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CRS — Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (December 8, 2014)

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Coordinated Party Expenditures in Federal Elections: An Overview (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

A provision of federal campaign finance law, codified at 52 U.S.C. §30116(d) (formerly 2 U.S.C. §441a(d)), allows political party committees to make expenditures on behalf of their general election candidates for federal office and specifies limits on such spending. These “coordinated party expenditures” are important not only because they provide financial support to campaigns, but also because parties and campaigns may explicitly discuss how the money is spent. Although they have long been the major source of direct party financial support for campaigns, coordinated expenditures have recently been overshadowed by independent expenditures.

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Hate political ads? Skip morning shows

November 19, 2014 Comments off

Hate political ads? Skip morning shows
Source: Center for Public Integrity

If you hate political advertisements, some advice: Give Matt Lauer, Robin Roberts and Charlie Rose the boot.

The nation’s marquee network morning shows — “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “CBS This Morning” — attracted more U.S. Senate race-focused ads during the 2014 midterm elections than any other television programs, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data provided by tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

The weekday version of ABC’s “Good Morning America” led all comers, with nearly 30,000 U.S. Senate-focused ads during the 2014 election cycle. “Today” and “CBS This Morning” played host to about 27,000 and 25,000 ads respectively.

Republican candidates and political parties, super PACs and nonprofit groups supporting their races aired slightly more ads than their Democratic counterparts for each show.

CRS — Political Transition in Tunisia (October 22, 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Political Transition in Tunisia (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Tunisia is in its fourth year of transition after the 2011 “Jasmine Revolution,” and it has so far continued to avoid the types of chaos and/or authoritarian resurrections that have affected other “Arab Spring” countries. Legislative and presidential elections scheduled for late 2014 are expected to put an end to a series of transitional governments. On January 26, 2014, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new constitution. This is widely viewed as a landmark accomplishment, given the difficulty of achieving political consensus, tensions between Islamists and secularists, and ongoing social and economic unrest. The new constitution asserts Tunisia’s Muslim identity, but its framing—creating a civil state and provisions on civil liberties—is seen as a victory for secularists. The vote followed a political agreement under which Tunisia’s main Islamist party, Al Nahda, agreed to give up its leadership of the government in favor of a technocratic prime minister in the lead-up to the elections.

Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014

November 4, 2014 Comments off

Cell Phones, Social Media and Campaign 2014
Source: Pew Research Internet Project

Cell phones and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are playing an increasingly prominent role in how voters get political information and follow election news, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center.

The proportion of Americans who use their cell phones to track political news or campaign coverage has doubled compared with the most recent midterm election: 28% of registered voters have used their cell phone in this way during the 2014 campaign, up from 13% in 2010. Further, the number of Americans who follow candidates or other political figures on social media has also risen sharply: 16% of registered voters now do this, up from 6% in 2010.

Voters of all ages are more likely to take part in these behaviors than in the previous midterm race, but that growth has been especially pronounced among 30-49 year olds. Some 40% of voters ages 30-49 have used their cell phone to follow this year’s election campaign (up from 15% in 2010) and 21% follow political figures on social media (up from just 6% in 2010). Voters in this age group now take part in each of these behaviors at rates nearly identical to 18-29 year olds.

Participation in the digital campaign does not have a clear partisan slant. Republicans and Democrats engage in each of these behaviors at similar rates. At the same time, when asked about some reasons why they might follow political figures on social media, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents express a greater desire to be the first to find out about breaking political news, and to say that they use social media to get political information that has not passed through the traditional media “filter.” Voters from both parties place a similar emphasis on the deeper connections that social media allows them to form with the candidates they support.

Export-Import Bank: Industries and Implications

November 3, 2014 Comments off

Export-Import Bank: Industries and Implications
Source: IBISWorld

The upcoming November elections have turned the renewal mandate for an 80-year-old credit agency into a hot topic. The Export-Import Bank, established in the wake of the Great Depression, is the national export credit agency of the United States. It aims to support US exports by providing financial assistance, including direct loans and loan guarantees, to foreign buyers of US goods. For example, it may support domestic aircraft manufacturers by providing a loan to a Korean airline carrier buying US aircraft.

The Bank’s mandate, last renewed in 2012 and likely temporarily extended to June 2015, faces expiration unless Congress votes to renew it. The debate in Congress centers on both the Bank’s usefulness and the fundamental role of government in the economy. Those in favor of the Bank argue that the agency is essential for supporting US jobs in export-oriented industries. In particular, they argue that the Bank plays an important role in filling the gaps created by private markets unable or unwilling to finance high-risk export deals. Conversely, those against renewing the Bank’s mandate dispute the necessity of government financing, arguing that it crowds out readily available private finance. They also maintain that the Bank hurts other domestic industries by subsidizing their foreign competitors, in addition to misallocating capital, encouraging “corporate welfare” and putting taxpayer money at risk.

With the debate raging on in Congress and in public, the arguments surrounding the Bank have become increasingly politicized. In this light, an analysis of the Bank’s specific areas of operation would help refocus and substantiate the discussion

Voters and the Affordable Care Act in the 2014 Election

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Voters and the Affordable Care Act in the 2014 Election
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

As we approach the 2014 election, we are witnessing an unusual situation. Poll results suggest a low level of public interest and a low projected voter turnout in this election. Only about half (52%) of the public say they are currently paying attention to the election (CBS News–New York Times [CBS-NYT] poll, 2014). On the basis of past nonpresidential-year elections, less than half of U.S. adults are expected to vote.1 At the same time, congressional candidates are raising a number of important national issues, including what should be the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in the years ahead.

Most Democratic candidates hold positions in favor of continuing the next phase of the ACA’s implementation mostly in its current form, whereas most Republican candidates have positions favoring some sort of major scaling back, repeal, or replacement of the legislation. For a number of different reasons, political forecasters see this election’s outcome as being very close. They give at least an even chance that the Republican Party will win majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The uncertain outcome of this election has importance for health care because of the polarized views held by each party’s candidates on the future of the ACA, federal health spending, and policies regarding federal health care regulation.

This article, which is based on an analysis of data from 27 public opinion polls by 14 organizations, seeks to examine the role of the ACA in the 2014 election and the potential implications for health care depending on the outcome. It examines the following six questions: How important is health care, and specifically the ACA, as an issue in the 2014 election? If a congressional candidate supports the ACA, are voters more or less likely to vote for him or her? What is the current level of voter support for the ACA? How does this support vary according to voters’ partisan affiliation? Do voters currently support a core principle of the ACA that it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage? What do voters want the next Congress to do with the ACA?

ACA Advertising in 2014 – Insurance and Political Ads

October 31, 2014 Comments off

ACA Advertising in 2014 – Insurance and Political Ads
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the law has been an often potent and divisive political issue, and has sparked an unprecedented amount of political and campaign advertising, particularly from candidates and groups that oppose the law. According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), no other federal program or policy has resulted in the kind of advertising the ACA has caused, namely the combination of new insurance “product” advertising and sustained political advertising across multiple election cycles.

This year, Americans saw the launch of the ACA’s insurance market reforms, the implementation of the state and federal exchanges where people can shop for coverage and access subsidies, and the expansion of Medicaid in many states. Alongside these policy changes, new stakeholders began to advertise to encourage participation in the new coverage options, including state and federal governments, non-profit groups looking to boost enrollment, and health insurance companies seeking new customers. The mid-term elections have also brought a new collection of political advertising with ACA messaging. These two distinct types of advertising have different goals and aims; some encourage people to take advantage of new options under the ACA, while others encourage people to vote a certain way. With both of these types of advertising making their way into American living rooms in 2014, this analysis describes the full spectrum of ads that the American public is being exposed to regarding health care, both in the context of health insurance coverage, and as a political issue in the mid-term elections.

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