Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Open Thread: A House Divided

Since Obama’s victory in 2008 our politics seems more polarised and contentious than any time in recent memory.  The 2010 midterm elections amplified the divisions and created the context for a bitterly fought presidential election on perilously narrow margins:

Americans aren’t just evenly divided in the 2012 election; they’re practically fleeing the political middle.

Towards the end of the Wisconsin recall election this year, we saw something striking happen: Not only were there very few undecided voters in the weeks before Election Day, but the vast majority of people were strongly for or strongly against Gov. Scott Walker (R), with very few people lukewarm on either side.

The same thing is happening in the presidential race.

Aaron Blake – The Incredibly Polarized American Electorate Washington Post 30 Oct 12

Click through on Mark Newman’s excellent county map of 2008 above to see that Obama was right, we aren’t a nation of red states and blue states.  However we are divided throughout the nation into increasingly inflexible and adamant local bastions with little apparent common ground and discrete sources of inspiration and information.  What little dialogue we have has largely devolved to polemics and issue-baiting as if two divergent, incompatible cultures are emerging; yet we share legislatures and infrastructure almost everywhere.

Long established components of our social infrastructure and legal precedent are assertively being challenged by a radical political agenda which has cynically, and perhaps unwisely, exposed old wounds:

The 2012 election is shaping up to be more polarised along racial lines than any presidential contest since 1988, with President Barack Obama experiencing a steep drop in support among white voters from four years ago.

At this stage in 2008, Obama trailed John McCain by seven percentage points among white voters. Even in victory, Obama ended up losing white voters by 12 percentage points, according to that year’s exit poll. But now, Obama has a deficit of 23 points, trailing Republican Mitt Romney 60 per cent to 37 per cent among whites, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC national tracking poll.

John Cohen – This has to be the most racially polarised presidential election in decades Independent 28 Oct 12

Partisans are equally convinced of their impending victory; the Right, for whatever reason, is cheerfully and sincerely anticipating a Romney landslide and vindication.  Whatever the outcome, and it certainly seems reasonable to anticipate an Obama win on evidence, the angst will be profound; stand by for the crazy.


  1. Shaun Appleby

    A simple little Politico post which had the misfortune to earn a link from Drudge and it had over a thousand comments deriding Obama and confidently asserting victory.  Seriously they are totally convinced.  Don’t see this ending well somehow.

  2. Photobucket

    Yeah I noticed there was a table full of money that looked like it would catch a sunburn in a windstorm.

    Sweetie had to tell me who was at the table outside of Pat Boone there Wink Martindale and a couple of others were at this event that supported a really sweet charity New Directions.

  3. creamer

       The GOP has quite openly tried to suppress the vote in early voting, and has trained operatives who suppose to “monitor” polling places.

    My fear is that they will obstruct and intimidate, or challenge so many provisional ballots as to delay results or send it to the courts.

  4. Shaun Appleby

    This was the “one last time” they would try it:

    As has been evident since at least 2008 (but was best explained earlier this year by Jonathan Chait), this year’s Republican campaign has been based on a big strategic gamble that a deliberate alienation of black and brown voters would ultimately matter less than a full mobilization of Republican strength among older white voters-at least long enough to produce a GOP government that would repeal Obamacare and disable as much of the New Deal and Great Society legacy as it can reach.

    A big part of that strategy, a Republican takeover of the Senate, is already on the brink of failure. But more generally, the calculation that African-American and Latino voters wouldn’t turn out at anything like 2008 levels, making elevated white vote margins for the GOP the ultimate trump card, isn’t looking as smart as it once did.

    Ed Kilgore – GOP’s Racial Gamble Backfiring Washington Monthly 5 Nov 12

    Republicans better have a good think about this; they have really backed themselves into a corner.

  5. Shaun Appleby

    Obama is ending his national campaign where it all began:

    Obama’s closing rally in Des Moines will take place at the intersection of East 4th and East Locust streets, where he opened his first field office for the 2008 campaign. Robert Gibbs, Obama’s former campaign and White House spokesman, will be there.

    So will Reggie Love, the president’s personal aide during the 2008 campaign and the first three years of his presidential term.

    “Tonight when we’re in Des Moines, we’ll be right outside our headquarters where in 2007 it started and nobody gave us a chance to win the nomination,” Plouffe said. “So I think tonight will be a fairly profoundly emotional night.”

    David Nakamura – In Iowa, Obama will wrap up 2012 campaign where it all began five years ago Washington Post 5 Nov 12

    I still have the faded newspaper posters declaring Obama’s Iowa win up on my wall, “Obama Beats Clinton.”  Room for just one more.

  6. Strummerson

    I want someone to feed Peggy Noonan her vapid, eloquently stupid words.  It’s anti-intellectualism masquerading as depth and prose-poetry:




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    Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.

    November 5, 2012, 11:35 AM

    Monday Morning







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    We begin with the three words everyone writing about the election must say: Nobody knows anything. Everyone’s guessing. I spent Sunday morning in Washington with journalists and political hands, one of whom said she feels it’s Obama, the rest of whom said they don’t know. I think it’s Romney. I think he’s stealing in “like a thief with good tools,” in Walker Percy’s old words. While everyone is looking at the polls and the storm, Romney’s slipping into the presidency. He’s quietly rising, and he’s been rising for a while.

