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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 900 -- Red Tape Rising Under Obama.

Regulation Blunting America's Recovery-

Barack Obama is killing economic recovery with an onslaught of new regulations:

The burden of regulation on Americans increased at an alarming rate in fiscal year 2010. Based on data from the Government Accountability Office, an unprecedented 43 major new regulations were imposed by Washington. And based on reports from government regulators themselves, the total cost of these rules topped $26.5 billion, far more than any other year for which records are available.

I would suggest that one of the reasons the Republican coalition collapsed in 2006 and 2008 was that Republicans both overspent and overregulated. Contrary to popular establishment media myth, there simply was no great deregulation crusade during brief time that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress, from 2003-2007. Since 2007, though, we have seen a brand-new ratcheting up of regulation in America. Small businesses and entrepreneurs, in particular, are strangled by this rise in red tape.

If we want the economy to recover, we need to cut government spending, government regulation, and otherwise get the government back to basics and out every intricacy of our daily lives.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Conservative Shift.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 30 November 2010 11:25 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 899 -- Is America Becoming More Conservative?

A Realignment Underway-

Jay Cost, writing at The Weekly Standard, suggests that, yes, the nation is becoming more conservative:

My opinion is that the Democratic Party’s coalition has become too urban for it to sustain itself as a majority coalition in Congress over the long run. Prior to the Depression, the Democrats won when they united the rural South and West with just enough ethnic voters from the big cities. The Democratic super majority that began under Franklin Roosevelt was built upon the South and West, plus massive hauls from the cities. But nowadays the Democrats win the cities, but are much weaker everywhere else. This is important because in our system of government, the distribution of the vote matters. Democrats won the big cities by 65-33 in the 2010 midterm, meaning that their voters were clustered into safely Democratic districts. The Republicans won the suburbs and small towns by smaller margins, meaning that less of their vote was “wasted.” The GOP’s advantage, in other words, is more geographical than ideological.

This trend is only going to become more pronounced after the new district lines are drawn, because, for the first time in half a century, the GOP will dominate the redistricting process. That, combined with the fact that House seats are moving from Democratic strongholds like Massachusetts to Republican ones like Texas, will give the GOP an advantage for the next decade.

In a 50-50 year, I would bet the farm on the Republican Party controlling both the House and (depending upon what seats are up for grabs) the Senate. Now, don’t get me wrong: The Democrats certainly have the votes to force a 50-50 year, which has become the norm over the last several decades. However, their voters are distributed quite inefficiently in the cities and on the coasts, meaning that the Democratic Party wins 190 or so congressional districts by 60-40 or better, but often struggles to cobble together the remaining 30 or so needed for the majority.

This is an interesting debate.

America's political landscape is usually fairly fluid, but the past decade has seen an enormous amount of back-and-forth-- more than usual. One gets the feeling that things may eventually settle down and stabilize again for the better part of a generation. Then again, a lot of people thought that might be the case in 1994, as well.

This is a good visual of the partisan flux in America's presidential elections:

The Reagan coalition reappeared in 2010. Will it be back in 2012 as well?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Why Online Advertising Is Slow To Catch On Among Political Campaigns.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 November 2010 01:16 PM · Comments (0)

A Thanksgiving Lesson.

Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford's take on how the early pilgrims overcame socialism and famine is an important read:

A few lessons from Bradford's writings:

When the first Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, all property was taken away from families and transferred to a “comone wealth.” In other words, the Pilgrims tried to do away with private property. The results were disastrous. According to Bradford, the stronger and younger men resented working for other men’s wives and children “without any recompence.” And the women forced to cook and clean for other men saw their uncompensated service as “a kind of slavery.” The system as a whole bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the Pilgrims’] benefit and comfort.” Unable to produce their own food, some settlers “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” Others tragically perished.

It was not until private property rights were restored and every man was allowed to “set corn for his own particular” that prosperity came to the colony. Bradford reported, “This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious. … [M]uch more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. … Women went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. After witnessing this experiment “amongst godly and sober men,” Bradford concluded that the elimination of private property was incompatible with human nature. He described those who thought they could make men “happy and flourishing” by taking away their property as “vain … as if they were wiser than God.”

