Scott Walker beat the spread.Sometime politics is like betting on football. It's not just about whether your team wins. It's about whether you beat the spread. The rough calculation going into Tuesday's recall election in Wisconsin was that if Governor Scott Walker won by less than five percentage points, the race would not have any clear national-level implications, but if he won by five points or more, it would. The final result, 53.2% to 46.3%, is a margin of 6.9 percentage points. He beat the spread.
Hot Topics: Get alerts when there is a new article that might interest you.This write-up from the Hill on a recent Pennsylvania poll is pretty similar to many others these days:President Obama is retaining his commanding lead over Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania, topping the Republican presidential nominee by 12 points in a poll released Wednesday by Franklin & Marshall College. Obama would win the favor of 48 percent of Keystone State voters, versus just 36 percent for Romney, according to the poll. And polls like these are producing frames like these, from Charles...
The defeat of the effort to recall Scott Walker from his post as governor of Wisconsin is less of a victory for the Republican Party, or even a defeat for the Democratic Party, as it is a defeat for the labor movement. Walker, after all, has been a particular anathema to organized labor as his radical anti-union policies have drawn attention and opposition from labor unions and their supporters across the country. For progressives, recalling Walker would have been a major victory, but for labor, the stakes were even higher.
Walker only retained his seat by a margin of about 7%, which is closer than many expected, but in a highly competitive state like Wisconsin, still a significant margin. Labor made an all out effort to defeat Walker, spending a great deal of both local and national resources, but they still came up short. This will have two damaging impacts on labor. First, it is likely that after fighting off this recall attempt, Walker will feel newly empowered to continue to go after organized labor. This may prove to be a mistake for Walker, but at least in the short run, will make life difficult for labor unions, and the workers they represent in Wisconsin. It is also likely that anti-union officials in other states will feel similarly emboldened by the results from Wisconsin.
Second, Walker's victory also raises concerns about labor's ability to deliver for the Democratic Party. Labor is, of course, an enormous institutional player in the Democratic Party, able to produce votes, volunteers and money for candidates from city council to president. In many cases the economic interests of the labor movement and the Democratic Party are very similar; and without votes from members of labor unions, Democratic candidates win considerably less frequently.
Members of labor unions often come out in support of Democratic candidates, but significantly, this is not evidence of labor's ability to deliver votes. Many African American members of labor unions, for example, voted for Obama, but this is clearly a case of correlation between union membership and support for Obama. A direct, or even indirect, causality would be even harder to prove. This week's election in Wisconsin highlights the question of labor's ability to deliver votes because this race, while important to all Democrats, was of particular import to labor union members.
To conclude from this that the Democratic Party does not need organized labor, or that labor unions are of no value to the Democratic Party, would be deeply wrong. The Democratic Party and organized labor, due to intertwined history and interests, as well as contemporary political and strategic realities, continue to have fates which are linked. The Republican assault on labor, of which Walker's attacks are only the most recent, have been bad for labor unions and the workers they represent, but have also been bad for the Democratic Party. Similarly, the inability of the Democratic Party to hold onto its white working class base for what is now close to half a century has contributed to the weakening of labor unions and workers' rights more generally.
Given all this, for the Democratic Party questioning the ability of labor to deliver votes, particularly swing votes that would not otherwise go democratic seems like a risky endeavor that, on balance, is probably not worth doing. If the Democratic leadership confronts the notion that labor's impact on elections may be overstated, there is no particular upside for doing this. Labor and the Democrats will still be closely tied together; the Democrats will still need support from labor; and probably most significantly, there are no institution that can fill in for labor in this capacity.
From a strategic angle, it is critical that Democratic leaders nonetheless understand the limitations of the labor movement today. Candidate Barack Obama understood this in 2008, particularly in the primaries when he did not enjoy early support from much of organized labor, but was still able to win. The lesson from Wisconsin is a similar one, that while support from labor is desirable, it is not, on its own, enough to ensure victory or anything close to it. For Democrats, labor support has been a constant and should be understood that way, part of the coalition, but not in a stand alone way as significant as might be initially thought.
There are many reasons why the labor movement could not pull off a victory in Wisconsin, but the fact that they could not is what is most significant. Union leaders, following this defeat have few options other than working for the next race which will be in November of this year. The Democratic Party has an analogous lack of options regarding labor and must do what it can to strengthen labor so that it can again become the powerful partner the Democratic Party needs.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) decisive victory against Democrats seeking to recall him on Tuesday amounts to a major moment in national politics due to the massive amounts of national money and attention the race garnered.Any time there are such high stakes in an election, there are people who win big and people who lose big. And we at the Fix love nothing more than sifting through the results to go beyond the obvious “bests” and “worsts” of the night to find a few winners and losers you might not have thought of.
