Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Real Impact of the Court’s Decision to Allow Corporate Funding in Political Campaigns: It’s Not What You Think

My colleague Bert Johnson specializes in, among other issues, campaign finance and elections, and he has graciously agreed to weigh in on the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to independently spend money in political campaigns. As many of you know, media editorial boards and political pundits have reacted to the Court’s decision with howls of protest, essentially arguing that corporations will now be able to “buy” candidates and determine the outcome of any election that interests them.  Rather than a democracy, we’ll be ruled by a plutocracy.

The probable outcome, as Bert suggests here, is not quite as dramatic:

“Three days have now passed since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC. The Court’s ruling – that corporations and unions must be allowed to engage in independent expenditures in political campaigns – has generated a lot of hyperbole among commentators and activists. The decision’s implications are in fact more modest than most people are claiming, for reasons I’ll discuss below.

Will the Aggregate Amount Spent on Politics Change?

The historical record suggests that the ruling may shift spending around somewhat, so we may in fact see more independent expenditures relative to other types of expenditures, but the overall amount of political spending is unlikely to change much. No regulatory scheme (at least in the U.S. or comparable countries like the U.K.) has made much of a difference in the aggregate level of money spent on political activity. Money spent on politics is very closely related to a country’s gross domestic product, as you can see from the figure below.


The relationship between GDP and political spending is one of the most consistent and longest-standing political science findings, and was first identified by Louise Overacker in the 1930s.  An intuitive way to see this is to note that the McCain-Feingold bill banned so-called “soft money” after 2002. This major regulatory change might have been expected to have a clear effect on political fundraising. Soft money funds made up over $250 million in party spending in 2000 and $245 million in 2002, according to FEC figures. After 2002, though, fundraising trends continued along their previous path.

Political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and James Snyder have found that this relationship holds true in highly regulated environments such as the U.K., as well as in virtually unregulated environments, like California state politics.

Will Corporations Rush to Enter the Political “Marketplace”?

Even if the aggregate total of money spent on politics remains the same, will we see a rush by previously-uninvolved corporations into the political arena? This, too, is unlikely. Under the pre-Citizens United regulatory framework, corporations have had ample opportunity to enter politics, but surprisingly few have done so aggressively. The most natural way of entering the political arena is to form a Political Action Committee (PAC), but fully 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies have no PAC at all (this figure comes from Ansolabehere & Snyder’s research). The average corporate PAC contribution is far below the maximum allowed: in 2006, for example, the FEC reports that the mean corporate PAC contribution was $1,473 (the median was $1,000), even though the law allows a maximum of $5,000 per candidate per election. This relatively low level of investment in political activity under the old rules will likely continue under the new rules.

Will Voters be Deluged with Corporate Ads that Will Affect Election Outcomes?

It’s likely we’ll see more independent expenditures under the new regulatory framework, relative to other kinds of political activity. But the relatively low level of political spending by most corporations suggests that firms will not all leap to involve themselves in independent expenditure campaigns. In 2008, for example, the highest spending corporate PAC was “United Parcel Service, Inc. PAC”, which spent about $4.7 million. This is about 1/5 of one percent of that year’s UPS corporate profits of $3 billion (data come from the FEC and from corporate financial reports).   Spending in political campaigns just isn’t very important to UPS (and to other corporations that spend less).

But, say corporations and outside groups *do* start spending a lot in elections. Will they be able to control the outcomes of congressional and presidential races? I’m skeptical. As Matt has drilled into all of our heads, elections primarily hinge on the fundamentals: the state of the economy, presidential approval, and so forth. There’s not a lot of evidence that campaign ads, for example, make a huge difference. Experimental research on media effects suggests that ads can teach people new information, can affect people’s level of enthusiasm, and might play some role in affecting the agenda. They don’t typically change people’s minds. The “swift boat” ads didn’t have a huge effect on the outcome of the 2004 race (contrary to the conventional wisdom), nor did McCain’s “Celebrity” ads in 2008.

OK, Even if the Effect is Small, What’s the Harm in Pushing for A Corporate Independent Expenditure Ban?

Since the Supreme Court’s decision Thursday, reformers have pushed for Congressional action to overturn the ruling. Would this be a good idea? One response might be to argue against it on constitutional grounds, claiming, as the American Civil Liberties Union puts it, that a ban on corporate ads represents a “poorly conceived effort to restrict political speech.”

