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by inoljt

I’m Proud That Obama’s Campaign Never Attacked Romney’s Faith

4:29 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/
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The 2012 presidential election is over, and Barack Obama has been re-elected president. There’s a lot of analysis being done on the election, and this blog doesn’t have any real insightful things to add to that.

With that said, there is one thing that I’m very proud that the Obama campaign did – or rather, that it didn’t do. Obama’s campaign never attacked Mitt Romney’s faith.

Mitt Romney, as almost everybody in America knows by now, belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a very firm believer in the Lord, much more so than most politicians. Of course, all American presidential candidates insist on their Christian faith, but much of that is mere rhetoric. Mitt Romney actually walked the talk, probably more than any presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter.

And he suffered for this. Because in America there is still an element of bigotry against the LDS Church, which insists that members of the church are not “real” Christians. In the Republican primaries, for instance, evangelical southerners consistently rejected Romney.

Barack Obama could have used this in his campaign. He could have used coded religious appeals, of the type that Herbert Hoover used against Catholic Al Smith in the 1928 presidential campaign.

He didn’t. I never once heard Barack Obama say the word “Mormon.” Nor did I ever hear anybody in Obama’s campaign refer to Mormonism, no matter how obliquely. That’s something for which Obama and the Democratic Party ought to be very proud of.

Now, of course there are caveats to this. There was indeed a current of anti-Mormonism running through many Obama supporters. Here a liberal journalist, unaffiliated with Obama’s campaign, would sneak in a reference to Mormonism. There, Obama supporters would whisper (or sometimes shout) about how the LDS Church is racist. But Obama’s campaign itself shied away from such bigotry.

In addition, for most of the campaign Obama led in the polls. At no point was he ever losing the electoral college. It’s easy for a winning campaign to behave civil. What if Obama had been losing by five points in the popular vote and behind in all the swing states? The temptation to resort to attacks on Romney’s religion would have been much greater.

What form would such attacks have taken? A normal candidate probably would have made his own church and his own Christian faith a big and continuous theme in each of his speeches and during the presidential debates. This would have been an implicit contrast to Romney’s “non-Christian” Mormonism. Given Obama’s troubles with his own church, that path was probably not available to him. But there are other possibilities. A super-PAC formally unaffiliated with Obama’s campaign could have released an ad attacking Romney on abortion. This ad could have accused Romney, while head of an LDS branch in Massachusetts, of forcing women not to have abortions. A super-PAC ad could have been released accusing Romney of draft-dodging, bringing up Romney’s missionary work in France. There are a number of such ads which could have been run, all subtly bringing up the LDS church. Obama’s campaign would then deny any to connection the super-PAC running the ads.

Fortunately, Obama’s campaign never did that. He and his campaign stayed on the high road. They did what was right. For that they deserve an enormous amount of credit.

by inoljt

The Right’s Dominance of France

10:10 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The story of the 2012 French presidential election is quite interesting. Right-wing incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy entered the election deeply unpopular. Opinion polls consistently showed him losing by around 20%.

France’s presidential system has two rounds. In the first round, everybody can be a candidate. The top two winners of the first round move to a second round run-off.

As election day approached, Sarkozy’s deficit continually shrunk.  Opinion polls just before the first round showed Sarkozy losing by low double-digits. As the campaign for the second round began, they showed him behind by high single-digits.

Sarkozy ended up losing by 3.2%. That’s a pretty steep drop-off from the polls that showed him behind by 20%.

To be fair, Sarkozy’s opponent François Hollande isn’t the best politician. But the fact that Hollande barely defeated one of the most unpopular presidents in the history of France’s Fifth Republic says something about France.

Indeed, the right has dominated the left throughout the history of French presidential elections:

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As this chart shows, the French right has won seven presidential elections; the French left has won just three. The right’s greatest election victory occurred in 1958, when French war hero Charles de Gaulle defeated hapless Communist candidate Georges Marrane with 79% of the vote.

The left’s greatest victory occurred in 1988, when incumbent François Mitterrand took 54% of the vote over Jacques Chirac. A French left-wing presidential candidate has yet to win by double-digits; the right has done this multiple times.

In addition, there are two instances when the French left failed to make it into the second round. This happened in 1969 and 2002, which are colored darker blue above (the margin in these years indicates the first round). In both instances the second round ended up being between two right-wing candidates. So far a French presidential election has never featured two left-wing candidates in the second round.

Here’s a table of the elections:

French Presidential Elections Results: Second Round
Year Left Right Margin of Victory for the Left
1958 13.0% 78.5% -65.5%
1965 44.8% 55.2% -10.4%
1969 0.0% 100.0% -100.0%
1974 49.2% 50.8% -1.6%
1981 51.8% 48.2% 3.6%
1988 54.0% 46.0% 8.0%
1995 47.4% 52.6% -5.2%
2002 0.0% 100.0% -100.0%
2007 46.9% 53.1% -6.2%
2012 51.6% 48.4% 3.2%

France has generally had a reputation of being a very liberal place, and this analysis might seem surprising from that perspective.

To be fair, the French right is very different from the American right. France’s right-wing is probably to the left of America’s Democratic Party (at least on economic issues). France’s left used to be the Communist Party; today it is the Socialist Party. Both parties would never win a presidential election in the United States.

Finally, and ironically, as I write these words the French socialists have just won an absolute majority in Parliament. France’s socialists today hold more of the levers of power than they have ever held in the history of the French Fifth Republic. But historically, it has been the right and not the left in power in France.