The lesson of the first Thanksgiving is not exactly the romanticized Hollywood version. Our nation survived and later flourished on free enterprise:

What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 November 2010 10:35 AM · Comments (0)

Happy Thanksgiving.

A very happy Thanksgiving to all.

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."
--Psalm 100:4-5

Happy Thanksgiving, from WILLisms.com.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 November 2010 01:56 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 898 -- Is Online Advertising Under-utilized?

At The Very Least, Newspaper Ads Are Over-utilized-

A great post from Eric Wilson at Engage DC on how online advertising is still taking a while to catch on at the levels its popularity commands:


Wilson also points out that time watching television fell 14 minutes last year, with TiVo-style time-shifted TV watching going up by 18%. He adds:

...online ad spending is “ripe for innovation” because of two key factors: First, the amount of time spent online and second, the ability to customize and target advertising to specific demographics.

For the political space, I would add the advanced geo-targeting as a third and very important factor for growth in online advertising. The vast majority of most campaigns’ typical media budgets goes to television, and, because TV (for the most part) isn’t targeted lots of money is spent on convincing people who can’t vote for the candidate.

Why hasn't online advertising caught on more among the political crowd, even among many new media converts in the political sphere?

A few reasons.

1. First, a lot of candidates (and, frankly, brands of all varieties) spent money online and got burned a decade ago, or 5 years ago. Ad effectiveness cratered as pop-up blockers and decentralized social web proliferated. Ad rates plummeted. The bubble burst, and online ads have never quite recovered.

2. Second, most top-tier political campaigns are run by long-term professionals who: a) have a time-tested formula which doesn't include online advertising that has worked for a generation; and b) often have a personal financial stake in running traditional forms of media advertising.

3. Third, there are not enough data or even anecdotal examples to point to showing that online advertising achieved tangible results, whereas television ads verifiably do move poll numbers and cause a surge in donations. Yes, Obama "used the internet," but there's an impression that the interwebs were a self-sustaining, money-making magnet for the Obama campaign, rather than a large budget line with a full-time devoted staff of dozens. Plural.

4. Fourth, for many campaigns, "doing the internet" is not worth it unless it pays for itself and/or raises enough surplus money to pay for additional traditional forms of campaigning.

5. Fifth, campaigns are often overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of options online. With television, radio, and print (and even billboards), there's a clearly defined playing field that doesn't change all that often. Online, the hot website of the day may have not existed 2 years ago. The hot website from 5 years ago may be a shell of its former self today. Ad networks with thousands of websites are overwhelming and confusing for the folks at political campaigns with the power of the purse. Even straightforward ad-serving on popular websites is confusing; not only can you advertise on Facebook, you can advertise to specific ages, genders, and locations around specific interests. The idea of creating dozens-- or even hundreds-- of unique permutations of the same message, and conveying those messages out across thousands of unique channels, is daunting for many campaigns. They don't have the manpower or creative juice to pull it off. Or at least they think they don't.

6. Sixth, while many political campaigns are perfectly content spending millions upon millions of dollars advertising to non-voters during football games or the World Series featuring hometown teams, many campaigns look at where their online ads are going to be shown in these massive online ad networks and say, "I don't want to advertise to gardening channels, or wine-making clubs, that's stupid." It very well might be stupid. The Google team is certainly somewhat tone deaf when it comes to suggesting influential political sites to advertise on-- they suggested far-left fringe sites like The Daily Kos for Texas Governor Rick Perry's campaign, for example.

7. Seventh, while advertising on traditional platforms is fairly straightforward and verifiable (meaning, you can buy ads on cable, and then see ads on cable, or buy ads in the newspaper and see them in the newspaper), there are too many hucksters out there peddling "a million Christians in North Texas on my sms list, yours for a low low price" or "hundreds of thousands of gun-owning readers, all from East Texas." Some of these may be legitimate. Most are not. It's difficult to verify a lot of targeted online activity, because you can't just go into the channels and wait for the ads the way you can with television ads. Frankly, it can be hard to differentiate between the rogue hucksters and the established online marketers in their sales pitches and (lack of) knowledge of how political messaging and how political campaigns operate.

