Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Romney for Secretary of State

My guess is that Trump is merely trolling Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley by meeting with them in the wake of the election. He enjoys the spectacle of them coming to kiss his ring but is way too narcissistic to appoint anyone who has been critical of him.

Having said that, Mitt Romney would be a fine choice for Secretary of State. I support Romney not in spite of his being a conservative but because he is one.

Romney views NATO as a critical part of American defense and articulated ideas for revitalizing it during the 2012 campaign. Contrast Romney’s viewpoint with that of Trumpkin Newt Gingrich who said that Estonia is in the “suburbs of St. Petersburg” and not worth defending–a statement more than a little reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s infamous reference to Nazi aggression against Czechoslovakia as a “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Romney labelled Russia as a “geopolitical foe” — a regretfully accurate description in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria. Romney has been willing to take on Trump over his coziness with Putin. This will be needed in light of Trump’s willingness to let Russia dictate American foreign policy (e.g. we can’t support the rebels in Syria because Russia wouldn’t like it) and his naming of Michael Flynn–an abrasive man with close business ties to the Russians–as National Security Advisor.

Romney favors free trade:

The economic rise of China and other countries across Asia poses a different type of challenge. China and the rest of Asia are on the move economically and technologically. They are a family-oriented, educated, hardworking, and mercantile people. Trade and commerce with these huge new economies can further strengthen our economy and propel our growth. If America fails to act, we will be eclipsed. We have to keep our markets open or we go the way of Russia and the Soviet Union, which is a collapse. And I recognize there are some people who will argue for protectionism because the short-term benefits sound pretty good, but long term you kill your economy, you kill the future.

This doesn’t mean that Romney supports unfair trading practices on the parts of our partners. But it does mean that he recognizes that trade is critical to American economic success and an important part of our future–a welcome approach in an era when this has gone out of style in both major parties.

In short, Romney’s basic approach resembles that far more of Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. He would be a welcome sign of calm as the election results have created deep concern among our key allies and partners around the world.


Explaining Hogan’s Stance on Syrian Refugees

Romney Hogan ModelsYesterday’s post showed the strong relationship between the share who voted No on Question 4 in 2012 (the Maryland Dream Act) and support for Romney and Hogan across Maryland counties. Today, I look at models that control for other variables to test whether immigration or other factors best predicts support for Republican candidates in our state.

Immigration is Powerful

Immigration dominates  other factors when explaining GOP support at the county level. The Romney model projects that Romney gained an estimated 9.5% additional votes for every 10% increase in the share who voted against the Dream Act.

Immigration has an even stronger relationship on the vote for Gov. Larry Hogan–he gained 13.1% more votes for every 10% who voted No on Question 4. So Hogan did a better job than Romney of magnifying the anti-immigration vote.

Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage was on the ballot in 2012 and a source of disagreement in the presidential campaign. As the state became the first to vote Yes on marriage equality, a 10% rise in support for marriage for equality cost Romney an estimated 2.5% of the vote.

Two years later, when support for marriage had increased further according to the polls, Hogan did his best to minimize discussion of the issue and take it off the table. He succeeded. Unlike for Romney, views on marriage equality had no impact on support for Hogan.

The Politics of Syrian Refugees

In his successful effort to win the Governor’s Mansion, Gov. Hogan downplayed his views on same-sex marriage. Hogan has wisely stuck with this approach of doing nothing to please social conservatives beyond stating his personal support for their viewpoint.

Immigration is also a complex issue for Hogan. A thumping majority voted for the Dream Act in 2012. Yet the above models demonstrate immigration’s strong salience to Hogan’s base. Politicians can only afford to tick off their base so much.

What to do? From a calculated political point of view, Hogan pleased his base by opposing Syrian refugees. He also probably doesn’t mind to the extent that his stand is being drowned out in the media by more hysterical reactions by other governors and presidential candidates, as it minimizes the number of alienated pro-immigrant voters.

