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Is It Real, or Is It a Political Head Fake?

September 29, 2014 In the early 1970s there was a classic television commercial for Memorex, a company just entering the consumer market for high-quality audio cassettes. In the commercial, jazz great Ella Fitzgerald would hit a high note, shattering a wine glass. Then, they would play her back on tape, shattering the glass...

A Razor-Thin Lead for the GOP

September 22, 2014 Are things getting better for Senate Democrats? Certainly many of the better (more reliable) statistical models seem to suggest they are. Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight moved from a 64 percent chance of the GOP gaining a majority, predicted on Sept. 3, to a 54.7 percent chance on Sept. 15. As of...

How Awful Will the Midterms be for the Democrats?

September 15, 2014 In bad midterm-election years, members of a president's party often find the political climate challenging. In some ways, it is like a swimmer encountering riptides or facing strong undertows. The degree of the danger varies from location to location, and in many cases, weak swimmers struggle in this environment; occasionally,...

Explaining Barack Obama's Terrible Political Summer

September 8, 2014 Now that Labor Day is behind us, the most remarkable thing about this midterm election is how little has changed since Memorial Day. In the closest and most crucial contest, for control of the U.S. Senate, only the race in Kansas looks fundamentally different than it did three months ago....

The Lessons of the 2010 Midterm Elections

August 4, 2014 In real estate, the three most important things are said to be "location, location, and location." In politics, it might well be "timing, timing, and timing." As we approach the 2014 midterm elections, the Senate's Democratic majority is teetering on the edge, but the House is just an afterthought, with...

Blocking the Vote in Congress

July 28, 2014 A friend of mine who has been a lobbyist for years—and wants to remain anonymous so he can continue doing it a while longer—recently made the argument to me that the current Congress is not, in fact, the least productive in U.S. history. But you do have to go quite...

Disruptive Politics

July 21, 2014 Back in the mid-1990s, Harvard professor Clayton Christensen coined the phrases "disruptive technology" and "disruptive innovation" to describe certain kinds of game-changing developments in the business world. Now, in politics, we are seeing a variation on that theme. On the left, the Occupy movement helped spawned a new populism that...

Playing in Traffic Is Not Safe Politics

July 14, 2014 While I have never seen anyone literally thrown under a bus, I would imagine it is quite a grisly sight. In politics, we occasionally see someone throw an individual or a group on their own team under one. That is not a pretty sight either. Early this year, we saw...

Back to 'Abnormal' in Post-Katrina New Orleans

July 11, 2014 Not everyone should watch the documentaryGetting Back to Abnormal, to be aired on PBS next week. If you are someone who loves visiting New Orleans for the great food, terrific jazz, and unparalleled nightlife, or for the unique history and architecture, and you don’t want that idyllic image complicated in...

Democrats Face Unfair Fight in Midterms

June 30, 2014 Generally speaking, the further into a U.S. president’s tenure in office one gets, the less volatility there is in that president’s job-approval rating. It’s pretty logical that 1,979 days into Barack Obama’s presidency, the number of people most inclined to approve of his performance has stabilized, as has the number...

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