Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12th, 2012 Edition

Pork Chop Hill
by Richard Fernandez
May 10, 2012

Success of congressional incumbents has become something of a half-funny joke recently. These are the figures for those Representatives who sought reelection in the 13 biennial national elections for 435 U.S. House seats from 1982 through 2006: 95.17% of incumbents who sought reelection were successful. What’s more, an average of 396 of the 435 incumbent seat holders sought another term, leaving only 39 “open seats” each biennium for new Members of Congress (Jacobson 2008, 28-29). You can see these effects graphically via — Reelection Rates of Incumbents in the U. S. House, and Duration of Representatives’ Incumbency in the U. S. House. Rounding the 4.83% of winning challengers to 19 freshmen, another 39 get there the easy way by filling a seat vacated by a departing incumbent. So about two-thirds (39 of 58) of freshmen only get there from good fortune of facing no incumbent.

The Senate has not been much better: 86.98% of incumbents were winners in the 1982-to-2006 period. Only 33.3 Senate seats on average are up each biennium (a first 33, another 33, then 34 to tally 100; and back to the first 33). In the 13 elections of 1982 to 2006, that’s 433 senators who could seek reelection; and 361 of them did so, leaving just 82 vacated open seats for new senators. By rounding the 13.02% of challengers who broke through against incumbents to 38 freshmen, that’s 85 of 113 freshmen who got there by virtue of avoiding a collision with a senatorial incumbent. And in 2006, there were six incumbent senatorial losers, all Republicans. At least one, George Allen of Virginia, was a surprising loser considering that he was prominent among those expected to contend seriously for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination …

Something isn’t quite right with this picture. The constitutional idea since the 1913 amendment to adopt direct election of senators is “build it” (elections, that is) and “they will come” (challengers seeking to oust old ballplayers from positions in this Field of Political Dreams). Apparently since 1982, the democratic mechanism of refreshment and change has ceased to work very well.

Romney Address at Liberty University Sparks Controversy
by Chip Reid
May 12, 2012

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney is to deliver the commencement address Saturday at Virginia's Liberty University, the largest evangelical college in the country.

His visit has stirred debate in the conservative Christian community, because some believe his Mormon faith is a cult.

But Romney is hoping the speech helps him win over those who are skeptical of his beliefs - and his conservative credentials.

President Obama stepped right into the controversy over same sex marriage this week.

But it appears controversy over religion and politics is the last thing Romney's looking for at Liberty University.

During the Republican primary campaign, Romney struggled to gain the support of evangelical voters, in part because of his Mormon faith, which some evangelical leaders have called a cult.

So it was no surprise that Romney would be facing some skeptics in the Liberty University audience.

"I think there's a lot of mixed emotions," says Liberty University student Jamie Goss. "Some people are, like, oh, I wish we would have had, like, a Christian speaker come."

Newt Gingrich and Marco Rubio join talk radio commentary on gay marriage
by John Goodman
May 11, 2012

Former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich offered his own thoughts in a radio interview with Mike Gallagher on Philadelphia’s WNTP 990 AM

Gingrich expressed his belief that the move eliminated a line of attack against Romney as a “flip-flopper” while citing the inability of gay marriage proponents to prevail in state-level referendums.

“Notice also he picked immediately after the people of North Carolina repudiated the concept. So, in every popular vote that I know of traditional marriage between a man and a woman has won. And people have reaffirmed that they believe that that should be the law of the land.” Gingrich pressed. 

“And yet here you have the president – just as he did with ObamaCare – saying he doesn’t care what the people of North Carolina, the people of California, the people of every state that I know of that’s had a referendum, he doesn’t care what the people think. He wants to impose his judgment.” 

When asked whether this Tuesday's vote in North Carolina on gay marriage or Joe Biden’s recent media appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press played a role in the administration’s decision-making, the former House speaker pointed to political pressure from his base as the cause for Obama’s recent support for gay marriage. 

“I think Biden’s comments were a trial balloon that they floated. I think what’s happened is that the pressure on the hard left – if you’re a hard left activist this is one of those key issues that is a defining moment. And I think they were fed up with Obama who still has Guantanamo open, still has troops in Afghanistan, still is doing lots of things they don’t believe in. His economic policy has failed. And I think this is one of those last straws where they said look you gotta stand up for this.”

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