Tea party favorite Anna Little beat back Ernesto Cullari to win the Republican nomination Tuesday night, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports.
Little, who had a difficult time winning the nomination earlier this year, garnered national attention and a boost in the polls after the tea party movement came out in support of her candidacy.
The race was close enough that PolitickerNJ (incorrectly) called the race for Cullari as recently as Monday.
Little will face U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th) in what's expected to be an uphill battle this November. Little ran an unsuccessful campaign against Pallone in 2010.
Even The New York Times has thrown in the towel on the Wisconsin recall.With an Intrade poll citing Walker’s chances of winning the Wisconsin recall at more than 93%, The New York Times is entering into full-blown panic mode over what this election could mean for Obama’s chances this November:A Republican resurgence here, which has burst into full view as the party determinedly defends its sitting governor in a rare recall election, is spilling into the presidential race. The result is poised to shape the general election fight between Mr. Obama and Mitt...
MILWAUKEE -- Former Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is confident Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) is going to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Tuesday.
"Let me say this: I believe, that in a stunning upset, Barrett is going to win this thing. I think Barrett's going to win," said Feingold in an interview with The Huffington Post at a Starbucks in downtown Milwaukee on Thursday.
Feingold said he wasn't deterred by the recent Marquette University poll showing Walker with a seven-percentage point lead, noting that other internal polls had the race significantly closer.
Both Democrats and Republicans say the key at this point is turning out the most number of voters, since there are very few undecided Wisconsinites left to persuade.
Barrett lost to Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial race, and Feingold lost his seat to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who was heavily backed by the Tea Party. That election saw sweeping wins for Republicans nationwide.
Feingold said it's important for Democrats to make sure that turnout is higher than in 2010, predicting it will help Barrett.
"He didn't win by an overwhelming margin in 2010, and we know that by all estimates, it's going to be a higher turnout than 2010. It won't be as great as 2008," he said. "But we also know that those people that will be voting are going to be tilted heavily to Barrett. You know, the other side maxed out with their people in 2010. They had extremely good turnout."
In other words, Feingold expects Republicans to get out the maximum number of people they can -- essentially the number they did in 2010. But Democrats, he argues, will be the ones making up the difference and accounting for the higher turnout, since people who stayed home in 2010 will come out for the recall and tip the balance for Barrett.
When asked who these new voters will be, Feingold replied, "The kind of people who were angered by what he did and the way he did it, are people who ... may not always vote but will be damned if they don't vote this time.
"My general belief is that the side that feels wronged usually has the greatest intensity," he added. "That often decides elections. I think the turnout will not just be strong, I think the turnout will be somewhat greater in the areas where we are stronger. So I think that will tilt the balance."
The Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin elections, predicts near-presidential levels of turnout on Tuesday. Between 60 and 65 percent of the voting age population -- or approximately 2.6 to 2.8 million people -- are expected to cast absentee or regular ballots, which would be higher than the 2010 elections but lower than 2008.
Feingold said he was happy to see President Bill Clinton coming out to the state, predicting it will "really help" Barrett's effort. When asked whether President Obama has done enough to support Barrett, Feingold replied, "I would welcome a few more comments between now and the election. I'm not unhappy about it, but I'm hoping he will weigh in a little more between now and Tuesday."
Last night, Ted Cruz, who is vying for the Republican nomination in the Senate race to determine who will take over Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat, completed his first task -- he forced the establishment favorite David Dewhurst into a July 31 runoff election.
There's no reason that Dewhurst should be quaking with fear, necessarily -- he beat Cruz last night, 45-34 percent and the polls indicate that supporters of third-place finisher Tom Leppert would break Dewhurst's way by a 3-to-1 margin. But those same polls -- conducted by Public Policy Polling -- nevertheless demonstrate that Cruz's path to victory shouldn't be discounted:
It's all about turnout and enthusiasm. We found last week that 49% of Cruz's supporters were 'very excited' about voting for him. Only 27% of Dewhurst's expressed the same sentiment. Among that most enthusiastic group of voters Cruz led Dewhurst 42-37 for yesterday's primary, and trailed only 48-46 in a hypothetical runoff contest. It's hard to say what turnout will be in July but assuming it's lower than it was yesterday that will work to Cruz's advantage due to the passion of his supporters.
In addition, PPP found that, "Cruz clearly had the momentum in the closing week of the race."
There are some other Senate races (Indiana, Nebraska) in which Democrats believe that a more extreme candidate winning the GOP primary creates an opportunity. That won't be the case in Texas -- whoever wins the runoff is going to be Texas' junior senator.