Notes on Other Factors

Beyond the factors tested above, I also looked at the share of Asians and Hispanics as well as median household income. None had a significant impact on the support for Hogan or Romney once the immigration was included. I should note that income frequently has a bigger impact in surveys than at the aggregate level. Unfortunately, I had no easy measure of county attitudes on economic issues, as opposed to income. African-American areas voted more heavily Democratic according to the models but the impact is lower than one might expect after controlling for immigration.



Anti-Immigrant Sentiment and Republican Support

While yesterday’s post looked at the growth of anti-immigrant, radical right populist parties in Europe, today turns back to Maryland. Specifically, just how closely linked is anti-immigrant sentiment to support for Republicans?

The election results from Question 4 from 2012 provide a handy snapshot of the views of voters on immigrants. Question 4 asked voters if they wanted to keep in place the Maryland Dream Act. The pro-immigrant side won a big victory when 58.9% of Marylanders voted in favor of allowing undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition under certain conditions.

The county results on Question 4 turn out to be an excellent predictor of how each county voted in the 2012 presidential election. The scatterplot below shows that the share of a county’s voters that supported Romney or Hogan tended to increase in line with the share who voted no on Question 4.

Q4 & RomneyThis was not a one off, as the same is true for the 2014 gubernatorial election. Support for the Republican Larry Hogan tended to rise with the share who voted no on Question 4.

Q4 & HoganThe correlation between the share who voted no and the share who voted for Romney in each county was a very high .96. (Correlations have a maximum of 1, which would indicate that one factor perfectly predicts the other.) The correlation between the no vote and vote for Hogan was the same .96.

The next part of this series in immigration will compare the strength of immigration to other issues and demographic factors as predictor of election outcomes.


The Trump and Other Meaningless Polling Moments

Poll: Trump surges to lead in big lead in GOP presidential race” is currently the lead headline trumpeted on the Washington Post website. While I am as big a poll junkie as the next person who follows politics like baseball, this seems a good opportunity to remember how meaningless presidential primary polls are at this point.

Money is Being Raised, Not Spent
While candidates are busy dialing for dollars, they aren’t spending their hoards of cash on media yet. When they do, it will play a major role in defining candidates and today’s leader easily becomes the next one on the garbage heap.

Mitt Romney became the Republican nominee in 2012 by going negative on each new anti-Romney in turn. As the following chart shows, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum each had their 15 minutes during the last go round.


Election expenditures by Super PACs and others will also shape public opinion. Nearly $3.4 million dollars was spent by “outside groups,” including Super PACs supporting a candidate, attacking Gingrich in Iowa after he took a polling lead. After Gingrich resurfaced in South Carolina–groups favoring him spent $3.0 million there attacking Romney–other groups spent another $9.9 million pulverizing Gingrich into oblivion in Florida.

Media Moment
Most candidates are completely unknown to the American people, including the much smaller primary selectorate. Nothing gets media attention like making outrageous statements. Long before Donald Trump, we had Pat Buchanan closing speeches by calling people to “lock and load” for the conservanut revolution.

Inevitably, going up in the polls is followed by media scrutiny, which leads to either media gaffe or discovery of past embarrassment sure to be featured on all the news and comedy programs. Remember that Herman Cain’s ephemerally popular 9-9-9 plan was followed by “U-beki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.” Rick Perry couldn’t recall the Cabinet departments he planned to cut but now has new Google glasses designed to help him out this year.

In short, after the media has raised one up by giving red-meat remarks attention and the ripped them to shreds, the public and the cameras move on to the next one.

Ask a Stupid Question, Get a Stupid Answer
Asking people who they plan to support for president this far out from the event makes no sense. They haven’t focused on the election. Excepting Hillary Clinton, they don’t know much about any of the candidates.

When prompted by a question, people usually try to give answer. Doesn’t mean that their response on who they support is a fixed or remotely firm opinion. So just regard polls like the one in today’s Post as something designed to entertain us during the summer, sorta like Donald Trump’s hair, but not to be taken seriously in fall.