Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oh-fer Four?

The usually smart Smart Politics, one of my favorite spots for political geek numbers trivia, considers the possibility that Iowa Republicans may be shot out in US House races for the first time since... well, since the Whigs and Know-Nothings died.

My bet is still Braley, Loebsack, Vilsack, Latham... and Leonard Boswell did himself no favors by over-reacting to Ed Fallon's bribe claim and endorsement of a write in. Leonard says he's suing, having apparantly never heard of the Streisand effect.

Speaking of oh-fer, the reluctance of Iowa Republicans to play the early voting game is like a baseball manager letting the pitcher go 0 for 4 at the plate because he doesn't like the designated hitter rule. We Iowa Dems have been counting down to Thursday's opening Day of voting for weeks, while this Craig Robinson piece is the first I've seen on the R side. And from the comments it looks like quite a few Republicans are sticking with the early voting = fraud party line of the 2000s decade, and forgetting the excellent vote by mail programs Terry Branstad and Chuck Grassley has in the 1990s. (Sad but true: both those guys are lifetime undefeated.)

Interesting local campaign note: the first forum on the justice center proposal is scheduled for Monday, but it may be an empty chair debate:
Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek and County Attorney Janet Lyness will speak in favor of the justice center. Any group advocating against the plan should call (319) 338-0431, and they will be given time to speak at the forum.
And just for fun: here's where this year's Senate candidates would rank in seniority if elected. But how will this affect me, Al Franken?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Grand Unifying Theory

Things 1996 and 2012 have in common.

1. Massive number one hit dance singles featuring foreign language lyrics and silly dances.

2. Democratic presidents on the way to re-election.

Cause? Effect? Correlation? Obama Gangnam Style?

In `96 I was a candidate in a large, rural, and somewhat Hispanic district. My car had no CD player, just radio. Every third song on the radio, and every third door in Columbus Junction and West Liberty, I'd hear "Macarena."

We need to wait six weeks for full confirmation of the magic of a foreign language dance hit for Democratic prospects, but both Obama and Psy have good chances. We've all seen the polls, and the charts have "Gangnam Style" at number two this week. But I'm going to go doorknocking with Sara Sedacek in West Liberty just to make sure.

Johnson County Iowa House Days of Action in Neighboring Counties
October 6 in Cedar County and October 7 in Muscatine County
It is a privilege to live in Johnson County, where our hometown Legislators are caring dedicated progressive people, working everyday for issues and people about which we care deeply. We have the unique opportunity to add not only Sally Stutsman to the Iowa House, but also Dick Schwab and Sara Sedlacek. Dick is a Solon School Board Member, committed conservationist, and a real local economic impact champion. Sara is a Solon native and a now a citizen and small business owner in West Liberty. She brings a dedication to families struggling and the diversity of her district. Lots of candidates need help, but let's help our neighbors out on October 6 and 7 in Cedar and Muscatine Counties. Your hours (on either or both days) of door knocking have every potential to add two exciting, caring, progressive voices to the Iowa House.
Even one or two hours will help cover a lot of important doors.
Saturday, October 6th 10 am
Dick Schwab Door knocking Mechanicsville/Stanwood
We have second round door knocking in Mechanicsville and Stanwood. Meet outside of the Mechanicsville Library, 218 E 1st Street, Mechanicsville at 10 am. Additional cities will be added if we get enough volunteers.
To volunteer for other projects or to donate, please visit:
Sunday, October 7th 12:30 pm
Sara Sedlacek Door knocking West Liberty
We are planning a huge day of action on Sunday, Oct. 7 in West Liberty starting at 12:30. We will start at Sara and Rob's coffee shop, Local Grounds, 105 W. 3rd St., West Liberty Additional cities will be added if we get enough volunteers.
To volunteer for other projects or to donate, please visit:
In order to prepare materials, we need head counts for both days. Carpooling is also possible from Iowa City, Solon, etc. RSVP to Janelle Rettig at or 330-0916. All are welcome and training will be provided. If you don't RSVP and find you can attend, please come on over. On the day call 330-0916 or 330-5587 for directions.

This theory would be rock-solid if only the Singing Nun had made a dance video in 1964. Discuss

Thursday, September 27, 2012

First Day Voting Triples 2008 In Johnson County

A long and busy day of voting here in the People's Republic, as first day early voting numbers tripled the totals from four years ago.

The line was short at the beginning of the day at the Auditor's Office, with just a half dozen or so waiting when the window opened at 8. But traffic picked up and stayed steady all day for a total of 469. Party breakdown: 335 redgistered Democrats, 77 Republicans, and 56 no party voters. Four years ago, 150 people voted at the office on opening day.

But the BIG push was at the Iowa City Public Library, where a line of self starters formed early and was joined after 10 AM by a large crowd from a Democratic rally. 277 folks showed up at the library on early bird day in 2008, but today the number skyrocketed to 766: 521 Democrats, 45 Republicans and 198 independents.

I haven't had time to compare all the numbers, but a tally like 469 at the office and 766 at a satellite is more like what you see the week or the day before an election, not 40 days out. The only other satellites I can remember that topped the library today were University Hospitals the day before a presidential election, and some of the dorm sites in the 21 bar votes of 2007 and 2010.

But the importance of the day's massive sites, here and across the state, is about more than just the votes in the bank. The intense news coverage was priceless publicity that Iowans can vote now, and that publicity will send more people to the offices and satellites and mailboxes in the next 39 days.

It also says something about the nature of this election: people are so firmly decided that they literally can't wait to vote.

As for me, I did not vote today. I voted on Day One in 2004 and 2008; in 2000 I agonized for a long time over one contest. This year I'm planning to hit one of the other satellite sites and haven't decided which one yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Will Batcher Save Boswell's Bacon?

Ed Fallon may have cost his old nemesis Leonard Boswell a few write in votes this week, but another candidate, actually on the ballot, may save Boz's bacon.

Under-reported in the recent statistical tie poll showing Boswell and Tom Latham tied at 45% was the 7% that went to independent Scott Batcher, a tea partier who pulled an insignificant share of the vote in the old 3rd CD GOP primary in 2010. That's gotta be coming 95%+ out of Latham's numbers. (SФCIALIST ШФЯКЗЯ DAVID ЯФSЭИЬЗЯG ЩAS ЙУЭT polled.)

Still, I feel like we're going to come out of this election with a delegation of Braley, Loebsack, Vilsack... and Latham.

Not every poll can be believed. Take for example this interesting chart of Senate races ranked. Mostly legit, but Tennessee shows incumbent Bob Corker up by only three. That's... gotta be an outlier. With a field of many unknown Some Dudes, Democrats inadvertently nominated certifiable loon Mark Clayton, a member of a right wing hate group who the Tennessee Dems denounced immediately.

