Romney Is Attacking Santorum for Being Pro-Union. How Absurd.
February 17, 2012

In the run-up to the Michigan primary, Mitt Romney has been on an anti-union tear. Partly this has consisted of broad (and curiously anachronistic) castigations of “stooges” and “bosses.” But Romney has also trained his anti-labor ire on Rick Santorum, the current frontrunner in the state primary. On Wednesday, his campaign released a fact-sheet titled “Big Labor’s Favorite Senator” seeking to blunt Santorum’s self-proclaimed appeal to working class voters. But if Santorum is Big Labor’s favorite anything, Big Labor has a strange way of showing it.

Why Obama Would Be Glad If the Culture War Is a Major Election Issue
February 11, 2012

The furor over the Obama administration’s contraception coverage decision has generated a spate of articles proclaiming the return of the social issues in the 2012 campaign. But while they’re being discussed more, I doubt that they’ll prove decisive. Unless something drastic happens between now and November, trends in employment and real income will determine the result. Now comes the traditional “to be sure” paragraph. To be sure, it’s possible to sketch a scenario in which the social issues matter a lot.

The Unlikely Upshot Of Two Women's Health Fights
February 03, 2012

The Komen Foundation's decision to cave quickly on its decision to defund Planned Parenthood has made me puzzle even more over the contrasting course of this week's two different battles regarding women's reproductive health. First, we had the dispute over the Obama administration's decision to require large Catholic institutions -- hospitals and universities, mostly -- to comply with the new requirement that large employer health insurance plans cover contraception.

Debate Reaction: Maybe Newt Helped Romney
January 26, 2012

Democrats in 2008 fretted that the long, bruising primary campaign would damage their party's eventual nominee. And in some ways it probably did. Some political professional believe President Obama’s standing among blue-collar white voters in Pennsylvania never recovered from the attacks Hillary Clinton made on him there.  But the campaign also turned Obama into a more effective candidate, as (I think) Obama himself would later admit. With each debate and each exchange of negative advertisements, Obama became more focused, more aggressive, and more capable of holding his own.

The Sordid K Street Past of Rick Santorum
January 06, 2012

Rick Santorum has received, and courted, plenty of comparisons with Mike Huckabee since his near-victory in the Iowa Caucuses, but not all of them have been earned. Yes, like Huckabee in 2008, Santorum has been heavily dependent on grassroots campaigning, with direct appeals to evangelical voters, and a veneer of folksy, blue-collar economic populism. But the comparison ought to stop there. What Santorum cannot match is Huckabee’s status as a genuine Washington outsider, someone untainted by the corrupt dealings inside the beltway.

Conservative Republicans’ Tragic Failure To Stick With a Candidate
January 05, 2012

The results of the Iowa caucuses illuminate the basic structure of today’s Republican Party and offer clues about what’s to come between now and the end of January. Pew’s “political typology,” the latest iteration of which appeared last May, provides the best point of departure. That report used a statistical technique known as cluster analysis to identify four major pro-Republican groups: Staunch Conservatives (11 percent of registered voters), Main Street Conservatives (14 percent), Libertarians (10 percent), and “Disaffecteds” (11 percent).

Can Rick Santorum Pull Off an Upset in New Hampshire?
January 05, 2012

BRENTWOOD, N.H.—During all those lonely months in Iowa, wandering from Pizza Ranch to dingy motel, wondering if 10 voters would show up at the next event, Rick Santorum must have fantasized about his return to New Hampshire, powered by a stunning upset in the caucuses. Somehow, though, it is doubtful that Santorum imagined that his first event in the state would be held in the auditorium of a nursing home. Or that maybe a third of the crowd would drift away before Santorum finished speaking. For nearly 90 minutes, Santorum answered random voter questions.

Rick Santorum, Closet Populist?
December 29, 2011

Amid all the talk of Rick Santorum's surge in Iowa, I'm a little surprised more people aren't noting that he has something in common with 2008 caucus winner Mike Huckabee other than the obvious, their shared base of support among the state's social conservatives.

The Collector
December 14, 2011

On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.

Keystone Conundrum
November 23, 2011

What's the matter with Pennsylvania? That question, or the implication of it, was embedded near the end of my last post looking at whether President Obama faces an "Ohio versus Virginia" choice in plotting a path to reelection.