2012 Election Campaign
No doubt most of you have heard about the coup in Virginia that is in the process of taking place. In case you had not heard what is happening, here it is in a nutshell:
- With one Democratic state senator missing to attend Obama’s inaugural Monday the Virginia senate rushed through a highly partisan mid-term congressional redistricting that would greatly favor Republicans on a straight 20 – 19 party line vote. It should sail through the house and Tea Party Governor Bob McDonald is expected to sign it. Democrats only recourse seems to be the courts.
- In addition, the senate is planning on pushing a bill that would change the way electors to the electoral college are chosen. Instead of the winner take all system now used in most states, Virginia would move to choosing each elector by the vote in each congressional district. So in 2012 while Obama won the state of Virginia by 3% and thus its 13 electors, under the new system Obama would have received 4 electoral votes (2 CDs and 2 for winning the state) and Romney would have gotten 9 electoral votes.
Since the constitution makes no rule on how states are to choose their electors, just that they get one elector per congressional representative. Thus Iowa gets 6 – for 4 member of the House and 2 senators. Pennsylvania made an attempt to make this same change before the 2012 election, but backed off due to the bad publicity. One might wonder why such a method of choosing electors would so favor Republicans? This is where the old, old practice of Gerrymandering. That is, draw district lines in such a way as to favor one party or another based on demographics. For instance with a congressional district of 750,000 in Iowa we could draw a district that put Linn, Johnson, Scott, Clinton and Dubuque counties in one district. That would box many of the heavily Democratic voters in one district.
The other heavily democratic voters could be divided among the other 3 congressional districts in such a way to make the other districts Republican. Thus even though Iowa has been voting consistently Democratic recently, their congressional delegation would lean Republican. In Virginia, most of the Democratic votes are concentrated around Richmond and Washington D.C. The rest of the state can be carved up to make a great majority of the seats Republican.
Each of the so called “swing” states are readying bills like this. In each case they have Republican legislatures and a Republican governor. Most were first elected in 2010 and were part of a gerrymandering effort to put the Republican party in charge. Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin will all looking at changing the way presidential electors are chose. Had this system been in effect in 2012 we would have been very close to having President Romney. With the gerrymandering that has gone on, Democrats may be hard pressed to ever regain control of the US House or individual state legislatures.
But this is only one of the dirty tricks that Republicans have pulled since 2000 to steal elections because they can’t win them fairly. So let’s review:
1) HAVA (Help America Vote Act) paid for electronic voting machines throughout the country. The problem is that programming for these machines remained in private hands. Thus they could be hacked and votes changed and no one could prove it. Throughout the country there have been many questionable results and numerous demonstrations on how easily machines could be hacked.
2) Caging – sending mail to selected people and revoking their voting rights if they do not respond.
3) purging voting roles based simply on name (Katherine Harris did this in Florida 2000.)
4) making it hard to vote by not having enough facilities causing long lines or constant challenges.
5) voter id laws enforced extremely strictly aimed toward minorities. This is what Iowa’s Secretary of State in training Matt Schultz is attempting to do unilaterally in Iowa.
Republicans have learned what Joe Stalin said long ago – it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.
Up top is a chart from thinkprogress that will give you an idea of what might have been.
by Ralph Scharnau
Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American President, won a second sweeping national victory on November 6. Obama’s winning electoral college vote far exceeded what many had predicted, and he also won a majority of the popular vote. None were more surprised by this outcome than Republicans. The billionaires who thought they could buy the election turned out to be big losers as organized people defeated organized money.
The elections revealed a number of historic results and reflected the nation’s changing demographic patterns. Many voters rejected Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidates as too male, too pale, and too stale.
Despite a weak economic recovery and continuing high unemployment, Obama built a rising American electorate coalition of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, the young, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and bisexual) people, and unionized workers in Midwestern battleground states. Hispanics chose Obama by 71%. If Republicans continue to lose Hispanics at this rate, states like Arizona and Texas could be considered swing states in the presidential contest by 2016 or 2020. The unhinged intensity of extreme right wing anti-Obama rhetoric alienated moderate voters who supported the president’s re-election by a 16-point margin.
Democrats picked up a few seats in the House, and slightly increased their majority in the Senate. Vermont’s progressive Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, easily won re-election. Republicans continue to control the House and hold a majority of state governorships.