Paulites To Converge On Florida: While the role that Ron Paul supporters will play at the GOP Convention in Tampa remains unknown, dedicated fans of Paul will nevertheless be coming to the Sunshine State to kick up a ruckus. As Felicia Sonmez reports, a "Paul Festival" is planned for the Florida State Fairgroundson the days leading up to the convention, 10 miles away from the convention venue. Willie Nelson might be there, and while that might end up being the Ron Paul version of "Radiohead is going to play Zuccotti Park," it does indicate that there is a better-than-even chance that there will also be marijuana, hooray! [Washington Post]
The Most Important News About The Democratic Convention...: ...is that there will be lots of booze! Double hooray! Credit goes to a Republican, state Rep. Bill Brawley, who is trying to relax various laws that might prohibit Charlotte-area bars and restaurants from obtaining crucial re-up packages of sweet, sweet liquor in time to serve all of the visiting convention-goers. This is America's one and only example of a bipartisan compromise that's actually worthwhile that's scheduled to occur for the next decade in America. [WRAL]
Steve Guttenberg Is Mad At Obama: Still no word on where the other two men, the baby, or the ghost-boy from urban legend stand on the 2012 contest. Important politics article, though! [Politico]
Let's Give The Whole Third-Party Thing Another Try: This planned independent voters group sounds enough like Americans Elect that it felt it was necessary to immediately and publicly announce that it is not like Americans Elect. It does sound a LOT like Americans Elect, though. However, it is being headed up by "veteran ad-maker Bill Hillsman," and Hillsman has worked with Kinky Friedman in the past, all of which means there's at least a better-than-even chance that they will be way more interesting that most political efforts. And one thing you could never accuse Americans Elect of being is "interesting." [TechPresident]
"Fox And Friends" Campaign Ad Sows Misgivings: The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik, who has defended Fox News in the past when the Obama White House threw up access roadblocks, isn't happy about "Fox And Friends" going all Romney Super PAC on viewers, saying, "Any news organization that puts up this kind of video is rotten to the core." And while Hot Air's Ed Morrissey doesn't disagree with the content of the spot, nevertheless hews to his well-known straight-shooter tendencies, saying, "I know the initial response will be that other news organizations offer biased perspectives and hagiographies of Obama that go well beyond a single video … and that response is entirely valid. However, we usually criticize that kind of behavior with other news organizations, too." [Z on TV; Hot Air]
Donald Trump, Explained By Math: Frank Rich writes up "Trump's Political Calculus" by first rejecting the term "calculus," and then going right to the equation: "Trump + infantile public statement x infinite repetitions on TV and Twitter = maximum publicity for flailing Trump products and insatiable Trump ego." Sounds about right, but who knows? Maybe Frank Rich is a "loser" that "bombed at Mar-A-Lago." [Daily Intel @ New York Magazine]
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As an American who lives in London, I'm often asked what I miss the most about the US. My response always comes quickly and simply: US sports on television. Yes, there is widespread coverage of American sports in the UK and there are ways to watch just about any game you'd like but you have to plan around it. The Super Bowl is on in London, and if you're willing to stay awake until 3:00 AM on a Monday you can watch it, but gone is the ability to sit down and flip easily between 10 different American sporting events on a casual weekend.
However, as the 2012 election season grips all corners of the US in a fascinating carnival of strategy, pageantry, and partisanship; I realise I miss something else. Just as viewing sports is not the same in London, neither is the US political race. We can see it, but we have to watch it at 3:00 AM. Not literally of course, but that's a bit what it feels like. All the ingredients are there: the sound bites, the gaffes, the coverage of the debates. There is coverage, to be sure. The internet gives access to Fox News clips, the New York Times, and John Stewart's latest jokes on the Daily Show. Following several journalists and politicians on Twitter gives breaking announcements as they happen. But it is not a terribly convenient thing to follow in-depth. It's much like trying to watch at 3:00 AM: there are other things you'd rather be doing and you get tired more quickly.
The US political race, particularly for President, is the greatest show on earth. It has a magical combination of open politics and sheer entertainment. It is a sometimes flawed model, it is often ridiculous, but it is unbridled democracy coupled with pure media freedom coupled with that quirkiness of US popular culture. It serves as a microcosm of what makes America American, virtues and warts. There is nothing else quite like it.
I am a bit of a political junkie. Before I moved to London I lived in Washington, DC for the previous 12 years. In Washington, politics was a daily fact of life, both professional and personal. Debating with friends and colleagues, listening to political news, and the latest on The Colbert Report were tough to avoid, even if you wanted to.