There may be other reasons online advertising among political campaigns is taking a while to catch on, but these are some I have witnessed firsthand.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Federal Pay Overblown.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 November 2010 11:53 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 897 -- Federal Pay Disparity.

High Federal Employee Pay Exploding-

Our economy is now based in Washington, DC. While the rest of the nation, other than basically Texas, has shed jobs over the past few years, the federal government just continues growing and growing. We're not just talking War on Terror jobs, either. The federal government's high paying jobs have multiplied substantially over the past several years:

Federal workers earning $150,000 or more make up 3.9% of the workforce, up from 0.4% in 2005.

Since 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3% annually above inflation compared with 0.8% for private workers, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Can we confidently say "this too shall pass" about this, just because Republicans are back in charge of the House? Not at all. But when Republicans take back the White House and the Senate, this better not happen again if Republicans want to maintain power for more than a cycle or two.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The 2010 Election In Perspective.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 November 2010 03:47 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 896 -- The 2010 Election In Perspective.

Results Still Coming In-

More perspective on the 2010 campaign:


The before and after are as important as the raw numbers gained or lost, when assigning historical significance.

...while the Democrats in 1994 went from holding a majority of Southern seats (85) to a respectable minority (64), this year they dropped to a total of roughly 40. Put another way, Democrats will hold less than 30% of House seats in the next Congress from a region that was once solidly Democratic.

Can Republicans hold or expand these numbers in 2011 and 2012? To do so would be nearly unprecedented, but it may take some unprecedented course of action to set American back on track.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Good Job Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 November 2010 03:08 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 895 -- Texas Versus California On High Wage Job Growth.

Texas Leads-

Not to rehash the entire Texas Governor's race, but one of liberal trial lawyer Bill White's main stump speech points was that Texas leads in minimum wage jobs but not high paying jobs. Maybe the statement was marginally, technically true. Who knows. Texas does have a lot of minimum wage jobs. That's not really a controversial statement to make. But, on Bill White's claim that Texas wasn't creating higher wage jobs, the evidence really says otherwise:

Critically, as Texas grew its middle-income jobs by 16%, one of the highest rates in the nation, California, at 2.1% growth, ranked near the bottom.

It is often difficult to quantify what it means when politicians talk about "good jobs," but jobs requiring science, technology, engineering, and math skills are growing much faster in Texas than in California or the rest of the nation:

Over the past decade California’s supposed bulwark grew a mere 2%–less than half the national rate. In contrast, Texas’ tech-related employment surged 14%. Since 2002 the Lone Star state added 80,000 STEM jobs; California, a mere 17,000.

And, courtesy of Texanomics, we know that Texas' private-sector wage growth dwarfed all other states:


Again, not to re-run the 2010 campaign, but Texans didn't buy Bill White's schtick, and they didn't need a partisan team of political operatives masquerading as an objective fact-checking organization to tell them that nearly all of his claims aimed at tearing down the Texas success story were misleading at best and entirely bogus at worst.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Was 2010 Bigger Than 1994, Really?

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 November 2010 04:00 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 894 -- Was 2010 Bigger Than 1994, Really?

2010 Definitely Up There, Historically-

So, was 2010 the biggest electoral tsunami in midterm history?

In some ways, maybe, sort of, yes. In other ways, let's stay realistic here:


In gubernatorial races, there were a few missed opportunities, a few more extremely close calls, and Republicans had already picked up two high profile governorships in New Jersey and Virginia during the cycle, but Republicans now control 29 of 50 states with a distinct opportunity to pick up a couple more in 2011. In legislative races, 2010 was ranked number four, but the timing (redistricting year) and context (picking up majorities in states that are gaining/losing Congressional seats next year) of Republicans picking up so many seats, in my book, puts this year at number one.


1922 was an interesting year, because even though Democrats made enormous gains due to the post-WWI recession, Republicans still held an 18-seat majority in the House of Representatives and a 10+ seat majority in the Senate, and Republicans won landslides again in 1924. Because Democrats remained in the minority after this election, and because Republicans regained so many seats in 1924, it's difficult to really call it the most monumental midterm in history.

