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Mark Silk on the God Gap

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Mark Silk examines the reasons for the re-emergance of the "God gap" in our elections.
This will, I am sure, become a central concern in the post-mortems and rightly so. There is only one thing I want to point out at this time. The issue is not just whether or not the White House or the DNC does adequate faith-outreach. The question is: Does it make a difference? It doesn't do any good to have the President invite Catholic bishops into the Oval Office when they are in Washington as Bush formerly did - unless he is going to actually listen to what they have to say. Key players in this White House, such as domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes, think they understand the God gap but they don't. Barnes kept her fingers in faith-outreach when she worked at the Center for American Progress but that organization only knows how to preach to the choir. Newsflash: Rev. Jim Wallis is a gret guy but he is not a swing voter.

Bi-Partisan Idea # 2

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In a country that is highly polarized, as ours is today, finding bi-partisan points of agreement is not so easy. But, it is imperative for President Barack Obama to find new ways of working with the Republicans because they are not likely to be going anywhere. Americans see divided government as a way of ensuring moderation, but it can just as easily produce gridlock. Obama must decide on what issues to stand firm and what issues to work for compromise.

More Election Analysis

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As mentioned, instead of the usual Q & A this week and next, because of the election, I am using this space to feature analysis from prominent Catholics on the recent election.
Over at the newly launched website of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Professor Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy research and Catholic Studies at Catholic University, has an analysis that is both very smart and very depressing. You can read it here.

Nate Silver on the Latino Vote

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Nate Silver, who authors the indispensible fivethirtyeight blog at the New York Times, writes that polls missed an average 2.3 percent advantage for Democrats in states with large Latino populations. Silver does not examine the impact of down-ballot races that featured Latino candidates. But, he does note that pollsters are going to have to look at this in the future: Latinos who prefer to speak Spanish are also especially likely to vote Democratic, and pollsters that do not conduct bi-lingual polls may miss a key, and growing, part of the electorate.

GOP Wave & the Founders

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In most recent elections, precise gerrymandering has made most House races non-competitive. And, it is still odd to my ears that we were all surprised that so many House races were "in play" this year when it was about 91 that were in play, out of 435. The Founders, of course, required House elections every two years so that the lower chamber would be close to popular sentiment. But, because of re-districting, the reflection of popular will has come more often in Senate races, where you can't re-district, than in House races.
Tuesday, the system worked as intended. The popular will created a wave the swept the Democrats out of control of the House but the Senate races were much more stable. Indeed, the word "Senate" is dervied from the Latin for "old man" and certainly, candidates like Sharron Angle and Linda McMahon and Christine O'Donnell and Ken Buck seemed to lack the wisdom such a designation implies. The "old men" like Harry Reid, Dick Blumenthal, Chris Coons and Michael Bennet prevailed, and it appears that Patti Murray, who is neither very old nor a man, will also be returning to Washington.

MSW: I Told You So!

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Hate to brag, but over a month ago, I wrote about how Hispanics in Nevada, many motivated by down-ballot races for the state legislature, were likely to carry Sen. Harry Reid across the finish line. Well, so it came to pass, Ben Smith reports at Politico. Reid got a whopping 90& of the Hispanic vote in his race against Sharron Angle. In California, Carly Fiorina garnered a mere 28% of the Hispanic vote, despite the efforts of conservavtive Catholics groups like the American Principles Project to get Latinos to "Votas Tus Valores," as their bus tour said. Professor Robert George, who runs the APP, may need a primer in basic electoral politics: People "value" not having their family members deported more than they value the Gold Standard.

Bi-Partisan Idea #1

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You could hear the depression in President Obama’s voice yesterday as he appeared alternately contrite and defensive at a press conference. It is far from clear that he is not still of a mind to think that if he had just done a better job explaining his policies, the election result would have been different. I do think the White House should have done a better job explaining its policies, but all the explaining in the world does not obscure the fact that the White House and Congress spent too much time on health care and other issues when the American people wanted them focused on the economy. Why did the White House and Congress spend so much time on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year? To make sure they get the 3 percent of the electorate that is gay? The policy is obnoxious, to be sure, and it should be repealed, but it was clear by the first of the year that whenever the President opened his mouth, if he was not talking about jobs, he was talking about the wrong thing. The same goes for Obama’s speech to the nation when combat troops left Iraq: Why give your first Oval Office address on something other than the economy?

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August 15-28, 2014

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