Tales from the Trail

Election shines light on long path to post-racial America

So much for post-racial. Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When President Barack Obama won his historic bid for the U.S. presidency in 2008 as the nation’s first black president, there was a lot of talk about a new era for America.

But his re-election on Tuesday showed that in U.S. politics, race has far from become a back-burner issue.

The Democratic victory driven by strong support from Latinos, blacks and Asians leaves many re-examining the impact of minority voters not only on future elections but on policies ranging from immigration to education.

Latinos are the fastest growing group in America, as my colleagues Patrick Rucker and David Adams report in their story, Hispanic vote tilts strongly to Obama in win.

Could Sandy blow away the election? Don’t hold your breath

Deadly Superstorm Sandy left millions of Americans snowed in, flooded out or stranded without power – and the federal government itself in Washington closed – just a week before voters across the country head to the polls. But if anyone is wondering whether Election Day will be put off, the answer is almost certainly no.

Local U.S. elections have been postponed before – in one relatively recent example, New York put off voting that had been set for Sept. 11, 2001, because of the attacks on the country that day. But presidential balloting has always gone on, even during the Civil War in 1864 (President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected).

Federal law mandates that the national vote must take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years.

Obama takes a break from debate prep – at the Hoover Dam

U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from preparing for Wednesday night’s debate with a quick visit to the Hoover Dam.

Wearing a gingham shirt, khaki trousers and sunglasses, according to a White House press pool report, the president asked some questions of a dam manager and a staffer from the U.S. Department of the Interior. He learned that most of the power generated from the dam – in Nevada, not far from Las Vegas – goes to Southern California, and that some of the 28,ooo people who built the dam were killed, but “fewer than you can imagine.”

A reporter asked Obama why he made the trip, and he responded: “It’s spectacular and I’ve never seen it before. I didn’t realize it was so close by.” Obama often takes breaks to visit tourist sites as he travels. Aides have said the tourist stops offer a mental break from the work of his office.

Romney’s problems with minority voters extend to Asians, study shows

Republican Mitt Romney’s problems appealing to minority voters extends beyond blacks and Hispanics, with Asian-Americans also heavily favoring Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6.

Among likely voters who are Asian American, 43 percent back Obama, compared with 24 percent for Romney. But there are still many out there to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, according to the National Asian American Survey, which organizers said was  the largest such study of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ public opinion ever done in the United States.

Many, however, have yet to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, the study found.

“Outside” spending for 2012 election already beats 2010

 

There are still six weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6, but spending by Super PACs and other outside groups has already hit $465 million, more than all of the entire 2010 campaign season, with Republican-aligned groups spending well over twice as much as those backing Democrats.

Democratic-aligned Super PACs have spent $108.4 million this year, and Republican-aligned Super PACs have spent $270.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The total independent expenditures by other Super PACs was $15.6 million.

Spending by outside groups in 2010 totaled $454 million, the group said.

And much of the latest uptick in spending is focused on congressional races, even in the closely contested ” swing” states ultimately expected to determine whether Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney ousts him from the White House.

This election, abortion rights activists are looking for just a few good women

This fall, there is going to be a relatively small group of women voters who may be very, very sick of hearing from NARAL Pro-Choice America by Election Day on Nov. 6.

Like most of those involved in politics this election year, the abortion rights advocacy group says that women will determine the outcome of the contest on Nov. 6 between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But unlike most, the group has identified, by name and address, the thousands of women across the country that it thinks might make the difference – and it plans to go after their votes,  and in a big way, but in small numbers – in many cases as few as 1,000 or 2,000 in an individual county.

Union leader sees opportunity in Romney’s dismissal of the “47 percent”

Democrats have reacted gleefully to the release of Mitt Romney’s secretly videotaped dismissal of 47 percent of American voters – whom he identified as supporters of President Barack Obama – as victims who do not pay their share or “care for their lives.”

But few have reacted with as much glee as union leaders who have spent the past two years waging big fights over labor rules with Republican-controlled state governments – and the past week facing fallout from a bitter Chicago teachers’ strike.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blasted Romney’s comments as the latest sign that the wealthy former businessman is out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Non-retired Baby Boomers anxious about more than jobs

The Baby Boomers have come a long way from Flower Power. Retirement savings, Social Security and Medicare are weighing heavily on their minds this election season, even if they are still in the workforce.

The AARP surveyed Americans aged 50-64 who are still working, and found that they share younger voters’ worries about the economy ahead of the Nov. 6 election, but their economic concerns extend well beyond jobs. These members of the “Baby Boom” generation worry about rising prices, healthcare costs, financial security when they retire and taxes.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of the 37 million-member AARP, said in a statement. “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing,” she said.

2012 Election? In hot summer, it’s leaving Americans cold

A long spell of brutally hot weather is not the only thing making Americans cranky this summer.

With four months still to go before the presidential election on Nov. 6, Americans seem to be experiencing the 2012 campaign more like studying for a big math test than watching an exciting neck-and-neck horse race, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More Republicans in particular are bored with the campaign.

The poll 0f 2,013 adults conducted June 7-17 found that most Americans find the presidential election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to be important and informative – but also exhausting, annoying, too negative, too long and dull.

DNC to GOP on healthcare: Bring it on

 

The Democrats have an answer for the Republicans if the Supreme Court throws out President Barack Obama’s healthcare law on Thursday: Good luck with that.

It may be bravado in the face of what would seem to be huge disappointment, but some Democrats insist they relish the prospect of watching congressional Republicans grapple with how to deal with the massive and troubled industry. Annual U.S. spending on healthcare already totals $2.6 trillion a year. Skyrocketing costs are expected to make spending balloon to $4.8 trillion, or one-fifth of U.S. gross domestic product over the coming decade, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“It will be time for the Republicans to say what they are going to do. This is on them,” Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on Wednesday at the Reuters Washington Summit.