So how has this political junkie fared in London? I am much less absorbed in all politics, including US. In writing this post, I could not even name the candidate who had said he did not care about unemployment rates without Googling it. London is different. It has, of course its own politics and those of the EU, which have a much more direct impact on everyday life. That makes US politics a diversion. It makes news, and people follow it, but there are other things going on. While the US Presidential election may be the best show on earth, questions to the Prime Minister is decidedly must see television.
US politics becomes background noise, covered in daily updates and focusing primarily on the sound bytes and squabbles seen and played over and over again in the US. Rick Perry wants to cut three federal agencies but cannot remember which ones. President Obama's campaign makes it sound easy to be a stay-at-home Mom. Mitt Romney is an etch-a-sketch. Seeking out even these sound bytes becomes more difficult to fit into the daily routine, let alone following the true substance.
What happens when you reduce American politics to the daily updates? You lose something. It looks more foolish. It seems more vindictive. Watching a three-ring circus without a ringmaster is a very different experience, and if you missed half of the show getting popcorn, it would be a very bizarre spectacle indeed. The policy platforms, often obscured even inside of the US, disappear almost completely. They are all spelled out online, but that is a lot like getting up at 3:00 AM to watch for most of us. Gone are the strategies, gamesmanship, and substance.
There is no solution to this, and there does not need to be. There are many flaws in US politics, but this is not one of them. Nor is it a lack of curiosity and interest on the part of Brits. It is just the way things are. But the next time my friends from the UK mock American politics, or fail to understand the intricacies of Mitt Romney's jobs strategy, I will ask myself when was the last time I stayed up until 3:00 AM to watch the Rugby World Cup?
Outgoing Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) said Sunday that he has no plans to campaign for Richard Mourdock, who handily beat him in a primary race earlier this month with the strong backing of Tea Party conservatives.
Asked by host Bob Schieffer on CBS' Face the Nation whether he'll lend Mourdock a hand in the general election, Lugar suggested that his support will be extremely limited.
"I've indicated that I hope Republicans in Indiana will support him," Lugar said. "I would say that I've offered advice to my former opponent as to the kind of way he might be a constructive senator. I hope that he will in fact begin to adopt some of these ideas.
"But for the time being," Lugar said, "I don’t plan an active campaign."
Mourdock, Indiana's current state treasurer, took about 60 percent of the vote to Lugar's 40 in a closely watched primary fueled largely by outside money. Conservative groups, disenchanted with Lugar's willingness to compromise with Democrats, dumped millions of dollars into the effort to unseat him after 36 years in the Senate.
On Sunday, Lugar, 80, argued that national conservative groups had painted a misleading picture of his record, managing to undo his long-term favorability ratings with Hoosiers.
"I think Indiana was unique in the sense that outside groups, whether it's FreedomWorks or the Club for Growth or the NRA or whatever, had no other playground. Indiana was it," Lugar said. "They were able to come in early on with hundreds of thousands and finally millions of dollars. I had 60 or 70 percent [approval] all these years, and it came down in this mirage."
Lugar previously told HuffPost that he wouldn't comment on whether or not he'd campaign for Mourdock.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have said they regret losing Lugar, who had a reputation for bipartisanship. President Barack Obama issued a statement upon Lugar's primary loss, saying, "While Dick and I didn't always agree on everything, I found during my time in the Senate that he was often willing to reach across the aisle and get things done."
Small-business owners are leaning right leading up to the U.S. presidential election. Forty-nine percent of business owners plan to vote for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, while 32 percent of respondents say they'll support President Obama, according to a report released this week by Manta.
In Manta's last poll in January, the president was the clear winner against the Republican field as a whole, but received just 34 percent of the total vote. Now, with Romney emerging as the GOP favorite, Obama appears to face a challenge among business owners -- although Romney is yet to earn support from all of the 61 percent of small-business owners who planned to back a Republican in January.
In the eight swing states shaping up to be the central election battleground, small businesses favor Romney even more, Manta found. Of the surveyed small business owners, 53 percent said they'll vote for Romney, while 32 percent said they will choose Obama.
Nationally, general polls show a tight race between the two candidates. Obama leads Romney 47 percent to 43 percent among registered voters, according to an NBC News/WSJ poll conducted May 16-20.
Manta, an online small-business community platform, polled nearly 1,600 small business across the country for the survey earlier this month, including 396 small business owners residing in swing states -- Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Romney must win at least 79 of the 101 electoral votes in swing states to prevail if all other states run true to their 2004 and 2008 partisan preferences, according to Bloomberg.
Manta's findings come on the heels of Romney's latest jab at Obama, calling him the worst president for small business since Jimmy Carter.
Small business owners, which candidate has your vote right now?
