If GOP Allows It, Rand Paul’s Meteoric Rise Could Save Them

By Nick Davis

With each passing presidential election, it seems the cycle starts a little bit earlier every year.  The upcoming cycle is no different despite being over three and half years away. Let’s call March of 2013 the unofficial start to the 2016 campaign season. Hillary Clinton came out on video with the Human Rights Campaign in support of gay marriage. And Rand Paul has made it no secret that he is exploring his options as they pertain to 2016. He has taken center stage this month, most notably with his 13-hour filibuster of CIA Director nomination, John Brennan.

The junior senator from Kentucky will be the GOP’s own gut check to see if they’re ready to take on the changes proposed by the Growth and Opportunity Project. It appears Mr. Paul is ready to take on that challenge. He recently outlined his immigration stance at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and called for the decriminalization of marijuana, among other things, at the annual CPAC conference. Additionally, his constitutional and federalist bent on gay marriage could appease both liberals and conservatives, allowing each state government to determine what is best for them (at least until the Supreme Court returns its verdict sometime in June).

So what are Paul’s realistic chances of getting elected in 2016? Oddsmakers have put Mr. Paul at anywhere from 12-1 to 28-1 odds that this stage in the process, not exactly a sure bet.  Nate Silver, the election prophet over at the New York Times, recently outlined Paul’s appeal within his own party and whom he could attract from independents and Democrats. In that blog, Silver describes the Olympic Rings of the Republican Party. Its clear that Paul would fall into the libertarian category, but I’ll make the claim that he’ll have no problem attracting strong support from other factions of the party.

He has made it clear that he’s ready to deal on immigration, something that will attract moderates and reformers of the GOP. He’ll attract the Tea Party conservatives through his staunch fiscal restraint and religious conservatives should look fondly on his sponsorship of the Right to Life Act being proposed in the Senate now. His libertarian core base loves his dedication to the Constitution and his isolationist foreign policy.

So, that leaves the establishment base of the party, those who toe the party line and seem to be the most electable according to the pundits. It is these very people who are the reason why the Growth and Opportunity Project report was commissioned in the first place. Rand Paul is the very definition of the type of message and branding that this report described. His shift into immigration has the potential to win over some of the Latino vote while his idealistic and impassioned stance on the use of drones and libertarian approach to marijuana and gay marriage have strong potential to draw the youth vote.

There is still strong support for fiscal conservatism today. Republicans would do well to reconsider their positions on foreign policy and social issues. While Rand Paul will have only held political office for six years when the election rolls around, Barack Obama has proven that years of experience aren’t critical to being elected. In fact, it could be an asset. Americans, especially Republicans, are looking for a fresh face and ideas, and Rand Paul could be the one to deliver them.

6 mobile apps to get you through Election Day

Votifi - of course we can shamelessly self-promote, in the spirit of elections; also the only one of these apps to already be available on Windows8 [iOS] [Win8]

Polltracker - Poll junkies can keep track of all the polls they can humanly swallow with this one, via TalkingPointsMemo [iOS]

Adhawk - Provides funding information about the groups responsible for political ads, from our friends at Sunlight Foundation [iOS] [Android]

SuperPACApp - Similar to Adhawk, but provides additional information regarding the claims that an ad is making [iOS]

FactCheck.org mobile - Not a real app, but a slick, mobile friendly interface that allows you to check facts regarding the Presidential elections

Show of hands - a cool polling app that shows instant feedback on how people are voting around the country [iOS] [Android] [KindleFire]

Know any more good ones? Let us know @votifi and we’ll add to the list

Hot Get Out The Vote Tech (via @Techcrunch)

Some cool/creepy tech that’s helping to get out the vote today, via TechCrunch

  • The Romney Campaign’s Digital Brain: Project Orca
  • Organizer, a volunteer and canvasser logistics startup, brings UPS-like logistics to neighborhood get-out-the-vote workers, overlaying a walking path most likely to reach the important fence-sitting voters over a smartphone map.
  • Vote With Friends allows users to catagorize their friends into blocs of likely voters and message them with reminders to vote
  • Poll-Watcher, which monitors which Democrats stroll into the voting booth and then relays the information back to callers and canvassers, so that limited get-out-the-vote resources can be targeted to those who haven’t voted yet.
Diary of an Undecided Voter, Part 2

By Audrey Sullivan

So here we are, just five days out from the election.  I’m sure many of you will agree with me when I say that I completely sympathize with the four-year-old girl in the YouTube video crying about how she is sick of hearing about “Bronco Bamma” and Mitt Romney.  While the election will indeed be over soon, the repercussions of our decisions next Tuesday will directly impact us for four years, and indirectly for quite some time after that. That being said, yes, I am still undecided and yes, I am starting to panic.

Early voting started here in North Carolina, as it did in many other states, last week. Friends committed in their decisions have been heading off to the polls after class for the last few days. The “I voted early!” stickers they stamp on their sweaters and backpacks are constant reminders that I haven’t.

As for the flyers, they have remained as pervasive as ever. When I opened the door for trick-or-treaters last night, I was half expecting little kids in Batman costumes to hand me political literature as I handed them Snickers. Interestingly, although North Carolina is expected to go to Romney at this point, the majority of this week’s pamphlets star beaming photos of our President and his wife, reminding us to get to the polls early and vote (for him, of course).

