“Self-Deportation Can’t Be Rebranded”: Wording The Explanation Differently Doesn’t Change The Meaning
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) appeared on “Meet the Press” last weekend and said something interesting about the Republican Party and its approach to immigration policy.
“[T]he politics of self-deportation are behind us,” Graham said. “Mitt Romney is a good man. He ran in many ways a good campaign, but it was an impractical solution, quite frankly. It was offensive. Every corner of the Republican Party from libertarians, the RNC, House Republicans and the rank and file Republican Party member is now understanding there has to be an earned pathway to citizenship.”
For those hoping to see comprehensive immigration reform this year, it was a heartening sentiment. It was also mistaken — the politics of self-deportation are still at the core of many GOP contingents.
A pocket of conservatives is lashing out privately and publicly against broad immigration reform and could seriously complicate any momentum for a House deal. [...]
Some in the party want to solve the problem much the same way that Mitt Romney did in 2012.
[Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California] said: “You make sure that people who are here illegally do not get jobs, and they don’t get benefits and they will go home. It’s called attrition. I don’t happen to believe in deportation. If you make sure they don’t get jobs and they don’t get benefits, I mean Mitt [Romney] called it self-deportation, but it’s not; it’s just attrition. They’ll go home on their own.”
What I love about this quote is its amazing effort to try to rebrand “self-deportation,” as if the meaning of the phrase can change if the explanation is worded slightly differently. For Rohrabacher, he doesn’t want mass deportation from the government; he just wants to create an environment in which undocumented immigrants’ lives are made so miserable, they’ll “go home on their own.”
Rohrabacher says, however, this is “not” self-deportation, which it obviously is. In fact, he’s describing the policy precisely.
“[T]he politics of self-deportation are behind us”? We should be so lucky.
If I had to guess, I’d say the odds of the Senate approving an immigration bill are quite good — it’s not a sure thing, but the smart money says a reform bill will pass the upper chamber. But whether the radicalized House Republican majority will tolerate a popular, bipartisan bill is a much tougher question.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 12, 2013
“Santorum Ignores Shift”: What Rick Santorum Views As A Passing Fad Is Likely To Become The Norm Quite Soon
Several 2016 presidential campaigns are already up and running — some more quietly than others — and Republicans hoping to be their party’s nominee are preparing for a primary that could potentially bear little resemblance to those of 2012 and 2008. As the party grapples with a shifting electorate, it is divided over differences on gay marriage, immigration reform, national security policy and even guns — gaps that could only widen by 2015, when campaigns will be in full swing.
Potential candidates are busy searching for safe corners on these contentious issues and are either acknowledging the profound shifts, even when they haven’t changed their minds, or saying little until they have to — all of them, so far, except former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
Santorum, of course, won the Iowa caucuses last year and nearly derailed Mitt Romney’s path to the GOP nomination before he started speaking out against the dangers of college education, free prenatal testing and contraception. Just this week he predicted that a “chastened” U.S. Supreme Court would not rule in favor of gay marriage and that the Republican Party was not going to change on the issue because doing so would be the end of the party. Yes, the end.
“The Republican Party’s not going to change on this issue. In my opinion it would be suicidal if it did,” Santorum told The Des Moines Register. The ex-lawmaker described new support for gay marriage as “popular” and “the fancy of the day,” but also considers it fleeting, as “not a well thought-out position by the American public.”
In the past Santorum has made clear he believes gay marriage is “antithetical” to healthy families. “Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality,” he said in 2003.
Santorum told the Register on Monday he is considering another presidential run but hasn’t made any decisions. He will return to Iowa next week to speak to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he said he will address this topic. “One of the things I learned from the last four years is that when you go to Iowa, people pay attention to what you say,” he said in his interview. “That’s always a gift to any person in public life. We’re going to talk about the concerns I have.”
It is understandable that, as a religious Christian, Santorum is uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage. Many Republicans who also want to be president feel exactly the same way. But they are not encouraging their fellow Republicans to alienate homosexual voters. Telling voters their opinions are wrong isn’t usually a winning campaign strategy. The strong majority support for gay marriage, even among Republicans, can be denied no more than the growth of the Latino population and the fact that President Obama won it 71 percent to 27 percent over Romney. They are stubborn electoral shifts, just like the fact that young voters and Asian Americans have recently turned away from the GOP in greater numbers, which any Republican hoping to win the White House in 2016 will have to contend with and accept.
There is a significant difference between a trend and an evolution. What Santorum views as a passing fad is likely to become the norm quite soon; young people support gay marriage by a margin of 4 to 1. More acceptance isn’t likely to give way to less over time, no matter how much chastening Santorum has in mind.
By: A. B. Stoddard, Associate Editor, The Hill, April 10, 2013
David Frum has generally become an interesting writer offering fresh perspectives–not least on the GOP to which he remains tenuously connected–but his CNN column on why Democrats should not “settle” for Hillary Clinton in 2016 via some “next-in-line” psychology is really flawed.
Democrats seem poised to choose their next presidential nominee the way Republicans often choose theirs: according to the principle of “next in line.”