WASHINGTON -- He barely speaks in his own first general-election ad. On the top floor of his Boston campaign headquarters, the most visible poster is one of his dad's. His party's leaders in Congress, the states and the lobbying world don't bow to him, or mention him much, even as they make moves that can't help but define his agenda for him. Arguably the key person in his campaign is Republican kingpin Karl Rove, but Rove doesn't work there.
And this is just the way Mitt Romney and his team like it. Romney is the incidental candidate in an incidental campaign. He's a bland, blunt instrument, but only an instrument, in a wider crusade dedicated to one goal: ousting President Barack Obama and reversing whatever policy victories he has won.
Goofy or creepy when off script, burdened by an ideologically muddled record and a penchant for privacy in his business and religious life, Romney has chosen to focus on everyone but himself and to surrender his campaign to a larger conservative effort.
The question is whether Romney's attempt at political self-abnegation will work. Will voters see him as selfless, shrewd and focused on the unglamorous task at hand? Or will they dismiss him as a weak, evasive figure with contempt for facts and a lot to hide?
So far, the answer isn't clear. Romney's likability and fundraising numbers are up, but he trails in the Electoral College projections. The consensus on the fall race: it's close.
There hasn't been a presidential campaign like Romney's in more than half a century -- since before 1960, when another Bostonian and Harvard graduate, John F. Kennedy, burst onto the scene.
In that year, television transformed politics into a contest between personal narratives and a search for the most convincing communicator. Also that year, presidential campaigns themselves -- the mechanics, the harried advisers, the closed-door dramas of decision-making -- took on Homeric public stature. The party was incidental in this saga; it was all about the Kennedys.
It's not all about Mitt; it's about everything but Mitt. It's not about his Boston campaign apparatus; it's about everything and everyone else surrounding it. As for the party, Mitt is glad to let them lead.
The strategy is reflected in his staff. They are not the kind to quote Tennyson.
Romney's campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, is a publicity-shy ninja of "oppo." If many voters concluded in 2004 that Sen. John Kerry was a French-fried, flip-flopping toff, Rhoades is the reason: He was head of "research" for the Bush-Cheney campaign that year. Stuart Stevens, Romney's top message and advertising man, is known for his penchant for attack spots.
There's no "Making of the President" or even "Game Change" aura here. One reason may be that the indirect godfather of the enterprise isn't on the premises. Karl Rove's influence lies in the accumulation of personal ties and changes in the way presidential campaigns are operated and financed.
Much of the top staff is composed of protégés of "The Architect." Rhoades was Rove's research aide in 2004; Stevens was a key part of the Bush advertising team in 2000 and 2004 under Rove. Romney's close friend and former gubernatorial chief of staff, Beth Myers (who is now in charge of vetting vice presidential candidates), received her start in politics working with Rove in Texas.
As the man behind the super PAC American Crossroads and its affiliate Crossroads GPS, which together are expecting to raise more than $300 million for "independent" spending, Rove may have more impact on Romney than Romney's own campaign. Federal law bars Rove and his Boston friends from talking strategy with each other. But they don't have to. They know each other's thinking and how to read the public signals.
American Crossroads will be the largest Republican-oriented super PAC and one that Rove & Co. hope will draw money and attention away from renegade operations that would drag the party off its economic message and into counterproductive attacks on religion and race.
As for GOP congressional leaders, Romney has long since tied his destiny to theirs, and far more willingly than presidential candidates generally like to do. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell engineered a day of votes on draconian GOP budget plans, Romney was happy to stress his own, only slightly less drastic plan.
He signed onto Rep. Paul Ryan's budget in the House early and has repeated his support often. Doing so gave Romney a way to ingratiate himself with conservatives who were and are suspicious of him.
Romney's speeches and interviews rarely produce news or provide much information, and rarely seem designed to do so. His May 12 speech at Liberty University was a chance to deliver a memorable moment of eloquent faith witness. Some evangelicals professed to be pleased by what he said, but it was, in fact, nothing more than an anodyne, risk-free homily on the value of service, with one line tucked in about his belief in man-woman marriage.
When he has to answer unscripted questions, the results have been so problematic so often that he now is determined to fade into the woodwork as quickly as possible. Asked to defend an earlier comment about President Obama's relationship with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Romney tried to erase himself from view. "I'm not familiar precisely with exactly what I said," Romney said, "but I stand by what I said, whatever it was." In other words, he is incidental to his own history.
Anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist depicts the Romney presidency -- if there is one -- as a kind of figurehead monarchy in which the real power will lie with Congress, and within Congress, the power will lie with tax-cutting conservatives such as Norquist.