The Senate Republicans once denounced Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin... but he called their bluff and the withdrawal deadline is safely past as of yesterday. I don't know what's less surprising: the GOP's post-deadline reversal, or Democrat Claire McCaskill immediately launching the "legitimate rape" ads she had loaded and ready.

As for choice in the Carroll area, voters have a "choice" between "pro-life" Dem incumbent Dan Muhlbauer, who will concede to rape/incest exceptions, and Republican Barney Bornhoft, who will not. Just once I want to hear a candidate say "life begins when the woman damn well says it does."

In other candidate forums, we saw multiple races (few competitive and some uncontested) in Dubuque, Dem incumbent Helen Miller in a rematch with Republican Matt Alcazar in Ft. Dodge's House 9, and Dem Rep. Nate Willems and Republican Dan Zumbach in top tier Senate 48.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Worst Call Since Bush v. Gore

The Cold Equations

I knew I had that title right. "The Cold Equations." A half remembered science fiction tale from my adolescence, adapted for The Twilight Zone, the plotline verified by a science fiction miracle no one imagined 60 years ago: the world's knowledge at your fingertips, from your desk at home, satisfying all curiosity during commercial breaks of a football game. Commercial breaks that are largely filled with political ads. I don't know whether to keep score of Packers-Seahawks or Obama-Romney.

"The Cold Equations" put a young space pilot in a dilemma. He has an urgent cargo of medical supplies and just enough fuel to land exactly with that weight and no more. But the ship is overweight; there's a young stowaway, innocently unaware of the laws of man and physics. Someone or something has to be sacrificed.

So it is in politics. But at least the pilot in the story had the decency to feel bad about it.

Rocket fuel is highly corrosive, as is political money, but nothing moves without it. And even post-Citizens United, the supply is sub-infinite. Excess weight gets jettisoned. Players get cut.

Usually hose cuts are in the second and third string. But if circumstances demand it, could Republicans cut their losses... at the top? Ezra Klein considers "Romney's Nightmare Scenario":
Romney only controls the money raised by his campaign. The money raised by the RNC is controlled by the RNC. The money raised by Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC is controlled by Rove and his partners. And while these groups want Romney to be president, they are not solely devoted to the task of electing Romney as president. If they are devoted to anything, it’s to blocking Obama.

The RNC and the super PACs know that their money is becoming less and less useful in the presidential race. At this point, voters know Obama very well, and they know Romney well enough. Swing state voters have seen enough ads to last them a lifetime. Sinking a few more dollars into the presidential campaign just isn’t going to do much. The same can’t be said for House and Senate races, where voters have less information about the candidates and are more susceptible to advertising.

Which leads to Romney’s nightmare scenario: If things don’t turn around for Romney soon, those super PACs may give up on the task of electing Romney as president and turn to the task of encircling Obama’s second term with a Republican House and a Republican Senate.
And things... aren't turning around. The Onion gets it right yet again: Romney Campaign Reboots For 72nd Consecutive Week.

This isn't over yet, but in the 3 1/2 weeks since Romney's acceptance speech was overshadowed by an empty chair, there's been a definite shift in dynamics in Obama's favor. Not necessarily in the Democrat's favor, but in Obama's favor. The leads in swing states are getting a little wider, the paths to electoral college victory for Romney are getting narrower.

I've seen this happen before: in 1996. By mid-October, Republican candidates were openly talking about needing a GOP Congress as a check on Bill Clinton. Which, if you're Bob Dole, is Not. Good. But he had to have known that race was over the day Clinton signed welfare "reform" and took the Cadillac Food Stamp Queen "issue" away until... well, until Mitty the Moocher resurrected it as 47 Percent.

No, Bob Dole knew he was going to lose. Very few candidates go into election day with actual doubt. Sure, there's a few without a clue who think they're going to win, but few seats are in genuine partisan doubt, and of the few that are there's usually a strong favorite.

Given these realities, the Iowa Republican Party's decision to give ALL state House and Senate candidates equal donations, $500 per House race and $1000 per Senate. Some of that money, frankly, is wasted. Even worse, it's being wasted twice: once by giving it to no-chance candidates, once in denying it to contenders in close races. (How much of that even-handedness about building a bench of "Campaign For Liberty" types to full the party activist slots of the future?)

Not my party so not my problem, but in politics as in physics certain principles are universal.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Events of the Week

I will be on Iowa Public Radio Monday between noon and 1 discussing partisan new media. Joining me: TheIowaRepublican's Craig Robinson. It's always nice to go back to the WSUI studios; that was my first professional media gig, some 20 years ago.

The battle for the bench takes to the buses this week. BVP's "Iowans for Freedom" (sic) No Wiggins tour kicks off Monday, as does the Iowa State Bar Association's "Yes Iowa Judges" tour. Noteworthy: The No side is skipping Iowa City and Ames, which the Yes tour is visiting Friday.

Not sure I agree with the premise, but it sounds interesting: UCLA Professor John Zaller will be speaking on “Why Political Parties Are Extreme Even Though Most Voters Are Moderate” on Monday September 24 from 4-6 pm at 101 Becker Communication Studies Building.

Thursday is of course the first day to vote early in person. The first in line crowd will be at the Auditor's Office at 8 AM; there's also the Iowa City library from 10 AM to 9 PM.

A pair of events Thursday night. De facto auditor-elect Travis Weipert has dogs and brats from 5 to 7 at Morrison Park in Coralville. Even though he's unopposed, he went into his pockets a bit for the primary, so $25 would be nice.

Dave Loebsack will be stopping by Weipert's event, on the way to his own party from 6:30 to 8:30 at Bruce and Judy Pfohl's west side Iowa City home. $50 or more would be good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Doesn't Hurt to Check That Registration

Election law seems to be more of an issue in this election cycle than it's been for a long time. Iowa, among many other states, is facing battles over photo ID and citizenship verification.

As many readers know, I've worked in an auditor's office for 15 years. In that time I've seen almost every possible problem, though just when I think I have someone comes up with a new one.

I feel like I've written this story before, but this time of year it can't hurt to repeat myself. The safest thing to do is just to check your registration. The Secretary of State has a convenient spot to do that.

For 2012, photo ID is only required in Iowa under limited circumstances, mostly related to registering or updating your address in the very last days. Let's leave aside the arguments about what the law should be. We can and probably will discuss that in the 2013 legislative session. For today, let's just look at what the law IS and see where it might trip up a good intentioned, eligible voter. This isn't comprehensive -- nothing is -- but probably covers 95% or more of the problems people have.

Two major federal laws deal with maintenance of the voter rolls. The first of these, and probably the more significant to list maintenance, is the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as "Motor Voter," which took effect at the beginning of 1995.

You're probably familiar with the most prominent feature of Motor Voter: registration at your drivers license bureau. (More on that later.) But Motor Voter also deals with the back end of registration, list maintenance. Motor Voter wants to make it hard to totally cancel your registration, but it can put you in limbo.

