Replacing Scalia: How The Supreme Court Influences Presidential Elections

February 18, 2016

The death of the influential conservative Antonin Scalia opens up another front in the upcoming Presidential campaign.

 The most vital constitutional decisions in the USA are eventually settled by the nine mighty figures of the Supreme Court of the United States, nattily known as SCOTUS

Structurally, the system of voting is open to a simplistic liberal versus conservative 4-5 split. This makes for highly politicized appointments via the President but with congressional tactics to delay an appointment, an important example of the lame duck theory of a President in his last term of office.(POTUS trying to get the SCOTUS he wants).

This is where we seem to be at the moment

 Informed opinions among political commentators are evaluating the process according to game theory. Something like

Obama selects a highly qualified candidate of liberal tendencies. This will swing 4-5 decisions to liberal outcomes.  One of the front runners is the high powered Loretta Lynch, attorney general and heroine of the moves that brought justice down on the first group  of FIFA reprobates.

Republicans filibuster any appointment, offering a politically useful edge to the Democratic candidate in the upcoming Presidential race.  This seems a rare example of a win-win for Obama, because his nominee to SCOTUS will be one that could pull in ethnic votes crucial in a close race.

Dysfunctional politics

  This offers much scope for further dysfunctional politics in a system already prone to inept reactions and self-induced crises. Arguably, such behaviors have accelerated the further decline in confidence in mainline political figures and the rise of the non-political candidates such asTrump.

Bad, but not as  totally flawed as you might think. One analysis suggests that the court is not a simplistic algorithmic mechanism churning out decisions on party lines. That does happen but only in a minority of cases considered.

Unfortunately, these are often of the highest significance

The Bush Gore case is one such example. In the presidential election of 2000, victory was too close to call, and eventually came down to the highly-charged accusations over voting practices in Florida. As multiple recounts and law suits began, SCOTUS felt compelled to step in and voted to end further recounts, a decision handing the Presidency to Bush. The voting 5-4 was along the dreaded party lines.

 Get over it, the gleeful Scalia remarked afterwards.

 

 

 


Too Close to Call but then Obama moves to a second term

November 7, 2012

Tudor Rickards

A personal and unedited report based on the BBC’s radio coverage. I’m concentrating on the Presidential campaign as the votes are reported State by State

3.00am This and all times in British [GMT] time. Too close to call [TCTC]. No unexpected swings. The key states to be announced are Florida, Virginia and Ohio. Before the statistics indicate anything beyond TCTC inferences, BBC reports an intuitive sense of a ‘gentle breeze’ to Obama. Senate seats going to democrats from several republicans who had made particularly outrageous comments about ‘women’s issues’ such as rape.

3.30am One weary Republican in Virginia points to lack of attention by his party to ‘women and Hispanic votes’.

3.45am Democratic HQ in Chicago. BBC reports that ‘about an hour and a half ago something like a light switch flicked’. [My take: the switch was from belief grounded in hope to belief backed up with more rational analysis of information coming in.

4.00am The micro-evidence in Ohio places attention on Hamilton county, a particular bellwether or indicator of the whole. (‘Big fleas have little fleas…’). In the Pacific States, voting ends. California immediately announces for Obama.

4.15am NBC is the first network to announce for Obama. BBC insists that the result cannot be formally called.

4.19am Barack Obama tweets and calls it for Obama. Fox News calls it for Obama. BBC still refuses to call it formally. Fox news argues with itself whether it can be called yet.

4.24am ABC reports Ohio goes to Obama, and calls the election for Obama.

4. 25am BBC calls it for Obama. I’m going to bed.


Buckeye Barnstorming: “I need you Ohio”

November 5, 2012

Two days before election Tuesday, President Obama headed for Ohio, for the umpteenth visit of the election campaign. The myth of the Buckeye State’s iconic bellwether status is preserved

In one rally at the University of Cincinnati he said twice what political commentators had been increasingly saying: “I need you, Ohio!”

The Buckeye State

Ohio, The Buckeye State, has iconic significance as having the most volative voting pattern. The political myth is born of a statistical fact, that how the State votes is a prediction of who will become the next President, be he Republican or Democrat.

Election fatigue

Frank Hagler, [November 2nd 2012] writing in Policymic captured the sense of election fatigue getting to the candidates, as much as it has got to the American electorate:

Election fatigue has set in and the general feeling is that most people can’t wait for this election to be over so that they can get on with the important work of moving this country forward

Wednesday, November 7 will be a day of joy, regardless of which party comes out victorious because it will mark an end to one of the most contentious, racially polarized and negative election seasons in recent memory.

He went on to list five reasons which leads him to tip an Obama victory. Most of them can be challenged [and probably will be by Obamaphobes]. But here they are as indicated:

1 Momentum has shifted back to Obama.

2 The October jobs report

Which showed that unemployment remained below 8% and job creation is growing.

3 Late-breaking endorsements

from influential republican and Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the independent New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, within the last week.

4 Hurricane Sandy and the President’s response to it

5 The 24/7 news cycle accentuating the most recent good news stories for Obama.

Pulled in two directions

It’s all pulling commentators in two directions. Many with a political case to push look hard for evidence to add one last endorsement for their cause.

But there is still professional caution, so that the “too close to call” line is also being offered by a majority of those contributing to the 24/7 election news fever.