Tuesday, July 31, 2012

State of Play

We've passed the 100-day-until-the-election mark and everyone is taking stock of the current state of play. Here are a few articles The Omnivore likes!

Lies The Parties Are Telling Themselves
Leading the pack is an article that looks at the lies each party is telling itself about "why it'll win." Here's the short list:
  1. Bain will carry the day. Probably not--although it's not a stupid line of attack.
  2. The 2008 electorate will return for Obama (with enthusiasm). Unlikely: the youth vote will go back to sleep as they always do. Democrats are somewhat demoralized by the economy. NOTE: This is why I think they will ditch Biden for Hillary. I'm not a giant Hillary supporter--but I think her presence would energize that 2008 demographic.
  3. Voters will forgive Obama as he was dealt a "bad hand." Maybe a little--but not so much. The state of the economy is gonna cost him.
  1. Outside spending will save us! Maybe--they'll have an edge--but there's only so far ads can move the dial and there's still a saturation point.
  2. Romney doesn't need to be liked. A biggie. The other truism is that you don't win by having people vote "against" someone. I think if Romney were as likable as Huckabee he'd be beating Obama by double digits right now.
  3. No issues matter except the economy. No issue matters as much as the economy--but the idea that every moment spent not talking about the economy is wasted is myopic.
  4. No president can win election with the economy this bad. Well, no. That's "wishful thinking"--not "moneyball."
This is a good article because it does a good job of looking at the BS-lines that both the parties and their adherents are spewing / swallowing. Read any message board and you'll see stuff like "Independents always break for the challenger" and "The current American demographics make the white-male-vote meaningless" and this is all garbage designed to comfort the speaker and / or make them sound smart. The truth is there's no white-knight for either party in this. Obama has a thin lead and saying anything else is failing to look at reality.

Keep in mind, however, that "thin leads" can have a disproportionate impact because of the way the electoral college works. Nate Silver notes that Ohio is probably the key state in this race:
Oh, Oh, Please Let It Not Be Florida Again--Once Was Enough!
You don't have to ask the squishy, lefty 538--ask the (apparently) right-leaning RealClearPolitics (note: I don't find RCP to be right-leaning and was surprised to see it included on the list of top "conservative sites" by a conservative site ... but there you go).
Not Going In The Right Direction
Now, these are all squsihy left-leaning Democratic Oversampling polls (except for Rassumssen which puts Obama up by +2 points)--but the key here is that if the Republicans lose Ohio they have to pretty much run the table everywhere else. That's a big deal. Ohio matters. The post is missing from Power Line but here's the excerpt from a blog post where Paul Mirengoff speculates about what Ohio might mean (from July 6th):
To the limited extent that I do think about the Electoral College, I worry that it favors President Obama. This concern may reflect a pessimistic frame of mind, but it’s mostly about Ohio. As a historical matter, Republicans don’t win presidential elections without carrying Ohio. And George W. Bush would have lost in 2004 despite winning the popular vote, if Ohio had gone for Kerry, as it almost did.
On the other hand, maybe they don't have anything to worry about:

I included this because it's astounding to me: Wall Street rallies and the conclusion? The markets must think Romney's gonna win. It's the only explanation!
One analysis concludes that last week's sharp three-day market surge can only mean that Wall Street is banking on a victory from Republican Mitt Romney.
That's the logical interpretation one can draw from a rally amid conditions that otherwise would demand a selloff, Morgan Stanley chief U.S. equity strategist Adam S. Parker said in an analysis that asserts there is no other reason now to like stocks than a Romney win.
Of course InTrade, an actual election market, still puts Obama at around 60%. This is an example of wishful thinking: the Wall Street markets know something that no one else knows--hey, maybe it's like that LIBOR thing? In any event, I think there can be plenty of other explanations for a 3-day rally other than that investors, 100 days out, believe Romney has a lock. I think any clearheaded article would think so to--so this one is so fuzzy it's amazing!

What Do I Think?
The 100-day mark is a fuzzy, arbitrary deadline without any real significance. The debates may move things. The VP selection choices could have some impact (I'll go with Rubio as, why not?). Perhaps there will be a really nuclear gaffe on someone's part? (Don't count on it). The sure-to-be-constant ad blitzes might have some impact--but overall? This thing goes where the economy goes right now: if it continues like it is? Obama has maybe a 60% chance.

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