Before 1994 in Iowa, voter purges were simple. Four years without voting or updating your registration, you were out. But since Motor Voter, no one anywhere in the country is supposed to be canceled just for not voting. Instead, everything depends on whether or not you are able to get mail. Unless it's something obvious like death or confirmed registration elsewhere, complete cancellation is a years-long process that requires multiple efforts to contact the voter by mail.

Each year election offices are required to send cards to people who show up on the postal National Change Of Address (NCOA) list who have not updated their voter registration address. Offices are also allowed to send you a notice ONCE every four years if you haven't voted. Not an automatic cancellation; just a reminder. And this year, with redistricting and reprecincting, many counties mailed cards to EVERY registered voter.

If these cards, or a voter card from a new or changed registration, gets returned to sender, address unknown, no such number, no such soul, the election office is required to put the voter on what's called "Inactive" status. Note to campaign staffers: this is NOT the same thing as just a weak voter. Think of inactive status as preliminary cancellation. The voter has to sit on inactive status through two general elections before they can get completely canceled. This is relatively easy to fix by updating your registration -- if you know about it. (This is also one of the limited circumstances where you will be asked for ID.)

Johnson County did a county wide mailing this February, and one out of every eight voters had to be inactivated. Now, that's not unexpected in a college town. But undoubtedly, some people who simply moved ACROSS town rather than OUT of town were affected.

The other law that has a big impact on voter registration status is the Help (sic) America Vote Act ("HAVA") of 2002. HAVA was the federal response to Florida 2000, and as such is mostly about equipment and polling place accessibility.

Where HAVA impacts voter registration is on the front end. Since January 2003, every new registrant has been required to provide either an in-state drivers license/ID number or, if they don't have one, a partial Social Security number. The idea is to prove you are a live human being. There are provisions for people who don't have either number. I've yet to see someone like that in ten years, but they do exist. (Trivia: in the early years of Social Security, women were given their husband's numbers with a suffix, i.e. 123-45-6789A)

HAVA also required states to establish state-level, on line voter registration software. There's a bit of a legal contradiction: HAVA in effect assumes that registration is a state-level function, but Iowa law specifies that it's a county level function. This, as you'll see, can trip you up.

So that's the over-simplified background lecture. Now the important part: reasons to be especially concerned about your registration. Many of these are simple human error, on your part or someone else's; some of them are unintended consequences of the law.

If you've moved. This should seem obvious, but it can be tricky. One problem with the legal notice, change of address cards: The legally required wording is misleading and incomplete.

Let's say you get a card and send it back saying "I've moved from Des Moines to Davenport." Remember, under Iowa law registration is a COUNTY function, not a STATE function. You may think, and reasonably so, that you've updated your address to Scott County. No. You've instead told the Polk County office that you've moved away. They can't register you in Scott County. All they can do, and are legally required to do, is completely cancel you. It doesn't say so anywhere on the card, but what you need to do is fill out a new form for Scott County.

If you registered when you got your driver's license. Don't get me wrong. The DOT, and other agencies required to register voters, have done a good job since 1995 on a task that in fairness is not their primary function. But this piece of Motor Voter takes registration out of the hands of the election office and adds an intermediary. And as in any task, one more step means one more chance for a mistake to happen.

The DOT electronically transmits registrations to local election offices, via the statewide voter system. If something goes wrong in the middle, the election office has no way to know you registered at the DOT.

Another common misconception is that you are AUTOMATICALLY registered to vote when you get your license. Not so. You can be eligible for a license but not eligible to vote. Or you may not want to be registered to vote. (I find this incomprehensible, but so be it.) You have to check the box or answer the question that says, yes, you DO want to register.

If you live more than one place. This mainly affects two very different kinds of people: students and snowbirds.

The Johnson County Farm Bureau recently passed a resolution stating that college students should only vote by absentee ballot from their parent's community. Fine, that's their opinion. But the Supreme Court (Symm v. United States, 1979) says otherwise, and students can, in fact, vote at college.

Students do a lot of things for the first time at college, and make a lot of mistakes at those things. (Anyone who knew me when I was 20 can just shut. up. now.) They're used to putting two sets of address, college and parents, on everything, they're unfamiliar with the forms, and so on. Another, newer issue: Students born in the 1990s deal with paper and especially with snail mail less and less. Something like a missing apartment number can get your voter card Elvised back to the election office and get you inactivated.

As for the snowbirds, they, too can decide whether to register at their summer or winter residence. Not both. The statewide database requirement of HAVA helped de-duplicate in-state registration a lot, but tracking registration across state lines is still difficult. It relies heavily on self-reporting; when you register in Arizona, you're supposed to list that you were registered in Iowa, and Arizona is supposed to send that to Iowa. Again, a multi-step process increases the opportunity for error. There are ad hoc agreements between some states to compare lists, but nothing nationally comprehensive.

In addition, the Post Office treats temporary forwards of more than 30 days as permanent moves, and the annual NCOA mailings tend to happen in late winter, right when people are going from one home to another.

Do people with more than one home game the system? Sure. They do it for tax purposes, too. But if you LEGITIMATELY have more than one home, this site analyzes the two states and makes recommendations.

If you have had trouble with the post office. Remember: under Motor Voter everything depends on the mail getting through. This can even include things like opening or closing a post office box. Important note to PO Box-ers: You need to list BOTH addresses. The street address is required to assign you to a precinct, the mailing address is required to, well, get you your mail.

Also note: Even in one local area, neighboring post offices can have very different policies. When I lived in Lone Tree, where most residents have a box, I used to get mail addressed to "John Deeth, Lone Tree IA."  But Tiffin is especially fussy about boxes vs. street addresses.

If you have spaces or hyphens in your last name. Or if you use different last names for different purposes. Or if you use your middle name or a nickname. Or if some of your vital records have errors, say in your birthdate. This can cause problems in the HAVA-required license/SSN verification process, and frankly some counties are more diligent about researching these problems than others.

Special ethnic note: The Hispanic custom of using both a paternal and maternal surname (apellido) can confuse Anglo election workers. Same with the Chinese practice of family name first, personal name second.

If you have bad handwriting. The poor clerks can only work with what you give them. If that e looks like an o, or that crossed 7 affectation you have looks like a 4, you could have problems. If you have difficulty writing due to age or disability, someone else can help you fill the form out as long as you sign it.

I'm a big fan of election day registration. But think of it as a last-chance option, because the process is a bit harder than signing up before what we now call the "pre-registration" deadline on October 27. If you don't find yourself, it's a lot easier to fix the problems sooner rather than later.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Matt Hayek, call your office

Iowa City got a shout-out on last night's Saturday Night Live midweek special -- but it was literally -- LITERALLY, Mr. Vice President -- a case of don't blink or you'll miss it.

For those unfamiliar with the bit: SNL's parody of "Fox and Friends" always concludes with a lengthy list of "corrections," scrolling by on screen at near-illegible speed. I say near-illegible because they are all actually written out and all absurd.