But as a political scientist rather than a constitutional scholar, I’d prefer to focus on the practical consequences. Reformers interested in improving our system of representation could choose a more productive way to go. The real problem with representation in our system is a lack of competitive races. Robust competition increases voter knowledge, voter interest, and electoral participation, yet House members have a 90 percent-plus reelection rate and only a few dozen races are truly contested each cycle. Limiting expenditures does little to improve competitiveness, and is often counter-productive. Encouraging competitiveness is usually a matter of more spending, not less – but the spending has to be on the challenger side. Incumbents can spend whatever amount of money they want, but it is challenger spending that is the better predictor of competition and of incumbent defeat. (As Gary Jacobson first pointed out in the 1970s, the highest spending incumbents are often the ones who lose, since high spending levels indicates that they’re in trouble.)

The Citizens United ruling does little to either increase or decrease the amount of resources available to challengers. A better way to go might be to reduce restrictions on the entities that have an incentive to increase the competitiveness of campaigns: the political parties. As RNC Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement the other day, this would help to improve competition and to “encourage a vibrant debate on the issues.”

What We Have Here Is NOT A Failure to Communicate – It’s A Failure to Create Jobs

If stories in the Washington Post and New York Times are correct, the Obama administration is poised to react in exactly the wrong fashion to Scott Brown’s victory in the Massachusetts Senate race. As former communications director Anita Dunn explains, “What the president needs to do is go explain to the people exactly why what has been done is going to get us on a better path for the future.”  It’s not that the administration has misread the election message coming out of Tuesday’s race – in contrast to many pundits (see the latest it’s all about health care diatribe by Charles Krauthammer), Obama understands, as he told George Stephanopolous, that  Brown’s victory was rooted in the “economic frustrations of the middle class.”  But the administration’s response appears to center on focusing or clarifying its communication strategy, in order to explain what Obama has been doing to stem rising unemployment. Apparently senior aides are pulling a page from their experiences “during the toughest moments of the 2008 campaign.”  One aspect of this strategy, Dunn said, will be to contrast Obama’s efforts to date “with the Republicans’ refusal to do anything.”  That new strategy was unveiled yesterday when a new “fighting” Obama took his retooled “populist” message on the road to Ohio and promised to fight for The People against banks, Republicans and everything evil.    In short, no change in policy – instead, a change in communications.

Hmmm… how well did that strategy work with independent voters in Massachusetts?  When Coakley finally awoke to the fact that she was in danger of losing a seat held for almost half a century by Ted Kennedy, she went on the attack by blaming economic conditions on the failed policies of the Bush-Cheney administration, a tactic echoed by Obama when he came to campaign on her behalf.  The problem, of course, is that it was Coakley and the Democrats who were perceived by independents in Massachusetts to be in charge.  In trying to portray his administration as working on behalf of the people, Obama runs the same risk. In Ohio, Obama’s populist attack coincided with new state figures showing Ohio’s jobless rate going up to 10.9%, almost a point higher than the national average.  Meanwhile, the stock market nosedived in reaction to the Obama administration’s plans to regulate banks.

I can’t say I’m surprised by the decision by Obama’s aides to react to Coakley’s defeat by focusing on retooling and sharpening their message. One of the significant weaknesses of the candidate-centered, media-based presidential selection system in place since the 1970’s is that it teaches presidents and their senior aides the wrong lessons for dealing with flagging popular support.  On the campaign trail, the key to victory is to win the news cycle by keeping the media focused on stories that help your candidacy and/or hurt your opponent.  Staying on message throughout the campaign is crucial, as is immediately going on the attack whenever charges are leveled against you, and trying to shift the narrative in reaction to bad events.  Too often, presidents take office and surround themselves with the same (often young) aides who cut their teeth on the campaign trail, and who are convinced that the key to governing is to reprise what worked during a campaign.  That means winning the media cycle and staying on message.  It is easy for aides with a campaign background who are working in the White House bubble to let the latest headlines in the major papers or television broadcast dictate governing tactics.  If there is a weakness to the Obama administration so far, it is their propensity to focus too much on media and communication strategy – whether it is reacting to falling approval ratings by pushing back against Fox News or responding to Brown’s victory by vowing to retool the administration’s communications strategy in the guise of a new populist, “fighting” President.  Anita Dunn, the former communications strategist who evidently still advises Obama, seems particularly susceptible to this misguided thinking.