1938 was a great year for Republicans, as Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal coalition was already coming apart. Indeed, voters rejected his increasingly expansive, activist federal government, and they weren't too happy with the economic relapse/stagnation under FDR's watch. Eventually, "it was Hoover's fault" gets old. This election, much like 1922, didn't actually return power to Republicans, though, so it's difficult to call it the most meaningful midterm election ever.

1958 was a terrible year for Republicans, following a big reelection win for Eisenhower in 1956. Why did Democrats win so strongly in 1958 and keep control of Congress for so long? They "got the band back together" and suddenly they had a coalition that didn't necessarily make sense philosophically but worked anyway, electorally. Texan Sam Rayburn served as Speaker of the House, Republicans wouldn't take back the House until 1994. Because of this enormous staying power Democrats had for generations, 1958 may have actually been the most meaningful midterm in modern history.

This is the overall ranking according to the AEI folks, John Fortier and Jennifer Marsico, but I think you have to give or take some bonus points for timing and context in some of these years.


Yes, 2010 was a stunning rebuke of the once untouchable President Obama and his legislative ally Nancy Pelosi, and the timing is great for redistricting, but Republicans still do not control the Senate, and Harry Reid well out-performed the polls in Nevada to personally hang on to power. Republicans also narrowly lost a some very winnable races that one would have assumed should have tilted Republican in such a "wave" year. In some ways, 2010 was a reversion to the mean. A return to normal. 2012 may be marked yet again by a game of inches. If Republicans can take back the Senate and make additional gains in the House in 2012, I think you will be able to move up the 2010 cycle up the list. Rarely does the Census year, just before reapportionment and redistricting, yield such major midterm gains for one party.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Still Politically Potent, Not Neutered Just Yet.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 November 2010 05:25 PM · Comments (0)

Is Westboro Baptist Even Really A Real Organization?

God Bless Oklahoma. Right and wrong are a lot less complicated there:

McALESTER - Members of a Kansas church that protests at military funerals may have found themselves in the wrong town Saturday.

Shortly after finishing their protest at the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey of McAlester, a half-dozen protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to their minivan, only to discover that its front and rear passenger-side tires had been slashed.

To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police.


Emphasis mine.

According to this article in the Tulsa World, half a dozen Westboro Baptist "members" were swamped by a thousand counter-protesters.

Is Westboro Baptist even really an organization worthy of "members," or is it really more of a single family-- the Phelpses-- who are more than a bit off their rockers?

Looking at their church on google maps, it's essentially a single-family home tucked away in a residential neighborhood in Kansas:

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying you have to have a large building on a main street to be a "real" church. Not at all. But the Westboro Baptist group seems truly more like an extended family than some kind of legitimate organization. The photos above underscore the familial nature of their "church."

In nearly every article ever written about these protesters, it's typically between 4-8 "members" of the "church" participating. Indeed, while the legal complaint does reference the "church" (Westboro Baptist Church, Inc.), the lawsuit currently pending before the Supreme Court is ultimately not known as Snyder v. Westboro Baptist but, rather, Snyder v. Phelps. There's a reason for that.

More journalists should call this group what it really is-- "the Phelps family"-- because too many people imagine the Westboro Baptist Church as if it were a large, legitimate congregation with a serious organization and actual resources (and some kind of formal affiliation with other Baptist churches), when the facts just say otherwise.

Back to the slashed tires in Oklahoma. I'm not pro-vandalism in this or any other situation, even in relation to highly objectionable people. The part I love here is that the Phelpses "were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle."

Maybe next time, they will take more "members" of their "church" with them to provide backup. If they can make it to the protest in the first place:

This morning in La Plata, Md., the hate group's parade of absurdity received quite a response: More than a thousand counter-demonstrators showed up early, established themselves on the rights-of-way around the church, and prevented the "God Hates Fags" crowd from getting anywhere near the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt.

When the Supreme Court rules next year on whether people have a Constitutional right to protest at military funerals, I suspect the Phelpses will emerge victorious. In the meantime, a little creativity by counter-protesters can go a long way.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 November 2010 10:11 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 81 -- The Shortfall Is Real. The Shortfall Is Now.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

The Shortfall Exists. Now.

The bipartisan duo of Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Charles Blahous, public trustee for Social Security and Medicare and former economic adviser to President George W. Bush, published a new paper for Pew on Social Security.