NBC kindly posts the full list after the fact. Item three last night: "Iowa City never elected Mayor McCheese. "

True enough. We did have a Mayor McDonald in the late 80s and early 90s. But John was in the glasses business, not the burger business.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Statehouse Notes

Clearing out the inbox of various news alerts from races around the state:
  • Candidates forums are starting up. We had one locally for the House 73 and 77 candidates. The Press-Citizen focused its article almost entirely on... the helmet law? But Blog For Iowa had a more comprehensive look at HD73 contenders Bobby Kaufmann (R) and Dick Schwab (D) and HD77's Sally Stutsman (D) and Steve Sherman (R).
(Speaking of which: I don't usually put up out of district signs at my A+ yard sign location, and I'm in Mary Mascher's district. But when a neighbor up the street set up a Sherman sign I thought Sally deserved equal time.)
  •  In Baja Iowa, Senate 42 candidates Rich Taylor (D) and Larry Kruse (R) and House 83 contenders Rich Steffen (R) and incumbent Jerry Kearns (D) faces off.
  • In West Liberty, Democrats Sen. Tom Courtney (SD44) and House challenger Sara Sedlacek, along with Dave Loebsack, combined an HQ opening with a food drive so successful that "the Backpack program was able to forgo its’ grocery expense for a week."

  • Terry Branstad was also in Muscatine County, helping raise $ for GOP incumbent Shawn "Go Home" Hamerlinck, who is in a tough race with Democrat Chris Brase.

  • The Iowa State Daily takes a look at the two Ames House races, both of which have student-age Republicans challenging incumbent Democrats. In HD45 the GOP's Dane Nealson is taking on Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell. In House 46 Democratic incumbent Lisa Heddens faces Stephen Quist.
  • Another Democratic candidate has dropped out, but it should have approximately zero impact. Some Dude Chris Wilson has apparently moved out of state, but stays on the ballot. Wilson, who was challenging Oskaloosa Republican Guy Vander Linden, had the worst district for any Democrat on the ballot (#7 most Republican). That "honor" now goes to John Rose of Creston, challenging Jack Drake in House 21, the #10 GOP district.

    The other two Democratic dropouts still on the ballot are Kasey Friedrichsen in House 18 (job conflict) and Mike McRae in House 42 (health issues).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Clips

Better late than never, three interesting reads from the day.

Craig Robinson at TheIowaRepublican reminds Mitt Romney that there is an Iowa outside the Des Moines beltway. I remind my non-Iowa readers that Des Moines does in fact have a beltway of sorts.

Team GOP wants to portray Obama as the Jimmy Carter of the 21st century but David Frum notes an important difference:
1980 was a three-way race. Reagan won a landslide of the electoral vote, but less than 51% of the popular vote. President Carter's support collapsed in the last weeks of the campaign, with dissident liberals breaking off to support the independent candidacy of John Anderson, who scored 6.6% of the vote - the fourth best performance by an independent since World War II, after Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 -- and George Wallace in 1968.

If Anderson had not run - if Carter had not so alienated his liberal base - what would have happened in November?
I've always thought the Anderson campaign played an underrated role in the history of realignment. George Wallace played a huge role as an exit ramp for conservative white southerners exiting the Democratic Party, but Anderson was a similar transitional vote for liberal northeastern Republicans moving to the Democrats.

And no, Paulbots, Gary Johnson is NOT the same thing. For one thing, I'm gut-level convinced that Libertarians draw two votes from small government coservatives for every one vote they get from pro-peace or pro-weed lefties.

More importantly: At this point in 1980 Anderson was polling 15%. He was even in a debate (one on one with Reagan since Carter refused to "debate two Republicans"). That dropped to seven by election day, but it likely cost Carter several states and contributed to the perception of a "landslide" for Reagan.

As for Frum's main point, liberal alienation from Carter, I don't see that with Obama.

One group that definitely IS alienated from Obama is the white South, but NPR looks at a few brave souls fighting the uphill fight for a blue South.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt's Morning After

Only one story this morning and every commentator and blogger on the planet has an opinion. Here's some that seemed more insightful.

Josh Barro: "Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election." Too easy and not necessarily true.

Mark Halperin: "This is politically devastating because it plays into people’s preconceived notions of Romney as Monty Burns+Thurston Howell. And the bigger potential problem is that the right (Limbaugh, Ingraham, Erickson) will love what Romney said and if he walks it back they will savage him as being a weak-kneed and caving to liberals and the media."

Josh Marshall: "This tape says that caricature Mitt Romney is the real Mitt Romney."
TheNationalMemo: "Since 2006, Mitt Romney has been running to become the President of the Republican Party, which may be the worst possible preparation to become a candidate for President of the United States."
Why did it happen? Blake Zeff: "If you're thinking this all could have been easily avoided had Romney just given his stump speech at that fundraiser, you're right...  a 'high dollar' campaign fundraising event will be billed as a chance to hear the 'real inside scoop' of what's going on in the campaign. So, candidates are often admonished by their fundraising staff not to give their usual stump speech, because these donors expect more. 
So is this the Real Romney? Two opposing camps. David Brooks: "I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign." 
But Jonathan Chait: "The video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party."

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 47 Percent Solution

I'm going to try to get past the urge to spike the ball and do a touchdown dance over Mitt Romney's unfortunate comments to campaugn donors that surfaced today. They were clumsy and awkward, sure, like so much of what Romney says. But they were substantive.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.
Stop talking now, Mitt, stop talking now.

That's a completely accurate statement. Nothing wrong with it except maybe omitting that there are also 47 percent of the people who will vote against the president no matter what. I'm not going to speculate as to why that is because I'm smart enough to shut up.

But Romney keeps going, perhaps trying to bond with the wealthy donors:
All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...These are people who pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
A slap in the face to a lot of people? Sure. But let's look closer. This behind closed doors remark shows that Romney gets this is a base election, and that he's preparing to play it as such. It's a short-sighted strategy for the Republicans, flying in the face of demographics. (Although Mitt seems sensitive to that, as he also said he wishes he were Hispanic.) But Romney knows it's his only, narrow path to victory.

The 47 percent figure is also interesting, coming as it does on the anniversary of the Occupy movement. Recall the We Are The 99 Percent slogan. Conservatives responded, less successfuly, with "We Are The 53 Percent" who pay taxes. That's a myth, of course, but Romney playing into that myth is noteworthy.

I'm always suspicious of politicians who refer to "taxpayers" more than they refer to "citizens" or "the public." Occasionally I see bumperstickers that say "Only Taxpayers Should Vote." Yet even the poorest of us, whose 1040 EZ liability is zero, pay sales taxes and gasoline taxes and property taxes (either directly or as part of the rent) year round.

And even someone with a fair sized income can, completely legally, end up with zero liability. Romney may know something about that.