    Obama and the storm, it was like a wave that lifted him and then moved on, leaving him where he’d been. Parts of Jersey and New York are a cold Katrina. The exact dimensions of the disaster will become clearer when the election is over. One word: infrastructure. Officials knew the storm was coming and everyone knew it would be bad, but the people of the tristate area were not aware, until now, just how vulnerable to deep damage their physical system was. The people in charge of that system are the politicians. Mayor Bloomberg wanted to have the Marathon, to show New York’s spirit. In Staten Island last week they were bitterly calling it “the race through the ruins.” There is a disconnect.

    But to the election. Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts? Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.

    I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win.

    Romney’s crowds are building-28,000 in Morrisville, Pa., last night; 30,000 in West Chester, Ohio, Friday It isn’t only a triumph of advance planning: People came, they got through security and waited for hours in the cold. His rallies look like rallies now, not enactments. In some new way he’s caught his stride. He looks happy and grateful. His closing speech has been positive, future-looking, sweetly patriotic. His closing ads are sharp-the one about what’s going on at the rallies is moving.

    All the vibrations are right. A person who is helping him who is not a longtime Romneyite told me, yesterday: “I joined because I was anti Obama-I’m a patriot, I’ll join up But now I am pro-Romney.” Why? “I’ve spent time with him and I care about him and admire him. He’s a genuinely good man.” Looking at the crowds on TV, hearing them chant “Three more days” and “Two more days”-it feels like a lot of Republicans have gone from anti-Obama to pro-Romney.

    Something old is roaring back. One of the Romney campaign’s surrogates, who appeared at a rally with him the other night, spoke of the intensity and joy of the crowd “I worked the rope line, people wouldn’t let go of my hand.” It startled him. A former political figure who’s been in Ohio told me this morning something is moving with evangelicals, other church-going Protestants and religious Catholics. He said what’s happening with them is quiet, unreported and spreading: They really want Romney now, they’ll go out and vote, the election has taken on a new importance to them.

    There is no denying the Republicans have the passion now, the enthusiasm. The Democrats do not. Independents are breaking for Romney. And there’s the thing about the yard signs. In Florida a few weeks ago I saw Romney signs, not Obama ones. From Ohio I hear the same. From tony Northwest Washington, D.C., I hear the same.

    Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we’re not really noticing because we’re too busy looking at data on paper instead of what’s in front of us? Maybe that’s the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us.

    And there is Obama, out there seeming tired and wan, showing up through sheer self discipline. A few weeks ago I saw the president and the governor at the Al Smith dinner, and both were beautiful specimens in their white ties and tails, and both worked the dais. But sitting there listening to the jokes and speeches, the archbishop of New York sitting between them, Obama looked like a young challenger-flinty, not so comfortable. He was distracted, and his smiles seemed forced. He looked like a man who’d just seen some bad internal polling. Romney? Expansive, hilarious, self-spoofing, with a few jokes of finely calibrated meanness that were just perfect for the crowd. He looked like a president. He looked like someone who’d just seen good internals.

    Of all people, Obama would know if he is in trouble. When it comes to national presidential races, he is a finely tuned political instrument: He read the field perfectly in 2008. He would know if he’s losing now, and it would explain his joylessness on the stump. He is out there doing what he has to to fight the fight. But he’s still trying to fire up the base when he ought to be wooing the center and speaking their calm centrist talk. His crowds haven’t been big. His people have struggled to fill various venues. This must hurt the president after the trememdous, stupendous crowds of ’08. “Voting’s the best revenge”-revenge against who, and for what? This is not a man who feels himself on the verge of a grand victory. His campaign doesn’t seem president-sized. It is small and sad and lost, driven by formidable will and zero joy.

    I suspect both Romney and Obama have a sense of what’s coming, and it’s part of why Romney looks so peaceful and Obama so roiled.

    Romney ends most rallies with his story of the Colorado scout troop that in 1986 had an American flag put in the space shuttle Challenger, saw the Challenger blow up as they watched on TV, and then found, through the persistence of their scoutmaster, that the flag had survived the explosion. It was returned to them by NASA officials. When Romney, afterward, was shown the flag, he touched it, and an electric jolt went up his arm. It’s a nice story. He doesn’t make its meaning fully clear. But maybe he means it as a metaphor for America: It can go through a terrible time, a catastrophe, as it has economically the past five years, and still emerge whole, intact, enduring.

    Maybe that’s what the coming Romney moment is about: independents, conservatives, Republicans, even some Democrats, thinking: We can turn it around, we can work together, we can right this thing, and he can help.

  7. Shaun Appleby

    National polls have moved to align with the state numbers we’re counting on:

    It appears that President Obama is likely to go into Election Day with a very modest lead in the average of national polls.

    As of this writing, on Sunday evening, Mr. Obama led by an average of 1.3 percentage points across 12 national polls that had been published over the course of the prior 24 hours.

    Nate Silver – State and National Polls Come Into Better Alignment NYT 4 Nov 12

    We needed that extra reassurance; it was going to go one way or the other and the national polls were the concern.

  8. rfahey22

    What a relief.  I think a lot of people on the right are experiencing what many of us did with Kerry – victory seems so close that you can just imagine some intangibles that will make up the difference (for us, uncounted cell phone voters, for them, I don’t know, independents I guess), even though they never did/do.  My wife and I will wake up early, vote for Barack HUSSEIN Obama, watch the victory party tomorrow night, and get on with our lives (like figuring out what sides to make for Thanksgiving and cheering on the Packers).

  9. lojasmo

    O 310

    R 228

    O gets Oh, PA IA, CO, NM VA, and NV.

    Romney gets FL, NC, NH.

    Minnesota house.

    Only two seats in play.  CD 8 and CD 6  Total toss up.  I say Bachmann stays, and Kravaak goes.

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