It’s embarrassing

I need to come up with new adjectives for my disgust with failures in our democracy.  I actually used several more in this interview (I think I recall “appalling” and “pathetic”), but my reporter friend clearly liked these quotes the best despite my limited vocabulary.  Anyway, the lack of competitive campaigns in our state (and many states, of course) is embarrassing in a democracy:

Roughly a third of those who signed up to run for state House or state Senate were all but guaranteed a win in 2016 at the close of this year’s unusual Yuletide campaign filing period.

In 18 other races, the March 15 primary will all but settle the contest – no Democrats filed in two Senate races or six House races, and no Republicans filed in 10 House races – barring an unusually successful run by an unaffiliated or write-in candidate.

“Those kinds of figures are an embarrassment in a democracy,” said Steve Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.

There are 50 state Senate seats and 120 state House seats. Nine Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats face no challengers, as do 22 House Republicans and 19 House Democrats…

Tine was one of more than 20 sitting state lawmakers who resigned or declined to run for re-election this year, many of them citing the rigors of legislative sessions that have taken increasing amounts of time away from family and business. The requirements of running a campaign – from raising money to enduring attack ads – also can make a legislative run unappealing.

“The state of North Carolina is a massive entity,” Greene said, pointing to a more than $20 billion annual budget that provides for roughly 10 million citizens. “If you want someone to do a good job at it, the idea that we pay them less than $15,000 a year is an embarrassment.”

I do love it when there’s a truly non-partisan issue of good government/properly-functioning democracy I’m asked about and can let loose in my answers.  As I also said to the reporter, if anybody thinks too many non-competitive elections and woefully under-compensated legislators are partisan issues, than that is truly sad.  Alas, no end to gerrymandering or absurdly outdated ideas of “citizen-legislators” anytime soon.

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Photo of the day

From an In Focus Christmas-themed gallery:

People walk along a street decorated with festive illumination lights, part of the New Year and Christmas holidays celebration, in central Moscow, Russia, on December 21, 2015.

Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

The Republican divide

538’s David Wasserman on the “diploma divide” in the GOP.  Could there be any less surprising fact in American politics that Trump supporters are disproportionately less educated?

Trump

And some nice historical context:

But the Republican Party’s “diploma divide” isn’t new: It was central to the 2012 race, with roles reversed. That year, Mitt Romney’s nomination was attributable to GOP voters with college degrees, while voters without a college degree were split. Ultimately, the 2016 race may come down to which side of the diploma divide unites the fastest and most thoroughly once voting begins…

A similar diploma divide was starkly evident in 2012, when college-educated Republicans almost single-handedly propelled Mitt Romney to the nomination.

Romney’s two chief rivals, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, combined to win 765,329 more primary votes than Romney before they exited the race in April, thanks to their dominance among voters without college degrees. But those non-college-educated GOP voters split fairly evenly between Santorum and Gingrich, allowing Romney to prevail with a plurality of votes.

The correlation between the share of the vote Romney won in the 2012 primaries and the share of college-degree-holders was uncanny…

What’s glaringly missing from the 2016 GOP race? A candidate analogous to Romney who has the backing of a clear majority of college-educated Republicans. But there is still plenty of time for college-educated Republicans to coalesce around one — Rubio, Kasich, Bush or perhaps even Cruz could become the default choice for college-educated Republicans once some of the others drop out…

As the contest heats up, the diploma divide is once again the best lens through which to view the GOP primary electorate. So far, non-degree-holders are far more united than degree-holders, and they continue to back Trump heavily. But the script could easily flip by February, when degree-holders may sense an urgency to coalesce behind someone other than Trump or Cruz. An extended Trump vs. Cruz fight would be Rubio’s dream come true.

In the end, the candidate who consolidates either side of the divide the fastest and most thoroughly once the polls open will likely emerge with the nomination.

This will definitely be something to watch.  As a Democrat, I’ll hope that the college-degree Republicans don’t successful coalesce behind a single candidate, because those guys strike me as far more electable.  That said, that still strikes me as a reasonably likely scenario.

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