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Election Watch, AEI’s long-running election analysis program, kicked off its 30th anniversary year Wednesday with its first event of the 2012 campaign season. The panel of AEI political experts, moderated by senior fellow Karlyn Bowman, looked at a range of election issues that are on everyone’s minds, from the latest polling numbers to hot contests to watch to what next year’s elections could mean for future policy. Bowman reminded the audience that even though former House speaker Newt Gingrich now leads national and many statewide polls, a large number of candidates have held the lead at various points in the campaign so far. In short, the Republican nomination fight has been a volatile one, and it will likely continue to be. Resident fellow Michael Barone argued that money and organization, traditionally important to a successful campaign, are less crucial than they once were. Instead, the high number of debates and the growing role of social media in campaigns mean that voters are learning about the candidates in new ways that mitigate the importance of campaign finance and organization. Barone also talked about the Republican National Committee’s rules on delegate allocation and noted that the states in which Romney is favored in the primary are winner-take-all, a boost to his nomination hopes. Next, resident scholar Henry Olsen looked at potential general election matchups, concluding that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be the stronger Republican candidate of the two current frontrunners. Resident scholar Norman J. Ornstein concluded with a long-term look at the policy battles that could occur throughout the duration of the campaign. While the fight between Democrats and Republicans over the extension of the payroll tax cut will persist, Ornstein said, President Obama has the upper hand in that battle because he has the bully pulpit.
AEI's Election Watch series returns in 2012 for its sixteenth season, bringing together AEI's nationally renowned team of political analysts. In the first Election Watch event of the 2012 campaign, Michael Barone, Karlyn Bowman, Henry Olsen and Norman J. Ornstein will discuss the mood of the country, the state of the primary contest, the lay of the land for the general election and the policy implications. They will look at how today’s mood and President Obama's popularity compare to past elections, whether money and organization matter in the early primary states, how the delegate allocation rules could affect the outcome, what we know about the political terrain on which the national contest will be held, and how the campaign will affect Congress's agenda in 2012.
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MICHAEL BARONE, AEI
KARLYN BOWMAN, AEI
HENRY OLSEN, AEI
NORMAN J. ORNSTEIN, AEI
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Michael Barone, a political analyst and journalist and a resident fellow at AEI, studies politics, American government, and campaigns and elections. The principal co-author of the biennial “Almanac of American Politics” (National Journal Group), he has written many books on American politics and history. Mr. Barone is also a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner.
Karlyn Bowman is a senior fellow at AEI. She compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, the environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, the North American Free Trade Agreement and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women's attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics resulting from key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States.
Henry Olsen, a lawyer by training, is the director of AEI's National Research Initiative. In that capacity, he identifies leading academics and public intellectuals who work in an aspect of domestic public policy and recruits them to visit or write for AEI. Mr. Olsen studies and writes about the policy and political implications of long-term trends in social, economic and political thought.
Norman J. Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He writes a weekly column for Roll Call and is an election analyst for CBS News. He also serves as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law known as McCain-Feingold, which reformed the campaign-financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include “The Permanent Campaign and Its Future” (AEI Press, 2000); the co-authored “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track” (Oxford University Press, 2006); and, most recently, “Vital Statistics on Congress, 2008” (Brookings Institution Press, 2008), also co-authored.