"All we have to do is replace Obama," Norquist said in February. "We are not auditioning for Fearless Leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. We just need a president to sign this stuff."
If Romney objected to this view of his role, he didn't say so. And why would he object? In Norquist's view, the identity of the person who isn't Obama is incidental. And that seems to be Romney's point.
Politico's Manu Raju appeared on MSNBC this afternoon to talk with guest host Craig Melvin about a possible racial element behind five black members of Congress being targeted in an ethics investigation. MSNBC's Melvin seemed caught up with the racial aspect in the case."Are black lawmakers being unfairly targeted for ethics investigations in Congress?" he asked Raju.
Last week, I wrote about the standings in the presidential race and said it looked like a long, hard slog through about a dozen clearly identified target states, much like the contests in 2000 and 2004. Call it the 2000/2004 long, hard slog scenario.But I said there were other possible scenarios. I can think of three.The 1964/1972 scenario: Challenger disqualifies himself. Barry Goldwater and George McGovern were idealistic, intelligent senators who took positions on issues that made them unacceptable to most voters in years favorable to incumbents.This could happen to Mitt Romney this year....
Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a cover story called "Black Studies: 'Swaggering Into the Future,'" in which the reporter described how "young black-studies scholars . . . are less consumed than their predecessors with the need to validate the field or explain why they are pursuing doctorates in their discipline." The "5 Up-and-Coming Ph.D. Candidates" described in the piece's sidebar "are rewriting the history of race." While the article suggested some are skeptical of black studies as a discipline, the reporter...
Former basketball star Charles Barkley weighed in on the presidential race during an NBA broadcast on Sunday night, saying that Democrats would "beat" presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney "like a drum in November."
Romney, who was at the playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks with his wife Ann, was shown mingling with the crowd at Boston's TD Garden during a broadcast on TNT.
"We're going to beat you like a drum in November," Barkley said as the camera cut to the former Massachusetts governor. "Don't take it personally. You seem like a nice guy, but you're going down, bro."
Barkley, an analyst for TNT's NBA coverage who famously switched his allegiance from the Republican to Democratic party, is no stranger to political commentary. In December, he slammed the GOP presidential field, calling the potential nominees "idiots" who unfairly criticize President Obama.
He has also considered getting involved in politics himself. In 1995, while still affiliated with the Republican party, Barkley weighed a potential run for governor in Alabama, his home state. While that run never materialized, he surfaced the idea again in 2010 -- that time as a Democrat.
However, in an interview with the New Republic in 2008, Barkley claimed to be apolitical.
"I do not use words like liberal or conservative," he said. "You can ask me a question and I will give you an answer. Those are words rich people on television use to divide and conquer. I am pro-choice. And if gay people want to get married, that is none of my business."
According to the Associated Press, the Romneys and longtime friend Bob White sat about 12 rows back at mid-court.
RACINE, Wis. -- Al Trossen feels like a wanted man. The former Teamster voted for embattled Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 but isn't sure who to support in the state's historic recall election next month.
"There's so much bashing on both sides," the 71-year-old retired truck driver said. "How does a person know what to believe?"
A few days before a Democratic primary that will decide who will take on the Republican Walker, and four weeks until the general election, it's not easy to find undecided voters like Trossen. One recent poll put the percentage of undecided voters in the low single digits.
But that tiny group will be the focus of extraordinary attention now in a fiercely fought campaign that has become a national battle over worker rights. With the race a virtual toss-up, the rival forces – which include the national Democratic and Republican parties, powerful conservative interest groups and organized labor – must hone their closing arguments for people who so far have been unmoved by months of impassioned appeals.
"I don't think there's a huge persuadable universe out there in this campaign," Republican strategist Mark Graul said. With the undecided amounting to perhaps 2 to 4 percent, said Sachin Chheda, a Democratic strategist, "The challenge on both sides is to get people motivated to vote."
Most Wisconsin voters already love or hate Walker. Tens of thousands of protesters swarmed the Capitol for three weeks last year after he made his push to end most public employees bargaining rights to help address the state's budget problems. Recall organizers were easily able to gather nearly a million signatures supporting his removal, but Walker's supporters also flooded his campaign with more than $25 million.
The campaigns and special interests have spent about $40 million on a political blitz that has penetrated every household.
But voters who are still wavering include some who approved of Walker's cuts to state spending but who found his tactics too confrontational. They also include Democrats who sympathize with state workers but think Walker earned the right to serve his entire term. Some say they're still trying to figure out whether Wisconsin's economy is better or worse off with Walker.
