In the News

February 19, 2013
As lawmakers move beyond the messages and rhetoric of Tuesday's State of the Union address and consider policy changes to stabilize the country's financial well-being, we thought it might be helpful to share with them some insights we've gleaned from America's Budget Heroes. Video: Obama's 2013 State of the Union Address Feb. 12, 2012: See the video on C-SPAN's website | Full text In his speech, President Obama pressed Congress to pass a series of second-term agenda items aimed at strengthening the middle class -- while Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida made the case in his Republican response for a smaller government that gets out of the way of free enterprise. American Public Media and the Woodrow Wilson Center created the Budget Hero game in 2008. Since then, the game's four iterations have been played more than 1.5 million times, and hundreds of players have shared their insights on the game through the Public Insight Network. "It's a...
February 11, 2013
In his second inaugural speech this week President Barack Obama made a point of planting a flag on the issue of global warming. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said from the steps of the Capitol. That’s the kind of line that brings applause from an audience of strong Obama supporters, but beyond the Beltway, attitudes about global warming are more complicated and mixed. How mixed? Consider two places: Ronan, Mont., and Ann Arbor, Mich. In 2011, a state representative from rural, agricultural Ronan submitted a bill that embraced global warming as “beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana” and that said “reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment.” In Ann Arbor, a college town where the stated goal is to “eliminate net...
January 22, 2013
By most any measure President Barack Obama’s second-term inauguration on Monday will be different from the first. It will be smaller and less rousing. And like most every incumbent, he’ll be facing a much more skeptical electorate. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows a big dip in the number of voters who feel optimistic about how Mr. Obama will do in his second term compared to how voters felt four years ago about his first term. Only 51% of those surveyed are “optimistic or satisfied” that “he will do a good job,” down from a remarkable 66% in January of 2009. But the feelings are far from uniform. While the bloom is off the rose for Mr. Obama with some people and places, others are feeling pretty good about four more years. There’s a clear split along racial lines. Less than half of white Americans, 48%, say they feel good about a second Obama term. In 2009 60% of whites were optimistic. Meanwhile, nearly nine in 10...
November 19, 2012
Hyperbole is a staple of Washington political discourse – particularly on the negative side. Speeches are full of references to  “disasters” and “catastrophes” that are lurking just around the corner. But sequestration, the much-discussed “fiscal cliff,” is the rare case where the hazards on the horizon look very real and very far-reaching. The impact of the cuts that would come if the government cannot reach a compromise on a debt reduction plan by January – more than 8% in discretionary funding by estimates – would stretch far beyond the Beltway. When voters think of government austerity, the talk often centers on the halls of congress or the federal agencies that line the Mall in Washington, but that misses the point. The money that comes out of the capital finds its way into cities and towns across the country — and cutting it sharply would affect not only the national macroeconomy, but thousands of smaller...
November 6, 2012
Patchwork Nation is partnering with WNYC tonight to follow the presidential election results as they come in live. Go to their site - http://project.wnyc.org/election2012/ - to watch the numbers come in county-by-county and type-by-type starting when the polls close at 6 pm. Dante Chinni, director of Patchwork Nation, will be contributing live election analysis on their site and on-air. You can listen online by clicking the “Listen” link on the top of WNYC’s map page. Some other resources for tonight’s watching, listening and web browsing: A guide to the counties that will likely matter in eight battleground states that everyone will be watching. A look at two of the latest polls, released just before voting began, broken down into Patchwork Nation’s 12 types. And an analysis of what they tell us about what we might see tonight. And, of course, in the days after the election Patchwork Nation will be sorting through the results to get an...
August 20, 2012
In the week since Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the choice has been described as everything from risky to gutsy, from desperate to inspired. The adjective selected had a lot to do with the person offering the comments. Those on the left see a big mistake for the presumptive GOP nominee. Those on the right see a better chance for winning in the fall. Who’s right? The formula that goes into a successful vice presidential pick is always complicated and depends a lot on what that particular cycle requires. It may be anything from geographic help to an ideological counter-weight. But in the case of Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney — where the goal was to be bold and shake up the race — the next few weeks will provide some clarity on whether Mr. Romney got it right. The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in recent months has indicated there are a few concerns for Mr. Romney; in particular, he has struggled in the small-town rural...
July 25, 2012
Less than a week after the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead and dozens more injured, there has been little policy response from the political world -- no prominent new proposals or legislation. In fact, there's been precious little disagreement about the traditionally divisive issue of gun laws. President Obama visited Aurora last weekend and has spoken about his concerns and fears as a parent of two girls, but the White House has said its focus is on enforcing current gun laws. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has also said he's opposed to new legislation. Presidential races are often shaken up by unforeseen events, but, so far anyway, it appears the killings in Aurora don't fall into that category. Why? Poll numbers indicate there simply isn't much that can be done with the topic politically, particularly in the places that look to be important in 2012. In April, the Pew Research Center in a poll asked which...
July 20, 2012
Come January, either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will likely be president, but win or lose it looks like both men will be quite familiar with the highways and tarmacs of Ohio. Given their recent travel schedules, it almost seems that the president and presumptive Republican nominee should apply for residency. This past week President Obama was in Cincinnati and Mr. Romney stumped in Bowling Green before attending a fundraiser in Toledo. The infatuation presidential candidates have with Ohio is not new. Any political junky can quote the “importance of Ohio” facts off the top of his head. No Republican has ever been elected president without winning Ohio. Since 1944, Ohio has only voted for the loser in a presidential election once, in 1960, when sided with Richard Nixon against John F. Kennedy. The state’s geographic location, a link between the industrial Midwest and Appalachia, offers a diverse and complicated electorate...
June 29, 2012
The  intense media coverage around Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act would seem to indicate the 2012 campaign had seen a game-changing event. Social media and blogs were buzzing before the opinions came down. And soon after both of the main presidential combatants sounded off on it. Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney said the ruling didn’t change the fact that the act was “bad law” or that he would work hard to repeal it. President Barack Obama meanwhile hailed the ruling as a victory for “people all around this country.” A hot issue. A new wrinkle. A clear divide in positions. Let the no-holds-barred campaign fight begin! But, on second thought, maybe not. Look closer at the question of the uninsured, polling on the law and divisions within the country, and a few points jump out at you. First, the health-care debate is one of those issues where simple self-interest doesn’t seem to be the main...
April 3, 2012
As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has picked up momentum and endorsements over the last few weeks, his armor of inevitability has grown and the campaign of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has seemed to struggle. Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin is supposed to be the latest measure of Rom-mentum, and to some extent it will be -- but maybe not as clearly as you think. Wisconsin's results will show something about where the race stands, but you'll have to look closely to see what it really means. Until Romney's recent surge, the assumption had been that Wisconsin would be good territory for Santorum because of the state's blue-collar background. But that impression has been somewhat misguided. When you look at the state through the Patchwork Nation geographic/demographic breakdown, it's much better territory for Romney. In fact, when you look at Wisconsin closely, polls that show him with a sound lead shouldn't be a surprise. The question...