Before I get going with the news, I want to recommend a wonderful movie. Yesterday afternoon, I took my nephews to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, and I loved it! Trust me, it isn’t just for kids. It’s a funny, touching story about a boy and his dog as well as a great homage to horror movies. There’s even a scene where the science teacher, who looks like Vincent Price and talks like Bela Lugosi, tells a meeting of parents complaining about his class that they’re ignorant and prefer fantasy to science.
The Boston Globe reviewer gave the movie four stars, which is unheard of for a film aimed at children. There’s a wonderful backstory too:
In 1984, when he was an eccentric young animator working for Disney, the young Burton made a 30-minute live-action short called “Frankenweenie,” about a boy named Victor and the scrappy pet he brings back to life after it’s hit by a car. The movie was weird, it was inventive, and it spooked the bejesus out of Disney executives, who refused to release it and fired Burton. After the director became famous in the wake of “Edward Scissorhands,” the company put it out on VHS; it now can be found as an extra on the “Nightmare Before Christmas” DVD.
The current entertainment landscape has been effectively Burton-ized; this season alone, there are two pallid family-film imitations, “ParaNorman” and “Hotel Transylvania,” that arguably wouldn’t exist had the director not made the world safe for light pop-goth gloom. The new, improved “Frankenweenie” is thus not only revenge served sweetly — it’s being released by Disney, tail between its legs — but a reminder that, at his best, Burton belongs in the same bleakly charming league as Charles Addams and Edward Gorey.
Now I think I need to watch Ed Wood again.
That was such a nice break from all the depressing news about Mitt Romney and other insane Republicans. Now lets see what’s in the news today.
Everyone is talking about the latest Pew Poll which has Romney leading by 4–quite a shock. Even more shocking, TPM’s polltracker average now has Romney ahead of Obama by close to 3 points. On the other hand, today’s Gallup tracking polls shows Obama ahead by 5 points. Weird.
Now for a little expert analysis. Nate Silver advises: Amid Volatile Polling, Keep an Eye on Election Fundamentals
Mr. Obama got a bounce coming out of Charlotte, and it had some staying power — with his national lead appearing to peak at about five or six percentage points. But polling released immediately after the debate seemed to suggest that Mr. Romney had drawn into a rough national tie.
By the weekend, however — after the release of a favorable jobs report last Friday — Mr. Romney’s bounce seemed to be receding some. Tracking polls released on Monday by Gallup and Rasmussen Reports actually showed a shift back toward Mr. Obama, although another poll by Pew Research showed Mr. Romney with a four-point lead among likely voters.
Polling data is often very noisy, and not all polls use equally rigorous methodology. But the polls, as a whole, remain consistent with the idea that they may end up settling where they were before the conventions, with Mr. Obama ahead by about two points. Such an outcome would be in line with what history and the fundamentals of the economy would lead you to expect.
Keep in mind:
Challengers also generally profit from the first debate: in 8 of the 10 election cycles since 1976, the polls moved against the incumbent, and a net gain of two or three percentage points for the challenger is a reasonably typical figure.
At the same time, incumbent presidents just aren’t that easy to defeat. Mr. Obama’s approval ratings are now hovering around 50 percent and don’t seem to have been negatively affected by his performance in Denver. Although Mr. Obama’s approval ratings may be slightly lower among those most likely to vote — meaning that Mr. Romney could win with a strong turnout — historically that number has been just good enough to re-elect an incumbent.
David Adkins of Hullabaloo took a look at the internals of the Pew poll and found some interesting tidbits:
– For starters, a full two-thirds of the respondents were over 50 years old. Is that likely to be the shape of the electorate? Very likely not.
– A full 77% of the respondents were white. That is almost certainly not going to reflect the final electorate.
– A large preponderance of the respondents were from the South (449), with the next highest total from the Midwest (294), and only 219 from the Northeast and 239 from the West. There will not be twice as many voters from the South in the election as from the Northeast or the West.
– Finally, more respondents claimed to be Republicans than Democrats, which would destroy the President’s chances in November automatically. It’s possible for the final electorate to resemble that Party ID, but unlikely.
Read the rest at the link. I found it helpful. Markos also had a good post on the polls yesterday, if you don’t mind going to the orange place. He noted that the PPP poll to be released today will also have Romney in the lead nationally.
Paul Waldman asks the same question I ask myself every Monday: Why Do the Sunday Shows Suck So Much?
In the American media landscape, there is no single forum more prestigious than the Sunday shows—particularly the three network programs, and to a slightly lesser extent “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” The Sunday shows are where “newsmakers” face the music, where Washington’s most important people are validated for their importance, where issues are probed in depth. So, why do they suck so much?
I live and breathe politics, yet I find these programs absolutely unwatchable, and I can’t be the only one. On a typical episode, there is nothing to learn, no insight to be gained, no interesting perspective on offer, nothing but an endless spew of talking points and squabbling. Let’s take, for instance, yesterday’s installment of “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” We start off with dueling interviews with Obama adviser Robert Gibbs and Romney adviser Ed Gillespie. Were you expecting some candid talk from these two political veterans? Of course you weren’t. “If you’re willing to say anything to get elected president,” Gibbs says about Mitt Romney, “if you are willing to make up your positions and walk away from them, I think the American people have to understand, how can they trust you if you are elected president.” Which just happens to be precisely the message of a new Obama ad. What a fascinating coincidence! And you’ll be shocked to learn that Gillespie thought Romney did a great job in the debate: “Governor Romney laid out a plan for turning this economy around, getting things moving again. He had a fact-based critique of President Obama’s failed policies that the president was unable to respond to.” You don’t say!
Go read the whole thing. It’s not long.
As you know, Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech yesterday, and it isn’t getting great reviews except among the ultra-right wingers. Dakinkat wrote about it yesterday afternoon. This story is a few days old, but I wanted to call attention to it because it didn’t get a whole lot of coverage. During the debate last Wednesday, Romney made some (inaccurate, natch) remarks about Spain that caused some outrage over there. Here’s what he said:
“Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path of Spain. I want to put more Americans to work.”
That did not go over well in Spain, where it was seen as on a par with the bumbling, insulting remarks Romney made when he was in Great Britain for the Olympics. Some reactions:
Fox News Latino: Mitt Romney Spain Jab Adds to Foreign Policy Woes
It has become apparent to some that Mitt Romney is in need of a crash course in Diplomacy 101.
He irritated Britons and Palestinians during a summer tour abroad and has declared Russia to be America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe. Just last week, the Republican candidate, who plans a foreign policy speech Monday, raised eyebrows in Spain by holding it up as a prime example of government spending run amok.
That left Spaniards confused, and threatened to reinforce Romney’s perceived handicap in international affairs….
Spanish reaction to Romney was swift.
“What I see is ignorance of what is reality, but especially of the potential of the Spanish economy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria.
Maria Dolores Cospedal, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party, noted that “Spain is not on fire from all sides like some on the outside have suggested.” Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo called it “very unfortunate that other countries should be put up as examples” when the facts are skewed.
At HuffPo, former Clinton economic adviser Laura Tyson corrected Romney’s inaccuracies:
Mitt Romney made a wildly inaccurate claim during Wednesday’s presidential debate, and Laura Tyson, a former top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton, is calling him out….
But according to Romney’s campaign website, government spending accounted for only 24 percent of gross domestic product last year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that government spending is 23 percent of GDP.
“I have no idea where that number came from,” Tyson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Huffington Post after the debate. “That is certainly not a number that is consistent with the facts.”
Tyson said she couldn’t tell whether Romney said it “knowing it was wrong” or whether he “mixed the numbers up in his head.” But nonetheless, she said, “It’s clearly wrong.”
Tyson added that when it comes to taxes, “we’re not anywhere near countries like Spain.”
The Boston Globe reports that as many as 13,000 people may have gotten tainted steroid injections from a Framingham, MA pharmacy and could be at risk of getting meningitis.
US health officials on Monday said that 13,000 patients in 23 states, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, have been injected with a potentially tainted steroid treatment made by a Framingham pharmacy, more information can be found here and linked to a national outbreak of meningitis.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its sweeping estimate of the reach of the crisis as it reported 14 new cases of the disease, and another death in Tennessee, which appears to be the hardest hit among the states where the rare and serious form of fungal meningitis has been confirmed.
“We know that 13,000 people received the injection,” said Jamila Jones, a public affairs specilialist for the CDC in Atlanta. “They received it at facilities across the country. They are at risk.”
So far, 105 cases and eight deaths have been confirmed nationally, the agency said.
