ICYMI Tumblr fans, the October 25th issue of The New Republic is out, with pieces by Nicholas Lemann on the inscrutable Barack Obama, Cass Sunstein on law, economics, and psychology in consumer markets, Helen Vendler on the poems of Dante, and Jonathan Chait on the future of conservatism. Check it out and subscribe http://bit.ly/R9TWOZ
Can Obama woo rich voters with his brand of economic populism?
Affluent voters were an important element of Obama’s coalition in 2008. Will that change this year? Some observers believe that Obama might alienate former supporters with attacks on Bain Capital and renewed calls to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While the assumption that these tactics would alienate upscale voters is superficially appealing, most polls tell a different story.
Voters from households making more than $100,000 year were an important part of Obama’s coalition; especially in the “new coalition” states where Obama primarily drew support from well-educated suburbs and minority voters. In some states, one-third of Obama’s supporters came from affluent households and meaningful losses among these voters would endanger Obama’s chances.
Nate Cohn — “Is Obama Alienating Rich Voters?”
Is pastor Rick Warren laying a trap for the Obama campaign?
“Mega-church pastor and best-selling evangelical author Rick Warren announced earlier this week that he plans to hold a presidential forum, as he did during the 2008 campaign. Warren has not yet set a date for the event, nor does he have an agreement with the Obama and Romney campaigns for their participation. But both candidates have at least some reason to consider accepting the chance to discuss their faith publicly.
I won’t review the reasons why many American voters like to hear about the faith of their presidential candidates. And, yes, Romney continues to deal with questions about Mormonism while Obama is still attacked by conservatives who charge he is a secret Muslim. But the reason both men might benefit from talking about something as personal as faith in a national forum is that many voters are still struggling to get a handle on who these private, introverted men are.”
Amy Sullivan — “What Obama Needs to Know Before Meeting Rick Warren Again”
Why taxes for the rich (and the middle class) should go up
“President Obama wants to extend the Bush income-tax cuts, but only on family income up to $250,000 per year. Mitt Romney wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for everybody and to further lower all existing income-tax rates by 20 percent. They’re both wrong.”
— Timothy Noah, “Raise Taxes on the Middle Class!”
Exploring the importance of the black vote to an Obama victory in November
There’s no question that Hispanics are among the most coveted voting blocs for November’s election. Numerically, they’re the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. population. Major media regularly monitor their presidential preferences. And both campaigns have already made loud overtures to them—including the Obama administration’s directive not to deport undocumented immigrant children, and Mitt Romney’s hints that Hispanic senator Marco Rubio might be his vice presidential nominee.
But while surely an important constituency, Hispanics are not the only crucial minority bloc needed for Obama to win in November. In fact, Black voters will likely be just as, if not more, essential to a Democratic victory—especially if we look beyond growth in the minority vote, where Hispanics are key, to thecomposition of the minority vote. This is not just because black support nationally for the reelection of the first African American president will likely be sky high, but also because of the relative demographic weight of blacks in the projected 2012 minority electorate.
— William Frey & Ruy Teixeira, “Why Obama Shouldn’t Be Taking the Black Vote for Granted”
The Obama campaign resumes the tax fight. Can it persuade the electorate?
Obama campaign surrogates launched coordinated attacks on Romney’s investments in foreign tax havens, a Swiss bank account, and unwillingness to release more than one year of tax returns, while President Obama called for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000.
The two-pronged tax offensive places Romney in a delicate position. He will be forced to oppose extending tax cuts for the middle class and defend tax cuts for affluent Americans immediately after a relentless effort to define Romney as a self-interested plutocrat who prioritizes personal wealth over middle class job security.
— Nate Cohn, “Obama Transitions to Taxes”
Is the demographic deck stacked in favor of President Obama in the swing states?
“It’s widely acknowledged by political observers that the country’s demographic change in the last four years—particularly the increase in minority voters and decline of white non-college voters—favors President Obama’s re-election bid. What’s less obvious is exactly how much these changes favor Obama—especially in the swing states that loom so large in this coming election.”
— Ruy Teixeira and William Frey, “New Data on Obama’s Massive Demographic Advantage”
June’s jobs report: The private sector still needs a boost.
“In June, private employers added a mere 84,000 jobs. They added 105,000 jobs the month before, and 85,000 the month before that. To put this in some context, the economy needs to add about 100,000 to 150,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with population growth, whereas the private sector has averaged a mere 91,000 over the past three months. Which is to say, even if government job losses weren’t weighing us down, we’d still be struggling because the private sector has been pretty damn anemic. Even the part of the labor market that’s growing isn’t growing at a minimally acceptable rate.
The upshot is that we’re no longer in a world where sending states a few tens of billions of dollars to shore up their finances is going to get the recovery on track. The economy, by which I mean the private sector, is disconcertingly weak, and strengthening it is going to take something on the order of several-hundred-billion dollars.”
–– Noam Scheiber, “Today’s Jobs Report: Private Sector *Not* Fine”
“Congressional leaders announced last week—after months of bickering—that they finally reached a deal to prevent student loan rates from doubling, just days before the July 1 deadline. This may be good news for the many Americans who are currently suffering from an aggregate total of over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. But it’s decidedly more ambiguous for one of the loudest supporters of the issue: President Obama.
As we know, the youth vote was a crucial part of Obama’s successful 2008 coalition. This year, pollsters have confirmed that the youth vote is still incredibly important. But they’ve also determined that it’s highly unreliable. Gallup reported in late April that while Obama leads Romney by 35 points among 18-29 year olds, only 6 in 10 eligible voters in that age group are registered to vote and only 56 percent of those registered report that they will definitely show up to the polls in November. Indeed, any informal survey of students about this year’s race yields dispiriting conclusions: Young voters are much less excited about 2012 than they were about 2008. Further underscoring the point is a recent New York Times article discussing the ideological toll that the recession has taken on voters between the ages of 18 and 24. On the whole, they’ve become more skeptical of government intervention in the economy.”
—Jose A. DelReal, “Has Obama Lost His Best Chance to Rally the Youth Vote?”
How the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya became a liability for Obama
“Gration’s transition to Kenya was stormy, to say the least. After his arrival there, the Nairobi Embassy became the subject of an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General for the U.S. State Department. A scathing OIG report is due out later this summer. Individuals familiar with the report called it “catastrophic,” a “toxic” assessment of Gration’s leadership.”
-Molly Redden, “Why Scott Gration Really Resigned”