Popular Much?

Danny Zeng | October 10, 2013

The President and the Congressional Democrats’ most recent decision to shut down the government is reflected in their approval ratings.

AP released its most recent poll yesterday with a sample of 1,227 participants and +/- 3.4% of errors with a 95% confidence interval. The President’s approval rating slipped 13 percentage points since April, from 50% to 37%. A majority of Americans disprove how the President is handling federal deficit and managing the federal government.  Even a plurality of Americans seem to give the President a thumb down on issues such as the economy, unemployment, healthcare, immigration, and gun laws. There can be no doubt that constant news framing, acerbic opposition rhetoric, and late night talk shows are eroding politicians’ popularity among the people.

While the President’s rating slipped in the latest poll, Congress is diving off the rating cliff itself. Polling at a meager 5% approval, the lowest since summer of 2010, our nation’s legislative body is a non-legit slate of work – nay “work” would be too generous a usage in this context. Even though Congress has such a historic low approval, the structure of Congress, a body comprised of 535 elected members, make it nearly impossible for high ratings: any miscreant group of legislators could poison the well rending the body the least liked branch of government.

When asked about to what extent do people think the President or Republicans should negotiate to end the shutdown, a majority of Americans want to see politicians working harder to open up government for business. It is interesting to point out from the poll that a vast majority of Americans (lower 90s) do not feel the impact of the shutdown. It is similar to the popular demand for  PCL to open 24/7 here at the University, but yet such action has so little consequence for vast majority of students.

One question that is very telling about the public’s understanding of the current issue in Washington is “In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose raising the federal debt limit in order to avoid defaulting on U.S. government debts?” Almost half, 46%, of Americans neither support nor oppose raising the debt ceiling. I have zero idea what these folks have in mind in terms of options on the table.

News flash: the debt ceiling WILL be raised, like dozens of times in recent decades. The issue here is still long-term spending. The GOP in Washington recognize that the debt ceiling provides them with leverage to deal with deeper fiscal problems that this President and his party allies in Congress have refused to do. The market does not need to freak. The journalists need to stop writing doomsday stories on a U.S. default. This crescendo-like, crisis-driven, cliff-diving, who-blinks-first sort of high-stake game of chicken has unfortunately become the new normal of Washington politics. At the end of the day, average Americans suffer as result of campaign-oriented, chest-pumping posturing.

To be fair, the system incentives little negotiation, compromise, or working together as result of attractive political gains.

Political gains: constant news coverage a.k.a free PR, shifting public attention allows for unorthodox law making to grant favors to special interests a.k.a. long-time supporters in the interim, prime pump campaign chests for 2014 through a war of blames, activate and mobilize the base for future campaigns, Mr. Smith goes to Washington…to become filibuster YouTube stars, etc.

Public losses: civic dysfunction that breeds public cynicism, stress on our constitutional system, showmanship over statesmanship that provides marginally low entertainment values compared to the gravity of these issues (unless you are C-SPAN nut job), losing competitive edge to up-and-rising countries abroad, and ultimately affecting lots of people’s livelihoods.

Despite the perverse incentives in place, I strongly urge the President to come to the table and do the job he was elected to do – LEAD. The power of the purse has resided with Congress since its inception. No President should willy-nilly stonewall on the question of who gets the say on what government funds – that’s the primary responsibility of Congress. I urge the President to respect the demarcation of powers (and not listen to liberal columnist’s call to take the issue into his own hands), lead the conversation and cease to stifle sensible negotiation opportunities over his predictably-poor-performing pet policy project that a significant plurality of Americans don’t like and don’t want. 

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Midnight Tweets from #HB2: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Blue Shirts Rally at the Capitol

Pro-life advocates organize and gather inside the Texas Capitol to support HB2 sponsored by Rep. Laubenberg (R-Parker) Photo Courtesy of Texas Alliance for Life

Danny Zeng | July 3rd, 2013

OK, I admit. The first one is biased…BUT that picture shared by Governor Perry is priceless. The other ones are great pro-life arguments made by everyday folks on Twitter. Overall, the overwhelming amount of tweets under #Stand4Life, including many posted by first-time Twitter users (discernible by an egg picture), was very encouraging. Around midnight, the House State Affairs Committee voted 8-3 in favor of HB 2 out of the committee. The bill will now go to the full House for consideration. Pro-lifers prevailed in face of rampant vulgarity and “hail satan” chants!

The Good

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The Bad

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The most recent Texas Tribune poll states otherwise: 62% of respondents (including 61% of women) show at least some support for abortion restrictions. National Journal released a poll that shows 48% of Americans favor a bill that bans abortion after 20 weeks, a four-point lead over the opponents. The same polls shows that a majority (51%) of young people aged 18-29  favor such a ban (and 41% oppose). In addition, 50% of women are in favor of such ban as opposed to 44% against. This again goes to show that people who descend upon the Capitol do not represent Texans and the American people.

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To them, it’s a joke.

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Wow…

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When they speak of “human rights”…well you can read it again from Kirsten Powers’ column from yesterday

Human-rights movements have traditionally existed to help the voiceless and those without agency gain progressively more rights. Yet in the case of abortion, the voiceless have progressively lost rights at the hands of people who claim to be human-rights crusaders. Abortion-rights leaders have turned the world upside down. They want us to believe that a grown woman is voiceless, that she has less agency than the infant in her womb who relies on her for life. A woman has so little agency, we are told, that she is incapable of getting an abortion before the fifth month of her pregnancy. To suggest she should do so is a “war on women.” It’s an insult to women dressed up as “women’s rights.” (The Daily Beast July 2, 2013)

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Thanks but no thanks. I don’t think we’ll take advice from a self-avowed “progressive Democrat.” But apparently some young women would stand for “hail satan?”

