iowa looks at a stunted crop this fall, if not crop failure, voters will be focused on the drought’s impact on their local economies, and the government’s response.
This cycle, the GOP feels confident Mitt Romney will win many 2008 Obama counties — such as those he won by 1 point or less, including Warren, Hamilton, Iowa, Hardin and Franklin. Democratic strategists see gold in Muscatine, Wapello, Clinton and Des Moines counties — all fervently Democratic. The Democrats have opened offices there this cycle, as well as in all the bigger urban counties, where Obama will need to pile up huge surpluses to offset less favorable counties. Not every county in purple Iowa is competitive. Some could be called right now: Johnson, Des Moines and Lee will be safely in Obama’s column on Nov. 6, and Sioux, Lyon and Osceola will be safely in Romney’s. But some, like the dozen key “swingers” featured here, shift from D to R depending on the candidate, pet issues, hot local races and attention from the campaigns.

Although each county listed is hotly contested, not everyone would be considered a Battleground county under the auspices by which I refer to them.  Battleground counties, for our purposes, are both hotly contested counties and are heavily populated enough to swing the electoral balance in the state. For example, Scott County alone had nearly the same aggregate vote total in 2008 (85,292 votes cast for both Obama and McCain) as the bottom 9 counties combined (84,904 votes cast). So Scott County is clearly a Battleground County for our purposes while Greene County (4,720 votes cast) would not be. But even though not every county fits my definition, in this closely contested election, each is clearly a 2012 battleground as Jennifer Jacobs tremendously demonstrates. Here is the county by county breakdown reordered by aggregate vote total:

Scott — 85,292 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 9 points, Dem by 4 points, Dem by 3 points, Dem by 15 points.
  • Scott is a Democratic county and a big union county. But Branstad has never lost here, and Romney beat his GOP rivals here in the caucuses.
  • Iowa’s east coast counties — Scott, Muscatine, Clinton and Jackson among them — figured prominently in the Bush-Gore contest. Scott is an expensive battleground, where campaigns are forced by the border-state TV market to spend money advertising to already-decided Illinois.
  • Obama is amassing a battalion here, made up of neighborhood team leaders and support volunteers, who are called “core team members.”
  • Scott is more competitive than Democratic strategists might like to admit. The county government has a GOP lean. Four of the five countywide supervisors are Republicans, and so are two of the three state senators.
  • Scott is also GOP congressional challenger John Archer’s best bet for a strong showing. And Romney’s state chairman lives in Scott, where he’s leading a strong organization.

Woodbury — 44, 202 total votes for Obama/McCain in 2008

  • Trend in last four presidential races: Dem by 2 points, GOP by 3 points, GOP by 2 points, GOP by 1 point.
  • This is an urban river county where three states come together, and voters worry about competing with neighbors for jobs. Both Nebraska and South Dakota have lower income taxes, but Iowa has a more favorable sales tax.
  • It’s in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.
  • Democrats recently opened a campaign headquarters here — in a Hispanic neighborhood in Sioux City. Woodbury Republicans opened theirs with Sam Clovis, a popular conservative radio host, officiating.
  • If congressional challenger Christie Vilsack can make a run of it here, her influence will energize the Democrats, politics watchers said.
  • Independent voters — a third of the electorate — will be the deciders this year, said Linda Holub, co-chair of the Woodbury GOP. Health care and federal debt top the issues list.

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Poland and the Battleground States

With Mitt Romney heading to Poland, the press is picking up on the Battleground state implications of such a targeted visit:

The states that hold the largest communities of Polish-American voters overlap significantly with this year’s swing states. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio all are home to numerous voters who trace their heritage to Poland, according to John Kromkowski, a Catholic University professor who studies urban and ethnic politics. “They’re not only in swing states, but over the decades that I’ve been tracking this, they’re also swing voters,” he said. “It’s sort of a mixed population, so it’s an almost archetypal swing vote.”

The Polish vote

One issue Romney will likely have to address to get the attention — and votes — of Polish-Americans is to promise to help Poland become a member of the visa waiver program, which is important for voters who still have family in Europe. President Obama offered his support for legislation to do just that during his own trip to the country in 2011.