There is a shortfall. It's beyond time to address it. Details:

Continued delay in closing the projected shortfall constrains the available policy options and tends to place more of the burden of adjustment on younger generations. This is particularly true in view of the millions of baby boomers who will leave the workforce within the next several years.

In Governor Perry's new book, Fed Up!, he calls Social Security a ponzi scheme. That's exactly what it is, at its core, absent some serious reform to make it solvent.

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday or so for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 November 2010 12:23 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 893 -- Obama Still Dangerous.

It's Not Morning In America Just Yet-

Larry Sabato has a Modest Proposal-esque post on what midterm elections mean for the following election:

Our readers should also give little credence to the following figure, which shows the relationship between the House seat change that has occurred in a midterm election, and the vote for the incumbent White House party’s presidential candidate two years later. True, it turns out that there is no statistical relationship between a midterm result and the outcome of the next presidential election. But surely, people understand the old axiom, “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Bottom line, there's really no relationship between a poor showing in a midterm and reelection chances. Reagan lost a lot of seats in 1982, and he won reelection in 1984. Clinton lost a lot of seats in 1994 and he won reelection in 1996.

Obama is still dangerous.

Republicans only control the House of Representatives, not the Senate, but in the national narrative, the entire Congress is now run by the GOP. That is a serious "pressure relief valve" for the President. He can start deflecting blame toward Republicans, and people in the press won't be able to help themselves in agreeing with his assessment.

President Obama is not finished just yet, and there is a lot of pressure on Republicans to begin pulling America out of the ditch. Republicans also have an obligation to nominate someone who can inspire enthusiasm and articulate a clear message. I have a lot of respect for Bob Dole, but we can't repeat the mistake that we made in 1996 by nominating someone simply because it is their turn and they have party seniority. The good news is that's probably not going to happen.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Job Growth In America's States.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 November 2010 11:59 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 892 -- Texas Compared To Other States.

Texas Leads America, Economically-

Of the top 20 states in population, Texas is the only state to have added jobs over the past four years:


Some of the smaller states have added jobs, as well-- those states are almost entirely not just Republican red states, but governed by actual conservatives, too.

There's a blueprint, folks. Don't expect Democrats to follow it.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Job Growth In America's States.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 November 2010 11:12 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 891 -- Job Growth In America's States.

Texas Leads America, Economically-

This sort of speaks for itself:


Texas leads for a reason. Texas, over the past several years, provides the big state blueprint for how to grow the economy. It's no wonder demographer Joel Kotkin noted yet again this week that Texas owns it in terms of the best places in America to escape the recession.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Do Sports Wins & Losses Affect Voting.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 November 2010 11:32 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 890 -- Did The Rangers World Series Flameout Hurt Republicans On Election Day?

What's The Matter With Dallas?-

Just how irrational are human beings when it comes to their sports teams, anyway?

Maybe just enough to make a difference in close elections.

Wired has some fascinating research on the subject of how the performance of home teams in sports impacts fans' voter behavior:

A local football team’s win in the 10 days before an election garnered the incumbent senator, governor or president (or his or her political party) an extra 1.61 percentage points of the vote, the researchers found. They found no effect for games played earlier than two weeks before the election, suggesting that the game must be fresh in the voter’s mind to have an effect.


In a second analysis, the researchers surveyed over 3,000 people at three times during the 2009 NCAA college basketball tournament. Respondents were asked to name their favorite team and then were asked to rate the performance of President Obama. On average, people whose favorite teams had just won a March Madness game rated the president 2.3 percentage points higher than did those whose teams had recently lost.

These are tiny differences, but potentially enough to make a serious impact.

On Facebook last Tuesday, November 2, you could express whether you had voted at the top of your news feed. Facebook crunched the numbers and found that self-identified Giants fans were more motivated to express that they had voted than self-identified Rangers fans, the day after the Texas Rangers lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants:


Some of this may have been Rangers fans avoiding Facebook in order to avoid hearing more about the disappointing series, in which the supposedly superior AL team lost to a "lesser" NL team 4-1. Giants fans may have been all over Facebook the next day, gloating, and chatting with their friends about it.