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Please explain the moral distinction between “pro-abortion” and “pro-choice”

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“The unborn” who is indisputably on a path to BE born and is at the most vulnerable stage of his/her life…Yes, I’d say we care more about “the unborn” versus a fully-grown adult.

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Dream big. I like it.

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The whole structure of the federal constitution is to outline, limit, and separate power into three branches of government and establish a system of checks and balances to protect the kind of “inalienable rights” proposed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “that among these are Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness” umm in that order where Life takes precedence (perhaps common sense?) over liberty and pursuit of happiness. I’m curious to see the right to abortion in the Constitution.

The Ugly

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Not worthy of comments.

Half of the Youth Vote Left Untapped: Potential Game Changer for 2016?

 

Let’s look at the numbers from the election in an attempt to make some sense out of it. In 2012, Romney won Texas with 57.2% of the vote versus Obama’s 41.4%, close to 1.3 million more votes than the President, that is a 15.84% margin. This is not surprising, considering that last time Texas went for a Democratic nominee was in 1976 – Jimmy Carter.  Close to eight million Texans casted a ballot in this election. Republicans have gained a two-percentage lead in the state from 2008.

Now looking at Travis County: 385,081 voted in Travis County this year in the presidential race, 60.1% went for Obama and 36.2% for Romney. There are 635,300 registered voters in Travis County, bringing this year’s countywide turnout to 61.3%.

Back in 2008, the President won Travis County 63.5-34.3. Over the last four years, the President’s advantage eroded more than three percentage points. [Interesting Side Note: My native Harris County in Houston was split down the middle, essentially tied, with the President edging a win with a mere +585 margin. Jefferson County is another close win for the President, 50.4% over 48.8%. Texas is all red except Travis County, Dallas County, Harris County, Bexar County, counties in the Valley, and a few counties in West Texas]

The youth vote (19-29) went to Obama 60-36 in this election. That is a 24-percentage point gap that Republicans need to close in coming years. However, this can be viewed as improvement from the 66-31 ratio in 2008. Nationally, the Obama coalition lost five percentage points in youth vote. This has to be one of the most under reported statistics from this election (all we hear about is that Latinos overwhelmingly voted for Obama). Obviously, the Republican Party can do more to include young voters into its fold.

To provide you with an idea of how important – or rather, how underrated – the youth vote is to this year’s election: according to CIRCLE, “In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, if Romney had won half the youth vote, or if young people had stayed home all together, he would have won those key battleground states.  A switch of those 80 electoral votes would have also changed the presidency, electing Romney as president.” 

This speaks to the strength of the youth vote in the years to come, particularly in the next presidential election. 23 million young voters turned out to vote in this election, which is only one half of eligible young voters, meaning the other half is left untapped by political organizations. In toss-up, or leaning states, youth turnout was as high as 55-58%. There are 3.7 million youth voters in Texas. That is 23% of the state’s eligible voters. Turnout is under 40%, so more than 2 million young people do not turn out to vote. If 60% of them do turnout and vote Democrats in future elections, Texas might become a blue state. That is how big of a deal young voters are to the future political landscape.

Who are the young voters? Well 1 out of 11 youth voters self identify as LGBTQ, that is more than double the proportion of the electorate as a whole. 1 out of 10 youth voters are Hispanic young men. About half of the youth voters (44%) are Hispanics, Blacks, or LGBTQ, groups that voted overwhelmingly for the President. 90% of youth have family income at or below $50k. The youth vote has gained 17 million new members since 2008. While fewer young voters identified themselves as Democrats this election, almost none moved into the GOP rank – more identified as “independents.”

A particular stab at young Republicans’ failure in messaging this past election: overwhelming proportion of youth (67%) blamed the economy on George W. Bush. Young minority women voted overwhelmingly for the President, with young black females voting 98% for the President. Not all youth groups supported the President though; young white males and young white females supported GOP by a slim margin. Young females have a slight better turnout than young males. Mobilizing young males to go to the polls may help Republicans in the future. Also, the GOP needs to do more to explain the role of government to non-whites. There is a 20-point gap between non-White young males and white young males on their view of the role of government. 66% of youth with college experienced turned out to vote, versus 35% of youth without college experience. GOP needs to do a better job reaching out to youth without college experience. That requires a new way of thinking about social media outreach and campaigning beyond mere college campuses, as college aged (18-24) young voters make up only about one-fourth of the youth vote.

Sources: CIRCLE, Travis County Clerk, Politico Election Results, Dave Leip’s Atlas Election Results

Romney: I’ll restore the vitality that gets America working again #debate2012

By Danny Zeng

Tonight, after not doing so well in the polls in recent weeks, Governor Romney resurged as the opposition leader who is in command of the issues challenging a very liberal president who has a drastically different vision for America. Everyone went into the debate knowing that the most important issue to America: job creation. Throughout the debate, Romney remained constant on-message in that HE is the only candidate who has a real plan to create jobs for this country.

Obama’s standard message on his failure to deal with the debt: I inherited…[The President: “When I walked into the Oval Office, I had more than a trillion-dollar deficit greeting me”] The then-candidate Obama promised that he’d cut the deficit by half, but deficit has been above a trillion throughout Obama’s tenure. The President lost control of the issues toward the beginning when he unsuccessfully tried to tag Romney to “trickled down economy.” If anything, the conventional wisdom that “it’s the economy, stupid” as a campaign mantra has salvaged tonight, as the President was hammered on his failed economic policies.

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