 What may be just as damaging as the remarks themselves is the question of whether Romney really means it or not. If he tries to distance himself, he reinforces the idea that he'll say and do anything to get elected. Doubling down isn't really plausible either.

It used to be a given that a president represented all the American people. Sure, that hasn't been the reality for a long time. But it's sad that Romney doesn't even pay lip service to the ideal.

There's no way to know if this is a fatal moment for the Romney campaign; he has enough other problems right now. But this is something that will resonate for quite some time. The comedians are writing punch lines even now.

Got 49 Problems But Wisconsin Ain't One

Or is it? Ponders Chris Cilizza:

The simple fact is that with 50 days to go before the election, the president never — repeat,  never — travels to a state just, well, because. Every trip is for a reason — and that reason almost always is because the campaign wants to generate a major free media boost in a place where the numbers are either lagging or already very close.

And that’s why Obama to Wisconsin intrigues us.  It shows — without the Obama team needing to say anything — that a state no Republican presidential nominee has won since 1984 is now very much in play. (President Bush came close — twice — to winning Wisconsin; in 2004 he lost it by just over 11,000 votes.)
Now, I've said that my home in a liberal academic community is the worse possible vantage point to get a real feel for this election. But in the post-Walker era, I've also lost my traditional neutral barometer of pure independents: my parents. They're retired Wisconsin teachers, so they're no longer neutral.

Wisconsin being close has little to do with Ryan; his DC profile is much higher than his profile in the parts of Wisconsin outside his district.

In an election that's not about the extinct independent voter, base mobilization is what matters, and Team Obama has the better field effort. But that could be a big part of the problem in Wisconsin: the volunteers and organizers are just plain exhausted.

My poor parents have voted SEVEN TIMES since the 2010 mid-terms: a primary and special to replace a state rep who went to work for Walker, a real jerk who I went to high school with and we flipped that seat blue. A recall primary and recall for their state senator, also flipped red to blue. (And the poor La Crosse election office had to hold yet another pair of elections, because the recall winner was a sitting state rep. But that wasn't Mon and Dad's district.) The dead-even Supreme Court election. And of course the primary and recall on Walker himself.

That much voting tends to drain the energy a bit.

But the real problem may be embarrassing video, in which the candidate says what he really thinks. No, not that one. This one:

That's even more politically damaging in Wisconsin than the time John Kerry called it "Lambert Field."

Ah, but unlike Romney. Obama knows that he is President Of All The People, and has no problem reaching out to his rivals.

Friday, September 14, 2012

WHO you gonna call?!?

Another round of bragging tweets from the local Republicans last night:

The local GOP has been claiming for a few weeks now that they are making some astronomical number of phone calls. Now, respect to everyone who volunteers on a campaign. But. I don't see any evidence on the ground of any results from all these calls the Republicans say they're making.

A good field operation will produce numbers: absentee requests, trends in voter registration. I've seen good Republican field operations. Terry Branstad had great absentee programs in the 1990s. Then Republicans abandoned that in the 2000s, preferring to teach their folks that absentee voting = fraud. But when he got back into the ball game, Branstad revived his strong absentee efforts in the 2010 primary and general.

There's still time for that, but here's what I'm seeing on the ground here in Johnson. Democrats have a 17 to 1 edge in absentee requests ("ABRs" in staffer speak). Republican mailings may close that gap later, but it'll be hard to get to the two to one ratio that registration and past results would predict.

Speaking of registration, the normal pattern in the fall of a presidential year in Johnson County is for both parties to lose percentage and for an increase in the no party percentage. Here's the numbers since mid-August, when the semester started and the voter reg drives got going in serious numbers:

Date Democratic Republican Green Libertarian No Party County Total D% R% G% L% N%
8/17/2012 36,270 17,634 93 135 27,642 81,774 44.35% 21.56% 0.11% 0.17% 33.80%
9/14/2012 37,658 17,867 105 174 28,665 84,469 44.58% 21.15% 0.12% 0.21% 33.94%
change +1,388 +233 +12 +39 +1,023 2,695 +0.23% -0.41% +0.01% +0.04% +0.13%

The no parties are climbing as expected, and the Republicans have dropped. But Democratic percentages are actually increasing, even faster than the independents. And this is in a universe of young voters, the most likely to register independent. So much for the Youth Abandoning Obama myth.

That doesn't just happen. That's work.

No, the only evidence I see of all the Republican calls that are supposedly getting made are reports of push polling in House District 73. You know, would you be more or less likely to vote for Dick Schwab if you knew he wiped his feet on Nile Kinnick's jersey or ate kittens for breakfast or cheered for the Chicago Bears or some other horrible crime.

In an election with almost no undecideds, give the edge to the side that has the better field operation - and I like our chances there.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ron Paul can still win!

It's Thursday the 13th and like Jason Voorhees, someone we thought was dead has come back to haunt nightmares yet again:
At least three Republican electors (sic) say they may not support their party's presidential ticket when the Electoral College meets in December to formally elect the next president, escalating tensions within the GOP and adding a fresh layer of intrigue to the final weeks of the White House race.

The electors (sic) — all supporters of former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul — told The Associated Press they are exploring options should Mitt Romney win their states. They expressed frustration at how Republican leaders have worked to suppress Paul's conservative movement and his legion of loyal supporters.
First off, this is more proof of my pet peeve: every one of these articles todat gets it wrong and refers to these people as "electors." No no no no no. They are only CANDIDATES for elector until and unless their slate carries the state.

But more important than my pet peeve is this unhealed wound in the Republican party. And one guess which state's party is at the center of it?
"They've never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I'm disgusted with that. I'd like to show them how disgusted I am," said Melinda Wadsley, an Iowa mother of three who was selected as a Republican elector (sic) earlier this year. She said Paul is the better choice and noted that the Electoral College was founded with the idea that electors wouldn't just mimic the popular vote.

Ya know, you have to admire their tenacity. (Cure up a rousing chorus of "Iowa Stubborn.) Didn't win a state, didn't even get the convention votes acknowledged, and there are STILL people wanting to vote for Ron Paul. And they're clearly still mad.

People, in this case, who matter. Almost none of you have actually VOTED for president. The electors are the ones who do that. (I know a few who actually have.) Takes 270 votes to win.

You may have caucused for Romney, gone to four levels of convention for Romney, and carried the state for Romney, but in the end, Melinda Wadsley will cast your vote for The Great Leader Ron Il Sung, probably with a vote for Dear Leader Rand Jong Il for VP.

As if Mitt didn't need more problems this week. In retrospect, Romney - and I - should have seen this coming. In Iowa at least, the candidates for elector are nominated at conventions, those same conventions that were backed and dominated by the Paul forces.

