Tuesday, April 05, 2011

-Sudden- Minimal Impact?

This blogger does NOT call the Teabaggers by any other name; no Tea Partiers or Tea Party protesters in this blog. They will be Teabaggers until they draw their last fetid breath. Bill Maher calls the loons "Teabaggers," but he claims that he will stop his Teabagger snark when the Teabaggers stop referring to The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) as "Obamacare." No such bargains in this blog! Those loons and fools are Teabaggers forever! Today, a pair of political scientists reveal the Teabaggers for what they are: loudmouths. In Texas, they would be described as "All hat, no cattle." That might translate to "$hit for brains." If this is (fair & balanced) vitupery, so be it.

[x Boston Review]
Weak Tea
By Stephen Ansolabehere and James M. Snyder, Jr.

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The rise of the Tea Party was one of the signal storylines of 2010. The movement attracted money, activists, and endorsements from high-profile politicians, especially Sarah Palin. And it reputedly broadened the appeal of the Republican Party beyond its usual base, siphoning from the Democrats many middle- and even working-class Americans. If the mainstream narratives are right, the Tea Party is primed to continue shaking up the political landscape as the 2012 election nears.

Yet the Tea Party, despite the media sensation it has generated, does not seem to have boosted the vote of candidates it supported. In the 2010 midterm, the Tea Party—via the two major national groups, Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks, and the congressional Tea Party Caucus—endorsed Republicans in Republican districts, and those Republicans performed about as expected. These factors, largely missed in commentaries on the movement and its implications for 2012, suggest that the Tea Party may not have much traction, at least in future general elections.

It is tempting to believe that the Tea Party endorsement moved voters. Indeed, the candidates endorsed by these groups did well: 64 percent of Republican candidates endorsed by the Tea Party Express or FreedomWorks (or both) won, while only 52 percent of non-endorsed Republicans won. The numbers look even more impressive among non-incumbents: almost 52 percent of endorsed candidates won, while only 28 percent of non-endorsed candidates won.

But there is less to these numbers than meets the eye. The Tea Party endorsers played with a stacked deck, tending to support Republican candidates in Republican-leaning districts more than in Democratic-leaning districts. In the 200 most Republican districts (based on the 2008 presidential election results), at least one of the national Tea Party groups endorsed the Republican candidate 43 percent of the time. In the 200 most Democratic districts, at least one of these groups endorsed the Republican candidate only 35 percent of the time. The skew is even larger for non-incumbents: in the 200 most Republican districts, the Republican candidate was endorsed 55 percent of the time, while in the 200 most Democratic districts, the Republican was endorsed only 34 percent of the time. Five of the endorsed candidates had no Democratic opponent.

The penchant for endorsing candidates in Republican-leaning areas almost completely explains the Tea Party’s success rate. The graph [above], “Minimal Impact,” shows the tight relationship between Republican share of the House vote in 2010 and Republican share of the presidential vote in 2008. One may think of this graph as relating what we naively expected in 2010 (based on the 2008 results) to what actually happened. Those races in which a Republican received the endorsement of one of these Tea Party organizations are marked with a T, and those Ts are overwhelmingly on the right side of the graph, meaning that Tea Party endorsements of Republicans were most common in those districts that probably would have voted for Republicans anyway.

If endorsements from the movement’s organizations mattered substantially, then the Ts would deviate in the Republican direction (upward). Some of the endorsees did better than expected; that is, they ran ahead of other Republicans in similar districts. However, many ran behind their party, and some far behind. To isolate the Tea Party effect, we compared the performance of Tea Party–endorsed Republicans with non-endorsed Republicans running in similar districts. That effect is a statistically insignificant three-tenths of one percent.

A similar analysis for the Senate is more speculative because there were many fewer races. But in those races, Tea Party endorsees ran three percentage points behind non-endorsed Republicans running in similar states.

So while the large number of victories for Tea Party–backed candidates suggests electoral appeal and political clout, it seems that a Tea Party endorsement actually didn’t matter all that much. In an election year that favored Republican politicians because of the prolonged economic recession and stubbornly high unemployment, Republican politicians did about as well as one would expect.

But even if the Tea Party endorsement carried little additional punch, perhaps the movement infused new money into politics? It doesn’t seem so. About $2 billion were spent on federal elections in 2010. According to the Federal Election Commission’s records, the Tea Party Express outdid all other Tea Party groups by raising $7.7 million. An impressive number, but hardly decisive given the total spending, and even less so given that the organization spent only $1.2 million of that on direct contributions or independent expenditures. The rest was devoted to overhead and fundraising events. Such high expenditures on maintenance and operation are typical of non-connected, ideological political action committees. For example, the National Conservative Political Action Committee became famous for targeting six vulnerable Democratic senators in 1980, all of whom ultimately lost. Yet it had similarly high overhead and fundraising expenditures and, by mid-decade, was history.