Still, you have to wonder how much the Rangers losing so miserably to the Giants (and the Dallas Cowboys playing so poorly this year) had to do with Dallas County staying pretty danged blue this year, while other big, liberalish counties like Harris County (Houston) or Bexar County (San Antonio) were substantially closer:


In liberal Dallas County, Perry lost 44.22% to 53.95% during early voting, but that margin got even wider on election day (40.77% to 56.48%) for a final tally of 42.53% to 55.19%. Technically, Arlington is in America's largest Republican county, Tarrant County, and Perry's early voting victory there went from 57.40% - 40.01% to 56.00% - 40.97%.

In Harris County (Bill White's home turf), Perry won early voting 52.25% to 46.32%, but lost election day itself, with the final rally showing White at 50.22% to Perry's 48.15% in the Houston area. Houstonians aren't really Rangers fans, but they are Rockets fans. The Rockets started 0-3 near during the final few days leading up to election day itself.

You could say the same thing about the Texas Longhorns' poor football performance. Democrat incumbents in the Austin area fared poorer than anticipated, even in the face of the "tsunami" type of year.

Democrat "rising star" incumbent Patrick Rose of Dripping Springs lost to Republican Jason Isaac despite having essentially the entire political establishment behind him, including the conservative-leaning Texans for Lawsuit Reform (bad move, guys, bad move). Democrat incumbent Donna Howard only won by 15 votes (pending additional mail-in ballots to be counted later today) against former Longhorn and NFL football star Dan Neil, after she was expected to cruise to victory. Democrat incumbent Valinda Bolton lost to Paul Workman by a decent margin, which surprised some people. Democrat incumbent Diana Maldonado of Round Rock was annihilated-- just demolished by more than 20 points-- by Republican Larry Gonzales.

Was there something to the Longhorns' poor performance that boosted or amplified the "throw out the incumbents" mood in the Austin area? Maybe.

I am not sure there's enough science behind the "team wins, incumbent does better; team loses, incumbent does poorer" theory, but it's definitely worth exploring more. I was definitely rooting for a Rangers victory Monday night, because this research has been out there for years, and my hunch was that there may be some truth to it.

Other factors at play in Dallas County, completely unrelated to the Rangers, might include a hotly contested District Attorney race which fired up the Democrats' base in the county.

Could the Rangers' loss simply have kept some potential Republican voters home in the Dallas area? In Harris County (Houston), turnout was 41%, and in Dallas County and Tarrant County both, it was only 37%. Dallas suburbs like Collin and Denton also saw turnout in the mid-30s, while Houston suburban counties like Montgomery and Fort Bend saw turnout up in the mid-40s. In McClellan County, home to Waco University, which had just beaten the Longhorns, turnout was 43%.

I think you may also be able to point to Republican GOTV efforts in Texas crescendoing during the first week of early voting, whereas Democrat GOTV efforts were aimed at election day itself.

Ultimately, Republicans now control the Texas House 99 to 51, and every single statewide elected position stayed Republican. Democrats Chet Edwards, Ciro Rodriguez, and Solomon Ortiz all lost their Congressional seats to Republicans.

But what if some of Texas' elite sports franchises-- the Longhorns, the Rangers, the Rockets, and the Cowboys, had performed a bit better in the days leading up to election day? Could the tsunami have been even bigger? Or maybe smaller, given the number of Democrat incumbents thrown out?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Redistricting.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 November 2010 01:38 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 889 -- Redistricting.

Predicted 40 Years In The Wilderness For Republicans Not Likely-

Hotline's headline almost says it all:

Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats

Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures -- the most in the modern era. To put that number in perspective: In the 1994 GOP wave, Republicans picked up 472 seats. The previous record was in the post-Watergate election of 1974, when Democrats picked up 628 seats.

The GOP gained majorities in at least 14 state house chambers. They now have unified control -- meaning both chambers -- of 26 state legislatures.

That control is a particularly bad sign for Democrats as they go into the redistricting process. If the GOP is effective in gerrymandering districts in many of these states, it could eventually lead to the GOP actually expanding its majority in 2012.

Republicans now hold the redistricting "trifecta" -- both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship -- in 15 states. They also control the Nebraska governorship and the unicameral legislature, taking the number up to 16. And in North Carolina -- probably the state most gerrymandered to benefit Democrats -- Republicans hold both chambers of the state legislature and the Democratic governor does not have veto power over redistricting proposals.