Women comprised 53% of the total national vote and went for Obama by 11 points. Women account for one-third of the newly elected members of Congress where there will be more females than ever before. For the first time ever, women and minorities will be the majority of House Democrats.
The election proved to be a very good night for Democratic women. Four states elected their first female U.S. Senators: Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), the first openly lesbian senator, and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), the first Asian-American woman and first Buddhist. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) will become the first disabled woman in the House and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), the first Hindu. Senator Claire McCaskill (Mo.) won re-election along with U.S. Representatives Kirstin Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.). Meanwhile, New Hampshire will have an all-female congressional delegation, a national first.
Other Democrats also fared well. Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy won hard fought Senate races. House Democratic newcomers include Anne McLane Kuster (N.H.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), and Mark Pocan (Wis.), a gay man. Arizona elected Kyrsten Sineman, the first openly bisexual member of Congress. The number of LGBT lawmakers on Capitol Hill now stands at seven, the most ever. Over two-thirds of the states now have at least one “out” state legislator.
Despite the media attention on Libya in the last month of the campaign, only 5% in national exit polls put foreign policy as the most important issue. And Obama won that group by about 20 points.
Both parties are poised and well-rehearsed for the coming battle over jobs, the economy, immigration reform, the role of government, taxes, spending (including defense), Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, climate change, and the fate of the debt ceiling, which will likely be reached early in 2013.
In a sense, white supremacy and male supremacy were the real losers in this election. The 2012 elections may mark a new beginning for those who continue to struggle for equality and opportunity. As a nation, we have become multihued and multicultural. Regardless of whatever else happens in his second term, Obama will be remembered as the president who gave us a more hopeful, just, and democratic vision for the United States.
Ralph Scharnau teaches U. S. history at Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta. He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University. His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque. Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
Well at very least, it is one possible explanation for Karl Rove’s on-air election night freak-out. Blog for Iowa tweeted at the time that it almost seemed as if he was waiting for the votes to flip. Here’s what Thom Hartmann, not exactly known for his tin foil hatness, has to say. Thom cites an article in Vanity Fair and Craig Unger’s book Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power. BTW, we should all be voting on paper ballots. link
One thing we must realize in the wake of avoiding the major disaster named Romney is that money doesn’t sleep, nor does it take a day off. By that I mean that despite being beaten those who gave major money to the Republican candidates and Super-Pacs are not going to tuck their tails between their legs and go quietly into the night. Nor will they be softening their stances on most issues.
Sadly politics has become a day in, day out struggle. Money will be out there day and night, buying ads, confusing issues, and bringing forth candidates who stand in favor of money and against the majority of Americans. And they will be packaging their message, softening the edges, smoothing the lines so that the upside down world they seek to bring about almost sounds logical.
I wonder how many out there can keep up the pace that money can? For one thing money is working behind the scenes at all levels of government, not just the federal level. Money shows up as lobbyists in state capitals, city halls and especially the halls of congress. We have little presence there. We can only hope that the trust we put in our electeds proves to hold. We can write letters, we can petition, we can call. But that is often not as persuasive as a person to person talk over dinner and wine.
We gave a lot more in money and time than we had planned on. But all the money and time that we gave paled in comparison to one check from a Koch brother or a Walton heir. While we made calls and knocked doors, they wrote a check that translated into TV ads that influenced millions in one fell swoop. We would come home dead tired at the end of a day, the pile of money was replenished and ready to go the next day. It is almost as if we are battling an unremitting, unending, tireless army of robots.
We were one of millions who gave about all we had. I just don’t know how long we can keep it up. We are all getting older. Wages aren’t in any way keeping pace with inflation. Republicans know they can fight a war of attrition for a long, long time. As long as we keep shopping at Walmart, or buy Mars candy or Northern toilet paper or thousands of other products, we give more money to those who will battle forever to keep control of our government and our lives.
But though they have money, we still have people and ideas. And even they control most of the media, for right now the internet is still wide open. Try as they might that has been the one thing thay they have not been able to control.
So take a little rest, but remember that soon enough you will be called upon to stand up against things like privatized prisons, tax codes that will kill city governments, tax codes that favor the rich and on and on. If we want to keep a government for the people we will have to fight daily.
Because the money never sleeps.
And just after I wrote this, I get this email:
We told you the mega-millionaires wouldn’t waste any time.
Last week, a coalition of millionaires and corporate CEOs announced they’re launching a $35 million campaign to strong-arm Congress into cutting Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits under the guise of “fixing the debt.”
