For our weekend political readers:
MAKE VOTING MANDATORY
“The U.S. prides itself as the beacon of democracy, but it’s very likely no U.S. president has ever been elected by a majority of American adults,” writes former budget director Peter Orszag.
“It’s our own fault — because voter participation rates are running below 60 percent, a candidate would have to win 85 percent or more of the vote to be elected by a majority,” Orszag laments in his latest Bloomberg column.
He notes that Australia and more than two dozen other countries mandate voting, but could the idea catch on in America?
Political scientists Lisa Hill and Jonathon Louth of the University of Adelaide report that “turnout rates among the voting age population in Australia have remained consistently high and against the trend of steadily declining voting participation in advanced democracies worldwide.”
Mandatory voting requires people to vote and punishes non-voters with a fine. In Australia, the penalty starts small and rises significantly for those who repeatedly fail to vote.
Read here for more of Orszag’s arguments.
HISPANIC VOTERS ON THE RISE
Since 1992, the percentage of Hispanic voters has quadrupled in the overall electorate while the percentage of white voters is shrinking, says the Washington Post.
In 1992, 87 percent of the electorate was white, according to exit polls. Sixteen years later, whites made up just 74 percent of all voters. (The number of white voters as a percentage of the overall electorate has dropped in each of the four elections since 1992.)
Over that same time period, Hispanic voters have quadrupled as a percentage of the overall electorate — going from 2 percent in 1992 to 9 percent on 2008. (Black voters have grown more marginally — from 8 percent in 1992 to 13 percent in 2008 — while Asian-Americans have largely stayed stagnant.)
What all of that means is that, as the electorate has grown increasingly more diverse, Republicans voters remain largely white.
And as the story notes in the on-line column, The Fix, Hispanics have voted heavily Republican in the past, but with strong support for “Obamacare” and the president’s immigration policy that support could shift.
Republicans literally cannot afford to let Hispanics become reliably Democratic. At some point in the future — given current demographic trends — Republicans could win virtually every single white vote in the country and not be able to win a national election.
Check out the supporting data and read more about what the Republican strategy must be to “bend the curve among Hispanic voters” at this link.
COULD BASEBALL SABERMETRICS SYSTEM WORK FOR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS?
Sabermetrics is a statistical analysis system used in baseball that evolved after Bill James began publishing his “number-crunching” abstracts in 1977. The movie and book “Moneyball” was based on Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s use of sabermetrics to run his low-budget team, and a Huffington Post story says James believes heavy data analysis could work in campaigns, especially for candidates who are being outspent.
That’s because much of what James has to offer candidates facing financial deficits is quirky and unconventional. Often it involves throwing the traditional campaign playbook out the window.
But surprisingly as the Huffington Post story points out, “There aren’t any good databases in politics.”
Part of the reason is that there aren’t regular barometers to measure success and failure, or to apply lessons learned. In baseball, teams play 162 games each season. In Hollywood, movies come out weekly. In politics, congressional elections happen every two years and presidential contests every four.
Read the Post article to learn how campaigns that have adopted James’ number crunching system have fared, and his wacky but potentially feasible campaign theme about deer-related car crashes in his home state of Kansas.
“No one talks about people hitting deer with their cars as a political issue, but in Kansas” it could work, he said.
WAL-MART MOMS ARE KEY AREA OF FOCUS FOR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS
Wal-Mart moms are a “group of mostly low- to middle-income mothers living in suburbs and exurbs who are viewed by both the Obama and Romney campaigns as potentially crucial swing voters, and are conflicted over the issue of health care.”
According to Bloomberg:
These voters are defined by polling experts who have studied them as women with children 18 years of age or younger living at home and who shop at the superstore at least once a month. They supported Obama in 2008 and then switched to back Republicans in the 2010 congressional election. They comprise 27 percent of all registered women voters, making them about 14 percent of the electorate, according to the research.
Their fluid voting patterns put them up for grabs in the 2012 presidential contest.
The Bloomberg story says a huge deciding factor affecting those voting patterns will be over President Obama’s health care plan.
“A lot of these moms aren’t quite sure how the health-care reform bill is going to affect them, so there are some opportunities for candidates in both parties to really talk about that,” says one pollster.
If there’s one constant in how Wal-Mart moms view the health-care law, say pollsters, it’s that they want specific, quantifiable information about what they and their families have to gain or lose from it. They’re open to hearing from both sides on health care, and they want to feel that how they vote is a positive for their families.
Click here to read more.
BRISTOL PALIN-MIKE HUCKABEE FEUD
Mike Huckabee scolded Bristol Palin on his radio show recently for allegedly not showing up as a guest, and Palin used her web site blog to set the record straight.
I understand Gov. Huckabee has a huge challenge creating a radio show he wants as the alternative to Rush Limbaugh. I understand he wants to fill his show with a little controversy – and what better way than to create headlines telling the world he now considers me “fair game.”
The former Arkansas Republican governor said Palin had been invited to talk about her new reality TV show.
“And apparently, she just didn’t show up. So guess what? I don’t guess we’ll be watching tomorrow when her new show lines up. Too bad,” said Huckabee.
Palin says it was a misunderstanding about scheduling. Read more of the dust-up on Bristol’s Blog.