Hillary Clinton came second in the nomination fight of 2008. If she were a Republican, that would make her a near-certainty to be nominated in 2016. Five of the past six Republican nominees had finished second in the previous round of primaries. (The sixth was George W. Bush, son of the most recent Republican president.)
Democrats, by contrast, prefer newcomers. Six of their eight nominees since 1972 had never sought national office before.
Obviously, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Democrats chose the next guy in line in 2000 — Vice President Al Gore — and they may well do so again. But speaking from across the aisle, it’s just this one observer’s opinion that Democrats would be poorly served by following the Republican example when President Obama’s term ends.
I’ve always thought the “next-in-line” explanation for Republican presidential politics was a considerable over-simplification, and actually wrong if it was used to suggest ideology matters less to conservatives than we’ve been led to believe. But even if you buy it entirely, comparing HRC to such next-in-line Republican pols as Poppy Bush in 1988, John McCain in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012 just doesn’t pass the smell test.
The three Republicans just mentioned never had overwhelming grassroots support in their own party and eventually prevailed over weak fields after relentlessly repositioning themselves to the Right. Both McCain and Romney, in particular, survived what can only be described as demolition derbies, and had to spend precious general-election resources pandering to the party “base.”
HRC’s immensely popular among grass-roots Democrats, not just because she is the last candidate not named Barack Obama who ran an effective presidential nomination contest, but because of the personal capital she’s built up over the years, her performance as a very popular Secretary of State, and the widely shared belief among progressives that it’s far past time for a woman to serve as president. Plus she is crushing every named Republican in early general-election trial heats.
Frum argues that an HRC nomination will inhibit the rise of fresh talent in the Donkey Party, and inhibit helpful intra-party debates. I’m all for fresh talent and helpful intra-party debates, but I’d say what Democrats probably want and need most is a 2016 victory to consolidate the policy achievements of the Obama administration while perhaps convincing Republicans the vicious obstructionism they’ve been exhibiting since 2009 is a dead end. Any way you slice it, though, treating HRC as another Mitt Romney is just laughable.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 1, 2013
Mitt Romney’s financial and organization advantages in the 2012 Republican primaries were commanding, but conservatives who opposed him had faint cause for hope: Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined for more support than Romney for most of the primary season. If one of them conceded, then the other could consolidate Romney’s conservative opposition.
These hopes were far-fetched. Polls showed that Romney would have maintained his lead if either Santorum or Gingrich departed the race, since Romney was actually the second choice of many of their voters. Still, the theory was nearly put to the test. On Friday, Business Week reported that Santorum and Gingrich apparently discussed an unprecedented “unity ticket” to block Romney from winning the nomination. A Santorum-Gingrich ticket could have won critical primaries and led the national polls, but it still probably wouldn’t have won the nomination—a fact that should alarm conservatives heading into 2016.
The plan failed, not surprisingly, because Gingrich and Santorum couldn’t agree which one of them should be on top of the ticket. But let’s assume that they had. A unity ticket would have presumably done better than either candidate would have on his own, since a Gingrich voter who preferred Romney to Santorum might still support the combination of Santorum and Gingrich. But even if the unity ticket didn’t immediately consolidate the Gingrich-Santorum vote, the formation of an unprecedented primary alliance would have received tremendous media attention, potentially generating momentum. Indeed, polls can’t really predict how candidate dropouts will affect a race: In 2008, polls said that Hillary Clinton would maintain a clear lead over Barack Obama if John Edwards dropped out. Yet Obama surged in late January, after his win in the South Carolina primary, Edwards’ departure, and a wave of high profile endorsements.
The combination of a unity ticket and a few big primary wins could have given Santorum-Gingrich the lead in national polls. According to the article, Gingrich and Santorum mulled a unity ticket before three critical primaries in Florida, Michigan, and Ohio. Realistically, a Gingrich-Santorum ticket would have struggled to win Florida, since Romney’s 46 percent of the vote actually exceeded Santorum and Gingrich’s combined 45 percent. But a unity ticket would have done better in Michigan or Ohio.
After sweeping Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado, Santorum actually led the national polls until he lost the Michigan primary by a narrow 3 point margin. But Santorum held a lead in Michigan polls until just 5 days before the primary and Gingrich won 6.5 percent of the vote—the combination of Gingrich voters and momentum from a unity ticket announcement could have easily given Santorum a narrow win. Regardless of whether Santorum carried Michigan, a unity ticket probably would have won Ohio, where Romney won by just 1 point and Gingrich, who won nearly 15 percent of the vote, probably played the spoiler—especially since Gingrich excelled in the socially conservative southwestern part of the state. Either way, Santorum-Gingrich would have exited Super Tuesday with plenty of momentum and a lead in the national polls heading into a wave of favorable primaries and caucuses in Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Whether momentum would have allowed Santorum-Gingrich to breakthrough a Romney firewall like Illinois is hard to say. And it would have still struggled to actually win the nomination, even in the best case scenarios: The delegate math was stacked in favor of Romney. Romney would still have been favored to win a disproportionate share of the winner-take-all states, like Florida, Arizona, and New Jersey. The same was true for the big states using modified or conditional winner-take-all systems, like California and New York. In contrast, Santorum-Gingrich’s biggest wins would have been diluted by various methods of proportional delegate allocation in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee (footnote: Tennessee is actually a conditional winner-take-all, but it’s condition is far more difficult than the other conditional winner-take-all states, since a candidate would need 66 percent of the popular vote). Neither Gingrich nor Santorum made the ballot in Virginia, giving all but 3 of Virginia’s 46 delegates to Romney. Unless Romney’s national support completely collapsed, Santorum-Gingrich would have been hard pressed to overcome the GOP primary system’s bias toward Romney’s coalition.
Conservatives should take note. The RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project report’s proposal to end conservative caucuses for the purpose of allocating convention delegates has been panned as an attempt to help establishment candidates win the GOP nomination. But the RNC explicitly took “no position” on whether contests should be winner-take-all or proportionate, since “both methods can delay or speed up the likelihood of a nominee being chosen [depending] on who is winning and by what margins.” That’s technically true: A uniformly winner-take-all or proportionate system wouldn’t necessarily favor any type of candidate. But 2012’s mix of winner-take-all and proportionate states favored an establishment candidate. The same delegate allocation rules that would have doomed a hypothetical Santorum-Gingrich unity ticket could again doom a competitive conservative candidate.
By: Nate Cohn, The New Republic, March 25, 2013
GOP’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” which details a plan for revitalizing the Republican Party in the aftermath of the 2012 defeat, is necessarily broader than it is deep. There is, however, a topic that will need to be thoroughly explored if the Republican Party is to successfully execute this ambitious plan.
Two words were used nearly 300 times throughout the report: “data” and “testing.” One word—”experiment”—was not mentioned at all. But experiments are the only type of test that can produce the kind of data the GOP needs.
Put simply, “data” is information about the world we live in, and it comes in two types: “observational” and “experimental.” “Observational” data is static; it’s information about the things as they are, or were. For example, voters who are pro-life are also less supportive of gun control. That’s the world as it is. But it doesn’t tell us whether being pro-life causes people to be more pro-gun or whether a pro-life message will decrease support for gun control.
“Experimental” data is dynamic; it’s information about what causes things to change and how things could be. Experiments show us how specific messages or modes of contact—like telephone calls, mailers or TV ads—push or pull on voter opinion and behavior. Experiments open our eyes to a counterfactual universe: what if every citizen watched this ad, knew that fact, or was visited at their door by a volunteer? Will it shift the vote or turn more people out to the polls? Will it work with some voters, but not others, or even cause a backlash?
The experimental method is simple in concept, but difficult in practice. The core of a true experiment is random assignment of a large number of test subjects to “treatment” and “control” groups, like a clinical drug trial. With large numbers, random assignment ensures there is no systematic bias in who ends up in each group. We can then attribute any difference in the outcome between the “treatment” and “control” group, whether that’s blood pressure or support for a candidate, to the effect of the “treatment.” It’s the only way to confidently identify a causal relationship.
This all might sound far too fussy and academic, even philosophical, to be a core part of a political effort. But this is the new world of politics in which we’re already living.
What made the Obama campaign so accurate in their prediction of the vote across contested states was the use of experimental results from the “lab” and the “field” in their voter modeling. Because they had a large amount of experimental data, showing them how different kinds of people shifted in response to various messages (toward or away from Obama, greater or lesser likelihood of voting), they could predict with astonishing accuracy the aggregate results of their efforts.
Simply adding more observational data won’t expand the ranks of the GOP. In Iowa’s 2008 caucus, the Romney campaign turned out just under 30,000 votes and lost badly to a late-surging Mike Huckabee. Romney maintained his database on the state’s voters. In 2011, his campaign commenced a quiet but ambitious “data-driven” effort to win Iowa. All the experience, information and algorithms hard-won over the last four years were plowed into a massive persuasion and turnout effort. But when their work was completed and the counting was done, Romney received just under 30,000 votes once again. Four years and millions of dollars later Romney had earned about 140 fewer votes and a loss to yet another late-surging social conservative.
Observational data and the modeling it generates are cold and static. And no statistical technique, regardless of its sophistication, can overcome the inherent limitations of observational data. In contrast, experimental data and the modeling it generates are alive and dynamic.
We will never know what messages, digital tactics or other campaign tools work or are a waste without experiments. As Alan Gerber, Donald Green and Edward Kaplan—two of whom are political scientists from Yale who brought experiments out of academia and into Democratic politics—conclude, “unless researchers have prior information about the biases associated with observational research, observational findings are accorded zero weight [in a test of a causal proposition] regardless of sample size, and researchers learn about causality exclusively through experimental results.”
Big, integrated, and clean observational data are a necessity. But it isn’t sufficient. Mathematician and physicist Henri Poincaré claimed, “experiment alone can teach us something new; it alone can give us certainty.” I’d only caution that certainty is not something we can expect of this world. But experiments bring us as close to glimpsing it as we can hope.
By: Adam Schaeffer, U. S. News and World Report, March 22, 2013