The steroid, called methylprednisolone acetate, was made by New England Compounding Center in Framingham, which voluntarily ceased operations Oct. 3 amid a widening probe of the treatment and its use at dozens of health care facilities from New Hampshire to California.
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links!
It’s been obvious from the polls that Mitt Romney is not very popular with Republicans. As Donald Trump, Michele Bachman, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and have risen and fallen, Romney has stayed near 25%. But now PPP Polling says that as voters get to know Mitt, they like him even less than before.
There are 13 places PPP has polled the Republican race in October or November where it also did a poll sometime between January and March. In those places Romney’s net favorability has dropped by an average of 15 points over the course of the year.
On average Romney’s favorability with primary voters was 54/25 in these 13 places at the begininng of the year. Now it’s only 50/35. His problem is partially that his positives have gone down but more than that it’s that as his name recognition has increased, most folks moving off the fence have gone into the negative column.
What’s most remarkable about the decline in Romney’s popularity is how uniform it’s been- he’s less popular now than he was at the start of the year in all 13 places where there are polls to compare. And in 11 out of the 13 places that decline in his net favorability has been at least 14 points- the only places with more modest declines are Maine and North Carolina.
As someone who lives in the state that Romney governed for four long, unproductive years, I’m not at all surprised. This man is more wooden than Al Gore, more up-tight than Callista Gingrich, and more awkward and a far worse flip-flopper than John Kerry. Mitt was for it before he was against it, then for it again, and against it again. He is also more amoral and value-free than Barack Obama. On top of that, he’s been endorsed by Ann Coulter.
Frankly, I rather watch Newt Gingrich run against Obama. At least it would be entertaining. Obama vs. Romney would be sleep-inducing.
Now let’s take a look at Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts. This 2007 op-ed from The Boston Globe sums up Romney’s governorship very well (emphasis added).
Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country.
On all key labor market measures, the state not only lagged behind the country as a whole, but often ranked at or near the bottom of the state distribution. Formal payroll employment in the state in 2006 was still 16,000 or 0.5 percent below its average level in 2002, the year immediately prior to the start of the Romney administration. Massachusetts ranked third lowest on this key job generation measure and would have ranked second lowest if Hurricane Katrina had not devastated the Louisiana economy. Manufacturing payroll employment throughout the nation declined by nearly 1.1 million or 7 percent between 2002 and 2006, but in Massachusetts it declined by more than 14 percent, the third worst record in the country.
While the number of employed people over age 16 in the United States rose by nearly 8 million, or close to 6 percent, between 2002 and 2006, the number of employed residents in the Commonwealth is estimated to have modestly declined by 8,500. Massachusetts was the only state to have failed to post any gain in its pool of employed residents. The aggregate number of people 16 and older either working or looking for work in Massachusetts fell over the Romney years.
We were one of only two states to have experienced no growth in its resident labor force. Again, without the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina on the dispersal of the Louisiana population, Massachusetts would have ranked last on this measure. The decline in the state’s labor force, which was influenced in large part by high levels of out-migration of working-age adults, helped hold down the official unemployment rate of the state. Between July 2002 and July 2006, the US Census Bureau estimated that 222,000 more residents left Massachusetts for other states than came here to live. This high level of net domestic out-migration was equivalent to 3.5 percent of the state’s population, the third highest rate of population loss in the country. Excluding the population displacement effects of Hurricane Katrina on Louisiana, Massachusetts would have ranked second highest on this measure. We were a national leader in exporting our population.
That’s what we’ll get with a Romney presidency. He’d be far worse than Obama has been. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.
I know the Republicans started out disliking Romney because they don’t believe he’s a conservative. But once they see him perform on TV or in person, they realize he’s actually a robot pretending to be a man. The media won’t tell them about Romney’s economic failure in Massachusetts, but if he wins they’ll find out he’s dumb as a post and has no clue how to create jobs or improve the economy.
Dakinikat sent me this fascinating article from the NYT Magazine yesterday: Building a Better Mitt Romney-Bot. The article is about the efforts of Romney’s campaign advisers to make him look more like a regular guy. They’re keeping him away from opportunities for the press to ask open-ended questions, because Romney did that in 2008 and it didn’t go well.
“You can’t control the message,” one of Romney’s senior advisers later explained to me. “But at a business round table, it’s much more easily controlled because you’re having a group of businessmen, and you’re talking about the economy and the challenges that they may be facing, and Mitt is very conversant on those points.”
Mitt Romney’s campaign has decided upon a rather novel approach to winning the presidency. It has taken a smart and highly qualified but largely colorless candidate and made him exquisitely one-dimensional: All-Business Man, the world’s most boring superhero.
Excuse me? “smart and highly qualified?” Then why did he run Massachusetts practically into the ground in four short years? Romney’s closest campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens compares Romney as candidate to Michael Vick as quarterback.
Among Stevens’s colorful analogies, the unlikeliest is one in which he compares Romney to Michael Vick, the dynamic quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. “Michael Vick’s not a real good pocket guy,” Stevens told me. “So don’t tell him he can’t roll out. Try to make him the best rollout guy that’s ever played.” And indeed, Romney’s staff has endeavored to focus the campaign on his strengths, which are decidedly the opposite of Vick’s. So instead of letting their quarterback roam and improvise, they’re keeping him tightly contained in the business-centric pocket, hoping to God that he does not stray from it.
That’s a pretty unfortunate comparison, considering Romney’s history of cruelty his family dog.
Draper does suggest that Mitt’s biggest problem, as I indicated above, is that he has very poor social skills. He comes off as embarrassingly awkward when he tries to act like a normal human being.
The chief vulnerability of the Romney campaign resides with the understandable decision to keep their anti-Michael Vick in the pocket, thereby limiting our view of the man. Those who at close range watched Romney’s failure to close the deal in 2008 did not witness a rejection per se. Instead, it appeared that Republican voters could not quite envision this decent, clever and socially uneasy fellow governing their country — as opposed to, say, managing their stock portfolios. Stories of Romney’s wooden people skills are legion. “The Mormon’s never going to win the who-do-you-want-to-have-a-beer-with contest,” concedes one adviser, while another acknowledges, “He’s never had the experience of sitting in a bar, and like, talking.”
I never bought the idea that the best president is someone you can talk with over a beer, but seriously, Romney is so divorced from real American culture that he couldn’t begin to identify with working- and middle-class people. He should never, ever be President. And since he could possibly beat Obama, I don’t want him to be nominated anyway.
So that leaves Newt Gingrich. According to a PPP poll taken on Monday night, Gingrich’s numbers are “still rising.”
Last night we went into the field in Florida and Montana- we’ll have the results of those polls out tomorrow after another night of calls but the early indications are that Newt Gingrich will have a double digit lead in both states- he has not peaked yet and is still on an upward curve.
If Herman Cain really ends up dropping out of the race Gingrich’s surge should continue in the next few weeks, unless/until something starts happening to erode his popularity. Why? Because Cain’s supporters absolutely love Gingrich. And they absolutely hate Mitt Romney.
Our last national survey found that Gingrich’s favorability with Cain voters was 73/21. Meanwhile Romney’s was 33/55. That’s the same basic trend we’ve seen in every Republican primary poll we’ve done in the month of November.
So as voters desert Cain, they’re going to Gingrich. Once Cain drops out, Gingrich’s poll numbers will continue to improve. Will Romney even be able to maintain his 25% base?
Also from PPP: Gingrich up big in Florida and Montana
Newt Gingrich’s momentum is continuing to build, and he now leads Mitt Romney by over 25 points in both Florida and Montana.
In Florida Gingrich is at 47% to 17% for Romney, 15% for Herman Cain, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Jon Huntsman, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% for Rick Santorum, and 0% for Gary Johnson.
In Montana Gingrich is at 37% to 12% for Paul, 11% for Romney, 10% for Bachmann and Cain, 5% for Perry, 3% for Huntsman, and 1% for Johnson and Santorum.
These two states really exemplify one of the key emerging trends in the Republican race- Gingrich isn’t just rising, Romney’s also falling. His 17% in Florida is down 13 points from 30% when we polled the state in late September. His 11% in Montana is down 11 points from 22% when we polled the state in June.
I know the election is nearly a year away, but can Romney turn it around? Of course it’s always a good possibility that Gingrich will do or say something so outrageous that he turns even Republican voters off. But to show how serious Gingrich is taking this, his campaign has finally opened an office in Iowa.
Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor asked: Is Mitt Romney nomination really inevitable anymore? Time will tell, I guess.
That’s all I have for today except for a shameless plug. Today is a special day for me. Here’s a hint: