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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Mitt Romney

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August 24, 2012 at 9:47 AM

With Republican convention up next, why Mitt Romney is losing when he should be winning

By all traditional measures of a presidential campaign, Mitt Romney should be crushing Barack Obama. But he’s not. Why? The numbers tell the story.

The economy has been stagnant, unemployment is at 8.3%, and the approval ratings of Barack Obama are in the mid to upper-40s. This presidential campaign should not be close. But it is.

In fact,when we look at the realclearpolitics daily average of polls on the presidential race, Mitt Romney has almost never led over the past 18 months. The lines of Obama and Romney support go up and down, sometimes almost crossing. But Obama has been on top consistently for many months.

And this morning, New York Times reporter John Harwood noted that the Romney camp acknowledges they are slightly trailing as we head into the party nominating conventions.

How can that possibly be? A USAToday/Gallup poll out this morning provides a pretty clear answer.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Gallup, likeability

August 20, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Insights from Mormon history on why Mitt Romney won’t publicly talk about his faith

Mitt Romney can trace his membership in the Mormon Church back to its founders. Yet he is tight-lipped — to an unprecedented degree among recent presidential candidates — about his faith. Will this change at the Republican National Convention in Tampa?

NAUVOO, Ill. — Mitt Romney is Mormon. Most Americans know this, polls tell us.

Nauvoo Mormon Temple, photographed on May 24, 2012 and dedicated in 2002 as a close facsimile of one built in the 1840s. Mitt Romney’s family traces its American history to Nauvoo and the temple.  (Photo by Lucas Anderson/UW Election Eye)

But voters haven’t heard it from Romney, who almost never talks publicly about his religious beliefs and who for the first time yesterday — after more than five years of running for the White House — invited the press to share his church-going experience.

To understand Romney’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell religious policy, I came to this town on the Mississippi River in western Illinois. All roads — personal, theological, political — collide here for the presidential candidate, who will deliver the most important speech of his political life next week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

In 1841, Romney’s great-great grandparents Miles and Elizabeth Romney arrived in Nauvoo from Lancashire, England. The Romneys were among the first English converts to a distinctly American religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Joseph Smith founded this faith, also known as Mormonism, when he claimed to receive visions from God in the 1820s in upstate New York. Smith and his followers traveled to the Midwest to settle, eventually landing in Jackson County in western Missouri, where they hoped to create Zion, a New Jerusalem. The Saints sought to deeply integrate religious beliefs, economics, and politics, and their close-knit, outspoken ways were not well received.

The locals were so hostile that in 1838 Missouri’s governor issued an Extermination Order, which made it legal to kill or expel Mormons, a law that stayed on the books until 1976. Running for their lives, literally, Smith and followers crossed into Illinois, where they settled in Nauvoo in 1841. There they grew, with European converts like the Romneys arriving.

And then things really got bad.


Comments | More in Culture, National | Topics: Carthage, Joseph Smith, Latter Day Saints

August 16, 2012 at 11:18 PM

In digital campaign for president, Obama far more active than Romney

Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and Youtube channels became part of the political communication mix during the 2008 Presidential election. How do the Obama and Romney campaigns compare as we approach November 2012?

If an election outcome rested on how well a campaign does with Twitter, then President Barack Obama’s camp would be focused not on November 2012 but January 2013. Not only is the Obama campaign out-tweeting the Mitt Romney team but the Obama tweets are being shared at a rate of 17-to-1 compared with Romney’s.

Obama leads Romney

Project for Excellence in Journalism, August 2012

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed the digital activity of the two campaigns over a two-week period in June. The report shows that there is a “digital gap” between the presumed Republican and Democratic candidates for president, just as there was between Obama and John McCain in 2008.

The report reviews candidate activity across a mature set of digital platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube plus the campaign websites. In June, the Obama campaign had a presence on nine platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Spotify, Twitter (@BarackObama plus five others), Tumblr and YouTube. The Romney campaign had public accounts on five: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter and YouTube; it has subsequently added Tumblr and Spotify, according to the report.

Obama established a broad digital presence in 2008 and has maintained it throughout his presidency. Thus it is not surprising that his digital support dwarfs Romney’s.

But it is not even close, in ways that are intriguing.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Facebook, Mitt Romney

August 12, 2012 at 11:44 PM

Monday eye-opener: First reactions to Romney’s VP pick, and Giffords moves home

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced U.S. Rep Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate on Saturday. According to, President Obama welcomed Ryan to the race and referred to him as “an articulate spokesman for Gov. Romney’s vision.” Meantime, according to, former Presidential hopeful John McCain considered Romney’s pick  a “bold…


Comments | More in National | Topics: eyeopener, Gabrielle Giffords, Gallup

August 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Six things about Paul Ryan that may be surprising

Paul Ryan, Official Photo

Rep. Paul Ryan, Official Congressional Photo

In the 112th Congress, Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin just announced as Mitt Romney’s running mate, is one of the most powerful members of the GOP. He’s the House Budget Committee Chairman, a highly influential insider.

Here are six interesting things about Ryan.

1. He was elected to Congress in 1998. At the age of 28. “I learned economics working for Jack Kemp,” he said in 1999. Kemp served in the George H.W. Bush administration, and he was Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996. And as a point of note, Kemp was the supply-side economics messiah.

2. When Ryan was 16, his father died. Ryan attended Miami University (Ohio) with help from Social Security survivor benefits, which he collected until age 18. Average annual 4-year public university tuition and fees in 1988 was an inflation-adjusted $2,800. He studied economics and political science, graduating in 1992. Six years later, he was a Congressman from Wisconsin’s first district.

3. Like many in politics, when his party’s in power, his budget philosophy differs dramatically from when the other folks are in the White House. For example, he voted yes on President Bush’s expansion of Medicare’s drug benefit. In 2005, the Washington Post reported that the White House had revised its estimated costs of the program:

[T]he new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003…. As recently as September, Medicare chief Mark B. McClellan said the new drug package would cost $534 billion over 10 years.

As Bruce Bartlett noted in 2009, “the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers; 100% of the cost simply added to the federal budget deficit.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: GOP, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan

August 2, 2012 at 7:09 AM

Why Mitt Romney should select Condoleezza Rice as his VP

Mitt Romney turns up the heat on his VP running mate choice by announcing a new mobile app for the occasion. Should he pick Condoleezza Rice?

SEATTLE — We are mired in election season doldrums, that seemingly endless period of the election cycle where it feels as if we are drowning in talk, talk, talk. With the Republican Party national convention not until the end of this month, followed by the Democratic Party gathering in early September, speculation has become a spectator sport.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia)

Next up? Another round of “Name that Vice President!”

Taking a page from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Mitt Romney’s campaign on Tuesday released Mitt’s VP, a smartphone app that will tell you his choice for running mate–just as soon as Romney decides to make that decision public. To his campaign’s credit, Romney didn’t misspell America this time.

With the Romney campaign maintaining radio silence on the VP pick, some pundits have suggested Rob Portman (U.S. Senator, Ohio) should have the number two slot. Others have pitched Tim Pawlenty (former governor of Minnesota) or Marco Rubio (U.S. Senator, Florida). Bobby Jindal (governor of Lousiana) has also been mentioned as a contender.

And then there is Condoleezza Rice. How about her?

According to Public Policy Polling (PPP), a left-leaning public opinion survey firm, having Rice on the ticket could have a big impact in Michigan (16 electoral votes) and Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) because she’s viewed favorably by Democrats in both states. In 2008, Obama took 57.4% of the Michigan vote and 54.7% of the Pennsylvania vote. Both are critical swing states in 2012.

This bi-partisan support makes Rice, 57, a valuable political figure if Romney decides he wants to attract Independents or Democrats. In Pennsylvania Rice’s favorability rating is 60% (vs. 27% unfavorable); in Michigan it is 56% (vs. 28%). These numbers are significant, even after accounting for polling margin of error (Pennsylvania is +/-3.6% and Michigan is +/-4.1%).

If the PPP data are solid, Rice should be his number one pick.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Condi, Condoleezza Rice, Mitt Romney

July 6, 2012 at 7:11 AM

Stumbles by Romney feel like South Carolina

Mitt Romney is in political trouble. He has allowed Mitt Romney to become the story. Again.

Screen snapshot of the RealClearPolitics database of polls on the presidential campaign, from January 31 through July 4, 2012.

Barack Obama has middling public approval ratings and the economy continues to struggle. His signature act as president, an expansive health care law, survived by one vote on the Supreme Court last week and is opposed by about half of Americans.

By all rights, he should be behind by 10 points in the polls. But he’s not.

Consensus among pollsters shows Obama ahead of Romney by about 3 points. And he’s on a bus tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania yesterday and today touting his policies and blasting Romney. He’s got the momentum it seems.

The last four weeks tell us why.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, immigration, Mitt Romney

July 3, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Lives, Honor, and Words From Gettysburg Echo in 2012

The First Minnesota Infantry Monument, dedicated in 1893, honors a unit that surged forward at great personal toll to stop Confederate troops on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. I visited the battlefield on April 15, 2012. (Photo by Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

GETTYSBURG, Penn. — I’ve wanted to come here for years.

I have read a number of books about the epic Civil War battle on these rolling fields in southern Pennsylvania. I have watched movies. I have listened to historians talk about the soldiers and their lives. For me, coming to Gettysburg was more than a visit: it was a pilgrimage.

Still, I was unprepared.

I was not ready for the knee-buckling sense of history that I felt atop Seminary Ridge, where Robert E. Lee and his Army of the Northern Virginia made headquarters. I was not ready for the awe I felt standing in the footsteps of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain—a college professor who led the 20th Maine Regiment as it held the left end of the Union line on Little Round Top. I was not ready for the intense sense of history that hangs over the rock wall that marks the high water mark of Pickett’s Charge on the final day, July 3, 1863—exactly 149 years ago today.

This is sacred ground.

Everywhere are monuments and markers: more than 850 on the battlefield. They invoke those who can no longer speak. As a people, we create monuments so that we might never forget the past.

Unfortunately, I think we have forgotten too much of what happened here—on the battlefield and in the words of Abraham Lincoln afterward.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Gettysburg

June 28, 2012 at 10:48 AM

Will conservatives come after John Roberts? UPDATED

Update at 1:01 pm And Brent Bozell, conservative firebrand, goes after John Roberts here. Money quote: “People are already talking about the idea that he could be replaced as Chief  Justice.” ———– Original post Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts stunned many people today–including me–by siding with liberals to uphold the individual mandate in the Obama administration’s health…


Comments | More in Culture | Topics: health care, John Roberts, Mitt Romney

June 20, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Mitt Romney’s immigration choice


A Tea Party supporter makes clear her views on illegal immigration at a public event in November 2009. (Photo courtesy of Flickr member katerkate.)

Mitt Romney has arrived at his first general election crossroads.

President Barack Obama on Friday announced his administration would grant work permits to the children of illegal immigrants, provided the children came to America before they were 16 years old and have no legal troubles. This was an executive-branch act, controversial but seemingly within the limits of the law.

Yesterday a Bloomberg poll found that almost two-thirds of likely voters support the president’s decision, and that independent voters do so by a 2-to-1 margin. Another poll in five key “battleground” states suggests that Obama’s action has — at least initially — elevated enthusiasm among Latinos to vote for the president in November.

But the Tea Party base of the Republican Party is not close to on board. In the GOP primary, Rick Perry was torn apart for a relatively moderate position on immigration, and Romney ran to Perry’s right by encouraging illegal immigrants to “self-deport” themselves back to their countries.

But now it’s the general election, and Romney must choose: party base or independents?

He hasn’t decided yet. But he will have to.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, deportation, elected officials

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