We need you to call your members of Congress at 888-659-9401 and tell them to oppose benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2%.
While the rich were holding their press conference last week in a posh Washington, D.C., office to announce their multimillion-dollar campaign, tens of thousands of working people like you were outside elected officials’ offices with a simple message: The middle class voted last Tuesday for Congress to create jobs, not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits or continue to pad the pockets of the richest 2% by lowering their tax rates.
Congress needs to hear this message now. Members are back in D.C. this week, ready to make high-stakes decisions on all of these issues. If we don’t hold our senators’ and representatives’ feet to the fire, some of them may not be with us on one of the most important legislative battles of our lifetime.
Call your members of Congress now at 888-659-9401.
Scary to think that we almost put these guys in charge of the country. Read this shocking article of Romney campaign incompetence found on the consertave blog Ace of Spades HQ . http://ace.mu.nu/archives/334783.php
November 08, 2012
The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA
What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:
Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.
Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure.
The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.
From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.
Working primarily as a web developer, I had some serious questions. Things like “Has this been stress tested?”, “Is there redundancy in place?” and “What steps have been taken to combat a coordinated DDOS attack or the like?”, among others. These types of questions were brushed aside (truth be told, they never took one of my questions). They assured us that the system had been relentlessly tested and would be a tremendous success.
On one of the last conference calls (I believe it was on Saturday night), they told us that our packets would be arriving shortly. Now, there seemed to be a fair amount of confusion about what they meant by “packet”. Some people on Twitter were wondering if that meant a packet in the mail or a pdf or what. Finally, my packet arrived at 4PM on Monday afternoon as an emailed 60 page pdf. Nothing came in the mail. Because I was out most of the day, I only got around to seeing it at around 10PM Monday night. So, I sat down and cursed as I would have to print out 60+ pages of instructions and voter rolls on my home printer. Naturally, for reasons I can’t begin to comprehend, my printer would not print in black and white with an empty magenta cartridge (No HP, I will never buy another one of your products ever again). So, at this point I became panicked. I was expected to be at the polls at 6:45AM and nothing was open. I was thankfully able to find a Kinko’s open until 11PM that was able to print it out and bind it for me, but this is not something I should have had to do. They expected 75-80 year old veteran volunteers to print out 60+ pages on their home computers? The night before election day? From what I hear, other people had similar experiences. In fact, many volunteers never received their packets at all.
At 6:30AM on Tuesday, I went to the polls. I was immediately turned away because I didn’t have my poll watcher certificate. Many, many people had this problem. The impression I got was this was taken care of because they had “registered me”. Others were as well. But apparently, I was supposed to go on my own to a Victory Center to pick it up, but that was never communicated properly. Outside of the technical problems, this was the single biggest failure of the operation. They simply didn’t inform people that this was a requirement. In fact, check out my “checklist” from my ORCA packet:
Notice anything missing? My guess is the second “Chair (if allowed)” was supposed to be “poll watcher certificate” but they put chair twice. This was an instruction packet that went out to 30,000+ people. Did no one proof-read it?
So, I headed back home to see if I could get my certificate. I called their official help line. It went unanswered. I tried their legal line. Same thing. I emailed them. No response. I continued to do this for six straight hours and never got a response. I even tried to call three local victory centers. All went straight to voicemail.
While I was home, I took to Twitter and the web to try to find some answers. From what I saw, these problems were widespread. People had been kicked from poll watching for having no certificate. Others never received their pdf packets. Some were sent the wrong packets from a different area. Some received their packet, but their usernames and passwords didn’t work.
Now a note about the technology itself. For starters, this was billed as an “app” when it was actually a mobile-optimized website (or “web app”). For days I saw people on Twitter saying they couldn’t find the app on the Android Market or iTunes and couldn’t download it. Well, that’s because it didn’t exist. It was a website. This created a ton of confusion. Not to mention that they didn’t even “turn it on” until 6AM in the morning, so people couldn’t properly familiarize themselves with how it worked on their personal phone beforehand.
Next, and this part I find mind-boggingly absurd, the web address was located at “https://www.whateveritwas.com/orca”. Notice the “s” after http. This denotes it’s a secure connection, something that’s used for e-commerce and web-based email. So far, so good. The problem is that they didn’t auto-forward the regular “http” to “https” and as a result, many people got a blank page and thought the system was down. Setting up forwarding is the simplest thing in the world and only takes seconds, but they failed to do it. This is compounded by the fact that mobile browsers default to “http” when you just start with “www” (as 95% of the world does).
