Primary

Assessing the Presidential Selection Process

Apr 26, 2012

After a long campaign season of caucuses and primaries, attack ads, and Super PACs, many have noticed significant changes.  This year, we've seen many more debates, an explosion in the use of digital media, and a decline of retail politics.  Is this a troubling trend or the new reality for  choosing  a President?

Guests

Historically, young people have been much less likely to vote than older Americans.

That trend has started to change in the past few presidential election cycles, especially in 2008, when a census report found that 49 percent of those ages 18 to 24 who were eligible to vote participated in the presidential election.

The GOP candidates for president have seized on high gas prices as a line of attack against President Obama, largely saying the answer is more domestic oil drilling.

But GOP front-runner Mitt Romney used to have a position seemingly at odds — at least in emphasis — with what he and the other Republicans are now advocating.

As Massachusetts governor, Romney said high gasoline prices "are probably here to stay," and he advocated policies to cut energy demand.

One of the defining elements of the 2012 presidential campaign is money. Not that the candidates themselves have raised all that much; except for President Obama, they haven't. But two dozen wealthy Americans have put in at least $1 million each.

Mostly, they're a mix of Wall Street financiers and entrepreneurs. One of the biggest donors is Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate who is worth about $25 billion.

It's another furious dash to the finish line as delegate-rich Illinois holds its Republican presidential primary Tuesday.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is looking to increase his delegate lead. And he's still searching for that decisive win over his main rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Redistricting is forcing a handful of congressional incumbents of the same party to run against each other in primaries. On March 6, Rep. Marcy Kaptur defeated fellow liberal Democrat Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Ohio.

And next Tuesday, two conservative Republicans square off in Illinois.

The scene is the newly drawn 16th Congressional District, which covers mostly rural territory in the northern part of the state, curving around the suburbs and exurbs of Chicago, from the Wisconsin border north of Rockford to the Indiana border east of Kankakee.

Every good political campaign has a motif, from President Obama's "hope" to John McCain's "maverick."

Mitt Romney's brand is still taking shape, yet one word finds its way into nearly every speech he gives.

"I want to restore America to our founding principles," the former Massachusetts governor said in Iowa.

Mississippi and Alabama were big wins for Rick Santorum in the fight for the GOP presidential nomination.

While never considered strong for Mitt Romney, those states further revealed the vulnerabilities of his campaign, specifically, problems identifying with many elements of the Republican base.

The next big contest is Tuesday in Illinois.

It's a state rich in delegates (69) and in something else that should be good news for Romney: more moderate Republicans. But he still needs to connect with even those voters.

The Real Romney

Mar 8, 2012

We know he's running for President and that he's become a household name. We know he ran unsuccessfully in 2008 as well. We know that he was Governor of Massachusetts and that he was behind a major health care bill that passed in that state. We know he's Mormon, Republican, good looking and has a great smile, but who is the 'real Romney'. Who is the Mitt Romney behind the campaign promises, debates, political ads and handshakes? What drives him, what were the events in his life that motivated him and why does he want to be President so badly?

There were a lot of good stories from the 2008 presidential election, including Hillary Clinton's serious run for the Democratic nomination, not to mention the election of the first African-American president. The whole story was covered in the bestselling — and controversial — book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, Game Change.

Ohio's Super Tuesday contest wasn't just about the presidency. Two members of Congress there faced primary challenges — and were defeated. On the Republican side, four-term Rep. Jean Schmidt lost a challenge to Iraq War veteran Brad Wenstrup.

Throughout the Republican presidential primary season, whenever there's talk about a short list of possible running mates, one name is nearly always at the top — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Rubio has only been in the Senate for a little more than a year, but his appeal is obvious. He's a young, charismatic, conservative Hispanic.

But as his national profile has risen, he has become a target for Democrats and advocacy groups who say he doesn't represent Latino voters.

It's Super Tuesday for the Republican presidential contenders, and 10 states are holding primaries and caucuses.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes he can firm up his front-runner status — a status that, an NPR analysis shows, has so far involved his campaign and a pro-Romney superPAC burying the opposition with negative messages.

With 10 states holding Republican primaries or caucuses on March 6 — Super Tuesday — a lot of money is being spent on TV ads. The superPACs supporting the remaining GOP candidates have doled out some $12 million for ads in those states.

Leading the way is Restore Our Future, the superPAC that backs former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. According to Federal Election Commission numbers, Restore Our Future has spent $6.9 million on the Super Tuesday states.

This campaign season, inconsistency seems to be, well, almost everywhere. Each flip-flopping politician revels in pointing out the flip-flopping ways of his opponents.

Why are politicians and those of us who vote for them so obsessed with inconsistency? We take that question on from three angles: how our brains are wired; the psychology of judging what's consistent; and how consistency plays out in leadership styles.

