Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Libertarian Party Added to National Dialogue in Election 2012

The Libertarian Party, and in particular, the Libertarian Party of Indiana, has worked really hard this election to add to the national dialogue and be a part of the discussion even if they aren't included in most debates and most polls.

Privately, I've shared my concerns with Libertarian folks throughout the year that part of the reason I've never become a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party is because the national party has nominated and supported some real nutcases as nominees and as influential members of the party. Wayne Alan Root, the 2008 Vice Presidential nominee, has completely fallen for the birther conspiracy stuff surrounding President Barack Obama that it seems to be all he talks about nowadays. Bob Barr, the former Republican Congressman turned Libertarian 2008 POTUS nominee, now rolled back over to the Republicans this go-around. I could go on, but the intent of this post isn't to complain.

That is also why I had my initial reservations about former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson. Johnson had ran in the 2012 Republican primary for President and performed poorly. He was in two of the debates, but never gained any traction. I personally worried a repeat of Barr, that this was some guy just using the Libertarian Party to keep his name around. But Johnson has worked with the Libertarian Party to earn the nomination, and has campaigned aggressively around the country for a job he isn't likely to win.

His tag-line of "fiscal responsibility and social tolerance" sums up the Libertarian Party's beliefs quite well and his full embrace of LGBT equality seems to have significantly moved the Libertarian Party to embracing it as well over the tired line of "The government should have no role in marriage!". Oftentimes, the most vocal Libertarians seem to be ex-Republicans, and so the conversation often becomes little more than Republican-bashing. But Johnson and vice VP nominee, Jim Gray, have held Obama's feet to the fire on issues such as the use of drones and undeclared wars, and on civil liberty issues such as NDAA and the Patriot Act.

He isn't the perfect candidate by any means, but he is by far the most polished and qualified candidate the Libertarian Party has run for President. I do hope he continues to play an active role in the political process for years to come.

This post wouldn't be complete without some words for Indiana's own Libertarian Party. We're one of the few (only?) with a full-time, paid Executive Director. His job is to grow the party and promote the message, every day. And because of that one resource, the Libertarian Party in this state is better organized than in many others across the nation. Being organized, funded, and connected also leads to attracting high quality candidates, which leads me to my next subject, Rupert Boneham.

Boneham, like Johnson at the national level, didn't think he could job waltz into the LPIN nominating convention on his star power and expect to be nominated. He went out and worked with the organization. But he didn't just talk to party elders, he went out and campaigned as a candidate for Governor as well. He showed that his star-power, combined with his real-world experience in the world of not-for-profits, could make for a dynamic candidate that'd have the power to reach people in ways previous Libertarian nominees haven't been able to.

Boneham has staked out a claim that differentiates him between the two major party candidates, being in full favor of marriage equality (even saying he'd repeal the state-level Defense of Marriage Act) and having a small-government reason for repealing the anti-union Right-To-Work law.

As I said earlier, part of being a candidate for political office is personality, the way you carry yourself, the perception as much as the politics. And Rupert has that down. He knows how to look good on camera, can speak off-the-cuff, and did reasonably well in the debates. Sure he put on a suit when he needed to, but he didn't pretend to be someone he isn't.

Nominating high-quality, disciplined candidates like Johnson and Boneham is a pathway to becoming a more recognized, legitimate party in their own right rather than being the party people throw their "anti" vote to.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Other Election Prediction

I had the honor of appearing as a panelist on Civil Discourse Now. I appeared alongside Jeff Cox and Jon Easter.

Swing States: Bitterly Clinging to Their 1-2% Spread

My current electoral map projection has President Obama leading with 277 electoral votes, while Governor Romney will get 261. The swing states of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Colorado I have going to Romney, while Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada I have going for Obama.

I also believe there is a very real chance that Romney will win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College. Not because he is an amazing campaigner or anything, but because McCain seriously underperformed in many states. Not just in swing states, but in traditionally Republican states as well. It also helps that Hurricane Sandy is predicted to lower voter turnout by 340,000 from mostly Democratic, northeastern voters.

To delve a bit more into my projection:

Florida: Florida is a swing state because of the urban areas it has. Outside of there, it is a very Republican state. The incumbent Governor, Rick Scott, is arguably the most conservative governor in the country. Their junior Senator, Marco Rubio, also rode a Tea Party wave to the United States Senate. It is a much more Republican state than people give it credit for, and Romney should have a solid showing in the state. In fact, a Florida Times poll shows Romney up by 5.