The only mistake these folks made was tipping their hand too soon. UPDATE that makes the point:

Republican Party of Iowa Accepts Resignation from
4th District Presidential Elector (sic) Melinda Wadsley
DES MOINES, Iowa– The Republican Party of Iowa announced today that it has accepted the resignation of Fourth District Presidential Elector (sic), Melinda Wadsley.
“I have accepted Melinda Wadlsey’s resignation this afternoon effective immediately,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker.
“The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee will now begin the process of selecting a new Presidential Elector (sic) from the Fourth District.”

In some states, usually ones that have had problem electors in the past, faithless electors can be unceremoniously replaced, with little process or recourse, and now some poor schmuck on Team Mitt has to comb through the elector slates in every state Romney could convceivably win.

The Register did the leg work on the Iowa GOP elector slate:
Four of Iowa’s Republican electors (sic) said they’re committed to Romney (David Jamison, Jack Whitver, Mark Chelgren and Joni Scotter), while one (Kurt Brown) said he’s still studying the rules.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd, a genius at electoral math, tweeted "This will only REALLY matter I think if there's a 269-269 tie..." Which is a big if.

You recall that George Bush "won" (sic) that election with just two electoral votes (and one judge) to spare, 271 to 267*. Oops, make that 266, as a DC elector abstained to 1) protest the District's lack of voting congressional representation and 2) become a permanent asterisk in American political history that I have to waste this sentence acknowledging, along with the anonymous Minnesotan who accidentally voted for John Edwards for both president and vice president, and the West Virginian who deliberately flipped Bentsen and Dukakis around.

The point being, we're just twelve years removed from an election where three defecting electors could have put us into even more of a constitutional crisis than we were already in. All of Romney's paths to victory are very narrow and get him to, say, 278 or 281 or so. And Todd adds: "I'm convinced we'll have LOTS of these electors."

It would open the possibility of... of what? It would be impossible to negotiate with a renegade bloc of Paulistinian electors, because their idea of compromise is President Ron Paul. My bet is they'd be just as likely to take it to the House of Representatives, which breaks electoral college deadlocks. But the Senate breaks the VICE presidential deadlock, and the contests are dealt with separately. The House chooses between the top three, which can mean prolonged deadlock.

But the Senate chooses between the top two, which might mean Joe Biden or Paul Ryan getting sworn in January 20th as VP and immediately becoming Acting President... Now that kind of scenario might finally kill off this beast.

Of course the easiest way to fend off this mess is simply to vote for Obama, and if Romney keeps having more bad weeks this little electoral college revolt will just be a moot tangent, a fantasy for political geeks. Which you are because you read this far.

Thursday Clips

Fear of a Black President? No more at Saturday Night Live as Jay Pharoah will take over the Barack Obama role this season from Fred Armisen. SNL got some flack four years back when the role of teh first African America president went to the white/Asian Armisen, and frankly he was starting to look bored with the role. Only a couple Obama sketches last year, and one of those was more a Bill Cosby sketch than an Obama sketch.

Also of note for the SNL season that starts this week: Jason Sudeikis, and more importantly his Mitt Romney and Joe Biden, will be back for at least the first half of the season.

While Sudeikis' Biden is funny in a dorky way, the real man is deeper than the Onion persona. A little behind the curve here, but the veep gave a moving speech at the Pennsylvania 9/11 crash site memorial. We remember the choo-choo jokes but too often we forget the reason Biden was taking Amtrak home to Delaware every night: to care for his young sons who has lost their mom and sister.

As for Romney, yesterday may go down in history as the final turning point in the campaign, as Mitt's botched response to the Libyan consulate attack reinforced the image of a man willing to say or do anything, principle be damned, to try to win. Obama: "And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that-it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them."

The Gazette has an excellent, West Liberty based explanation of why Matt Schultz has "emergency" voter registration rules are on the table. A tip of the beret to Senator Tom Courtney, who acquires West Liberty in redistricting, for standing up for the rights of the Latino community.

Finally, here's how Todd Akin is gaming the odds.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Watch your down ballot

In yesterday's Press-Citizen, Barry Bender offers a backhanded endorsement from the left for President Obama. Your mileage may vary with the pay wall, but here's the nut:

The Democratic Party is committed to corporate capitalism as much as are the Republicans and Obama’s compromises have been sometimes dispiriting.

Many progressive lefties will look to parties like the Green Party to register their protest.
But while I also believe that America needs a progressive left party, I also look at the short run. And in the short run, a win by Romney/Ryan would continue the disaster of the Reagan/Bush era.

So here is my suggestion: Vote for the Democrats on the national level, but look at local candidacies for third party support.
It's an interesting point, and I'll admit to throwing a Green a bone in a not-so-contested downballot race (in addition to my Great Sin of 2000). Problem is, at least locally, it's not possible this year.

There are no Greens running in any of the 126 Iowa legislative races, and the only clear lefty in a congressional race is a Socialist Workers candidate in the 3rd CD. In general, if I could find any info on an independent legislative candidate, they turned out to be of the right.

In eastern Iowa, independent 2nd District congressional candidate Alan Aversa, in addition to still claiming an Arizona address (what up with that?) is listed at "Tea Party Cheer" and chaired Arizona Students For Life. He was petitioning side by side with Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode.

The only other independents on the local ballot are in the supervisor race. John Etheredge is a registred Republican (there are no official Republican candidates on the ballot for any of the courthouse jobs.) David Fesler is a recently registered Democrat, but voted in the June GOP primary and is married to prominent local Republican activist Karen Fesler. They're both nice folks, but just know what you're getting.

So lefties, it looks pretty clear that top to bottom, the progressive choice is a straight Democratic ticket. And don't forget the back of the ballot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Upcoming Events

OK, it'd be impossible to top last week's events, but things are still happening this week.

Forum season kicks off today at 2:00pm at the Coralville Public Library. The forum is sponsored by the Johnson County Task Force on Aging.This forum will feature the candidates in two open Iowa House races: Dem Dick Schwab and the GOP's Bobby Kaufmann in House 73, and Dem Stally Stutsman and Republican Steve Sherman in HD77.

Thursday the Democratic central committee gets together, 7 PM at the school district office. We'll be talking homecoming parade and fall BBQ.

Friday night 5 to 7 is the annual Bob Dvorsky birthday party in Coralville, on the South Terrace of the Marriot Hotel.Speaker is Coralville City Council Member Mitch Gross, and a bevy if candidates will be on hand. How many candidates in a bevy? Dick Schwab, Sally Stutsman, Sara Sedlacek and Nate Willems, so I guess four candidates = a bevy. But how many crows in a murder?

Sunday, September 16th from 1:00-4:00pm is the Harkin Steak Fry at the Warren County Fairgrounds. The big guest - 2016 alert - is Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. Might be intering to see if he's better with his own speech than he was at the convention.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Obamas and Bidens in Iowa City

Same live tweet format as last night, only this time with pix.

