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from The Great Debate:

One reason Congress is broken? Negative ads cripple even the winners.

mahurin 4golway

North Carolina is nearing the end of the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in its history. The volume of negative ads in the race between Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis is unprecedented. These ads matter -- but not in the ways that the candidates and their campaign consultants hope they do.

When the negative barrage of ads is over, the winner will likely emerge with an approval rating well under 50 percent, meaning that whoever wins will likely be sworn in with a majority of North Carolinians already disapproving of her or him. Neither Hagan nor Tillis will have a popular mandate.

The situation will be no better for Congress because a majority of winning candidates take office without the majority support of the citizens they represent. They can no longer legitimately cite the “will of the people” in proposing legislation -- because they are not in a position of strength when it comes to public support. Elected officials now often have little or no honeymoon period – even with the voters who supported them.

U.S. Senator-elect Kay Hagan (D-NC) reacts after defeating incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in GreensboroThe ramifications of this for the body politic are serious. Though winners will be determined on Nov. 4, democracy is already the loser. We can expect to see continued partisan gridlock in Washington and increasing public dissatisfaction with government at all levels. It is a downward cycle that serves to repress voter turnout and fuel angry cynicism about the role of government.

from The Great Debate:

How strong Senate candidates can help GOP also flip statehouses

Scott Brown, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks during a town hall campaign stop at a VFW post in Hudson

Midterm election models continue to project that Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate, as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza recently reported. The GOP is running strong candidates, many in red states that Mitt Romney won 2012, but also stronger than first expected in states that went for President Barack Obama that year -- including Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon, which weren’t previously considered in play.

Having these candidates at the top of the ballot is likely to help other Republicans running in the states. Indeed, in key states it could increase the party’s chances of flipping control of state legislatures from Democratic to Republican.

from Jim Gaines:

A constitutional amendment to take Big Money out of politics dies quietly

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This week the U.S. Senate considered a constitutional amendment that would have allowed Congress and state legislatures to limit the power of money in politics. The debate was not much covered in the media because the outcome was so predictable. But the party-line vote that killed it should not go unnoted.

A remarkable majority of the American public — 79 percent according to Gallup — want campaign finance reform. The right and left, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, even Jon Stewart and Bill O’Reilly agree that, left unchecked, Big Money corrupts politics and undermines democracy.

from The Great Debate:

Perry’s indictment: Crime and punishment, Texas-style

Texas Governor Perry, a possible Republican candidate for 2016 presidential race, answers questions from reporters following appearance at business leaders luncheon in Portsmouth

It’s a big country, where states have their own legal peculiarities, political cultures and definitions of what makes a debilitating political scandal. Take Texas, for example, where the Republican governor, Rick Perry, has been indicted for abuse of office.

In the past 25 years, we’ve seen politicians and government officials increasingly treat scandal less as catastrophe and more as just another cost of doing business. Perry, however, has taken this to a completely new level: He is wearing his indictment as a badge of honor and has smoothly returned to his 2016 presidential campaign without missing a beat.

from The Great Debate:

What’s the 2014 election really about? Religious vs. women’s rights

Demonstrators gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the "Not My Boss's Business" rally for women's health and rights in Washington

Religious rights versus women's rights. That's about as fundamental a clash as you can get in U.S. politics. It's now at the core of the 2014 election campaign, with both parties girding for battle.

What generated the showdown was last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The decision instantly became a rallying cry for activists on both the right and left. Congressional Democrats are already proposing a law to nullify the decision. “It's shameful that a woman's access to contraception is even up for debate in 2014,” Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said.   Conservative blogger Erick Erickson crowed, “My religion trumps your ‘right’ to employer-subsidized, consequence-free sex.”

from The Great Debate:

How Uber can help the GOP gain control of the cities

Taxi drivers protest against transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft along with Assembly Bill 2293 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California

Republicans occupy the governor’s mansion in a majority of states and control both chambers of state legislatures where a majority of Americans live. In a country that is becoming more urban, however, Democrats have a major advantage: Their party runs most big U.S. cities. Of the 15 largest U.S. cities, only two -- San Diego and Indianapolis -- have Republican mayors, and 13 of the 15 have Democratic-controlled city councils.

Yet despite the Democrats’ urban dominance, cities may soon be up for grabs. For the party’s refusal to embrace the innovative technology and disruptive businesses that have greatly improved city life presents a challenge to Democrats -- and an opportunity for Republicans.

from The Great Debate:

One more reason the Democrats may be toast this fall

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

Democrats are apprehensive about this year's midterm elections.

They should be.

Every indicator points to Republican gains in Congress. Two reasons are well known: President Barack Obama's unpopularity and the historical record of midterm elections, when the president’s party almost always loses seats.

The third major reason is the two-four-six rule. Those are the different base years for different offices: two years for the House of Representatives, four years for most governors, six years for the Senate. These base years dictate how vulnerable each party is.

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s ultimate indignity: Bush seen as more competent

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Agreement is not enough.  Performance matters more.

That's why the outlook for Democrats this November looks bleak.  More and more Americans now agree with Democrats on the issues.  But they are increasingly dismayed by President Barack Obama's inability to get results.

The Gallup poll reports that, ideologically, Americans are moving to the left on both social and economic issues. Though more Americans continue to identify as conservatives than as liberals, the conservative advantage is shrinking.

from The Great Debate:

Is Michelle running for the Senate?

michelle walking in

First Lady Michelle Obama is everywhere. She’s traveling to China. She’s raising money for Democrats. She’s issuing plaintive tweets seeking the rescue of the kidnapped Nigerian girls.

She’s wading uncharacteristically deep into the Washington political mud pit to defend her school lunch program against Republicans, assailing them last Tuesday for opting to “play politics with our kids’ health.” She struck a similar tone in a New York Times op-ed two days later, accusing Republicans of trying to “override science” and suggesting they join parents and “put our children’s interests first.”

from The Great Debate:

Elites focus on inequality; real people just want growth

kochs & warrenThe economic debate is now sharply focused on the issue of income inequality. That may not be the debate Democrats want to have, however. It's negative and divisive. Democrats would be better off talking about growth -- a hopeful and unifying agenda.

Democrats believe income inequality is a populist cause. But it may be less of a populist issue than an issue promoted by the cultural elite: well-educated professionals who are economically comfortable but not rich. There’s new evidence that ordinary voters care more about growth.

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