North Carolina: North Carolina is one of those traditionally Republican states, like Indiana, that is likely to "come home" and vote for the Republican candidate this time around. Unlike Indiana, there are some demographic changes that might make North Carolina more of a competitive state in Presidential years, but that'll happen slowly.

Virginia: Virginia is also experiencing demographic changes, but unlike North Carolina, they're happening at a much more rapid pace. Due to Republican enthusiasm, I think Romney will win Virginia. But Republican Presidential candidates can no longer take Virginia for granted and count on it. They'll have to campaign here and campaign hard to win it, even by a few points.

New Hampshire: A lot of these swing states haven't voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in over two decades. But that's a different case with New Hampshire. It voted for George W. Bush in 2000, and that was after he lost the Republican primary contest in the state to Senator John McCain. The polls in New Hampshire have fluctuated between Obama and Romney for a while now, and I think this is Romney's best small swing state pickup. I also think he has an outside shot at getting a Congressional district from Maine.

Colorado: This is an extremely close call, because many polls are showing this race with a decimal point separating the candidates rather than whole percentages. This is honestly a tossup, but my coin flip goes to Romney.

For the Obama swing states:

Nevada: Nevada experienced a very close re-election race two years ago, with Senator Harry Reid barely beating out Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Reid isn't well-liked, but because of this state, the Obama campaign knows every single Democrat in the state. The Obama organization machine can turn them out, and that's why I'm putting Nevada in the President's column.

Wisconsin/Iowa: Despite having elected several Republicans in the recent 2010 elections, President Obama has stubbornly led in the polls in both of these states. Wisconsin's Republican Party has a great groundgame due to the Scott Walker re-call election, and they might be getting extra attention because Republican National Committee Chairmen Reince Preibus is from Wisconsin. But neither have voted for a Republican Presidential candidate  (non-incumbent) since 1980. So the edge goes to President Obama.

On another note, over the weekend I did say Iowa would go for Romney. But with the Des Moines Register pegging Obama's lead at 5, I think it is safe to say Iowa will break for Obama.

Ohio: The President has stubbornly led in the polls most of the time. It'll be close, and it won't be safe, but I think he is poised to win it right now.

Wannabes: Pennsylvania and Michigan have been punted around as swing states during this election cycle, and while they've elected plenty of Republicans to state-wide and local offices, they're reliable Democratic states for Presidential elections.

The one thing I don't think will happen is the concept of a "firewall". That being that the candidate that loses Ohio will pick up enough of the swing states to still win. I think Mitt Romney has had to expand too many resources in North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia and he can't reliably count on a combination of Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada breaking for him to make up for that loss. Similarly, I think President Obama can easily count on Iowa and Wisconsin, but can't be certain about Nevada, Colorado, and New Hampshire. The candidate who wins Ohio will win the election.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Howey Politics Poll Raises More Questions with IN's Senate Race

Indiana's US Senate race has lacked a lot of polling despite being competitive. Because Indiana outlaws so-called "robopolling", organizations like Public Policy Polling and Gallup have stayed away while mostly internal polling have dominated the polling for this tossup election.

Today's Howey Politics poll, the crosstabs of which were allegedly released during a media event but haven't been posted online either at Howey's site or elsewhere, show Democrat Joe Donnelly at 47% against Republican Richard Mourdock at 36%. with a +/-3.5% margin of error. Libertarian nominee Andrew Horning is at 6%.

Taking a look back at the May poll before the Republican primary, the HPI poll also pegged a Mourdock victory over incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in the GOP primary. They predicted Mourdock had a base of 43% and could go as high as 48%, while Lugar's base started at 35% and only topped out at 38%.

What Howey didn't predict was the surge of support for Mourdock in the Republican primary. Out of 661,606 votes cast, Mourdock earned over 60% at 400,321. Lugar even lost Marion County, the county of which he served as Mayor of Indianapolis in the 1970s.

For a while, I've been saying that Libertarian candidate Horning has been polling remarkably high and his support will likely deflate if the race remains competitive between Donnelly and Mourdock. The conventional wisdom, even among Republican movers-and-shakers, is that Donnelly is going to win and it isn't worth the time to invest more money in a losing Senate candidate. And while Horning might lose support from disaffected Democrats who will come home to vote for Donnelly, he might gain support from Republicans who can't stomach Mourdock but will vote for the GOP team in every other election.

This will be interesting to see how it all turns out.