The Catholic vote

Along with the Polish vote, Romney hopes to woo Catholic voters who may appreciate his visit to a country in which the church is still enormously important. Since the 1960 election, when Catholics flocked to John F. Kennedy as the first candidate of their faith, the balance between Democrats and Republicans has evened out among the population. Still, Romney’s trip won’t have nearly the same resonance it might have had in the midst of the Cold War.

Minding the gap

But this is an election where nibbling at the margins can help, especially after Obama may have alienated some Catholics with an executive order that requires religiously-affiliated organizations to provide their employees with insurance plans that include birth control. Obama received 54 percent of the Catholic vote in 2008, according to the Pew Research Center, several points better than the two Democrats who preceded him. Much of that support comes from Hispanic Catholics, who comprise 58 percent of the religious group in the United States.

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Romney Battles in Pennsylvania

On RealClearPolitics, Caitlin Huey-Burns takes an extensive look at the shifting shale in Pennsylvania and why Republicans are optimistic on their chances in the Keystone state:

Romney will surely have to put up a strong fight to win Pennsylvania, which hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since 1988. Obama won the Keystone State by 10 points — a wider margin than his predecessors — and the RealClearPolitics polling average shows him leading here by 7.8 percentage points. Yet Republicans see an opportunity among the working-class “Reagan Democrats” who swung their way a generation ago. Polling and data suggest these voters may not be returning to Obama in November. But will they necessarily turn out for Romney? And to Silvis’ point, what can Romney do to woo them?

Among the reasons for optimism for Romney’s chances are the following:

  • Independent voters are breaking for Romney by 6-points over Obama according to a Quinnipiac University poll
  • Romney does better than McCain was doing in the state at this point four years ago; the Romney campaign is fighting hard for every voter, including sending out personalized emails last week encouraging individual registered Republicans in Pittsburgh to help create personal networks of local activists to talk about Romney and encourage support for his campaign
  • There are a lot of conservative Catholic Pennsylvanians who may not like Obama’s contraceptive mandate. The contraceptive mandate may already be more of an issue for Obama tham previously thought. At least one Catholic university in southwestern, Pa., which is essential territory for Obama to win, has already announced changes to its health-insurance coverage due to the Obamacare mandate
  • Romney’s operation has been fighting for Pennsylvania for a couple of months now and isn’t letting up
  • Romney doesn’t have to win Pennsylvania to win the White House, while the reverse is probably true for Obama….[and] if Romney decides to compete more strongly in the Keystone State, he could force the Obama team to spend more time and money there — resources that it could otherwise use in tighter battlegrounds

Romney Unleashes Diverse Surrogates in Battleground States

A candidate cannot be in all places at all times and it is important to have a stable of articulate supporters to amplify the campaign’s message to various audiences. Considering the narrow Battleground state focus and an even more narrow swath of persuadable voters in those states, it is increasingly important to inspire and employ surrogates who can bring a unique appeal to those targeted voters. Mitt Romney is wasting no time rolling out a line-up of heavy-hitters to carry his message:

Mitt Romney is mobilizing a fast-growing network of surrogates to help make his case with voters as his campaign begins to exert greater control over the GOP messaging operation. He is relying on a diverse cast of politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities to court key groups of voters, including social conservatives, Hispanics and suburban women.

National names include:

  • Sen. John Thune (S.D.)
  • Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty
  • Former ambassador John Bolton
  • Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu.

[A]ides are trying to build a more disciplined surrogate operation, distributing talking points to politicians and pundits whom they call upon to spread his message. Romney aides are now picking guests to appear on the Sunday political talk shows and holding Saturday conference calls to rehearse answers to likely questions, according to a campaign adviser. Other surrogates are booked for targeted television, radio and newspaper interviews to help build support among demographic groups with which Romney has struggled.

[T]he candidate’s wife, Ann, [looks] to be his most powerful surrogate and [aides] are developing a robust schedule of solo visits for her to help close the gender gap with Obama. they are considering having her campaign in nursing homes, schools and medical research facilities in suburban areas outside Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Charlotte, as well as in Northern Virginia and along Florida’s I-4 corridor. Other female surrogates are making similar pitches, including:

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)

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