Jon Hamilton: Why Our Brains Hate A Flip-Flopper

By now, most states around the country have redrawn their political boundaries based on the 2010 census — and then there's New York.

For voters in the Forest Hills section of Queens, it has been rough. A year ago, they were represented by Democrat Anthony Weiner, who tweeted his way to infamy. Now, they're represented by Republican Bob Turner, who won a special election after Weiner resigned.

Right now, nobody even knows what district they're in.

Michigan and Arizona hold presidential primaries Tuesday, and in Michigan, where Mitt Romney was born, the race has been as hard-fought as anywhere in the country.

For Romney, the campaign there has been personal. He often evokes the Michigan of his youth, when his father, George, ran American Motors and went on to become a very popular three-term governor.

But does that family legacy mean anything today?

If you were to go to a Romney event in Detroit or Kalamazoo or Traverse City, you'd be almost guaranteed to hear some Romney family history.

Rick Santorum is trying to shake up the Republican primary by winning the primary Tuesday in Michigan — and many polls show him neck and neck with Mitt Romney. He's a former senator from Pennsylvania best known as a culture warrior. What's less well known is what he did after losing his re-election bid in 2006.

Energy Fuels Newt Gingrich's Comeback Plan

Feb 26, 2012

When voters in Michigan go the polls Tuesday, it's unlikely many will tick the box for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In part, that's because Gingrich has all but written off the state, leaving his opponents to fight over it.

Credit: NPR

NHPR will broadcast a one-hour NPR special of the Arizona and Michigan primaries on Tuesday, February 28 from 9 - 10 p.m.

This special will feature candidate speeches, interviews, and expert analysis from NPR contributors E.J. Dionne (The Washington Post) and Matthew Continetti (The Weekly Standard). We'll also hear from NPR's Mara Liasson and Ron Elving, and check in with Ari Shapiro at the Mitt Romney camp and Don Gonyea at the Rick Santorum camp.
 

Taking a Bullet for 'Hair Force One'

Feb 2, 2012
Photo by donkey_hotey via Flickr Creative Commons

Vice President Al Gore used to tell a joke about himself: “Al Gore is so boring, his secret service name is Al Gore.” Well, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is now under secret service protection, and while we don’t know what his code name will be, the Twitterati have been weighing in with suggestions using the hashtag #romneycodename.

NHPR brings you live NPR coverage Tuesday night from the Florida primary.

Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish will host live coverage, which will begin at 8 p.m., when the last polls close, and run until 10 p.m.

Coverage will feature candidate speeches, interviews, and expert analysis from NPR Contributors E.J. Dionne (The Washington Post) and Matthew Continetti (The Weekly Standard), along with polling insights from The Pew Center’s Andrew Kohut.  We’ll also hear from NPR’s Mara Liasson and Ron Elving.

Photo by, Hayn0r, courtesy of Flcikr creative commons

This weekend, newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary by a two digit margin over Mitt Romney. Or, in the words of the gamer generation, Mitt Romney got “pwned”. Political rhetoric has been forever imbued with fierce competitive language – so it’s only natural that today’s campaigns would borrow psychology and strategy not only from war and sport, but also from the emerging power of games.

The days leading up to the Palmetto state’s primary were a raucous affair with spirited television debates, candidates dropping out, major mud flinging and an inundation of attack ads. Now that the dust has settled, we’ll talk about  who won, who lost, and how this contest shapes the rest of the republican Presidential race. 

Guests

In South Carolina, the race to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney is hitting a fever pitch. The state is seen by many as the last stop before inevitability in the GOP primary.

In campaign stops Tuesday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich laid out what sounded like an ultimatum.

Scott Sanders will be eating lunch at his desk again. Sanders is the general sales manager for the NBC affiliate in Columbia — South Carolina's capital — so all his time is devoted these days to handling ad traffic ahead of Saturday's Republican primary.

"It's been crazy this week," Sanders says. "It will be hard to watch TV, because there are so many ads."

All five major GOP candidates have ads running during the station's nightly news programs. Their messages are also being amplified and augmented by supportive superPACs.

The battle for the Republican presidential nomination may or may not be decided by the end of this month. The battle for control of the Senate, on the other hand, is likely to go on all the way until the final votes are cast in November.

The Economic Side of the New Hampshire Primary

Jan 11, 2012
Jon Greenberg, NHPR

The New Hampshire primary is about politics – obviously – but it’s also about economics, albeit in a much smaller way. While the rest of the state was watching vote totals and checking on the mood at campaign headquarters, reporter Amanda Loder of StateImpact New Hampshire was looking at the economic effects of the first in the nation primary. She tells All Things Considered host Brady Carlson about what she learned. 

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