About the Blog

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

--To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
--To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
--To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges. This blog is on the open Internet, so post nothing that you would not want a potential employer to see.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Primary Meddling

In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race.

Natasha Korecki and Daniel Strauss at Politico:
The Democratic Governors Association is planning to launch an ad calling Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's right-wing challenger "too conservative" for the state — an apparent move to boost state Rep. Jeanne Ives in her campaign's final days.
The ad, which is slated to begin airing on broadcast and cable TV in the state Friday, begins with a question: "When is a conservative leader too conservative for Illinois?"

But it quickly evolves into a list of Ives' conservative positions, presenting them in a way that could be appealing to some Republican primary voters.

The strategy is more reminiscent of the Missouri Senate primary in 2012, when Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill paid for ads calling then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) — whom she viewed as her weakest possible opponent — "too conservative" for the state.
"Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a 'dog whistle' ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people," McCaskill wrote later in her memoir. "I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad — and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad."


Daniel Marans at HuffPost:
Until Tuesday night, Drew Gray Miller, the Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, was treated like an afterthought by Democrats, Republicans and most news outlets.

Then the election results came in. Miller had received 0.6 percent of the vote ― accounting for far more than the 0.2 percentage point lead Democrat Conor Lamb ended up holding over Republican Rick Saccone at the end of the night. (Lamb has declared victory, but Saccone is challenging the results.)

Suddenly Miller was the man of the hour, as pundits discovered that Miller’s candidacy might have cost Saccone the race.

When CNN finally flashed Miller’s photo on screen, his 20-person election watch party at Fat Head’s Saloon erupted in cheers. They high-fived one another and took selfies in front of the TV as the party took a rowdier turn. 
At the Independent Record in Helena, Holly K. Michaels reports:
As the clock was running out for candidates to get their name on the ballot for what’s expected to be a hotly contested U.S. Senate race, Tim Adams — a man previously paid by the state Republican Party and who donated to Republican candidates as recently as 2016 — filed to run as a member of the Green Party.

The Green Party was only approved to appear on Montana ballots Monday morning, just hours before the 5 p.m. filing deadline. Six people filed under the party's banner for state legislative and federal races, including Adams, the former Republican operative.

But some question whether Adams, who is running for the U.S. Senate, is really a Green Party member or got into the race to siphon votes away from Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat seeking re-election to a third term.

“Tim Adams is no Green Party candidate,” David Parker, an associate professor of political science at Montana State University, said Tuesday. “He has a long history of conservative activism. It’s curious that he has announced a candidacy and it’s curious that it happened on the last day.”
In 2012, an outside group, Montana Hunters and Anglers, backed Libertarian Senate candidate Dan Cox, apparently with the intent of siphoning votes from Republican Denny Rehberg. The trick worked: Cox's vote exceeded Tester's margin.

It is not all fun and games.  In 2016, the Russians helped Green Party candidate Jill Stein in hopes f bringing down Clinton.  Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti at NYT:
The scope of the operation was sweeping. The Russians assumed their fake identities to communicate with campaign volunteers for Mr. Trump and grass-roots groups supporting his candidacy. They bought pro-Trump and anti-Clinton political advertisements on Facebook and other social media. They used an Instagram account to try to suppress turnout of minority voters and campaign for Ms. Stein, the Green Party candidate.
Weeks before the election, the Russians ratcheted up social media activity aimed at dampening support for Mrs. Clinton.
In mid-October, Woke Blacks, an Instagram account run by the Internet Research Agency, carried the message “hatred for Trump is misleading the people and forcing Blacks to vote Killary. We cannot resort to the lesser of two devils. Then we’d surely be better off without voting AT ALL.”
Then, just days before Americans went to the polls, another Instagram account controlled by the Russians — called Blacktivist — urged its followers to “choose peace” and vote for Ms. Stein, who was expected to siphon support from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.
“Trust me,” the message read, “it’s not a wasted vote.”

Spring 2018 Research Assignment

Pick one:
  • If you are taking part in the legislative simulation, analyze your experience. Consider your role's relationship to the party system.  Even if you are playing someone who is not officially partisan, does the person's positions serve one party better than the other?  In this light, how well did your positions and goals match those of your real-life counterpart? What methods did you use? In the circumstance that you dealt with, would your counterpart have done the same? How did the simulation both resemble and differ from the real world?  
  • Appraise President Trump's performance as leader of the Republican Party.  What are his goals for the party?  In light of political and institutional constraints, how well has he done?
  • Analyze the use of "message votes" (Lee, ch. 6) in 2017. What challenges and opportunities faced each party in each chamber?  Who used these votes most successfully?  And how would you know that a message vote has succeeded?
  • Pick any state legislature.  Has it become more or less polarized over the past decade?  Why?
  • Write a postscript to chapter 6 of the Schier book.  Explain how the politics of the federal judiciary (e.g., litigation and judicial selection) since Trump's election either confirms or disconfirms the analysis in the chapter.
  • Write on another topic of your choice, subject to my approval.
The specifications:
  • Essays should be typed (12-point), double-spaced, and no more than six pages long. I will not read past the sixth page. Please submit papers as Word documents, not pdfs.
  • Cite your sources. Please use endnotes in the format of Chicago Manual of Style. Endnotes do not count against the page limit. Please do not use footnotes, which take up too much page space. 
  • Watch your spelling, grammar, diction, and punctuation. Errors will count against you. Return essays (in Word format) to the Sakai dropbox for this class by 11:59 PM, Friday, April 6. Papers will drop one gradepoint for one day’s lateness, a full letter grade after that.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

What does Gary Cohn's resignation mean?

Gary Cohn's Resigning as Trump's Top Economic Adviser 

Gary Cohn, President Trump's top economic adviser, announced his resignation in response to his opposition to President Trump's large tariffs on aluminum and steel imports. Will this give way to even more radical policies in the finance industry??

"It leaves Mr. Trump surrounded primarily by advisers with strong protectionist views who advocate the types of aggressive trade measures, like tariffs, that Mr. Trump campaigned on but that Mr. Cohn fought inside the White House. Mr. Cohn was viewed by Republican lawmakers as the steady hand who could prevent Mr. Trump from engaging in activities that could trigger a trade war."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Governor Miranda Hobbes?

New York Times: Cynthia Nixon Explores Possible Run Against Andrew Cuomo

"If a race between Ms. Nixon and Mr. Cuomo does materialize, it would instantly become one of the most intriguing Democratic primaries in the country, pitting a celebrity first-time candidate with an ability to command national media attention versus a two-term incumbent sitting atop $30 million and known for his aggressive political tactics."

I think this connects to what we discussed in class today- incumbents have a fundraising and monetary advantage in campaigns, but celebrities can easily gain free media. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.