December, 2014

Impasse Forces Early Greek Elections

“Greece will go to snap elections early next year after the government failed Monday to get its presidential candidate elected, thrusting the country into fresh political uncertainty,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The result raises the stakes for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whose last-minute attempt to convince lawmakers to back his candidate fell short of the mark even after he offered concessions in an attempt to swing independents.”

Washington Post: “The elections were set in motion when parliament failed — for a third time — to elect a new president. The position is largely ceremonial in Greece, but the impasse reflected the deep divisions over the tough economic stewardship imposed by the European Union and international lenders.”

Tea Party Loses Its Edge

“Erick Erickson built his career on stoking populist rage. But now the man who steers the Tea Party says conservative anger has grown toxic and self-defeating,” Molly Ball reports.

“Erickson sounded almost gleeful as he told me about the Tea Party hating him. He seems to delight in confounding expectations, and in almost every way, he refuses to be pigeonholed: he is a southerner who defines himself by his small-town sensibility, but he spent most of his childhood in Dubai. He speaks for the conservative grass roots, but he pals around with cable-news regulars and Beltway elites. He’s a strict no-compromises ideologue, but during his one foray into elected office, he was a model of bipartisan cooperation.”

Political Targeting Pushes Bounds of Privacy

Politico: “In the 2014 campaign, many voters expressed outrage over the National Security Agency’s collection of telephone metadata, and others complained about retailers using tricks to get their emails and other personal information. But by far the most sweeping violator of privacy wasn’t the government or big-box stores: It was the very political leaders to whom the voters were appealing.”

“Data mining has become so sophisticated that campaigns can now target voters by mashing together public records with much more personal information from Facebook feeds and consumer reports that offer such nuggets as who has sterling credit ratings but hasn’t purchased a car in seven or more years.”

McDonnell Daughter Blames Mom for Legal Troubles

“One of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell’s daughters says his stunning downfall and conviction on public corruption charges can largely be attributed to the corrosive effects of just one person: her mother,” the Washington Post reports.

Write Jeanine McDonnell Zubowsky: “My mom… has always been concerned about getting discounts or freebees. She hid her coordination with people for free or discounted things or services and she didn’t communicate with my dad because she knew he would not approve… The testimony about my mom was not just part of a defense strategy and was not an attempt to ‘throw her under the bus,’ but unfortunately, was the reality.”

Can Hillary Clinton Win White Rural Voters?

Wall Street Journal: “Now, as the 2016 election takes shape, some of Hillary Clinton ’s allies are trumpeting her potential as a presidential candidate to bring these voters back to the Democratic Party and to run competitively in a handful of states, including Arkansas, that have spurned President Barack Obama.”

“But even here, where Mrs. Clinton was the state’s first lady, many voters say they view her with the same leeriness they do Mr. Obama and other national Democrats. That points to a significant question should Mrs. Clinton run: whether enough such voters can separate her from the national party many have grown to dislike.”

Obama’s Family Vacation With Teenage Girls

“As president, Barack Obama must contend with challenges of global importance, even while on vacation. But as a father, he potentially faces a test on the home front: A two-week family vacation with teenage daughters,” the New York Times reports.

“Despite the unique experience of growing up in the White House, protected by Secret Service agents and minders who carefully control their media exposure, the Obama daughters appear, in rare glimpses, to be, well, teenagers who at times show spunk and independence.”

Texans Rise to Power in GOP House

“The top three Republican leaders in the House next year are likely to be from Ohio, California and Louisiana. But the committees will be dominated by Texans,” the New York Times reports.

“When the 114th Congress opens in January, Texans will assume the leadership of six of the 21 House committees, according to recommendations issued by the House G.O.P.’s Steering Committee in November, which would be the largest number for a state delegation since at least 1979.”

How Do You Mobilize a Cynical Generation?

Linda Killian: “Whether it is entertainment, consumer goods or almost anything else that can be purchased, viewed or clicked on, Millennials are the most coveted demographic. There are about 80 million Americans between the ages of 18-34 and next year they are expected to spend $2.45 trillion.”

“But when it comes to politics and national policy they have relatively little clout because most of them don’t reliably vote and aren’t major political contributors. These young adults have voluntarily checked out of a political system they consider corrupt and dysfunctional.”

Oil Rich States Brace for Tough Times

“States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies,” the New York Times reports.

“The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom.”

Revenge of the Democratic Techies?

“The technologists who built the Democratic Party’s data-driven approach to campaigning are saddened by the results of the 2014 midterms, a political drubbing that not even even the sharpest get-out-the-vote operation could prevent,” CNN reports.

“But they are taking heart in a durable truth: Even as Republicans made impressive strides in digital and data-driven campaigning in 2014, Democrats retain a culture of innovation and an army of campaign geeks that far outpaces their GOP foes.”

“Republicans have gloated about their advancements in campaign science since being infamously outclassed by President Barack Obama’s voter turnout operation in 2012. After a much better year in 2014, they point with pride to new data programs that allowed GOP campaigns to better identify and persuade voters. But even the GOP’s top digital strategists continue look with envy at the technological ecosystem that Democrats and their allies have constructed over the course of a decade.”

Obama Approval Should Rise as Economy Improves

“When will the improving American economy translate into higher approval ratings for President Obama? It will take time. But if recent trends continue, Mr. Obama’s political standing is likely to strengthen,” Brendan Nyhan reports.

“The lesson of history is that Mr. Obama will get credit if growth continues, but we should not be surprised if public opinion lags objective measures of the economy… We can see this process of the public starting to notice improvements in the economy in recent survey data.”

Write political scientists Peter Enns and Gregory McAvoy: “For the most part, public opinion does not react instantaneously to changes in economic information. It takes time for economic news to make its way from government reports into news reports so that ordinary citizens can absorb and respond to this information.”

Democrats Unveil New Fundraising Committee

“Democrats wasted no time in opening their new gift from Congress. The year-end federal budget bill included a way for the political parties to raise huge new sums for their conventions, and the Democratic National Committee has already set up a fundraising vehicle to do just that, a Federal Election Commission filing shows,” Bloomberg reports.

“The DNC’s convention committee went live last week.”