Category Archives: Politics

The Politics of Economic Insecurity

Source: Elisabeth Jacobs, Brookings Institution, Issues in Governance Studies, no. 10, September 2007

Recent media reports suggest a rising tide of economic populism among presidential candidates and voters. In newspapers’ business sections, personal finance columnists offer advice for avoiding mortgage foreclosure, managing credit card debt and navigating a job search. On the political pages, economic rhetoric aimed at winning over anxious middle-class families forms the core of the presidential campaign messages from many candidates. This paper shows, through data and analysis, that the populist message is rooted in an empirical reality.

Economic insecurity is perhaps best understood as the intersection between “perceived” and “actual” downside risk, which carry nearly equal importance in politics. Americans’ assessments of their personal financial well-being play at least some part in shaping their candidate preferences. And the empirical reality reflected by household financial data should play a critical role for candidates’ and elected officials’ framing of policy options, particularly when faced with the challenge of efficiently targeting scarce public resources. Of course, the relationship between perceived and actual risk is an intimate one, as perceptions are often informed by, and inform, reality.

The ANES Guide To Public Opinion And Electoral Behavior

Source: The American National Election Studies, University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies, 2007

The Guide provides immediate access to tables and graphs that display the ebb and flow of public opinion, electoral behavior, and choice in American politics over time. It serves as a resource for political observers, policy makers, and journalists, teachers, students, and social scientists. The Guide currently contains data from 1948 through 2004.

Purple America

Source: Bob Moser, The Nation, Vol. 285 no. 5, August 13, 2007

What on God’s green earth has gotten into the Wilkes County (NC) Democrats? Here it is, the first pretty April Saturday of a snowy, blowy spring. There’s yards to mow, balls to toss, plants to plant, Blue Ridge Mountains to hike–all of which you’d think would be mighty tempting on Democratic convention day in a place where Republicans have a damn near two-to-one edge. “Welcome to red-hot Republican territory,” says Dick Sloop, a career-military retiree turned antiwar protester who’s the new county Democratic chair. “We’ve been like the homeless around here: silent and invisible. The best we ever did in my lifetime, we had two Democrats once on a five-seat county commission.” Even here in western North Carolina, where Republicans have proliferated since the Civil War (when the woods were full of Union sympathizers rather than pro-lifers), Wilkes County–Bible-thumping, economically slumping–has stood out for its fire-and-brimstone conservatism. It’s been a stiff challenge to find folks willing to run against the Republicans. Hell, it’s been rare to hear anybody publicly admit to being a Democrat. “You’ve got a lot of people in this county who probably couldn’t tell you if they’ve ever met one,” Sloop says. But in a scene playing out this year all across “red America,” from these lush hills to the craggy outcroppings of the Mountain West, previously unfathomable crowds of Democrats are streaming up the steps of the old county courthouse, past bobbing blue balloons and Welcome Democrats! signs. They’re hopping mad about the national state of things but simultaneously giddy with a new-found hope–finally!–for their party.

New Resource: PolitiFact

Source: St. Petersburg Times and CQ.com

New resource from the St. Petersburg Times and CQ.com. Access is free.
PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly to help you find the truth in the presidential campaign. Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times and CQ will analyze the candidates’ speeches, TV ads and interviews and determine whether the claims are accurate.
See also:
FactCheck.org from the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania

2008 Election Timeline, Presidential Debates, Primaries and Caucuses

Source: CQ Politics.com, Congressional Quarterly Inc.

To navigate the timeline, click and hold your mouse on each band to scroll left and right. The top band represents each month, the bottom each year. Clicking on the text will display information on each event.
See Also: 2008 White House Derby: The Field So Far
Podcasts and other info linked to each candidate

Democratic Candidates Labor to Win Union Support: Union Label

Source: Richard Auxier, Pew Research Center, August 8, 2007

An analysis of voters’ views on unions and other pertinent issues in light of Democratic candidates’ efforts to win union support.

Seven Democratic candidates met on Soldier Field in Chicago on Tuesday to address a predominantly union audience at a candidate forum sponsored by the AFL-CIO. While membership in labor unions nationally has been declining in recent decades, nearly two-in-10 self-described Democrats (18%) live in households with a union member, according to a January poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Calendars: 2008 Presidential Primary Calendar

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2007

Stay tuned to this calendar from the National Conference of State Legislatures for updates.

As it stands right now, 32 states and the District of Columbia will hold presidential primaries or caucuses before the end of February. On February 5 alone, 16 states will hold primaries or caucuses. If changes currently under consideration in five states are made, that number could grow to 37 states and D.C.

Kaiser Launches New Site on Health Policy Issues in 2008 Election

Source: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2007

From the press release:
Menlo Park, CA – With health care emerging as the top domestic issue in the 2008 presidential election, the Kaiser Family Foundation today launched a new website – health08.org – that will provide analysis of health policy issues, regular public opinion surveys, and news and video coverage from the campaign trail….

…The new health08.org website (http://www.health08.org) – which will be free of charge and not include advertising – will serve as a hub of information about health and the election, including original content produced by Kaiser and easy access to health-related resources from the campaigns, other organizations, and news outlets.

Should Unions Play Golf With Republicans?: Labor PAC Support Across Political Parties

Source: Roland Zullo, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

This essay examines the strategy of political voluntarism, defined as a neutral political affiliation, by testing whether or not union political action committee (PAC) donations to congresspersons in the 2000 election cycle affected their roll call votes in subsequent years. Results indicate that overall, the Republicans became more antilabor in their roll call patterns after the election of George W. Bush, and that labor PAC donations did not moderate this shift. Democrats, however, became more prolabor in their roll call voting, and this trend was likewise independent of labor support. Finally, there is no evidence that congresspersons retaliated against labor when an electoral rival was supported. These findings underscore the importance of political parties in shaping public policy and challenge the utility of a labor political strategy that is party neutral. A strategic alternative, political idealism, is discussed.

“Why Unions Matter” An Orientation for Oregon Legislators, Candidates, and Their Staffs

Source: Robert Bussel, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 32 no. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

…To be sure, many legislators exhibited an appreciation of the union movement’s political role, especially its fundraising ability and capacity to mobilize volunteers for electoral activity. However, members of the United Labor Lobby believed that the focus on specific pieces of legislation and the logistics of campaign support tended to obscure political leaders’ understanding of the underlying values and motivations involved in shaping labor’s political priorities. As a result, the United Labor Lobby and LERC agreed to develop an educational program that would address this knowledge gap and provide Oregon legislators with a broader perspective regarding unions’ fundamental beliefs and their larger social role.