October 28, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 8:32 PM


Predicting the Meaning of the Election and the Electoral College (Peter Lawler, October 28, 2012, Big Think)

Here are Ceaser's four possible scenarios of meaning for the outcome of the 2O12 presidential election:

1. The larger Obama victory, which can be called "Vindication," refers to a result in which the president wins by a margin of some 3 percentage points or more, in which the Democrats gain more than 12 seats in the House, and in which the Democrats, while losing a seat or two in the Senate, retain control of that body.

2. A narrower Obama victory, labeled "Hanging On," describes a scenario in which the president ekes out a win by under a point and perhaps captures an Electoral College victory while losing the popular vote, maybe even by a considerable margin. (This result is what many polls suggest would be the outcome if the election were held today.) Democrats pick up only a few seats in the House, under 10, while Republicans gain a tie in the Senate or, against all odds, capture a majority.

3. A narrower Romney win, "Reversal," describes a victory margin of under 2 points, a modest loss of 6 to 10 seats for the GOP in the House, and a gain of a couple Senate seats, still leaving Republicans short of a tie or an outright majority.

4. A larger Romney victory, called "Game Change," designates a scenario in which President Romney is elected by a significant margin, 3 percentage points or more, where Republicans suffer minimal losses in the House, and where the GOP captures the Senate (which, in the case of a Romney victory, requires only a tie). This result will also bring some real surprises, including victories in states that few expected and upset wins in some of the Senate contests. To put a cherry on top, the GOP could pick up a net three or four governorships.

What if the president loses the popular vote but slides by in the so-called "electoral college?"  A good number of Democratic analysts have been reduced reassuring their faithful that Romney is very likely to lose in the electoral vote, even if wins, as now seems somewhat likely, the popular vote.  That scenario is the reason that most speculators still think the odds are on the president's side, even as the polls show Romney narrowly but clearly ahead nationwide.

...we're of the opinion that the Electoral College scare is akin to the quadrennial brokered convention enthusiasm, something we trot out once the race bores us to tears.

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 PM


Voting is a right, but it's not a duty (Jeff Jacoby, OCTOBER 28, 2012, Boston Globe)

As Harvard economist Greg Mankiw points out, even reliable voters who never miss an election will often skip down-ballot races about which they have little or no information.

"In practice, this means that you are relying on your fellow citizens to make the right choice," Mankiw writes. "But this can be perfectly rational. If you really don't know enough to cast an intelligent vote, you should be eager to let your more-informed neighbors make the decision." If that's the case when it comes to elections for registrar of deeds or county commissioner, why not in contests for state representative, US senator, or president? Like buying stocks or undergoing surgery, the election of government officials can have serious consequences. We don't hector Americans to make uninformed decisions about investments or medical treatment. What advantage is there in badgering people with no interest in candidates or elections to vote anyway?

"But it's your civic duty to vote!"

No, it isn't. You have the right to vote, not a duty to do so. 

...if one is uninformed, though there ought to be tests to weed them out.

Posted by orrinj at 8:25 PM


Battleground-State Polls Continue to Show Close Race (Steven Shepard, October 28, 2012, National Journal)

The race is now deadlocked in Ohio, the state most likely to sit at the tipping point of the Electoral College, according to a poll from the Ohio Newspaper Association, a consortium of in-state newspapers. A new Washington Post poll of likely voters in Virginia gives Obama a narrow edge in a state he flipped to the Democratic column in 2008, some good news from the president. But a poll from the Star Tribune of Minneapolis shows a neck-and-neck race in the emerging battleground of Minnesota, where both campaigns recently purchased television advertising time, according to media reports.

Taken together, these polls, along with national surveys, show a race that could tip to either candidate in the final week of the campaign. Romney has succeeded in expanding the map to include states like Minnesota, but the electoral math still dictates that more traditional battlegrounds like Florida, Ohio and Virginia are likely to pick the next president. The polls also show a significant gender gap in excess of 20 points in each of the three states, with Romney leading among male voters and Obama ahead among females.

Posted by orrinj at 8:46 AM

Posted by orrinj at 8:11 AM


House elections spell a Republican story and victory (Paul Kane and Ed O'Keefe, October 27, 2012, Washington Post)

"They called the fight. It's over. We're going to have a House next year that's going to look an awful lot like the last House," Stuart Rothenberg, the independent analyst who runs the Rothenberg Political Report, said.

The outlines of a comeback for Democrats seemed possible. From its opening act, the 112th Congress was dominated by a raucous class of House freshmen who pushed Washington to the brink of several government shutdowns and almost prompted a first-ever default on the federal debt. It became the most unpopular Congress in the history of polling and, by some measures, the least productive.

Analysts cite several factors why the Democrats haven't been able to take advantage. First was a redistricting process that made some Republicans virtually impervious to a challenge and re-election more difficult for about 10 Democrats. A few Democratic incumbents have stumbled in their first competitive races in years. And Republicans have leveraged their majority into a fund-raising operation that has out-muscled the Democrats.

That means that regardless of who wins the White House, the Republican caucus of Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) will remain a critical player in the coming showdowns over tax and spending cuts. Such a result will have defied the chorus of prognosticators who saw so many of these inexperienced freshmen as beneficiaries of blind political luck -- swept up in the 2010 wave of sentiment against Obama and presumably poised to be swept back to sea when the tide went out this November.

Posted by orrinj at 7:02 AM


The Two Polls That Have Chicago Terrified (Josh Jordan, October 27, 2012, National Review)

In 2008 Gallup found the party breakdown of the electorate to be 39 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans, and 31 percent independents. That ten-point advantage grew to twelve points when independents were asked which party they typically leaned to, with 54 percent identifying as Democrats and 42 percent Republicans.

From that sample, Gallup has predicted Democratic turnout to be ten points higher than Republicans, and that independents would break to Obama. In 2008 Democrats did outperform Republicans by a slightly smaller margin, seven points, and independents did break to Obama by eight points. So while they might have overstated Democratic support slightly, they were able to see the underlying trend which was a huge jump from 2004, an election that was just about even.

In the current tracking poll, Gallup finds the ten-point advantage for Democrats has now turned into a one-point Republican advantage. The current party breakdown is now 35 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans, and 29 percent independents. And just in like 2008, that one-point advantage increases when independents are asked which party they typically lean to, with 49 percent identifying as Republicans and 46 percent Democrats. That number backs up the trends in other polling showing Romney leading among independents by large margins.

To get an idea of what this shift means, I plugged the Gallup 2008 and 2012 partisan numbers into the actual results from the 2008 election. Under Gallup's breakdown, Obama would have won in 2008 by 9.8 points (he actually won by 7.2), and would eke out a victory against Romney in 2012 by eight tenths of a point.

But here's why you can feel the panic emanating from Chicago: Romney is currently doing better with independents than Obama did in 2008. Obama won independents by eight, in 2008 while Romney is currently leading by 10.6 points on average. If the independent numbers are entered in to the 2008 results, Romney would have a victory of over four points. Even if Romney does not take any more crossover votes (Democrats who vote Republican and vice versa) than McCain got in 2008, he would still win by over four points on Election Day.

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 AM


Todd Akin draws closer to Claire McCaskill in Missouri Senate poll (Kevin McDermott, 10/27/12, post-dispatch.com)

The results show McCaskill leading with 45 percentage points to Akin's 43 points among likely voters. That's within the poll's 4-point margin for error, indicating a closer race than two earlier independent polls that showed McCaskill with wider leads.

How does any incumbent polling at 45% win a state where the top of the ticket is going to lose by double digits?

Posted by orrinj at 6:33 AM


Ohio Poll: Romney, Obama Tied Among Likely Voters (JANE PRENDERGAST, 10/28/12, Cincinnati Enquirer)

The race for the White House continues to be too close to call in Ohio, according to a new Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News Organization Poll that shows President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each with 49 percent support from likely voters.

Obama needs Ohio, but Ohio is not so sure it needs Obama anymore (PATRICK MARTIN, 10/26/12, The Globe and Mail)

Ms. Christian, the librarian, is a quintessential Obama supporter: a black woman, under 35, with a college education. She supported Mr. Obama four years ago, but, in the face of regional hardship, even she is wavering.

Across the state, it's clear that many traditional Democratic constituencies are unhappy with the president they have elected.

It was not supposed to be like this. In 2008, Mr. Obama put together a coalition of support that included young, minority, college-educated, women and non-Southern white voters. In Ohio, it gave him a margin of victory of 4.6 percentage points.

Not now. While Mr. Obama still does well among black and Hispanic voters, he trails Mr. Romney badly among white voters, especially men and those without a college education.

Mr. Obama still enjoys relatively strong support in the northern part of the state, thanks largely to his 2009 bailout of Michigan and Ohio's cash-strapped auto industries - one out of every eight jobs in the state is linked to the production of cars. But even there, in the Cleveland, Akron, Youngstown and Toledo areas, where the proportion of African-Americans is highest, voting for the President is not a slam dunk.

Riding into Ohio two weeks ago, the first election signs in view concerned an appeal to preserve religious freedom.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 AM


Obama as father figure (Delia Lloyd, October 27, 2012, Washington Post)

As we careen towards the finish line in this tumultuous electoral season, President Obama is asking voters to renew his contract as a father figure. And with his new, 11th-hour message that this election is all about "trust," I think the father-thing is going to resonate.

So the final message of the Obama presidency to women is that he's your father and you know you want to get freaky with him?  This is what comes have having no ideas.