"I want to find out the truth. Have we created more jobs?" said Trossen, among the voters interviewed between the southeastern Wisconsin city of Racine and the Madison-area community of Sun Prairie. Walker credits his conservative, business-friendly policies for helping reduce the state's unemployment rate to 6.8 percent, the lowest since 2008. However, federal reports also show Wisconsin lost more jobs in the past year than did any other state.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who lost to Walker by five percentage points in the 2010 election, is expected to win the chance in Tuesday's Democratic primary to face Walker in the June 5 general election. Polls show him leading former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, who has received heavy union backing; Secretary of State Doug La Follette; and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout.
Sun Prairie resident Cathy Fleury, 50, voted for Barrett in 2010 but is torn over whether he would be an improvement over Walker. She dislikes Walker's tough tactics but says Democrats haven't offered any new ideas for the state's fiscal condition.
"If nothing changes, if nobody comes up with a new platform or any genuine new ideas to make a change, it'll be like a flip of a coin" on Election Day, she said.
Jim Morelli, 52, a safety representative at the Wisconsin utility We Energies, said he intends to listen to what the candidates say about creating jobs and improving the economy. Though he's inclined to let Walker finish his term, "I'm sure there's something they could say to change my mind," he said, referring to Walker's opponents.
The state elections board predicts a voter turnout of 30 percent to 35 percent, or between 1.3 million and 1.5 million people, for Tuesday's primary, which would be the highest for a partisan Wisconsin primary in 60 years. Turnout is also expected to be high in June, and the race now appears to be roughly even.
The candidates are relying on attack ads to sway or motivate voters. TV and Internet ads for Barrett and Falk accuse the governor of cutting funding for education and failing to create the 250,000 jobs he promised in the 2010 campaign. Ads on behalf of Walker portray Barrett as the mayor of a failing city with a poor economy and Falk as a poor fiscal manager.
Undecided voters interviewed stressed that party ties don't matter at this point.
Wendy Hanson of Marshal, about 20 miles northeast of Madison, voted for Walker in 2010 but later signed a recall petition against him. She said she was turned off by his "dictatorial" style, but neither is she impressed by what she sees as a lackluster crop of Democrats. She said no candidates have given her a reason to vote for them.
"The way this is right now it's going to be the way I feel on Election Day, unless something comes out of the box to sway me," the 50-year-old said. "I don't know what that would be."
Richmond reported from Sun Prairie, Wis. Ramde can be reached at dramde(at)ap.org.
LAS VEGAS -- Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is campaigning to win the White House as a Libertarian after receiving scant attention in the Republican presidential race.
Johnson easily became the party's presidential nominee at the Libertarian national convention in Las Vegas on Saturday. He hopes to appeal to voters fed up with the traditional two-party system this November.
Johnson was a longshot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination when he announced in December that he would instead pursue the Libertarian ticket.
He won 74 percent of the vote on the first ballot in Las Vegas, an unusual showing of support. In 2008, Libertarian delegates needed six rounds of voting to pick a presidential nominee.
Johnson supports legalized marijuana, low taxes and immigration reform.
He was elected New Mexico's governor in 1994.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Republican Richard Lugar has shown through a lengthy Senate career that he can broker compromises on international and domestic issues, and avoid the acrimony that often brings Washington to a halt.
It's those qualities that may end up costing the former Rhodes Scholar and Indianapolis mayor the seat he first won in 1976.
Lugar, one of the longest-serving senators, is facing perhaps his toughest GOP challenger ever in tea party-backed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who hopes to end the incumbent's 36-year Capitol Hill career with a victory in Tuesday's primary.
Mourdock has spent months arguing that Lugar is not conservative enough for the right-leaning state, and he hopes to benefit from the split between the party's establishment and conservative wings. The challenger, aided by outside groups, also has tried to make the anti-incumbent argument, portraying Lugar as nothing more than a Washington insider.
"When Dick Lugar moved to Washington, he left behind his conservative Hoosier values," Mourdock said in a recent ad.
The attacks have taken a toll. Public polls show a close race, though internal surveys by several Republicans show Mourdock with a slight edge.
Lugar, 80, has "had his turn," said Judy Young of Brooklyn.
Lugar and his supporters have tried to turn his Washington career into an asset by arguing that his deep relationships in the capital make him best positioned to represent Indiana Republicans.
"I'm not for Dick Lugar for what he's done, but for what he can do," Gov. Mitch Daniels said in a recent campaign ad. "Our point of view gets heard and has a better chance to win out with Dick Lugar."
If Lugar loses, the seat probably will become a top target of national Democrats hoping to retain a narrow Senate majority. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said President Barack Obama's campaign and independent groups would be expected to rally behind U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly.
That's less likely if Lugar, who's seen as a strong general election candidate because of his bipartisan record, prevails Tuesday.