The canvassing has also been increasing at an impossible rate. I’m not sure where the candidates have found these people willing to knock on college student’s doors at 9 am on a Sunday, because it is a truly thankless job. My roommates and I have stopped answering the door unless we are expecting company, or have ordered pizza within the past hour. Mostly due to the frequency of the latter, I have had to engage in a few conversations with canvassers, most of which are reminding me to (once again), go vote early.

My university has an interesting political dynamic. The professors are for the most part extremely liberal, while the student body and alumni are much more conservative. Professors generally try to hide their affiliation, but the information we receive as fact and the readings we are assigned are often biased. Students make no such effort. After a tailgate last week I had to peel about five “Deacons for Romney” stickers off of my back, and remove the Romney-Ryan 2012 button that had been given to me by Senator Richard Burr from my purse. While I am proud of my friends for making their decisions, I hope they respect me in whatever choice I make in the end.

A few recent events have had some weight on my decision, the largest being Hurricane Sandy. Being from the Northeast myself and having many friends from the tri-state area, I felt this storm was handled very well. It also brought up the issue of climate change in a big way for the first time this election, and it has been interesting to see what both camps have said on the issue. In the next few days I will look more closely at issues such as Supreme Court appointments, economic plans, and the ever-elusive social issues. In the end, it may come down to just going with my gut. While that may not be the most scientific way of going about things, I can hardly call myself an uninformed voter, and I think somewhere down deep I really do know who I will choose.  There are just five days until we all have to make our decisions, and five days until we can get our pizza in peace.

Political map lovers, REJOICE

This must be the coolest map I’ve seen in a while as it relates to voting. The Spatial Social Science Lab at Stanford has visualized voting outcomes by precinct for 2008. 

What’s interesting here is how splotchy the precincts are. When you heard on election night, for example, that 14% of precincts in Virginia were reporting results that favored Mitt Romney, that statement would mean virtually nothing since Virginia precincts (or precincts in any state for that matter) are not evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats. 

Click here to play around with the map. 

Diary of an Undecided Voter, part 1

By Audrey Sullivan

Growing up in the perpetually blue state of Massachusetts, I felt that my vote in presidential elections never really counted.  So when I was given the chance to register to vote in North Carolina (where I attend school), I jumped at the opportunity.  North Carolina has typically trended Republican, but just four years ago broke that mold by only a few thousand votes. I felt that either way I cast my ballot I would be making a difference.  Now one question remained: whom do I vote for?

I know what you are thinking. The election is only about two weeks away, how on earth could anyone, especially someone whose job involves political blogging, still be undecided? I guess I’ve managed the impossible.  Like so many people, I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Graduating high school four years ago, the social aspects were more important to me. Now, as I watch each class above me graduate and struggle to find jobs, I can’t help but think the economy is my number one priority, and that it may be time for a change. 

Read More

Watch The Digital Campaign on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Frontline deep dive into campaigns and technology and targeting

Swing state series: Nevada

By Nick Davis

With the election focusing on the economy and unemployment, Nevada may have the most at stake come November 6th. With the highest unemployment rate in the Union at 11.8%, the people of Nevada may set the tone for what is important around the country, unemployment or job creation.

Nevada has experienced the worst of the recession, largely based on the housing crisis where at its peak in 2010, unemployment reached 14%, last in the nation. As the housing bubble burst, it’s no surprise that the construction industry took the brunt of the bad economy. While steady gains in jobs over the first three quarters has eased the pain in 2012, the industry still lags in comparison to the same period a year ago.

On the flip side, Nevada has the greatest individual state unemployment decrease since The Great Recession began in 2008. From it’s peak at 14% in October of 2010, the state finds itself at a much improved and a 50 state best, 11.8% according to the latest jobs report.  Retail and government jobs have increased the most this past month with the upcoming holiday season and the recent start of the fall semester.

Read More

Topics for tonights foreign policy debate
* America’s role in the world
* Our longest war – Afghanistan and Pakistan
* Red Lines – Israel and Iran
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – I
* The Changing Middle East and the New Face of Terrorism – II
* The Rise of China and Tomorrow’s World
What about Africa? South America? Development? #fail
This is not quite true…Gallup now makes about 50% of its calls to cell phones as Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport says here. 

We have blogged about the possible bias in polling that under represents cell-phone-only voters. In a number of cases the analysis of surveys which did and did not include cell phones showed a clear bias in the case of either candidate. If Gallup is calling so many cell phones now (only 30-35% of the country is Cell Phone Mostly at last check) perhaps it is their poll which is the most accurate?
We wont’ know for sure until November 6. 

This is not quite true…Gallup now makes about 50% of its calls to cell phones as Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport says here

We have blogged about the possible bias in polling that under represents cell-phone-only voters. In a number of cases the analysis of surveys which did and did not include cell phones showed a clear bias in the case of either candidate. If Gallup is calling so many cell phones now (only 30-35% of the country is Cell Phone Mostly at last check) perhaps it is their poll which is the most accurate?

We wont’ know for sure until November 6.