Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
To add to Zachary's comment below regarding competitive districts, the GOP leadership recently announced a list of 70 house districts that they will be targeting for 2010. Ten of the districts on the list are located in the Southwest. Above is a graph of the targeted districts and how they voted for president in 2008.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I think I would like to introduce a new phrase into our political lexicon – “Karan English Malaise” Political slang can be useful shorthand for describing phenomena. Most are familiar with ‘The Bradley Effect” (although most are ignorant of the fact a gun control measure on the California ballot has as much to do with a Deukmejian win as did latent racism). The “Karan English Malaise” (or KEM) would seem to be just as important in understanding political success or failure. KEM is caused when a politician doesn’t pay attention to his or her base – or takes said base for granted.
Some background. Democrats need to have a registration advantage of about 7 points to overcome the tendency of Republicans to get out and vote. Hence a district that is – say 52 Democratic and 38 percent Republican is actually a competitive district – the parties will fight over a district like that (in contrast a 50-50 district is generally solid Republican).
The congressional district that encompasses Flagstaff Arizona has always been competitive. In order for a Democrat to win all the stars need to be aligned correctly and the base of the party has to be motivated and work hard. Karan English, it is widely assumed by local observers, lost her bid for re-election in part because an important part of her base – environmentalists – did not get to work and get out the vote. This is KEM – not taking care of your base (specifically not taking care of the environmental vote in Northern Arizona Congressional elections – but if I put too fine a point on it KEM won’t catch on).
Ann Kirkpatrick voted against the House cap and trade bill. The Republicans are waiting for the chance to take back her district. KEM looks like it might be settling in.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Like most political scientists I have long been a proponent of public financing of political campaigns. Almost 20 years ago I wrote disparagingly about the practice of Arizona legislative candidates parading in from of lobbyists to be video taped and then later evaluated by said lobbyists to determine who would be blessed with their largess. The anointed could count on about 50K and a good shot at election - those not chooses had to look for other work.
Such a system struck me as borderline corrupt and at a minimum influence peddling and sinister. So when Arizona got public financing it was a cause for rejoicing.
Fast forward. As always party nominations are determined by the fringe elements of the parties (the people who religiously turn out for primaries). These happen to be the most liberal in the Democratic Party and the most conservative in the Republican Party. Since Arizona is mostly a Republican state - Democrats can get elected statewide but it is often because Republicans do something stupid - Republican primaries are very important in Arizona politics.
Public financing has meant that any wingnut (right or left) can get funding, run a viable compaign and win. It turns out that those corporate campaign money people of yesteryear were actually moderate compared to the wingnuts who can now use public funding to get elected. Corporate lobbyists may have had interests to peddle but they also had an interest in a well run state (with, for example, good schools).
When you add to the mix term limits.....well that is for another time.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
For those students at Northern Arizona wondering if NAU allows open carry or concealed carry on campus, the answer appears to be 'no'. Oddly, it is legal to store a weapon on the campus of a k-12 school if it is locked in a car, but not at a university. The state authorizes the Arizona Board of Regents to establish the policies concerning safety, and possessing or storing a firearm is a violation of that policy. I am not an expert or lawyer on the gun laws in Arizona, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The people I respect most are the ones who realize that the political process can be messy and ugly and difficult to understand, but they participate in it nevertheless. They recognize that it works only when they do the hard work. The easy part -- yelling and chanting old slogans -- is just that-- easy.
Monday, August 17, 2009
By AMANDA LEE MYERS and TERRY TANG (AP) – 8 hours ago
PHOENIX — About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.
Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.
The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms," he said.
Phoenix police Detective J. Oliver, who monitored the man at the downtown protest, said police also wanted to make sure no one decided to harm him.
"Just by his presence and people seeing the rifle and people knowing the president was in town, it sparked a lot of emotions," Oliver said. "We were keeping peace on both ends."
Last week, during Obama's health care town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., a man carrying a sign reading "It is time to water the tree of liberty" stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.
"It's a political statement," he told The Boston Globe. "If you don't use your rights, then you lose your rights."
Police asked the man to move away from school property, but he was not arrested.
Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.
"When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance," Solop said. "It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication."
He said he's never heard of someone bringing an assault weapon near a presidential event. "The larger the gun, the more menacing the situation," he said.
Phoenix was Obama's last stop on a four-day tour of western states, including Montana and Colorado.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The complete story is available at http://www.startribune.com/nation/53497382.html?page=1&c=y
1) For the time being, Americans still have rights under the Constitution. That includes the right to bear arms. I wonder, did you express the same level of concern during the elections when heavily-armed Black Panther terrorirsts were harassing and intimidating White voters at the polling stations? Did that "create a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication"? Or do they get a pass because they are anti-White, left-wing terrorists? Why are you so threatened by a law abiding citizen exercising his Constitutionally protected rights? The police were armed, so were Obama's Praetorean Guard cadres. Why is it ok for them but not for every other American citizen? (sent by Obed Santos)
Does the irony escape these authors? I raise the issue of guns creating a chilling effect on discussion at political rallies and they respond in a hostile, threatening manner meant to silence my ability to comment on political conditions in America.