This is not the first time a president has sought to sharpen his media image to deal with flagging popular support caused by a tanking economy. Jimmy Carter, in his famous “malaise speech” (in which he never actually used the word malaise) followed a similar strategy as the nation was mired in “stagflation” in 1979.  He took to the airwaves to explain that what really ailed the nation was a “crisis in confidence.” In fact, what ailed the country were long gas lines and shrinking paychecks. A year later Carter was voted out of office.

To be fair, Obama certainly is not blaming Brown’s victory on the public’s spiritual and moral failings.  He’s picked a better target: banks, insurance companies and Republicans.  But the premise behind both speeches is the same: that bad economic news can be countered by employing campaign-style rhetoric heavy on symbolism and light on specific policies.  A retooled communication strategy is not the solution for rising unemployment – visible and effective efforts to create jobs are.  Brown didn’t win in Massachusetts because Obama, or state Democrats, failed to “give voice” to the economic frustrations of the middle class – he won because unemployment went up during December to 9.4%, the highest level in Massachusetts since Obama took office.  No amount of rhetoric is going to convince people that Obama’s policies are working – that requires a drop in unemployment and more visible signs of an economic recovery. After a year in office, this recession is officially perceived to be – unfairly or not – Obama’s and the Democratic Congress’, and they are either going to do something about it (or at least appear to take credit should the economy turn around on its own) or get voted out of office, beginning in the 2010 midterms.  It happened to Republicans in 2006, to George H. W. Bush in 1992 and to Carter before them.  A strategy based on attacking Republicans, rather than working with them, risks leaving the Democrats holding the bag if the economy has not showed visible signs of a turnaround in 10 months.

I’m not one of those who thinks the Obama administration has made very many mistakes in its short time in office – in fact, I think Obama has done pretty well, considering the problems he inherited and his lack of national and executive experience.  But I don’t know of any president – even those far more experienced than this one – who didn’t encounter a few missteps in their first year.  This, in my view, threatens to be one of them.

I’m sorry, but – with apologies to Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke, the problem here is NOT a failure to communicate.  It’s a failure to create jobs.

A Table of Data Is Worth A Thousand Pundits

I want to revisit the subject of my previous post – why Brown won – but in more succinct fashion.  As I noted, the pundits (at least most of them that I was able to read) agree what this election was about: a referendum on health care.  Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker opines:  “Although Democrats flail against the obvious, the real message of Brown’s ascendancy signifies opposition to current health-care reform. His surge has been an echo of 1994, when a backlash to Hillary Clinton’s attempt to overhaul health care sparked a Republican takeover of Congress.”  John Judis agrees: “In fact, the percent of 2008 Obama voters who were backing Brown almost perfectly matched the percentage who were dissatisfied with Obama’s health care plan, which Brown himself singled out for criticism in his campaign. According to the Rasmussen exit sample, 52% of Brown voters rated health care as their top issue — a clear indication that they were viewing the election in national terms.” E.J Dionne also points to health care, although he comes to a different conclusion regarding how Obama should respond: “Brown’s victory is also a rebuke to the Senate, which acted as though it had unlimited time to pass health-care legislation and ignored how foolish its listless ways appear to normal human beings. Like a bottle of milk kept out of the refrigerator too long, the health bill went sour for voters who felt they never heard an adequate explanation of what was in it.”

However the preelection polling data (at least those surveys which reported results regarding what issue voters said was the most important) tells a slightly different story.  The polling data indicates that the economy – jobs, taxes and government spending – was the most important issue, trumping even health care. In the table below I show data from every poll this year that asked Massachusetts voters to identify the most important issue in the Senate race.  (Note that some pollsters, such as PPP, didn’t even bother asking about anything except health care).  Here’s what they found:

Poll and date Economy/jobs/taxes/budget/spending is the most important issue Health care is the most important issue % Brown supporters saying economy is most important/health care most important %Coakley saying economy is most important/health care most important Predicted final outcome of the race
Suffolk University 1.14.10 48% 38% 50%/34% 46%/42% Brown 50%

