The Sunday Political Brunch – Nov. 11, 2012

This week's political analysis!

(Providence, Rhode Island) – Happy Veterans Day everyone! The big news this week was Election Day, but important events such as that could never take place without the work and sacrifice of our veterans and those who serve our country today. I’ll be at the Veterans Day Parade in East Greenwich, R.I. at 2 p.m. I hope you find a way to honor and thank our vets today and everyday. Speaking of Tuesday’s vote, here are some thoughts:

That Was Close! – Okay, President Obama won with 323 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. The President also won the popular vote by about 3.2 million votes. But, it looks like more of a blowout than it really was. Consider this: Obama’s margin of victory was actually only 447,000 votes. Where do I get that number? Well if Romney won just four more states: Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire, he’d have 270 Electoral votes and would be President-elect. To win those states, he would have needed just 447,000 votes distributed proportionally. That’s just shy of .4 percent of all votes cast. The GOP can survive this election; it just needs to find more votes in certain parts of the landscape.

The Latin Beat – As I just pointed out, Republicans were within striking distance of winning this election, so where did they go wrong? The biggest mistake was picking Paul Ryan for VP. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would have had much greater appeal to Hispanic voters, and he probably could have given Romney the margin of victory needed among voters in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Colorado. At the same time, Rubio has the same conservative credentials as Ryan, so the party base would have been secured. Ryan’s job was to win Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio for the GOP ticket, but he won none of them. Nationally, President Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote.

Thelma and Louise II – Every time I hear a politician talk about the federal budget “fiscal cliff” I think of that classic 1991 movie where Thelma and Louise drove that nice T-Bird convertible off the cliff into the canyon (photo above). The end won’t be as dramatic this time, because both Democrats and Republicans are too politically savvy (notice I did not say smart), to let it happen. Republicans will likely concede tax increases on upper income groups, but I bet they negotiate the tax increase on people making over $400,000 per year, instead of the current $250,000 that Democrats want. It’s compromise time, and I predict they’ll pass something.

A Taxing Issue – As mentioned above, I believe congressional Republicans will likely agree to some income tax increases for people making $250,000 per year, or perhaps the higher threshold of $400,000. How many people would that affect? Fewer than 3 percent of Americans make $250,000 per year. Approximately 1.3 percent make $400,000 per year. (We note that both groups already pay a disproportionately higher share of income tax than any other groups in America). Republicans had a chance to sign off on ending the Bush tax cuts for those above $250,000 earlier this year, but were opposed. They got hammered on it. Had they negotiated, and perhaps agreed on $400,000 they might have neutralized the “class warfare” issue in this election.

The Keys to the White House – There are three main strategic reasons why President Obama won. First, most of the 3 percent still undecided swung his way at the last minute, in part, because of his response to Hurricane Sandy. In short, the President got to look presidential. Second, he was able to define Mitt Romney before Romney could define himself, particularly on the tax cut issue mentioned above. In a presidential reelection bid, the incumbent is usually on the defensive, with the challenger on offense. This time Romney spent too much time defending his own positions. Third, Democrats have a better ground operation to get out the vote. The final poll last Sunday had it 47 percent Obama to 47 percent Romney, yet Obama won 50 to 47 percent. Anecdotally, in every state where I have lived, I have seen Democrats do a better job with car pools, van pools, neighborhood canvassing and get-out-the-vote outreach to seniors, the disabled, and others needing help getting to the polls. That’s been my observation on the ground on Election Day for years.

Who’s Next? – At the risk of being beaten senselessly by people on both sides of the aisle, I now announce that the 2016 presidential campaign is officially under way. On the Democratic side Secretary Hillary Clinton, V.P. Joe Biden, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) top the potential list. Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), former Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are early mentions for the GOP. You might laugh at me for saying this, but Sen. Marco Rubio is already going to Iowa to give a speech later this week! Here we go again!

A Final Thought – So CIA Director David Petraeus has resigned following an affair. Because of this he will not testify before Congress this week about the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the American Consulate in Libya. That seems odd. He has a lot of knowledge and information that could shed light on the attack and the aftermath. Why would an affair and resignation suddenly preclude him from testifying? Congress should issue a subpoena forcing Petraeus to appear. And if he doesn’t come voluntarily, he should be found in contempt of Congress. Let’s see if anyone has the courage to do so.

As always, if you have questions, comments or dissenting opinions, just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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Mike November 12, 2012 at 05:37 PM
I believe your comment on Petraeus is why Hillary Clinton may well not make your short list on the blue side. And I would add Governor Christie to the red side. Lord help the blues if Biden runs. He is about as electable as Bob Dole was. I'm not sure America is ready for an elder stateswoman, especially one who appears to be taking leave of her post to avoid getting fired. By 2016 Hillary will 69. Margaret Thatcher was 54 when she took office, and was out by 65. Then again, Golda Meir was 71 when she took office and 76 when she left. We live in interesting times, and it sure is fun to speculate. With a bit of luck we shall all be here in four years to see the outcome!
Leave RI November 12, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Mark, I don't think the General is concerned about a contempt of congress. If it didn't bother Holder, it won't bother Petreaus. There's no teeth in it. I think he'll testify and I might look for a C - Span type channel on Comcast to DVR it...sit back and be prepared..popcorn with xtra artery clog, box of Mike and Ike's and to cancel it all out a large diet soda...and I'm not giving up either arm rest.
Naome Lixes November 12, 2012 at 10:26 PM
"To win those states, he would have needed just 447,000 votes distributed proportionally." Is the OP saying that half a million votes, scattered over these 4 states would have been sufficient to deadlock the Electoral college? I'm unclear that there are an additional half million voters in these states that did not vote, available to the GOP. It does not appear that demography is likely to tilt this way, as death of older voters will continually undermine this cohort. On the other side of the population curve, those that voted largely for democratic candidates are seeing a rise due to the age of their families. It sounds a great deal like handicapping a loss, instead of formulating a plan for a changing field of play...a political party that wants broad success over the next decade will seek to court that vote, instead of suppressing access. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/05/17/explaining-why-minority-births-now-outnumber-white-births/
Naome Lixes November 12, 2012 at 10:28 PM
This sounds suspiciously like the take down of Scott Ritter, before the Iraq invasion. It's a dirty trick, using a sex scandal to cover something else. Mrs. Petreaus deserves better.
Mark Curtis November 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Naome: If the states were Florida, Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire, the margin is only 335,000 vote. (That would have given Romney 270 Electoral Votes. If you sub Colorado for New Hampshire, the margin is 447,000 votes. (Romney would have had 275 Electoral votes. The margins are small in each state: New Hampshire 43,000; Florida 74,000; Ohio 116,00, Virginia 104,000, Colorado 113,000. The GOP, with a little work, could easily flip these states back into its column. A lot of it would be making more appeals to the independent voters (approaching 40% in many states). My point is, the election was a lot closer that it seems (and given the present scandal, if the vote were today and not last Tuesday, the outcome may have been different). On to 2016!


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