Back in July, I noted here that redistricting was on the ballot in 2010, and linked to this chart from Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball:


My commmentary from July:

It's time for "the South" (Alabama, et al.) to cast off those Democrat legislators and put in some Republicans who will draw the Congressional districts properly. It's important for Texas to elect a big Republican majority, because Texas will gain 3 or 4 Congressional seats next year, and we all remember what the Democrats did last time redistricting came up. They fled the state.

Well, Alabama and North Carolina both elected Republican state legislatures for the first time basically ever, if you don't count Reconstruction in the mid-19th century. Texas went from a squishy Republican majority of 77 to 73, to a 99-51 margin, with the possibility of a 100-50 margin if Travis County Democrat Donna Howard's 15 vote lead fails to hold up when voting administrators on Monday count absentee ballots postmarked by November 2.

As of right now, here's the breakdown for redistricting:


Before Election 2010, Democrats were on pace for a very decent redistricting round. They were going to control the creation of 129 districts — only 7 fewer than they controlled after the 2000 election. Republicans, having won a few legislatures on the last decade, were on track to draw 108 seats on their own, about ten more than they controlled in 2000. Tuesday’s election changed all of that, creating a lopsided redistricting advantage for the GOP.

More important than the absolute numbers of seats is the fact that Democrats were on top in some pretty important states. Democrats can’t gain any seats by gerrymandering Massachusetts (they already hold all of them there), but a bit of re-mapping in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New York, Iowa and New Mexico can dramatically alter the composition of the U.S. House.

Democrats held all those states, but lost them all on Tuesday. And Republicans gained full control in a few other big ones, like Ohio and Michigan.

The biggest news heading into the election from the national pundits was all about Christine O'Donnell and Harry Reid and the balance of power in Congress. The real story they missed was all of these state legislatures going Republican, especially in states that are gaining and losing Congressional seats.

In "the South," the Democrat ---> Republican realignment that started in the 1960s finally wrapped up on Tuesday, with the loss of "blue dog" Democrats like Rep. Spratt in South Carolina and Rep. Edwards in Texas. After Tuesday, there is almost no such thing as a white Southern Democrat. In Texas, the Democratic Party is now almost entirely urban or South Texan:


Interestingly, while really almost none of the urban Democrats are moderate, at least a few of the South Texas guys-- like Democrat Aaron Peña of Hidalgo County-- are pretty moderate and seem to "get" what just happened. Peña summed it up on his Twitter page pretty succinctly:

Texas Democrats now have lost all but one of their representatives in rural areas outside of South Texas.

In Texas, the left is nearly decimated after this election, and as PJTV's Bryan Preston explains, the remaining Democrats might want to reign in the far left forces at work in Texas if they want to regain credibility:

...under state party chairman Boyd Richie, the Texas Democrats had become little more than a “progressive” corpse, animated from afar by the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and Matt Angle’s Shadow Party operation, otherwise known as the Lone Star Project. It was only in the latter that the Democrats here had any real energy, and even that energy was put to foul purposes. Angle’s operation isn’t a policy shop or idea factory, it’s just a Democrat ex machina, a means by which Democrats try to attain power by killing the careers of Republicans by whatever means are at hand. Its only function is destructive. It stands for and does nothing positive.

Indeed, the abundant gaggle of prolific liberal bloggers in Texas may actually be harming their own cause with their hyperbole and association with Daily Kos and other national blogs and causes that are woefully out of touch with Texas values.

There are a lot of post-election sour grapes on the left in Texas, as witnessed at the Texas Tribune's post-election debrief at the Texas Capitol on Thursday. The left's gameplan is already in place. Democrats are taking a very "you broke it, you bought it" approach. They are already gnashing their teeth about inevitable cuts in services to "the poor" or to rural areas, and salivating about running attack ads about how mean Republicans are to children and the elderly. They are talking about how white rural Texans voting for Republicans is voting against their self-interests, because rural services will be cut. They are talking about how Republicans cutting government at the state level will just mean that counties and cities will have to raise their taxes. They are already showing just how much they didn't learn from Tuesday, in other words.

