Election 2012

Big issues, big money, big stakes: making sense of a messy process.
An ongoing series that includes explanatory articles, multimedia resources, and embedded audio/video.

The National Front
Electoral funkiness and the big issues at play this year

California’s Propositions
“Direct democracy,” Golden State style

Campaign Finance and Media
Money, ads and influence

Voter Participation
Who votes, who doesn’t and why
The Art of Redistricting
How our political destinies are mapped

ESL Election Resources
Bring the 2012 election into your multilingual classroom(w/ EDUCATOR GUIDES)

RECENT POSTS

Who Smokes? The Stats on Lighting Up

Includes: article; infographic; map; poll

credit: lanier67/Flickr

About one in five adults in America smokes. That’s a significant drop from even a decade ago.

In California, which has one of the lowest rates in the country, it’s down to roughly one in eight.

But disparities in smoking rates across economic, racial, educational, and gender lines remain wide. The graphic below – from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - is based on 2010 U.S. smoking data among adults: Continue reading

Prop 29: Should Smoking in California Be More Expensive?

Includes: article, interactive map, radio and video clips

Dr. Jaus/Flickr

That’s the underlying question that Proposition 29 poses to California voters, who go to the polls in June to decide if smokers should pay an extra buck in taxes for a pack of cigarettes.

What would Prop 29 do?

If passed, the measure – called the California Cancer Research Act – would add an additional dollar to a pack of cigs and other tobacco products sold in California (amounting to five more cents/cigarette). It would more than double the current tobacco tax rate – the most dramatic increase in the state’s history.

The estimated $735 million (annually) in new revenue (adjusted for tax revenue lost from the projected decrease in sales) would go toward a special fund administered by an appointed committee to support research on cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, as well as prevention and enforcement initiatives. None of it would be used for medical treatment. Continue reading

The Colbert Super PAC

To point out the absurdities of Super PACs, the comedian Stephen Colbert jumped in the fray, and formed his own. Initially called the Citizens for a Better Tomorrow  (he’s been switching the name around) it’s kind of a joke but also technically legitimate, with over a million dollars collected in donations already! In promoting it, Colbert emphasizes the very loose rules. Take a look:

When Money Became Speech (the rise of the Super PAC)

INCLUDES: ARTICLE

In the heat of the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, a conservative political group called Citizens United produced a “documentary” that vilified democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But when the group tried to run the piece on TV within a month of the primary election, the Federal Election Commission prohibited it from doing so, ruling it a form of corporate “express advocacy” banned by current campaign law on corporate spending. Continue reading

Super PACs: Political Fundraising On Steroids

Includes NPR audio and PBS video

Watch Outside Super PACs Poised to Dominate 2012 Spending on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

If there’s anything you should remember about U.S. campaign finance law, it’s this:

For almost every set rule, there is most likely a loophole for getting around that rule.

Keeping track of America’s campaign finance laws is really difficult. Why? Continue reading