Archive for July, 2009

RR: Mr. Wicker goes to Neshoba

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I’ve been enjoying the Neshoba County Fair this past weekend and most of this week.  On Sunday, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker went visiting around the Fairgrounds and I tagged along for my column. He joked with porch sitters, talked healthcare and energy policy with Jim Prince from the Neshoba Democrat, was an honorary starter at the horse races, and ended up at the Sunday night prayer service. You can read about it in the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Mr. Wicker goes to Neshoba

RR: GOP pushing voter ID

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Senator Joey Fillingane and the MSGOP are working an initiative to get photo voter ID put on the statewide ballot for voters to decide yes or no. They have 25,000 raw signatures so far and need 90,000 certified signatures. My column this week walks through the process and discusses other ballot initiatives that have been attempted. Here are some excerpts:

Currently, between Fillingane and the MSGOP, three field operatives are working on the petition drive in neighborhoods and festivals across the state, including the upcoming Neshoba County Fair.

Fillingane launched and a Facebook group for Mississippians for Voter ID. The MSGOP mailed the petition to thousands of Republicans across the state for their help in securing signatures.

Some Republicans complained this initiative would not have been necessary had several Republican Senators (Fillingane, Billy Hewes of Gulfport and Merle Flowers of Hernando) not killed a compromise voter ID measure in a Senate committee last session. Fillingane, Hewes and Flowers objected to early voting, same day registration, and felon franchisement provisions in the legislation. While the Democrats on the committee would not vote with these three to strip the troubling provisions from the bill, the Democrats were willing to vote with the Republicans to table the bill, thus killing it.

Republican Party Chairman Brad White said it’s time to move on from that legislative battle, “Now with this voter ID initiative we have something all our Republican elected officials and leadership can agree on: real photo voter ID without compromise, without attachment. An initiative is hard work, but we can all agree on the outcome.”

I also looked back at some previous initiatives.

The Mississippi Legislature intentionally created a difficult initiative process. Twenty-eight initiatives have been attempted since the creation of the process in 1992. Four are currently active (voter ID, cigarette tax increase, personhood amendment, assisted suicide and abortion); one was withdrawn by the petitioners; three - all pertaining to gaming - were ruled improper or unconstitutional. Only two have made it onto the ballot: both term-limits issues supported by Governor Kirk Fordice; both defeated (in 1995 and again in 1999). Seventeen initiatives expired without obtaining the necessary number of signatures, including another voter ID initiative sponsored by then MSGOP Chairman Mike Retzer in 1998.

Since the writing of the column, it appears at least two more initiatives have begun the process because the Secretary of State lists 28 initiatives to date, but Brett Kittredge at Majority in Mississippi has posted that there is a number 30 and it is another attempt at term limits.

Initiative number 30 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to limit appointed and elected state and local officials, United States Representatives, and the United States Senators to two successive terms. Service prior to January 1, 2011 would not be counted when determining the number of successive terms served by United States Representatives and United States Senators.

As Kittredge noted in his post and I wrote in my column, both prior attempts to get term limits on the ballot were successful, only to be defeated by the electorate by solid margins.

You can read my full column on the voter ID initiative in the Madison County Journal: Perry / GOP pushing voter ID

AP/Census: Eligible voter turnout rate decreased in 2008

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Some describe political science more as an art than science. I’m prone to compare it to sports, with the outcome of the game more important than a trophy. But the science of politics, like statistics in baseball, provide a truer understanding of what happened than a “W” or “L”. This recent report from the Associated Press based on census numbers reveals some interesting items regarding the 2008 Presidential Election.

Census figures released Monday show about 63.6 percent of the nation’s eligible voters, or 131.1 million people, voted last November.

Although that represented an increase of 5 million voters — virtually all of them minorities — the turnout relative to the population of eligible voters was a decrease from 63.8 percent in 2004.

Ohio and Pennsylvania were among those showing declines in white voters, helping Obama carry those battleground states.

According to census data, 66 percent of whites voted last November, down 1 percentage point from 2004. Blacks increased their turnout by 5 percentage points to 65 percent, nearly matching whites. Hispanics improved turnout by 3 percentage points, and Asians by 3.5 percentage points, each reaching a turnout of nearly 50 percent. In all, minorities made up nearly 1 in 4 voters in 2008, the most diverse electorate ever.

By age, voters 18-to-24 were the only group to show a statistically significant increase in turnout, with 49 percent casting ballots, compared with 47 percent in 2004.

Blacks had the highest turnout rate among this age group — 55 percent, or an 8 percentage point jump from 2004. In contrast, turnout for whites 18-24 was basically flat at 49 percent. Asians and Hispanics in that age group increased to 41 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

Among whites 45 and older, turnout fell 1.5 percentage point to just under 72 percent.