Democrats-- who have not won a single statewide elected office in Texas since the early 1990s--- may very well be at rock bottom, which means they can only go up from here, but they will be in the wilderness for another generation if they continue thinking that whining about mean Republicans and their fiscally conservative approach is the path to victory.

That being said, there are warning signs out there. In some ways, Republicans winning so overwhelmingly on Tuesday means that Obama now has a pressure relief valve if things don't dramatically improve in our country over the next two years. Demographics in many ways still favor Democrats in the long run, as our country becomes less white, less Christian, and less small towny.

Tim Carney explains that Republicans actually made very few incursions outside of their comfort zone, and Tuesday's election did not represent broad gains for Republicans in swing districts and Democrat territory and was really more of a reversion to the mean:

Snap-backs - 35 Republicans won back 21 seats they had lost in 2008 and 14 they had lost in 2006.

Long-term Realignment – 17. These are districts, mostly Southern or rural, that were won by both Bush in 2004 and McCain in 2008.

Louisiana-3, South Dakota-At Large, Tennessee-4, Georgia-8, North Dakota-At Large, Arkansas-2, Mississippi-4, South Carolina-5, Virginia-9, Tennessee-6, Tennessee-8, Florida-2, Missouri-4, West Virginia-1, Arkansas-1, Texas-17, New York-13.

Swing Districts – 5. These are non-snap-back districts that have split their vote in the last two presidential elections.

Wash-3, Ohio-6, Mich-1, Texas-23, North Carolina-2.

Democratic Districts – 5. Obama and Kerry carried these districts, and Republicans did not hold them in 2006.

Pennsylvania-11, Illinois-17, Wisconsin-7, Georgia-2, Minnesota-8.

Henry Olsen, writing at Bloomberg.com, warns that Republicans rely heavily on white voters, which may be a fantastic short-term strategy, but demographics say otherwise over the long-term:

The rout should give Republicans hope. They look to have gained 60 to 65 House seats, the most by one party in an election since 1948. If they reach the top of that range, Republicans will have 244 seats, the most they have held since 1947 and their second-highest total since the Great Depression.

The party didn’t win this election because of any enthusiasm gap between their backers and Democratic supporters, as had been long predicted. In 2008, 38 percent of voters were Democrats, 36 percent Republicans and 26 percent independents. This year, each party held 36 percent of the electorate and independents comprised 28 percent, according to preliminary exit poll data.

The election results were instead due to a massive swing among independents, particularly those in rural and exurban counties. Exit polls showed that independents favored Republicans by 16 points, a turnabout from 2008 when they favored Democrats by about the same margin.


The Latino share of the electorate reached 8 percent, a record high for a mid-term election, while black turnout dropped from its high of 13 percent in 2008 to its historic 10 percent level this year. If Latinos continue to grow as a group, and blacks turn out in droves again to re-elect Obama, the Republican nominee in 2012 will be hard-pressed to win without retaining the record share of white working-class voters the party garnered this week.

It was a fantastic election for Republicans, but I still get the sense that our nation is in a state of flux, and it may be yet another couple of elections before we settle in again for a longer period of stability in our politics. Right now, it's up for grabs.

Elected Republicans, it's on you guys now. Get it right this time.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: .

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 November 2010 02:35 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 888 -- Job Creation In Texas & The Other 49 States.

Texas For The Win-

Texas has added 19 thousand more jobs over the past 12 months than the rest of the nation combined:


Granted, the "other 49" figure includes both states that lost jobs and states that gained jobs, but it is telling that any "improvement" the President claims is basically localized in Texas.

That's not an accident. Texas has the best job creation record in America in recent years. This is in spite of Obama's bureaucrats at the EPA and other agencies consistently targeting Texas since he's been in office.

Remember November:

Remember November: The Final Act from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: .

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 November 2010 12:55 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 887 -- Texas Is The Model For America's Recovery.

Texas For The Win-

Every single Texas "metro area" has added jobs over the past year:


Indeed, Texas' private-sector job growth rate is nearly 5 times higher than the U.S. private-sector job growth rate:


Texanomics has the details.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: .

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 November 2010 11:22 AM · Comments (1)