Coakley 45%

Cross  1.14.10 42%% 31% 47%/41% 36%/50% Brown 50.8%

Coakley 41.29%

Boston Globe


36% 31% 32%/34% 38%/30% Coakley 53% Brown 36%

Note that the more accurate the poll in terms of forecasting the final result, the greater the number of likely voters citing economic issues as most important. Note as well that although Brown campaigned against the national health care legislation, he did not advocate repealing the Massachusetts’ version of universal health care in place since 2006.  Instead, Brown suggested that each state be allowed to develop their own health care plan. Clearly, although health care was a significant concern, the dominant issue among most voters, but particularly Brown’s supporters, was economics – jobs, taxes and government spending.  Tuesday’s election was not, contrary to what many pundits are suggesting, a referendum on health care.  To be fair, not all pundits missed the message that the economy drove Tuesday’s results. (Surprisingly, the NY Times seemed to get it right here.)  Nor am I suggesting that health care played no part.  But make no mistake – the repudiation of Martha Coakley was primarily driven by voter anger over the economy.

Having said that, the results of Tuesday’s Senate special election will have huge implications for the health care debate in Congress.  Several of you suggested that the best strategy for Democrats now is to push hard to get the Senate bill through the House before Brown is seated.  In my view, that is a politically naïve perspective.  I don’t believe House Democrats facing reelection in the fall are going to support the Senate bill in its current form – not after Tuesday. In my next post I’ll explain why.

P.S.  Marty sends along this video link showing Hitler’s reaction to Brown’s victory.

It Was (Primarily) the Economy, Stupid

In my last post I posited two questions that Brown’s victory raises:

  1. Why did he win?  In particular, was it a referendum on health care and Obama?
  2. What are the implications for the 2010 midterm elections?

Each is worthy of a separate post.  Let me start today by analyzing the roots of Brown’s victory.  There is a large contingent of pundits that see this election as a referendum on Obama and health care.  For an example, see this John Judis article, in which he writes:  “Yes, a less inept candidate might have beaten Scott Brown, but if Obama and his program had been more popular in Massachusetts, even Coakley could have won–and by ten points or more.”  Judis goes on to selectively (in my view) cite some data to make his case. Specifically, he argues that Obama’s fall in the polls is driven even more by health care than the economy: “What I found in Obama’s case is that at the beginning of last fall, when Washington began debating his health care plan in earnest, his level of disapproval began to exceed the rise in the unemployment rate.”  In other words, disapproval over health care outweighs economic concerns.  I don’t think the argument is very convincing and I think it’s not very relevant to explaining the Massachusetts’ Senate vote.

Of course, a major difficulty we have in untangling the impact of these issues is the lack of reliable data, in the form of exit polls, or post-election data, by which to analyze voters’ actions.  Rasmussen conducted an Election Day poll, but I don’t have access to its cross-tabs.  However, there is another source of data: the pre-election polls.  These aren’t ideal, because they don’t directly sample those who went to the polls on Tuesday, but they are the best we have. Keep in mind, moreover, that these polls were relatively accurate in predicting the outcome.  A careful examination of the prepolling data suggests it was primarily the economy, and not health care or views toward Obama, that drove the Massachusetts votes.  This is not to say that views on health care played no role, but that they were secondary to concerns over the economy.

So, why did Brown win?  Presidential elections, I have long argued, turn on fundamentals: the political grist from which candidates form their campaign strategies.  In Massachusetts, the fundamentals were as follows:

  1. An unemployment rate that had climbed during the past year from 7.4 to 8.8, with more than 300,000 workers without jobs.  The national unemployment rate, meanwhile, hovered at about 10%
  2. An electorate that was lukewarm – but not totally opposed – to a “universal” health care insurance system.  Massachusetts voters generally support the idea of the use of mandates to extend the risk pool by forcing everyone to buy insurance, a system they have had since 2006.  But in the three years the system has been in place health insurance and medical costs have gone up, in part because people have become adept at gaming the insurance system by signing on for short-term coverage when illness looms, then dumping it and opting  to pay a penalty for not  having insurance at other times.  At the national level, meanwhile Democrats were trying to pass a similar program.
  3. A statewide government, and national delegation, dominated almost exclusively by Democrats.  At the national level, all three branches of government were controlled by the Democratic Party.
  4. The renewed specter of terrorism, in the form of the Christmas bombing attempt, which takes place under Democratic watch.
  5. An electorate in which Democrats outnumber Republican 3-1, but in which a plurality of voters are registered as independents.
  6. A Senate seat held for almost 50 years by the “liberal lion” Ted Kennedy.