Friends and foes alike say while Lugar had the backing of much of the state's establishment, including Daniels, he was slow to recognize the threat that Mourdock posed. They point to warning signs nationally from the 2010 primaries that severely divided the GOP. Tea party-supported candidates beat incumbents such as Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and establishment hopefuls in primaries in Colorado, Delaware and elsewhere.
Lugar has given critics fodder to assail him as out of touch with Indiana and Midwestern values.
He sold his Indianapolis home in 1977, and Democrats are now using that against him. Democrats and tea partyers mocked the fact that he lived in McLean, Va., near Washington, and raised the residency issue with Indiana authorities. Lugar briefly was ruled ineligible to vote in Indiana and later was forced to change his voter registration to his family farm in Indianapolis.
He also had to pay the Senate for more than $14,000 spent on hotel stays for weekend visits to Indiana.
One Mourdock supporter, 49-year-old Alan Horton of Mooresville, asked, "How does a man who doesn't live in this state vote for himself?" Many others have the same question.
Lugar hasn't done much to woo the tea party. In fact, he blamed the tea party for keeping the Senate in Democratic hands after the 2010 elections by nominating candidates who were too conservative to win general elections in a few critical states.
He also struggled to find a message that would appeal to the tea party-infused Indiana GOP.
Initially, he focused on Obama, blaming him for not supporting construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline. Later, he turned his sights on Mourdock, attacking him as "untrustworthy" in a series of negative ads. Lugar's campaign spent at least $2.5 million on advertising to answer Mourdock's charges and cut him down. Republicans say that effort backfired because the attacks undercut Lugar's reputation as a statesman.
"Personally he's just not mean, but his campaign has been so mean that once Mourdock became quasi-credible and people listened to him, the negatives began backfiring," said former U.S. Rep. Mark Souder, who is neutral in the race.
Lugar acknowledges hiccups but insists he's pleased with his campaign's effort.
"Obviously you can always think back over things that could have been done better," Lugar said. "You never have 100 percent."
Mourdock, a former geologist and two-term treasurer, spent more than $2 million to press his message. He got help from the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has spent about $1.7 million assailing Lugar.
He has been a fixture in GOP circles for some time but had struggled to win an election until his 2006 run for treasurer. That office catapulted him into the national spotlight when he challenged the Chrysler bankruptcy in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and endeared him to tea party activists looking for a change.
He may be rewarded Tuesday.
Race is the original sin of American history. To deny its influence on our society is as futile as it is illogical. Nevertheless, the attempt to cast President Obama’s re-election campaign as the focus of a racial backlash seems to be more about obfuscating the issues that are animating the vast majority of voters than providing any insight into public opinion.
This week, Newt Gingrich announced that he'd be dropping out of the presidential race next week -- thoughtfully softening the blow to America by giving us all time to come to terms with it. And President Obama slow jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon -- a move that was way, way cooler than his much slower moves to address the student debt crisis affecting millions of college students and grads, including many who went door-to-door and to the polls for him in '08 and helped get him elected. And two weeks before Mother's Day, I want to invite you to join the community initiative to send Mother's Day wishes to Trayvon Martin's mom, Sybrina Fulton. Beyond the political and racial issues surrounding this case, it's important to remember that this is, first and foremost, about a mother who has lost her child and will be facing her first Mother's Day without him. Learn more about it on HuffPost BlackVoices.
Add your voice to the conversation on Twitter: twitter.com/ariannahuff
WASHINGTON — Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney added to his big lead in the race for convention delegates Tuesday with a five-state sweep of Republican presidential primaries.
Romney won at least 95 delegates when he won primaries in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
A total of 209 delegates were at stake, though the status of Pennsylvania's 59 delegates probably won't be known for several days because delegates were elected directly on the ballot and they were not identified by which candidate they support.
Romney had a total of 793 delegates – just 351 shy of the 1,144 delegates it will take to win the Republican nomination to run against President Barack Obama in November. With former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum out of the race, Romney could collect the needed delegates by the end of May.
The other two Republican candidates still in the race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, were far behind. Gingrich had 137 delegates and Paul had 79.
Delegates at stake: 92
Delegates at stake: 17
Delegates at stake: 25
Delegates at stake: 16
Delegates at stake: 59
WASHINGTON - New Hampshire offers a mere four electoral votes. But President Obama and Mitt Romney are fiercely pursuing the hearts and minds of the Granite State's notoriously finicky electorate in a race that could come down to the wire in November.New Hampshire is seen as one of about 14 swing states in this election, and the only one in New England. Obama visited the state twice in the last five months; Michelle Obama was in Concord last month, and Vice President Joe Biden has been to the state three times this year.