Friday, August 3, 2012

Election Week in Review (August 3, 2012)

The political zeitgeist crowned the Next Great Hope for both parties this week.  The Democrats selected 37-year old San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to be the keynote speaker at their convention.  Keynote speeches have often been notable….Mario Cuomo (1984), Ann Richards (1988) and, of course, Barack Obama (2004) among them.  (Bill Clinton’s panned 1988 speech was not the keynote address; rather it was the nominating speech for Michael Dukakis.)  Clearly the DNC is hoping to ignite some Obama magic for Castro.  Castro in 2020?  Remember the name.

Another name to remember is Ted Cruz of Texas, a 41-year old Princeton-educated Tea Party favorite who upset Rick’s Perry’s establishment candidate, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst in the primary for the Republican Senate nomination.  Cruz will almost certainly win the Senate seat in the fall, replacing Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R).  The Tea Party has struggled for some time to identify a credible presidential candidate, and Cruz may leapfrog the Age of Marco Rubio before it even begins.  Cruz in 2020?  (Or even 2016?) Remember the name. 

Mitt Romney concluded his overseas tour, proclaiming success to a skeptical audience.  He raised eyebrows with his bashing of Palestinian “productivity,” but this was no gaffe.  And in Poland, Romney’s traveling press secretary told the press to “kiss my ass” and “shove it” as they shouted questions at Romney at a Polish war memorial ceremony.  Whatever the magnitude of these incidents, they completed a trifecta of controversy for Romney at each stop on the trip, starting with the Olympics criticism flak in London.  The Fox News take was that the liberal press ignored the real big news of the trip – the declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the endorsement of Lech Walesa in Poland.  Perhaps they did, but only because of Romney’s own lack of dexterity, his own verbal choices, and his staff (that guy apologized to the press and went on immediate leave, by the way).

The New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac poll made front-page news in the decisive margins Obama holds in the three largest swings states, Ohio (+6), Florida (+6) and Pennsylvania (+11).  Obama was over 50% in all three.  If he wins those three states, it’s all over.

The week ended with the monthly jobs report.  It was a mixed bag, with the good news being 163,000 jobs added, a good number that was well above the consensus estimates of 100,000.  But the unemployment rate itself climbed to 8.3%.  Ah, the continuing pitfalls of using two different sets of data to purport to give us the overall state of play.  The campaigns will predictably focus on the number that suits their stories best; but for what it is worth, the early stock market verdict is a big positive….as I write this the Dow is up 173 points and is back over 13,000.

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