Presidential elections

As Deval Patrick throws his hat into the ring and Michael Bloomberg takes steps to join the presidential race, their prospects are questionable. According to an historical analysis by Jeff Greenfield, late entries fare poorly. Even more evidence that our nominating process is seriously faulty. It’s not good for candidates or the public if people come too late to the campaign a year before Election Day.

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Observers are correct to condemn both Russian efforts to influence our presidential elections and President Trump’s failure to reject those efforts. But it is wrong to suggest that all efforts by foreign governments to influence our elections are improper. The question is not whether other countries are trying to exert influence, but whether they are doing so by legitimate means.

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In today’s paper, the New York Times buried its article on U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s entrance into the presidential campaign on page A12. Last Friday, the Times featured former Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement of his candidacy on the front page, as a lead story for the day. While there will be many surprises between now and November 2020, we can be confident that the media will repeat many of the mistakes it makes in covering presidential elections. 
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As Democratic voters weigh their choices for a nominee to challenge Donald Trump next year, they should take care not to succumb to the “savior” phenomenon. The public tends to develop exaggerated expectations as to what its leaders can accomplish. In a too-common view, if we could only identify the right person for the Oval Office, we could solve our country’s problems.

Candidates recognize voters’ desire for a savior and appeal to it in the way they speak about the presidential role and the results they promise to achieve. Recall, for example, Trump’s declaration that he “alone could fix” the system, or then-candidate Barack Obama’s pledge “to heal the planet.” Projecting strength, conviction, and certainty tends to win the day.
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With Donald Trump and George W. Bush becoming President after receiving fewer votes than their opponents, calls to abolish the Electoral College have increased. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other 2020 Democratic candidates are leading the charge. But while elections would be fairer without an Electoral College, they still would be unfair.
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