Well, not too long ago, over on race42008, there was a pretty heated discussion about Pawlenty’s potential to damage 2008 Republican candidates: namely, does a serious Pawlenty hurt Huckabee or Romney more? Let’s take a look. First of all, I think it’s useful to look to states where Mitt and Huck were both competitive, in 2008, as a proxy for their appeal. Let’s take a look at the the 2008 Georgia primary; Huck won 33% there while Romney won 30%. McCain scooped up 32%. Since it’s not clear to me that McCain’s supporters, especially in a state like Georgia, would split more towards one candidate or the other, this seems like a decent look at the respective candidates relative strengths. Uselectionmaps has the numbers on county by county breakdowns. Romney ran at least 9 points ahead of Huck in Cobb County, Fulton County, Dekalb County, and Glynn County. What do we know about these counties? Let’s look at per capita incomes. Cobb County: 33k, Dekalb County: 24k, Fulton County: 30k, Glynn County: 22k. How about population density? Cobb County: 770 per square mile, Dekalb County: 974 per square mile, Fulton county: 1544 per square mile, Glynn County: 77 per square mile. What are the state averages for both of these measures? The statewide per capita income, in Georgia, was 33.5k. The statewide population density was 141 people square mile. Ok…interesting. Now what?
Well, we see that all of these counties are below the average state per capita income. We also see that, with the odd exception of Glynn County, all of these counties are far more urban than Georgia as a whole. So Romney does well with urban voters and…poorer voters? Not quite. I don’t want to run through all of the numbers, but suffice it to say that those urban Georgia counties are heavily black. Cobb County has a 29% black population, while the other two have nearly plurality black populations.
Unsurprisingly, the per capita income of blacks is lower than the per capita income of whites. I haven’t been able to find numbers for Georgia, specifically, but we can make guesstimates based on the data we do have. In 2000, in NJ, New York, Hawaii, and California, whites made between 66% and 90% more than blacks. Also, unsurprisingly, the Republican primary in Georgia, in 2008, didn’t have too many black voters: CNN’s exit polls peg it at 2% of the electorate. Adjusting for race, then, we find that the Republican primary electorate in 3 of these 4 counties was urban AND relatively wealthy.
It’s no use looking at the heavily pro-Huckabee counties in that kind of depth; there are too many of them and they’re all incredibly small. But, take my word for it: I have looked at a few of them, cursorily, and I can that they’re almost uniformly rural and down-scale economically. The Huckster pulls in blue-collar rural voters; Romney pulls in white-collar urban voters. The exit polls confirm this impression. Romney does well in Atlanta and the Atlanta suburbs, while Huck does well in Northern Georgia. Romney wins voters making over 100k; Huck cleans up with voters making under 50k. Now, where has Pawlenty drawn his supporters from, in the past?
It has been surprisingly hard for me to find any county by county information on the 2002 Republican Gubernatorial primary in Minnesota, so a straight comparison probably isn’t possible. Still, I think we can achieve approximately the same effect by looking to where Pawlenty outperformed in the general election. I.e, where did Pawlenty do unusually well for a Republican? Luckily, I have that data handy from analysis I did last year. I created a couple of nifty maps at the time, which put it plainly. Here’s one of them, from the 2002 general election.
The area enclosed by red represents the Twin cities, while the green around that red encompasses the Greater Twin Cities. As I noted, in 2002, Pawlenty ran 20 points ahead of Bush in these areas. In 2006, with a weaker independent candidate, Pawlenty ran 9 points ahead of Bush here . Elsewhere in the state, Pawlenty either ran behind Bush both years- mostly in the rural areas of upper North-western Minnesota- or he ran even with Bush, when you account for the overall victory margin. In other words, the Twin Cities IS Pawlenty country.
It’s easy to get bogged down in details, so let’s just glance at a few counties where T-Paw did particularly well. He did very well, relative to Bush, in the traditional Republican suburban counties. He performed admirably in Washington, Dakota, and Anoka. These counties are less urban than some of the state’s, but they’re far from rural, and they range from the state’s per capita income to just above the per capita income. But, he also performed well- very well, in a particularly Democratic area- Ramsey County. In 2002 he ran 21 points ahead of Bush here (as compared to 20 over the entire Twin Cities) and in 2006 he ran 12 points ahead of Bush here (as opposed to 9 points over the entire Twin Cities). In fact, Ramsey is probably Pawlenty’s best county, relative to Bush (again, I’m guesstimating, rather than crunching each number).
And what does Ramsey look like? Well, it’s by far the most densely populated county in the state with 3281 people per square mile. It’s also almost EXACTLY at the state’s per capita income of 23.5k per year. And there no real significant number of minorities in Minnesota; Ramsey has a few, but they’re more Asian (who skew income stats up, if anything) than black. So Pawlenty’s basically outperforming in an extremely urban, perfectly middle-class Democratic area of the state. Within this Twin Cities bubble, in contrast, Pawlenty underperforms relative to Bush in less urban (under 275 people per square mile) counties like Wright County. In other words, the Pawlenty profile doesn’t look much like either the Romney or the Huckabee profile. He’ll probably steal more from Romney, simply because Huckabee’s epicenter almost vanishes as the cities encroach, but he’ll mostly pull from someone else entirely; he may be pulling from a new pool of voters.
When I was a young pup, I was a big fan of fantasy novels, and while I haven’t started a new series in awhile now, there are still a few old ones winding down. This week, the 12th book in one of those series’, The Wheel of Time, hit bookstores. I’ll probably have a review up later. Right now, I’ll just give an extremely thumbnail sketch of one conflict, to illustrate a political point. So basically, there are a whole bunch of wars going on, including one civil war. In this civil war, there’s something which, in history, is called a “succession crisis”. Or anyway, it’s something like a succession crisis. One leader was deposed, another was dubiously inserted, and some of the “nation” split off and set up a rival faction. Now in, like, the 10th or 11th book, this new faction is struggling for a leader. They have a few very “strong” choices. Too strong. Each choice has enemies that would make unity difficult. So they hit upon making an inoffensive, somewhat green candidate the leader. Her name is Egwene. She actually grows into the role.
Anyway, in the 12th book, Egwene has allowed herself to be captured by the original faction, so she can try to unify the “nation” from within the enemy camp. She has some successes and impresses people. After a whole bunch of complicated events, the leader of the original faction is essentially killed, and they have to search for a new leader. But, now this group has the same problem the rebel group had. All of the likely choices for leader have enemies, and even more than they had originally because the strain of fighting the rebellion increased divisions. But, they need unity and realize, after some discussion, that Egwene is the only one who doesn’t have very many enemies and has credibility with both factions. So both groups accept her as leader, and the civil war ends.
The political parallels to this are obvious. Back during the 2008 campaign, someone noted that most President had served less than 10 years in major office (Governor, Senator, or VP) before their election. Obama had 4 years as Senator. Bush had 6 as Governor. Clinton doesn’t fit the mold, but H.W. does (8 as VP). Reagan had 8 as Governor. Ford had 1 as VP. Nixon and Johnson break the mold, but then Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, and Hoover fit back in it. And when you think about it, that’s a little bit strange…right?
Just looking at the first 10 names, alphabetically, on the senate list, we’ll see that only 3 of 10 fit that mold. In politics, hanging around forever is the norm. Presidents are abberrations. Typically, people just answer that with, “well, Americans tend to prefer Governors who are term-limited and CAN’T hang around too long”. Well, that’s one explanation. But, it seems to me the story of novice leader might give us a second possibility. Politicians who hold large amounts of power and influence for long periods of time inevitably accrue enemies. Not just within the party structure, but with the population at large. The more often people see you- the more frequently you’re involved in squabbles and battles, internecine and otherwise, the less credible you are as a leader who needs to, at least in theory, bring unity. Especially when things get testy- when civil wars break out- you need a fresh face, not wedded to any one group, and capable of moving bringing unity to a battered nation. That was the logic of Barack Obama.
I’m thinking of this because it concerns Tim Pawlenty. Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin all have enemies. Romney and Palin may not violate the rule of 10, but their time in the sun has made them lighting rods. The spotlight and time make their own kind of gravity. And what goes up…Pawlenty’s hasn’t even begun to go up. He has ignited no great emnities; he hasn’t had time. He hasn’t fought the kind of interparty battles that keep us apart. He hasn’t even engaged Obama with enough rancor to turn independents against him: he’s pristine. In a situation where we have conservative party candidates bucking the establishment, and moderate establishment’s endorsing in a primary 15 months ahead of schedule, we could sure use that pristineness.
T-Paw gave a nice interview to Human Events. Here’s a sample response:
Minnesota has the highest percentage of Health Savings Accounts in the country: 9.5% of our population. The studies around that show there are significant cost-saving benefits to having people in HSAs. That’s No.1. No.2 is we urgently need medical malpractice reform. Harvard recently came out with a study showing 30% of the medical care in the country is medically unnecessary. This is for two primary reasons: First, doctors are afraid they are going to be sued so they run the checklist regardless of whether it’s needed or not, and second, misplaced capacity of the provider driving the decision as opposed to the medical needs of the patient.
A third thing we should do is, in an economy where people will be changing jobs a lot more than in previous generations, some portability of benefits would be helpful. In a dynamic economy, we should pay for better health and better outcomes — in other words, performance pay. We’re paying for the wrong thing right now. We should allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines. We should allow risk-pooling across state lines. We should incentivize electronic medical records and electronic prescriptions to make the system more efficient. 85% of the healthcare dollars are spent on five chronic conditions: cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and end-of life-stage treatments. Where you go to get your care for those things matters a lot. It matters a great deal as to your healthcare outcomes and the cost. In other words, some places are dramatically more efficient and have higher quality than other places. If you let consumers know that, and you incentivize them to make wise decisions, they do. We have done that in Minnesota with dramatic results.
I will give you one example. The Minnesota Advantage plan is our health insurance plan for state employees. In a very primitive way, many years ago, we tiered the providers in conjunction with the unions, and their back was being broken by healthcare costs, too. We negotiated this resolution: We’d tell the employees, “You can go anywhere you want, but if you choose to go to a place where there’s low quality, bad results, and that’s expensive, you’ll pay more. If you choose to go to a place that’s high quality, has good results, and that’s efficient, you’ll pay less.” And guess what happens? 90% of the entire state employee population migrated to more efficient providers. The good news in all this correlation between efficiency and quality is positive. In other words, the better providers tend to be more efficient.
Be still my wonky heart. Read the whole thing.
So Marc Amdinder wrote a very silly article yesterday, suggesting that Pawlenty maybe ought to skip Iowa and focus on defeating Mitt in New Hampshire. He writes:
Pawlenty’s main strategic challenge would be New Hampshire — figuring out how to defeat the Romney machine there. It might not be hard; since there won’t be a Democratic primary, as many as 60,000 independents could decide to vote Republican. Appealing to these independents on economic issues — and comforting them on social issues — is the test.
I happen to think Pawlenty’s a great fit for NH. He’s wears his social conservatism lightly, he’s pro-gun in a way Romney isn’t, and his laser-like focus on budgets will play well in the Granite State. Ross Perot ran better than average there in 1992. Still, it would be a terrible mistake for Pawlenty to skip Iowa. As Minnesota Independent notes, Pawlenty is an evangelical whose pastor heads up the National Association of Evangelicals, a group 30 million strong. He’s on friendly terms with the Dobsons. But, perhaps most importantly, Iowa is the rare primary state where the electorate is conservative, but not movement conservative. Movement conservatives hate Mike Huckabee, but there’s no sign that any significant contignent of Iowans have a problem with him.
This matters because Pawlenty will have a problem with movement conservatives. Not a Huckabee sized problem, but a problem nonetheless. His Sam’s Club rhetoric and interest in climate change, make him a highly suspect character in some circles. And of course, he doesn’t have the obvious star-power of a Palin. He needs to compete in a few places that take advantage of his strengths. In Iowa and NH, his amazing skill with retail politics- an area where he’s garnered comparisons to Bill Clinton- will come in handy, and his ideological strengths will play fairly well. What does he have to lose, anyway? Unlike Romney, Pawlenty has no high early expectations He also doesn’t have a reservoir of strength elsewhere, which might allow him to play for a later victory. He needs to make a splash in Iowa, even if he doesn’t win there, to have a chance in NH and South Carolina.
Exciting. Pawlenty offers up a series of proposals to reform MinnesotaCare next year. Fox reports:
Pawlenty’s three-pointed plan includes:
Allowing Minnesotans to purchase health insurance from other states.
- Requiring state-supported health plans MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance to use ratings on the quality and cost of providers to set rates.
- Building incentives for Minnesotans who choose higher quality and lower cost providers.
- Under Pawlenty’s proposal, MinnesotaCare plans would have a higher deductible and the state would contribute to an electronic benefits card that could be used to cover out-of-pocket health expenses. Money left over on the card would remain with the enrollee to be used in the following year.
Pawlenty says the higher deductible coupled with the card would push people to choose higher-quality, cheaper providers and that would maximize the value of the state contribution.
Very interesting stuff. I’d like to hear much more about the last point. This electronic benefits card, with rollover, looks vaguely like something Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam mentioned in their book Grand New Party. It also looks a bit like a health savings account, or the partial privatization idea for social security. Note, when the state refers to MinnesotaCare, its mostly talking about the state supported plans, not private plans. So this doesn’t expand government, though it’ll probably lower costs and expand coverage.
So Allah over at Hotair scoffs pretty loudly at the news that Pawlenty’s fundraiser attendees/PAC staff are largely former McCain people. The Hill reports:
Among those interested in getting to know Pawlenty are Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Randy Scheunemann, two top policy advisers from the McCain presidential campaign who have joined the Minnesota governor’s host committee…
While Romney has a team of tested veterans to rely on if he runs again, Pawlenty is using his PAC to show off some who might come to his aid if he enters the race. Other McCain veterans teaming up with Pawlenty’s PAC are political strategists Bo Harmon, Jon Seaton and Terry Nelson, all of whom played roles in the 2008 campaign.
An all-star list of GOP strategists for his PAC’s first fundraiser. Hey — I thought Mitt was supposed to be the RINO candidate this time…
His commenters are even more vicious, excorciating McCain’s staff as RINOS who are also useless. Does this sort of analysis make sense? Is Pawlenty more likely to run to the center because he has a team of advisers that once back a “centrist”? And were these folks the enormous failures some conservatives portray?
I think the answers are “no” and “not really” respectively. McCain had his own loyalists from the 2000 run, but the new people weren’t especially likely to be ideological RINOS. Remember, when McCain started his 2008 run- when he started building up a campaign infrastructure- folks thought the race would be him, Rudy, and mystery conservative (probably George Allen). Conservative strategists weren’t crazy to think McCain was the best bet. That probably explains Terry Nelson, who was such a RINO he headed up the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. So I think, while McCain’s team was probably not unusually ideological flexible.
I’m less sure about the contention that McCain’s team “failed”. On the one hand, it’s obvious they did so. I criticized his campaign, generally, repeatedly during the 2008 general. Why would you select Sarah Palin and then try to pitch her to centrists, instead of to urban, ethnic blue-collar voters who were doubting Obama, and who could have related to a more self-sufficient, frontier-oriented Palin narrative? Why would you bring the Ayers stuff up if you had no intention of hitting hard with it?
There’s a good argument to be made that Barack Obama, pre-Republican convention, was in something like the position McGovern was in 72′, albeit in a better year for Democrats. He was ideologically extreme candidate whose extremeness couldn’t have been properly exploited by a Republican, but who had been almost wrecked by his Democratic opponent’s attacks (think Muskie wrecks McGovern). The coalition was there for the splitting and then, at the penultimate movement, McCain’s camp balked. Someone up there was making stupid decisions. That said, McCain did win the primaries. If the other bunch of GOP strategists are such geniuses, why couldn’t they pull their candidate over the finish line against a pathetically weak McCain?
I do worry about the possibility that the McCain folks have learned the wrong lessons from the 2008 race. The right lesson, it seems to me, is that a nominee needs to address the base before he wins the nomination, so he doesn’t have to select a frontierswoman straight out of the conservative id to rev them up. But, there are a lot of small ways to go wrong if you assume, A.) that because McCain won the nomination, a relative moderate has a reasonable chance of winning the nomination, B.) the Palin fall from grace totally negates the tremendous power of her gut populist type of politics done properly. It’s a tough recipe and I hope they get the mixture right. I’m at least willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
To headline a November equivalent to the Ronald Reagan dinner, according to the National Journal:
Des Moines Register‘s Beaumont reports, MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is heading to IA on 11/7 to headline the state GOP’s fall fundraiser — his first visit of the cycle to the leadoff caucus state.
IA GOP exec. dir. Jeff Boeynik told the Register: “We are proud to announce that Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has agreed to headline our Republican fall event. … Gov. Pawlenty is the kind of leader we’re looking for.”
The fall fundraiser takes the place of what has traditionally been called the Ronald Reagan dinner, and is “aimed at bringing out rank-and-file” GOPers. The ticket price for what’s being called “Leadership for Iowa” is $25 “instead of the higher prices the Reagan dinner has typically fetched.”
It’s hard to pin down exact dates, but here’s what my research has turned up about the 2008 cycle Iowa visits. On September 26 and 27, 2005 Mike Huckabee made his first visit to Iowa and claimed to be considering a Presidential run. That’s equivalent to Sept of 2009, in this cycle. So T-Paw’s a little behind Huckabee in this metric. Mitt Romney had made 9 visits to Iowa by Sept of 2006 (though that included campaign events for Bush in 2004), so Pawlenty’s probably behind Romney circa 2008. But, most of the other candidates waited til 2006 to grace Iowa’s borders. I’m glad to see him make this move and, to me, it suggests he’s serious about competing in the first caucus.