5h  ‏@johndeeth Kevin burt & rain both started at 3 #obamaic

5h  ‏@johndeeth Sound guy counts 6500 waiting in rain at #obamaic 2 hours to go. Tech issues, rain limit me to tweets

5h  ‏@johndeeth Crowd mainly college age as to be expected at #obamaic & looks set to wait it out

5h  ‏@johndeeth Having to choose between keeping gear dry or me dry. I won't short out so gear dry me wet #obamaic

5h  ‏@johndeeth Kevin burt did I can see clearly now earlier in set but the rain is gone NOT #obamaic

5h  ‏@johndeeth Kevin burt done back to prerecorded music at #obamaic

5h  ‏@johndeeth I thought sun came out but just TV lights #obamaic

4h  ‏@johndeeth Rain stopped at #obamaic

4h  ‏@johndeeth Formal program starting at #obamaic with prayer. Audio is echoey   

4h  ‏@johndeeth RT @presscitizen Air Force One approaching the Eastern Iowa Airport, according to @KCRG.

4h  ‏@johndeeth "in Jesus name we pray" standard at GOP events but unusual for Dems #diversity #obamaic

4h  ‏@johndeeth Sound was better for a capella national anthem. Now the staffer making the pitch #obamaic she says Obama spoke in same place in 2007

4h  ‏@johndeeth But it was actually on other side of building #nitpick #obamaic 

4h  ‏@johndeeth Staffer making early vote pitch, start 9/27 #obamaia

4h  ‏@johndeeth The national press never sees this part of events-or 3 hour waits in rain #obamaic aaaand more U2 #obama1992

4h  ‏@johndeeth And I FINALLY connect to press corps wifi #justintime #obamaic

4h @rjfoley Rep. Loebsack, in a tight re-election campaign, among the first to greet potus and flotus at airport

4h  ‏@johndeeth Anyone taking bets on the "surprise" stop? #obamaic

4h  ‏@johndeeth Bob & @suedvorsky made it back from Charlotte in time. I also see Bolkcom, Jacoby & Dick Myers in the good seats #obamaic

4h  ‏@johndeeth @bowdeecc Dem events usually more nondenominational; GOP events I always hear specific Jesus reference

4h  ‏@johndeeth @bowdeecc I guess that kills the Obama=Muslim theory #ohwaitnothingeverwill #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth Two story US flag as back frop. A little lower and he could do the Patton scene while bragging about bin Laden #obamaIC

@bowdeecc @johndeeth ya he couldn't get a aircraft carrier on AF1 

3h  ‏@johndeeth Sound guy sez @JoeBiden scheduled to speak2 minutes #hahahahahahaha #ObamaIC

3h  ‏@johndeeth Opening Acts needed to stretch moire, we're in a lull here #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth The Secret Service types on Jessup Hall roof looking north, watching for arrival and/or trouble #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth James Taylor on the playlist #ObamaCarter76 #ObamaIC

3h  ‏@johndeeth Crowd entertaining selves with wave. Press briefly thinks something big happening #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth Chant now Let's Go Hawks (I hear there's a football game or something tomorrow) #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth Now we get Fired Up Ready to Go. Not especially loud but that dynamic changes fast #obamaic

3h O@okdunn: My feet ache, my jacket is damp, but this view and the mood here is AWESOME. #ObamaBidenIA

3h  ‏@johndeeth CHOPPERS #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth Choppers circling Pentacrest, definitely not the UIHC flight pattern #obamaic

(I later learn these are the Sniper Intercept Squadron and just saying that is full of awesome)

3h  ‏@johndeeth Advance staffer is coaching the backdrop crowd seated behing the speakers #obamaic

3h  ‏@OFA_IA "I-O-W-A, @BarackObama all the way!" This crowd is fired up for #ObamaBidenIA! #OurFavoriteObamaChant

3h  ‏@johndeeth Now an I-O-W-A chant; I suggest Y-M-C-A instead. Hey, it's Iowa City. #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth The REAL imminent arrival sign: national press #obamaic

3h @PFSFoodGuy I think the motorcade was pulled over by a University Heights cop for speeding. They're strict. #ObamaIC

3h  ‏@johndeeth Done this more than my share of times, but this moment is always exciting. Worth the 4 hours. #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth National photogs going up on skyjacks #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth @JoeBiden in the house!

3h  ‏@johndeeth @JoeBiden shoutouts to Matt Hayek Jim Fausett, bragging up obama speech last night, prasing him in same manner as his own speech last nite

3h  ‏@johndeeth @JoeBiden at full roar. The single edit of the album length speech from last night

3h  ‏@johndeeth @BarackObama now live. Shoutouts to Tom Miller, Loebsack and Matt Hayek (he says it right this time)

3h  ‏@johndeeth @BarackObama calls POTUS42 "secretary of explainin stuff"

3h  ‏@johndeeth Always wondered how they determine who gets the shoutouts: mayors seem to outrank legislators #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth @JoeBiden actually kept it to two minutes. Wondering what they'll do wil Michelle, Jill with POTUS already speaking, never an opening act

3h  ‏@johndeeth @BarackObama also sounding like the short version of the convention speech

3h  ‏@johndeeth "Tax cuts to help you lose a few pounds & improve your love life" new punch line toGOP same one answer #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth He also adds the China reference he dropped from last night's speech #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth "It is going to take us more than a few years to fix challenges that have lasted decades" #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth "Dave Loebsack's already on the program" the presidential shoutout is a plus in Iowa City
3h  ‏@johndeeth "I need your voices" Crowd slow on uptake that's supposed to be applause line #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth @BarackObama s wind energy section a bit for us Iowans #obamaic "Unlike my oppt I won't let oil co's dictate energy policy"

3h ‏@markwcarlson No mention of Iowa Vs. Iowa State game from Biden. So far no mention from the President. #ObamaIC Must not be unaware of local chaos.

3h  ‏@johndeeth @markwcarlson smart enough not to take side, needs votes in Story County too

3h  ‏@johndeeth Only brief section on student loans, he devoted entire Iowa City speech to it thi spring #obamaic

3h  ‏@johndeeth "I love you back but don't interrupt me any more, I need to tell you the 4th thing" #obamaic Not an IC Obama speech without a Love Ya Back

3h  ‏@johndeeth I have yet to see the spouses, are they here for rope line and the "surprise" stop? #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth Medicare lines get relatively small applause, this is a young crowd #obamaic Economy lines did much better

2h @grantyoung72 "Free beer" will also get you applause in Iowa City RT @ProfHagle: Not surprisingly, the "keep tuition low" line gets big applause. #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth Veterans lines do well ad does bin Laden death. And we get our first "Don't Boo, Vote" #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth "Time to do some nation building here at home" #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth To clarify: the boos that prompted Don't Boo Vote were about Mitt foreign policy #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth DREAM act and ending DADT get big big big applauce: welcome to Iowa City Mr President #obamaic

