Why Would a Church Youth Group Pretend to Kidnap Teens?
July 31, 2012

A Pennsylvania church and its youth pastor were charged last week with false imprisonment and assault for pretending to kidnap youth group members in order to teach them about religious persecution. You know you’re an evangelical when your first reaction to that news isn’t shock but, “Man, I can’t believe fools are still doing that.” Let me explain. When I was growing up in southeastern Michigan, I was an enthusiastic Jesus nerd, attending all manner of Baptist youth fellowship conferences, winter retreats, summer church camps, and a year-long leadership program for young Baptists.

Why the Obama Campaign Isn’t Sweating Voter ID Laws in Pennsylvania
July 30, 2012

A widely-held belief is that voter-ID laws endanger Obama's chances in Pennsylvania, but the campaign's don't seem to buy it. Last week, Romney allies withdrew advertisements from Pennsylvania, and the Obama campaign cut their buy in half. This week, the Obama campaign is going even further: withdrawing advertisements from the Keystone State altogether, making this the first week that Obama has gone without airing advertisements in Pennsylvania.

So Goes Poland, So Goes America
July 30, 2012

After months defending traditionally red states like North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Ohio, Romney has finally decided to launch an offensive. Where? Poland: The predictably undefended flank of Obama’s route to 270 electoral votes. Poland is the ancestral homeland of about 3 percent of the American population, but a higher share of a few traditionally Democratic but potentially competitive states, like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where Polish-Americans constitute between 7 and 10 percent of the population.

The Case of Pennsylvania's Missing Ads
July 26, 2012

One of the early peculiarities of the advertising campaign is the half-hearted effort in Pennsylvania—a state which figured prominently in the electoral calculus of the last three presidential elections. Despite that place in recent electoral history, Romney hasn’t aired any ads in Pennsylvania since the general election began.

Is Minnesota the Newest Swing State?
July 23, 2012

Why isn’t Minnesota a swing state?

Guns and the Candidates: In Their Own Words
July 20, 2012

We will shortly be hearing from both President Obama and Mitt Romney about the fatal shootings in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Here, by way of context and without commentary, are some of the candidates’ more memorable past remarks on the subject of firearms in America. “I’m not a big-game hunter. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.

Is Obama Alienating Rich Voters?
July 19, 2012

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.

The Key to a Romney Win in Pennsylvania: Mondale Democrats
July 18, 2012

Every four years, political reporters flood western Pennsylvania searching for the latest clue to decipher the shifting allegiances of coveted “Reagan Democrats,” the socially conservative voters who abandoned the New Deal coalition over cultural issues in the '70's and '80's. When a candidate visits Pennsylvania, the accompanying news reports remind us that “Reagan Democrats” are the consummate swing voters who maintain a stranglehold over the outcome of critical races in large industrial Midwestern states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Will Voter ID Laws Cost Obama Reelection?
July 16, 2012

The possibility that new voter-ID laws could disenfranchise thousands of Democratic- voters in pivotal swing states has received considerable attention recently. After all, 9.2 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania lack photo identification, including 18 percent of registered voters in heavily Democratic Philadelphia. But these flashy numbers might be misleading. If voter-ID laws have consequences for voter turnout, they’re difficult to detect. Several studies conducted in the wake of the 2006 midterms showed a weak correlation between tougher voter-ID laws and reduced turnout.

Why Obama Shouldn't Be Taking the Black Vote for Granted
July 12, 2012

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.