The other reputed channel of Tea Party money ran through local organizations. But there, too, the amounts are underwhelming. According to a Washington Post survey of local Tea Party organizations, the median amount a local group raised in 2010 was $800, and the median amount of cash-on-hand was $500.

This is not the picture of a political faction awash in cash funneled from wealthy individuals and corporate interests, as was commonly portrayed in media accounts. Rather, it is of a grass-roots movement faced with heavy overhead for operations at the national level and starved for cash at the local level. Nor is it the picture of an independent political movement that brought a surge in electoral support to the candidates it endorses. Rather, the Tea Party appears to have ridden the 2010 Republican wave more than created it. Ω

[Stephen Ansolabehere is a professor of government at Harvard University. He previously taught at UCLA and MIT. He earned a BA in political science and BS in economics from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in political science from Harvard University.

James M. Snyder, Jr. has been the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor of Political Science and Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, Snyder is a professor of government at Harvard University. Snyder received a BA in economics from Duke University and a PhD in economics from the California Institute of Technology.]

Copyright © 2011 Boston Review

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Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at sapper.blogspot.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.

Copyright © 2011 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves


This blogger gave up on the Butler Bulldogs shortly after the second half began and missed hearing CBS analyst Clark Kellogg describe Butler's play as "unparalleled ineptitude." What a revoltin' end to Matt Howard's career at Butler. If this is (fair & balanced) despair, so be it.

[x The Atlantic]
UConn Beats Butler: 5 Thoughts On The Ugly 2011 NCAA Title Game
By Jake Simpson

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Can we open our eyes yet? Have the misses finally stopped?

OK, maybe it wasn't that bad, but most of the NCAA title game between Connecticut and Butler was cover-your-eyes awful. The teams combined to shoot just 26.1 percent from the field, and if you discount the early years of the tournament (the ones where a school like City College of New York could win it all), this was the worst combined offensive performance in a title game by virtually any metric.

When the bricks settled, UConn had outlasted Butler, 53-41, behind the steady leadership of Kemba Walker and second-half scoring of freshman Jeremy Lamb. Five thoughts from the game:

1.) Butler never got comfortable: Perhaps the understatement of the year. In the early going, the Bulldogs seemed to finally let the pressure of their remarkable back-to-back Cinderella quests for a championship get to them, missing nine of their first 10 shots. Then UConn's big men asserted themselves, blocking an NCAA-record tying 10 shots in the contest. In the second half, Butler starting rushing its shots to avoid getting blocked, even when they were wide open. The result was an epically bad shooting performance—the Bulldogs missed 42 of their first 50 shots and made only 12 baskets the entire game. CBS analyst Clark Kellogg summed it up with one nicely turned phrase: "unparalleled ineptitude."

2.) Jim Calhoun earned his coaching legacy: The cantankerous UConn coach joined an elite coaching fraternity with his third national title—only John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Bobby Knight and Mike Krzyzewski have won three or more. Calhoun delivered a masterful coaching performance throughout, especially a halftime adjustment to scrap the pick-and-roll and run Lamb and Walker off baseline screens for open shots. Butler coach Brad Stevens had pushed all the right buttons during the tournament, but he had no answer for Calhoun's savvy moves.

3.) Jeremy Lamb had his coming out party: As good as Walker has been (first team All-American, MVP of the Big East tournament, Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament), the freshman guard from Norcross,GA, was the key to UConn's win. After a scoreless first half, Lamb made nine of the Huskies' first 14 points in the second half to give UConn a lead it would never relinquish. The 6-foot-5 Lamb was tall enough to shoot over Butler's guards and joined Gerry McNamara, Marvin Williams and other recent freshmen who keyed a championship victory.

4.) Butler will be a regular contender going forward: Assuming Stevens stays loyal to the program that made him the hottest young coach in America, the Bulldogs will be back. Despite a cavalcade of blown layups and sloppy play, Stevens' squad never quit. Senior center Matt Howard epitomized Butler's game effort; after opening a nasty gash on his right leg in the second half, he returned and played till the final buzzer, bloodied and beaten but unbowed.

5.) UConn's postseason run is the greatest of all time: That CCNY championship I mentioned earlier? The Beavers set the standard for improbable postseason performances, winning seven consecutive elimination games in 1950 to capture the NCAA tournament and the National Invitational Tournament in the same year (in those days the NIT winner automatically went to the NCAA tournament). It took 61 years, but CCNY's run has finally been surpassed. UConn wheezed into the Big East tournament as a No. 9 seed, won five games in five days to win the conference tourney, then added six straight wins in the Big Dance for good measure. That's 11-0 in postseason play, literally the best mark any NCAA-eligible team could put up. It may not have been the prettiest title chase ever, but Kemba, Calhoun, and Company earned every bit of their NCAA championship. Ω

[Jake Simpson is a sports columnist for The Atlantic's Culture channel. He received a BS from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Simpson was the sports editor for the campus newspaper, The Daily Northwestern.]

Copyright © 2011 The Atlantic Monthly Group

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