‏@AdamBSullivan @johndeeth I think you mean DREAM executive order. #obamaIC 

2h  ‏@johndeeth Choice reference gets loud and clearly more female cheer #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth First part that's clearly different than last night: the details of registering and voting #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth @BarackObama speech done, music resumes. Time for the rope line scrum at #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth @MichelleObama and @JillBiden come out to wave and move on to rope line as new Springsteen plays "We Take Care Of Our Own"

2h  ‏@johndeeth I remember when Bruce used to tell presidents NOT to play his music, this sounds almost custom-written #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth The Four pop back on stage for a goodbye wave after working the rope line for three songs, all of which seem to be Springsteen #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth Crowd now rapidly dispersing #obamaic

2h  ‏@johndeeth Like I said, same speech as last night, but the point is seeing it live #obamaic

2h @johndeeth Thanks to all the law enforcement fire fighters & EMTs working OT and of course the Secret Service for keeping them safe

Iowa City's Big Day

Iowa is the center of the political universe today, and the polar opposite locations sum up the battle of the 2012 election. The Obamas and the Bidens are here in Johnson County, where Obama won a state best 70 percent four years ago. Mitt Romney will be in Iowa's most Republican County, Sioux County, which went 81 percent for John McCain.

The appearances underscore not just Iowa's key role, but the importance both parties are placing in rallying their base voters. And nothing excites the party faithful more than a personal visit.

Now multiply that by four.

It's rare to see all of what the Secret Service calls the "principals," the president, vice president, and spouses, at the same campaign event. The time of the candidates and spouses is a priceless resource and they are usually deployed separately, in zone coverage. Having all four at once is what Joe Biden would call a big... deal.

The last time I remember seeing it in Iowa was twenty years ago when, just days after the convention, the Clintons and the Gores did a bus tour across eastern Iowa. The big moment was a rally for thousands at Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids. I was a rookie staffer and I'll never forget the day, for it was a major turning point in my life: it was the day I met my daughter.

A big event like this is less about persuading undecideds, who barely exist in this election. My pet theory is that the three or four percent that remain "undecided" dislike both major candidates and could wind up not voting at all.

Today is about motivating and energizing the committed. In-person events are important to the activists, especially to young activists. Most days on a campaign aren't like today. More typically they include endless phone calls, long walks from door to door, and cold pizza. A day like today, despite the long waits and inconveniences, is rare and fun. Today is the day that the staffers and volunteers will be talking about 20 years from now, just like I'm remembering August 1992.

But the important stuff will be happening on the way in and on the edges of the crowds. The army of staffers and volunteers will be collecting the registrations, the absentee requests, and the all-important lists, signing up volunteers for the next wave of work. And the Republicans will be doing the same thing in Orange City.

When I was at Staffer School all those years ago, they taught us that field work makes about a five percent difference. Well, Iowa in that margin. To win, each candidate is going to have to bank every base vote possible, and the final push couldn't be bigger than today.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Democratic Convention Night 3

Great show. Can't wait to see it live tomorrow in my home town (unfortunately, without the Foo Fighters). Watched most of the night's proceedings at a Democratic watch party so I didn't catch every speech or every comment. The hour is late so I'll just compile the best of my tweets and retweets. I started the evening at home with John Lewis and his eloquent defense of voting rights.

@suedvorsky @ZachWahls is the son of all of us in #Iowa. Could you be any more proud??? #NO! #DNC2012

@johndeeth Win: Foo Fighters sign with Obama logos in FOO

@johndeeth Member of Nirvana plays DNC. We've come a long way since Tipper Gore

@nathanlgonzales Acoustic? I thought democrats could handle electric guitars. #DNC2012 #foofighters

@johndeeth @nathanlgonzales Should played "Monkey Wrench" cranked to 11

(At this point I left for the party and arrived having just missed Gabby Giffords do the Pledge of Allegiance.)

@HuffPostHill Giffords just won the Gabby v. Gabby Pledge of Allegiance Showdown. Sorry, Gabby Douglas.

@grantyoung72 Hahahahahaha. FoxNews goes to commercial during the Crist speech.

(John Kerry speaks) ‏@johndeeth Hey I remember this guy from like 8 yrs ago

@johndeeth In alternate universe this is Kerry's lame duck convention

@johndeeth In another alternate universe this is Howard Dean's lame duck convention #YEEEEEEAH‏

@greghauenstein @johndeeth Or Edwards... *shudder*

@johndeeth @greghauenstein who?

@johndeeth Audition speech for secretary of state

@TheFix If John Kerry is picked as next Sec of State, there would be an amazingly competitive special election to replace him. #dnc2012

@johndeeth Crowd at Gus' has been chatty but getting attentive for Kerry

@dailykos Even our boring guys are more interesting than Mitt Romney.

@aburnspolitico Funny how some people become better politicians after they're not candidates anymore

@TheOnion Rising Star John Kerry's Stirring Speech Paves Way For 2016 Presidential Run

@jeffzeleny Kerry comes equipped with a quiver of very sharp lines. It's clear he has Romney in his head: He's playing Romney in debate prep with Obama.

@ravenb John Kerry just retroactively won the 2004 election. #dnc2012

@johndeeth Almost time for @JoeBiden I never got the bashing. Any caucus vet will tell you the man is brilliant

@JoeBiden 's only flaw is an excess of heart, and that's a good flaw to have

@AdamBSullivan BREAKING: Barack Obama endorses Joe Biden for vice president. #dnc2012

@BuzzFeedAndrew "Joe Biden is already off his prepared remarks." #dnc2012

@johndeeth Settle in, @JoeBiden is talking. We'll be here a while

@johndeeth Three words not heard this convention: Nobel Peace Prize

@johndeeth "A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect."

@LarrySabato Uh-oh--Bill's speech has given Biden the green light to veer off the script and ad-lib.

@johndeeth Skip the videos, I want a Foo Fighters encore

@johndeeth And "City of Blinding Lights" returns

@johndeeth @JoeBiden you do have to go to school tomorrow

@TheFix The Obama comments about smallness of politics and huge # of campaign ads aimed squarely at independents. #dnc2012

@johndeeth President sticking muuuch closer to script than Biden, Clinton

@TheFix Just once, I want a politician to cite a company in a non-swing state. I have a feeling I will be waiting forever. #dnc2012

@BuzzFeedBen Climate talk — almost totally absent for a couple of years — one of the biggest applause lines here.

@RogerJStoneJr FOUR MORE YEARS ! I feel like I am In Miami Beach in 1972 #Nixon'stheone!

@chucktodd Has every Romney reference in this speech been part of a punch line ?

@maggiepolitico Lotta people not clapping when Obama mentions Israel

@johndeeth Bill Clinton arithmetic reference not in script

@johndeeth Text said "Google" not "Steve Jobs" more proof POTUS is a Mac fanboy

@johndeeth "little girl in Phoenix" AZ still in play?

@mattyglesias This is the speech you give when you think you're winning and just want to avoid screwing up.

@johndeeth Officiallly rolling into local news time
(but just barely it turned out)