Asked to identify their reasons for not voting, 46 percent of all whites said they didn’t like the candidates, weren’t interested or had better things to do, up from 41 percent in 2004. Hispanics had similar numbers for both years.

Among the blacks who failed to vote last fall most cited problems such as illness, being out of town or transportation issues. Just 16 percent of nonvoting blacks cited disinterest, down from 37 percent in 2004.

The decline in percentage turnout was the first in a presidential election since 1996. At that time, voter participation fell to 58.4 percent — the lowest in decades — as Democrat Bill Clinton won an easy re-election over Republican Bob Dole amid a strong economy.

The report comports to what I wrote in November last year based on initial vote numbers.

A report released last week by American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests nationwide turnout to be near the same level as 2004, or at the most 1 percentage point higher. While Democratic turnout did increase by 2.6 percent, a decrease of 1.3 percent by Republicans neutralized hopes of record turnout. The report proposes this is a result of a disparity in the enthusiasm level for the party’s respective candidates, “by at least 20 percentage points, Obama enjoyed stronger allegiance than McCain.”

Democrats were excited about Obama. Republicans were not excited about McCain. Sometimes the science of the art of politics can be that simple.

Republicans must continue to identify and activate young and minority voters who share their conservative values, and promote candidates who will excite - note bore - Republicans.

RR: 2010’s political feast

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Reasonably Right looks this week at the judicial races and other items on the ballot in Mississippi in 2010.  In particular I look at the Supreme Court seat occupied by Justice Jess Dickinson and the Appeals Court seats currently filled by Joe Lee, Tyree Irving, Bill Myers, Donna Barnes, and Jimmy Maxwell. To wet the political appetite a little more, I look at what is coming next in the legislature as well.

Every 10 years Mississippi redraws legislative lines according to the latest census data. Mississippi and the U.S. Department of Justice must approve these new lines based on 2010 data in time for 2011 qualifying deadline, or else we may double our legislative elections.

The last time Mississippi legislative elections immediately followed the year of the census was 1991 resulting in an election based on the old district lines in 1991, and another election under the new lines in 1992. Many expect a similar back-to-back race in 2011 and 2012. Sometimes, we just need a second helping to quell that political hunger.

Watching state legislators run on the same ballot as President Barack Obama seeking a second term will be icing on the political dessert.

You can read the full column in the Madison County Journal online: Perry / 2010’s political feast.

18 months later, Obama agrees with McCain on Michigan jobs

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Eighteen months after John McCain told Michigan voters, “I’ve got to give you some straight talk: Some of the jobs that have left the state of Michigan are not coming back” Barack Obama echoed those words and told Michigan workers yesterday “(The) hard truth is that some of the jobs that have been lost in the auto industry and elsewhere won’t be coming back.”

When McCain said it, the Ohio Democratic Party said it, “revealed his inability to connect with voters who care about the economy. John McCain’s economic pessimism – telling laid-off Michiganders that their jobs ‘are not coming back’ – was loudly rejected by Michigan voters.

The Democratic National Committee portrayed John McCain’s statement as “more of the same failed Bush economy that has led to the loss of 269,000 manufacturing jobs in Michigan” and said McCain was “wrong for the American worker“.

Liberals and Democrats plastered what “Think Progress” called McCain’s “infamous” remarks throughout the blogosphere.

So the question is, has Barack Obama finally realized the truth of what John McCain said a year and a half ago, or, has Barack Obama revealed his inability to connect with voters who care about the economy with this pessimistic embrace of the failed Bush economy with these infamous remarks?

RR: GOP lines up against Childers

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I review five names in the rumor mill as potential Republican candidates against Congressman Travis Childers in Mississippi’s First Congressional District: Alan Nunnelee, Wesley Walls, Sam Haskell, Angela McGlowan, and Henry Ross. Nunnelee is the conventional wisdom front runner; Ross is the only announced candidate; Haskell and McGlowan both appear to be seriously consideirng it; and Walls is a fun rumor.  You can read about each of them online in the Madison County Journal: Perry / GOP lines up against Childers

RR: New mayors take office

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

This week I look at the results of mayoral races around the state with comments on Vicksburg, Ocean Springs, Lucedale, Starkville, Tupelo, Meridian, Gulfport, Pascagoula, Pickens, Greenwood and Philadelphia. The top 15 cities in Mississippi are fairly split between Republicans (9) and Democrats (6) and both had victories to crow about this year.  You can read the full column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / New mayors take office.

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