Friday, July 06, 2012

Election 2012: RNC Minus 52 Days And Counting

The summer doldrums are upon us. Genuine news items are few and far between, so the silly stuff gets amped up to eleven, and passed off as real news. This is a direct consequence of modern cable news. They have twenty-four hours a day to fill, regardless of whether or not anything truly interesting is happening. If no real news is available, they have to invent it.

The biggest news of the last week was less interesting than it might have been. The most interesting story was always, "What will Obama do if his signature domestic policy initiative is overturned by the Supreme Court?" But we'll never know, since the Supreme Court upheld the ACA. There's an untold story there that's probably pretty fascinating. Justice Scalia's dissent actually reads as if it were written for the majority, which means that Chief Justice Roberts jumped sides at some point, probably fairly late in the game. We may never know exactly how or even why Scalia peed in Roberts' Wheaties ... but the result is purely status quo ante. It might become an issue for the fall campaign. It might prove to be an energizing factor for the Tea Party fanatics. But in the end, it will probably mean far less than the unemployment rate, gasoline prices, and overall consumer and business confidence. Those will be the telling figures of merit this fall.

And now, with fifty-two days until the Republican convention kicks off in Tampa, we'll take another look at the numbers. As always, our figures are from Intrade, from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, and from Pollster.

From Intrade:

Barack Obama (D) 55.9%, 287 EV (+2.4%, N/A)
Mitt Romney (R) 41.0%, 259 EV (-2.1%, N/A)

Barack Obama (D) 68.3%, 299.6 EV (+5.5%, +7.8 EV)
Mitt Romney (R) 31.7%, 238.4 EV (-5.5%, -7.8 EV)

From Pollster:

Strong D: 221 (-4)
Lean D: 19 (-26)
Tossup: 107 (+30)
Lean R: 10 (-11)
Strong R: 181 (+11)

General Impressions: There's a new market on Intrade for predicting the Electoral Vote count. It was not available last time, so we don't have any deltas yet. Speaking of Intrade, there's a potentially interesting story regarding the ACA decision. I was checking the market early Thursday morning before the decision was announced, and saw that prices for the "Overturn" contract had fallen from 80% to 67% in fairly heavy overnight trading. Maybe someone in the know unloaded their positions? Suffice to say I was rather less than astonished when the decision came down. I'm thinking someone blabbed, but there's no way to prove it.

FiveThirtyEight is showing a fairly substantial improvement for President Obama's re-election bid, though the reason why is not so easy to determine. He may be getting a small bounce from the Court's affirmation of his key domestic policy initiative. It's a sure thing he'd have taken a huge hit if it had been overturned. But I'm not sure how durable such a bump is. Economic conditions are far more important ... and they're not all that bad. They're not all that good, either. Things will be far clearer come September.

Pollster tells an interesting tale. The race is tightening, somewhat. Pollster tells us that Obama's support has softened slightly since we last looked, but Romney's support hasn't improved. It's firmed up, but he's not expanded into the middle. And that's a problem for Team Romney going forward. If he's still running for the support of his base going into the convention, he's got some really hard sledding ahead of him.

What Obama Must Do: I could almost cut-and-paste my last entry. He has to remind the public that while things aren't as good as they could be, they're nowhere near as bad as they might be. But he can't lean too hard on what the previous Administration did or did not do. The Court decision gives him an opening to run on the ACA's more popular provisions -- no more pre-existing conditions, less people uninsured, and the ability to keep dependents on a parent's policy until age 26. And the Court's decision in regard to the Arizona immigration law gives him an opening to highlight the Tea Party's aversion to people of the wrong color. Tea Party supporters hate it when people say this, but I've said before that the Tea Party was originally going to call themselves the "White Guys Hopping Mad That A Black Guy Got Elected President" Party, but that wouldn't fit on their business cards. I think it's a fair criticism. Where was the Tea Party when President Bush enacted Medicare Part D? Where was the Tea Party when President Bush signed the Patriot Act? Where were they on issues where serious libertarians had serious problems with President Bush? Nowhere, that's where. But the day after Obama's election... Yeah. I find it really hard to take their libertarian posturings seriously. They give us a bad name.

What Romney Must Do: Hang the current economic woes around Obama's neck like an albatross. He can use the Right's anger at the ACA to keep the troops excited, but I'm convinced that the economy is the real swing issue this cycle. But he's got to be careful, very careful, using the ACA as a wedge issue. It's the sweatiest of sweaty dynamite in his hands. It was his baby, after all. Deny it as he might, its paternity is a matter of public record. Rarely was a more apt slogan coined when Pawlenty called it "Obamneycare." Every time he mentions it, he raises the dread possibility that people will remember whose idea it was in the first place.

And The Winner Is... Nothing important has changed, so I'd still take 3-2 odds on re-election. If you use Nate Silver's numbers, the odds are closer to 2-1, but I'm not sure I'd go that far yet. We need to see how the conventions go, first, and what the economy's doing.

Remember, vote early, and vote often!

No comments: