Bradford Plumer

How Third-Party Candidates Could Screw Up The Midterms: A Primer
October 19, 2010

Can't get enough of this year's possible spoilers? Check out TNR's slideshow of some of the best (and most bizarre) third-party candidates who could sway some of the country's biggest elections. One of the under-appreciated facts about the 2010 midterms is the sheer number of races that could be scrambled by third-party candidates. Quixotic Tea Party runs could thwart GOP gains in more than a dozen key House races. Former Republicans like Charlie Crist and Lisa Murkowski are foraging for votes without official party backing. The Green Party is doing its usual spoiler thing.

NY Gubernatorial Debate: More Fringe Candidates, Please!
October 18, 2010

By all rights, tonight's gubernatorial debate in New York should've been a daffy three-ring circus—even by the abysmal standards of the 2010 midterms. Put aside, for a moment, Republican candidate Carl Paladino's well-known penchant for emailing bestiality porn to his friends and uttering physical threats to reporters.

Is Joe Manchin As Conservative As He Seems?
October 15, 2010

While it's still too early to pick the most surreal ad of the political cycle, the one where West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin grabs a rifle and starts shooting a cap-and-trade bill must rank pretty high. But hey, maybe this little authenticity twofer worked! Previous polls, after all, showed Manchin losing the WV Senate race to GOP businessman John Raese. Whereas today, a new Marshall University survey gives Manchin a ten-point lead. Maybe more struggling candidates should try blasting away at thick reams of legislative text. But that brings up another question.

One-Armed Midgets, Rejoice!
October 06, 2010

The months leading up to an election always involve a rush of frantic activity. There are key states to visit and swing voters to court. And so, late this summer, Michael Steele was paying timely visits to crucial battlegrounds . . . in Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Perhaps those aren’t considered key states in the elections that most Republicans care about, the 2010 midterms.

Did The White House Kill The Climate Bill?
October 04, 2010

In this week's New Yorker, Ryan Lizza has a long, truly excellent reported piece on how the climate bill died in the Senate. The big question is to what extent the White House deserves the blame: “I believe Barack Obama understands that fifty years from now no one’s going to know about health care,” the lobbyist said. “Economic historians will know that we had a recession at this time. Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.” Now, as Jonathan Zasloff notes, this isn't the most precise historical analogy of all time.

CT Senate Debate: Is It Too Late To Pick Another Candidate?
October 04, 2010

For a while I've been wondering how the Senate race in Connecticut could stay so remarkably close for so long. Isn't this a deep-blue state? Wasn't Attorney General Richard Blumenthal supposed to be a popular Democrat? And his conservative opponent, Linda McMahon, isn't she the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment? Seriously? Political scientists would no doubt point to economic fundamentals: Unemployment in Connecticut is 9.4 percent, and voters are pissed off about it.

Up From Abramoff
September 30, 2010

“God’s not looking for perfect people—there’s only been one perfect person in the history of the human race,” Ralph Reed tells the crowd at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington. It’s the weekend of September 11, and Reed is holding the inaugural conference for his new Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC), which is aiming to mobilize evangelicals the way the Christian Coalition did in the 1990s. “God’s looking for broken people,” he says, “humble and contrite people.” “Broken” was once the perfect word to describe Reed’s career.

Welcome to the Age of Seawalls
September 24, 2010

Over on the main site, Steve Nash has a great piece about how cities in the United States are preparing for sea-level rise. The picture's pretty bleak. Most states and localities aren't doing much planning at all. And when they are taking action, they're actually making things worse. Here's a snippet: There are three broad options for dealing with sea-level rise. We can build walls to ward off the sea. We can put our coastal buildings and infrastructure up on stilts. Or we can plan a slow retreat and move our built environment farther inland.

Floating Nukes Of The Day
September 23, 2010

It's hard to find a news story that better encapsulates the future of energy/environmental politics than this one. Russia's currently building eight floating nuclear power stations along its north coast so that it can keep drilling for oil and gas under the ever-melting Arctic.

Last Chance For A Renewable Energy Bill?
September 23, 2010

Hey, look: Environmentalists are suddenly getting excited again. Remember the old renewable electricity standard? The one that would force utilities to get 15 percent of their power from sources like wind, biomass, and solar by 2021? It wasn't the greatest clean-energy policy of all time, but it was something. And it's slowly creeping back into the Senate conversation: Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) is trying to resurrect it, and he's already snagged four Republican co-sponsors—Sam Brownback, Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins, and John Ensign.