With these fundamentals as the backdrop, how did the two candidates try to frame the election?  For Brown, it was easy: capitalize on growing public concern over the sluggish economy and high unemployment, and the failure of “big government” run by Democrats to hold down health care costs or to prevent would-be bombers from getting on airplanes.  Promise “change” in the form of less taxes, and a smaller but more competent government.  Critically, Brown said he would oppose the national health care legislation but he did not push for a repeal of the Massachusetts health care law.  Instead, he argued for more federalism – allowing each state to shape its own health care legislation. Equally important, Brown kept his distance from the “tea party” movement so as not to allow Coakley to paint him as a social conservative.  In the final PPP poll, 37% said Brown was a moderate, while 58% described him as conservative. (Sixty-four percent said Coakley was a “liberal”.)  His favorability/unfavorability ratio stayed high throughout the campaign.  Tactically, Brown stayed on the attack by making this election about the party in power.

Coakley found herself in a more difficult position.  By surrounding herself with members of the party establishment, and getting endorsements from Kennedy family members, she allowed Brown to paint her as in effect the incumbent candidate.  For an angry electorate seeking change, she was the obvious target.  And, as is well documented, she compounded the problem by several public gaffes that fed into the perception that she felt the Senate seat was, in effect, a Democratic seat that shouldn’t require her to dirty her hands by actually working for it.  In the end, voter anger mushroomed during the closing days, and Coakley’s last minute efforts to go on the attack were not enough to overcome the desire to throw  the incumbent out.

That’s my explanation.  Is there any data to support it?  Some, but not as much as I’d like. The Rasmussen Election Day poll had Brown winning independents by a whopping 73%-25%, and taking the vote of more than 1 of every 5 Democrats. Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in the state say health care was the most important factor in their voting decision. But, this includes those who were and those who were against the national health care legislation; voters were in fact evenly divided on whether to support the congressional health reform effort, with 47% favoring it while 51% oppose it. Twenty-five percent (25%) of Massachusetts voters said the economy was most important issue.

The PPP poll released just days before the election showed that 48% opposed the national health care plan, but 40% supported it.  Unfortunately PPP did not ask about the economy.

Other polls that do show crosstabs and asked about the economy, however, make it clear that this was a vote that largely, if not exclusively, turned on that issue. For example, in the December Globe poll that had Coakley up 15%, 36% of voters cited jobs/taxes and the economy as the most important issue, while 31% said health reform. Interestingly, both Coakley and Brown supporters cited economic issues as more important than health care. A second poll released a few days earlier had 42% of voters, but 47% of Brown voters, citing job/economy/taxes as the most important issue, while 41% cited health care (but only 35% of Brown supporters cited health care.).  In the Suffolk Poll released just before the election, 44% said the most important issue was jobs/the economy (another 3% spending/the budget) and 38% health care.  Among Brown likely voters, 42% said the economy (and another 8% taxes, spending or the budget) and only 34% health care.  For Coakley voters, it was 46-42 in favor of jobs and the economy as the most important issue. Interestingly, 51% in the Suffolk poll looked favorably on the Massachusetts health care legislation.

Nor do I think opinions toward Obama played a huge role in this race.  Although some have argued that the results are a repudiation of his presidency, in fact those polled seem about evenly divided in their opinion of him.  The PPP  poll gave Obama a 44/43 approve/disapprove ratio.  A second poll taken slightly earlier had it  47%-42% in Obama’s favor.

Brown supporters not surprisingly, were also more likely to think having an all-Democratic delegation to Congress was a problem – with 82% citing this as a concern in one poll.

In short, this was a referendum on the Democrats’ handling of the economy, more than on Obama or health care, although those were secondary concerns.  And that has implications, I think, for the midterm.  To anticipate my next post, the clearest message coming out of Massachusetts is that voters are angry about the failure by the Democratically-controlled government to stem the loss of jobs, and they are willing to vote incumbents out in order to change direction.  After a year in power, it’s no longer politically feasible for Obama or Democrats to blame this economy on Bush and the Republicans – a tactic Coakley tried to use in the closing days of the Senate race.   I’ll turn to the midterms in my next post, but as a tease let me note that I can see four Senate races in which Democrats are vulnerable in 2010.  With Lieberman not a solid Democratic vote, that means we may have, in effect, a split Senate coming January, 2011.

There is one last, little noted, but vitally important issue coming out of the Senate race:  Brown is now in the Senate, representing the 41st Republican vote.  Where  is he likely to stand, ideologically speaking?  In fact, as I’ll discuss in a later post, there is evidence to suggest he may be among the most liberal Republicans.  In short, Brown may move ahead of Snowe and Collins and Nelson and become the most pivotal vote upon which the future of health care depends.  To put it another way, Brown’s views may dictate the details of health care reform.

Where did that Obama mandate go? The times, they are a changing… again.

The “Scott Heard ‘Round the World”*

*With apologies to the Boston Herald.

I’m going to need some time to analyze the data from last night’s election, but I wanted to make four quick points and show some preliminary analysis from Charles Franklin, just to whet your appetite.  But first, for those of you who had to dash off to work and didn’t catch the final results,  Coakley closed the gap a little as some of the big urban areas finally began reporting.  The final tally, pending final certification, looks to be about 52-47, exactly where the preelection polls had it.    In looking at the total votes and their distribution statewide, two things are clear (and Franklin has a good post on this here):  Brown basically recreated the McCain coalition from 2008, but actually drew 105% of McCain’s presidential vote in the state. That’s right. In a special election Brown won more votes than McCain did here in the presidential election.  Coakley, in contrast, drew only about 56% of Obama’s supporters.  When you look at the distribution of votes, however, it almost exactly duplicated the location of support for Obama and McCain in 2008.  So there wasn’t a wholesale redrawing of voter coalitions that did it for Brown so much so that his supporters were far more energized.  This chart by Franklin plots Brown’s vote as a percentage of McCain’s (x-axis) and Coakley’s as a percentage of Obama (y-axis).  Coakley doesn’t come anywhere near Obama’s total in any city or town, while Brown exceeds McCain’s pretty much everywhere.

(The way to read the chart is to find the 100 percent marker on the relevant axis – bottom axis for comparing Brown to McCain, left-hand side axis for comparing Coakley to Obama.  If the red dot is to the right of that 100 mark on the bottom, Brown beat McCain in that town.  If the blue dot is above that 100 mark on the side axis, Coakley beat Obama.   Clearly she didn’t even come close – onoly one blue dots is even above 80%, never mind 100%).

And now for the repercussions:

1. To their credit the major media outlets are hedging their bets somewhat, but the dominant analytic frame seems to be that, as the NY Times put it, “It is hard not to view that as a repudiation of the way Mr. Obama and Democratic Congressional leaders have run things.”   I don’t think this is true.

2. The Long Knives Are Out.  Much as predicted yesterday, Obama’s aides are running away from the Coakley campaign and results as fast as they can.  Inevitably some critics will suggest that Obama never should have campaigned on her behalf, since it is now easier to make the case that this vote is a repudiation of him and his policies.  I don’t think this is true.

3. Everyone is trying to read the tea leaves regarding 2010 – what does this portend for the midterms?  To answer this, we have to know what drove the vote in Massachusetts, and see whether those conditions exist nationwide.  I’ll try to address this.

4. What will happen with health care?  It is remarkable how little impact the results from last night are having on advocates on both sides of the issue: supporters of the current Senate bill are saying “push it through now” and opponents, on both the Left and the Right, are saying, “See?  I told you passage is a mistake!”   I think saner heads will prevail and the rush to pass the current Senate bill will slow.

A final point.  Today is Obama’s anniversary: one year in power.  Think back to all those 100-day meditations trying to assess the state of his presidency.  Seems pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it, that the media actually persists in trying to come to some assessment after he’s been in office three months.   Yes it does.

Predictably, much of this conversation is taking place without much data to support it.  I need to take some time to address lingering items from my day job (this race has been a fulltime occupation for close to a week now) but if I can, I’ll try to address all four issues in subsequent posts – with at least some data to support my argument!   So stop by again later today and the days to come.  And if you were one of those who hit on this site for the first time last night and you want regular email notifications regarding when I post, let me know and I’ll add you to the list.

Once again, thanks for all the comments and participation last night.  Really a historic night.

Oh, and the t-shirt contest will remain open for another day.

More in a bit.