If the election were held today, President Obama would win more than 52 percent of the popular vote, an increase that could be attributed to the release of Mitt Romney's "47 percent" video, according to political calculus done by Nate Silver of The New York Times' Five Thirty Eight blog.
Silver charted our Romney video, along with three other events he considers the most important political news of the last month: the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and the attack on the US Consulate in Libya. His conclusion:
By Sept. 17, the date when the video of Mr. Romney’s remarks was released and received widespread attention, the momentum from Mr. Obama’s convention appeared to have stalled (although not necessarily reversed itself). Mr. Obama led in the popular vote by 4.1 percentage points on that date, according to the "now-cast." Since then, however, Mr. Obama has gained further ground in the polls. As of Thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points in the "now-cast," a gain of 1.6 percentage points since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public.
Silver's chart, below, does not include the effect of the national conventions or economic trends, which makes it useful for looking at the isolated impact of the Romney videos on the 2012 presidential election. Nate Silver, The New York TimesOver the coming weeks, political pundits will likely be interested in seeing an updated version of this chart, as Romney continues to feel the aftershocks of his remarks.
While the media spent this week scrutinizing polls and deconstructing the 47 percent video, President Obama signed an executive order that experts say could stop US tax dollars from funding human trafficking abroad. But does it go far enough?
Obama made the announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative last Tuesday, just after the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. His executive order targets US federal contractors and subcontractors by explicitly creating a zero-tolerence policy for companies that engage in trafficking.
These contractors and subcontractors charge migrant workers exorbitant fees that they must then pay off, essentially placing them in debt bondage. While workers attempt to pay back their hiring fees, they are sometimes confined to horrible living conditions, without their passports. In Baghdad, for example, about 1,000 workers hired by a US subcontractor were stuck in a windowless warehouse for three months without pay.
The order addresses this practice by prohibiting it under Federal Acquisition Regulation, which oversees government purchases. Obama is also bulking up resources for law enforcement, by providing training to police and prosecutors and expanding legal assistance for trafficking victims.
Last year, a bipartisan legislative commission found that US contingency contractors are using US tax dollars flowing into Iraq and Afghanistan to engage in sex and labor trafficking, often without penalty.
"The measures in the executive order represent a good first step towards abolition and the protection of workers who sacrifice by rendering services for the US government," says Sam McCahon, founder of a DC-based law firm that does pro bono work to combat human trafficking.
Obama's order applauded by activists like Nicholas Kristof.McCahon recently worked with Sindhu Kavinamannil, CEO of Compliance Consulting Services, to produce a short documentary on labor trafficking of South Asian workers employed for US contractors in Iraq. He testifed about his findings before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
When asked by Mother Jones whether McCahon thinks Obama's order would have made a difference to the victims in the film, he says: "Yes, [we] could have avoided the victimization and exploitation of tens of thousands of workers who have served on US government contracts in the Middle East and Afghanistan."
The latest Mitt Romney video released by Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn doesn't address the "47 percent," but it does reveal some uncomfortable truths about how the GOP candidate viewed his role at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded.
Speaking in 1985 at the 20th anniversary of Bain & Company, a young Romney said: "Bain Capital is an investment partnership which was formed to invest in startup companies and ongoing companies, then to take an active hand in managing them and hopefully, five to eight years later, to harvest them at a significant profit."
In two minutes, Corn breaks down exactly why Romney's top priority at Bain wasn't creating jobs or building strong companies. He also raises the question: What makes Romney qualified to do so now as a potential president?
Have an issue or a MoJo reporter you would like us to spend two minutes with? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update Wednesday, November 14:Thought teacher strikes were yesterday's news? Turns out that September's walkout by Chicago teachers set off a rash of other strikes in Illinois. The Chicago Teachers Union ultimately ratified a 3-year contract, raising pay by about 18 percent on average. But Lake Forest teachers decided to strike the same week over similar issues: health care, benefits, and performance evaluations linked to standardized test scores, closely followed by three additional Chicagoland teacher strikes. We've also updated the map with submissions from reader comments, so keep them coming!
By our count, there have been 839 teacher strikes in the US in the last four decades, 740 in Pennsylvania alone. See our map below to find out where teachers have gone on strike the most, and which states prohibit teachers from hitting the picket line.
(See below the map for notes on the ins-and-outs of what constitutes a strike, strike legality, and more.)
Are we missing a strike? We are building this data set as we go, so if you know of a strike in your hometown in the last 40 years or so, please leave it in the comments below.