Riding 400 miles from Newtown, 26 bicyclists hoping to change the nation’s gun laws faced some strong headwinds on their way to Washington, D.C. When they reached the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, they faced even more -- of the political kind.Danny Vinik:
It’s been nearly a year since a bill that would increase FBI background checks on gun buyers failed to clear a 60-vote threshold in the Senate. The House has not taken up any gun control legislation and doesn’t seem inclined to do so.
But for the members of “Team 26” and their allies in the Connecticut congressional delegation, things are on track.
“Some said the Connecticut effect would not last, and they are right,” said Monte Frank, an experienced cyclist who heads Team 26, a group of activists from Newtown and other towns that have suffered from gun violence. "It's now a movement."
Republicans like to talk about government in the broadest, most abstract terms—arguing that it's too big, too intrusive, and too expensive. The argument plays well politically, since the public tends to agree. But it also allows Republicans to avoid talking about real trade-offs—like the fact that government unemployment checks help people pay their bills while they are out of work, or that government guidelines for product safety keep kids safe when they play with toys. So perhaps it's no surprise that the latest big idea from Republicans is a "national regulatory budget"—a proposal by Senator Marco Rubio that, however sensible sounding, could force government to scale back protections that people very much need.More politics and policy below the fold.
The key finding in the P.R.R.I. study is that working-class whites in the South are – no surprise — far more conservative than their counterparts in the rest of the country. Lumping all of these voters together exaggerates this constituency’s overall rightward tilt.NY Times:
The regional differences are striking in the cases of both partisan voting patterns and how voters feel about particular issues.
The pre-election P.R.R.I. study found that white working-class voters in the South backed Romney over Obama 62-22, compared to a 46-41 Romney advantage in the West, a 42-38 edge in the Northeast and an Obama lead of 44-36 in the Midwest.
Similarly, while working-class whites in the South opposed same-sex marriage by 61-32 in the P.R.R.I. survey, in the Northeast they favored it 57-37; in the West they were split 47-45; and in the Midwest they were modestly opposed, 44-49. In the case of abortion, majorities of non-college whites outside of the South believe the practice should be legal, while those in the South were opposed 54-42.
In general, the findings of the P.R.R.I. study suggest that outside the South, Democrats should be able to make significant inroads among working-class whites – and, in fact, they have. In 2008, when Obama was losing nationally by 18 points among noncollege whites, in Michigan he carried these voters 52-46; in Illinois, 53-46; and in Connecticut, 51-47.
In the South, the anti-Obama margins were staggering, which did not go without notice. Noncollege whites in Alabama voted against Obama 90-9; in Mississippi it was 89-11; and in Georgia 78-22.
President Obama on Wednesday raised the stakes in the showdown with Russia over its invasion of Crimea as he welcomed Ukraine’s interim prime minister to the White House in a defiant show of solidarity and vowed retaliation if Moscow follows through with threats to annex the peninsula.Dana Milbank:
Mr. Obama said the international community would “completely reject” what he called a “slapdash election” to be held in Crimea to justify annexation by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. But Mr. Obama also approved a last-ditch diplomatic effort by sending Secretary of State John Kerry to London to meet with his Russian counterpart on Friday, just two days before the pivotal referendum supported by Moscow.
It’s true that the most vulnerable Democrats this year are from states where Obama and Obamacare are unpopular. But a lot of those candidates are in office now because 2008 was an uncommonly good year for Democrats. Likewise, the echo of 2010 — a good year for Republicans — should help Democrats in 2016. And long-term demographic trends, particularly the growing importance of Latino voters, strongly favor Democrats.Brian Beutler:
Democrats may well be miserable on the morning of Nov. 5, and Republicans will attribute the results to Obamacare. But they will have more to do with what Walden described Tuesday. You “have the national atmospherics” working against Obama, he said, but the outcome will be determined by the quirks of the handful of districts that are in play.
“So what issues?” Walden asked himself. “What matters to the people in that district, wherever that district is. That’s how you’re going to win a race.”
This will be worth remembering whenever there’s hyperventilating over the meaning of the midterms.
But Arkansas, Louisiana and every other contested Senate election isn’t happening in March. It’s not sufficient to note that Republicans gave their Obamacare strategy a test drive in FL-13 without noting that they did it during the rollout of Obamacare, which has been disruptive and at times downright embarrassing. I know conservatives like to believe they can play this one-note symphony for eight straight months, all the way to a resounding November crescendo, but there’s little evidence that this issue is paying off significantly for Republicans now, let alone that it will prove so durable. And even if it paid off measurably in March, it could still fall apart as frustration with the rollout and cancellations subsides, and Republicans begin grappling with what to do about constituents who are enjoying new benefits.
Maybe that’s totally wrong. Maybe Sink owes her defeat to a number of factors including Obamacare, and that particular factor will map neatly onto all races, spelling big, big trouble for Democrats in redder states and districts.
But the folks positioning themselves to claim an anti-ACA mandate in November likewise ought to reckon with the possibility that the “Obamacare effect” isn’t as large as they’d hoped, could shrink, and won’t necessarily be decisive even in seats that Democrats lose narrowly. That the pendulum’s swinging back from 2008, and Obamacare’s possibly nudging it a bit — but nudges don’t constitute mandates.
I’m not holding my breath, though.