By 2PM, I had completely given up. I finally got ahold of someone at around 1PM and I never heard back. From what I understand, the entire system crashed at around 4PM. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I decided to wait for my wife to get home from work to vote, which meant going very late (around 6:15PM). Here’s the kicker, I never got a call to go out and vote. So, who the hell knows if that end of it was working either.
So, the end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc. We lost by fairly small margins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. If this had worked could it have closed the gap? I sure hope not for my sanity’s sake.
The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that.
Find the author on Twitter @JohnEkdahl
by Ralph Scharnau
We have nearly reached the end of a presidential election cycle marked by money-soaked campaigning, ads, polls, and fact checking. Now voters will decide the outcome between the sharply divided visions of President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney.
The achievements of the President’s first term are noteworthy. Obama’s stimulus staved off depression. His infrastructure and clean energy investments created or preserved 2.5 million jobs. His rescue of Chrysler and GM put workers back on the assembly lines. Tax incentives for small businesses, more affordable loans for college students, new fuel economy standards for cars, ending the military’s discriminatory don’t ask, don’t tell policy, an executive order giving new hope for young undocumented immigrants, and milestone regulation to curb financial industry abuses can be added to the list of accomplishments. Finally, he ended the war in Iraq, is winding down the one in Afghanistan, and bin Laden is dead.
Obama-led Democrats passed the historic Affordable Care Act that extends health coverage to about 30 million uninsured people. By contrast, Romney’s idea of health care is to repeal the Affordable Care Act and direct the uninsured to emergency rooms.
During the economic downturn, Democrats pushed to increase funding for food stamps and unemployment insurance. Republicans now consider these anti-poverty programs too expensive. Democrats insist that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security be preserved as federally guaranteed programs. Romney-led Republicans would reduce funding for these landmark social programs with a long term goal of privatizing them.
Romney dismisses 47% of the population not expected to pay federal income taxes as people who consider themselves victims and do not take personal responsibility for their lives. Although they did not earn enough to pay federal income taxes, more than half of the 47% did work and paid payroll taxes and state and local taxes at a higher effective tax rate than Romney. Another 20% were retired. Rather than irresponsible as Romney said, not having much money means you actually have to be more responsible for your life.
Romney’s disdain for workers surfaced when he remarked that he likes to fire people. When it comes to the workplace, he values profits, not employees. Romney is an entitled very rich guy with no understanding of how people without wealth actually live.
No less troubling is the Republican Party’s near-unanimous acceptance that government should not do much of anything beyond fielding an army, policing sexual conduct, and subsidizing corporations. Romney wants a union-free America where corporations enjoy virtual immunity from high taxes and troublesome regulations.
While Obama signed fair pay for women legislation, right wing Republicans seem determined to erode women’s access to health care and the right to control their lives. Many Republicans seem to think that women are no more than the sum of their reproductive organs.
Mitt Romney offers airy platitudes, shifting positions, and detail-free policies. One of the most telling endorsements of the President for a second term came from the Republican moderate and former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Even The Salt Lake Tribune endorsed Obama.
We see signs of a slow but steady economic comeback. Unemployment fell to 7.8%, consumer spending is up, and home and auto sales have rebounded. Post-election issues that should be addressed include passing the Republican blocked jobs bill, raising the minimum wage, climate change, fair trade policies, and comprehensive immigration reform.
We need to re-elect President Obama. He will stand up for everyone, not just the rich and privileged. He reaches out to all Americans, immigrant and native, gay and straight, black and white, male and female. Obama has the mettle, the vision, and the principles to carry the nation toward a full economic recovery.
November 1, 2012
President Obama on election night thanked every single person who participated in the campaign even Romney supporters. Here he thanks volunteers who worked for his campaign. But he wasn’t just talking to those in the office. He was talking to all of us. Watch the video, and then pass it along.
Karl Rove said this during the W years: “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he (Rove) continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win.
And he really was born in Hawaii.
And he really is legitimately President of the United States, again.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month.
And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.
And the polls were not skewed to over sample Democrats.
And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.
And Climate Change is real.
And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.
And evolution is a thing.
And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us.
And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns.
And taxes have not gone up.
And the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.
And the Moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps.
And UN election observers are not taking over Texas.
And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.”