8/26/2011

Early Thoughts

Early Thoughts (part 1)

Even though it is a long time until the presidential election and as all the political pundits constantly remind us "a lot can happen between now and the election," I will gladly make a prediction, actually two.

The first is the easiest and the most obvious and if it does not come true it will be because something drastic and unprecedented (either good or bad) will take place in the next year,

Obama will not be re-elected, if he even runs.

I say this is obvious because America's economic situation for at least the next year is pretty much set in stone and it is not good. Although I tend to put little faith in the projections of those who forecast economic trends being as they are so often wrong, the forecasts for the coming year is like shooting fish in a barrel, they can't miss. All the forecasters are now projecting stagnant GDP growth at best and continued high unemployment with a very real chance of another recession which in reality if not technically we are already in.

There is only one way to change this downward trajectory and even that would probably not bare fruit fast enough to save Obama, though it's impact on the American electorate's psyche might. Obama would have to go Palin on the energy sector, "drill baby drill". If Obama unleashed the energy sector, oil, gas, and coal announcing some sort of face saving national emergency plan to allow for a boost in traditional energy exploration and exploitation it would, excuse the pun, energize the economy. Does anyone see that happening?

Additionally does anyone see Obama undoing Obamacare or Dodd-Frank or reigning in the EPA or any of the other regulatory monsters he has created which have business in America sitting on their hands waiting for the next shoe to drop on them?

Ain't gonna happen. Obama is a man of the Left and it would be an admission of failure to use the Right's playbook to bail himself out. Even if he tried as Clinton did "the era of big Government is over" the Democratic Party is now so dominated by progressives and far left ideologues that he would entirely loose his base.

Think about it, with all that he has done, Obamacare etc, his base is still angry at him for "compromising" with Republicans and not doing enough to institute their statist dreams. These so called "compromises" not only angered his base, they did not keep the Independents that helped elect him on his side, all the polls show that he has lost the support of Independent voters. He certainly did not loose them for not being left enough, he lost them because they believed (his history though not his rhetoric to the contrary)that he would be a "centrist". Policies not withstanding most Independents that voted for Obama were far less interested in policy than they were in some sort of "political harmony". Not only did Obama not deliver them "harmony" he enacted policies that they had ignored in the campaign which were far to the left of their general political views.

Some like to believe that if he tacks right in order to draw back in the Independents his base will stay with him because they have nowhere else to go. That is fine but why would the Independents return to a candidate that has already burned them once when there is a candidate (the Republican nominee) who is already closer to what they are looking for than the one they ran away from?

Back in 1979 when this almost identical scenario played out there were far fewer Independents, you were either a Democrat or a Republican. A large segment of the Independents of today are the Reagan Democrats, or their children, of that era, they may not be "right wingers" but they certainly are not progressive liberals. What could Obama possibly do in the next year that would attract this "middle" back to him? The answer is almost nothing. That is why he is left with the strategy of personal destruction of his opposition.

Ah can't you just feel that "Hope and Change" washing over you?

Who will be the next President...prediction two tomorrow.

Part two

I decided I needed to expand on why I believe Obama can not win beyond those I posted in part one below. I will post on who I believe will be the Republican nominee in my nest post. Regardless of who it is, that person will be the next president of the United States, and here are more reasons why.

Not So Main Stream Anymore

Most people on the right side of the political spectrum recognize that the media has a liberal bias and have a belief that few outside of the right see this bias and are therefore unduly influenced by the media. Although this had some validity in the past, the influence of the not so main stream media is quickly eroding and the proof of this can be found where it is always found, in the market.

In the past decade there has been a growing popularity and audience for FOX News, talk radio, and alternative media sources IE the internet. This coupled with the decaying share of viewers and consumers in the not so MSM is proof that the general population is less and less influenced by the media and is more and more searching out and digesting other sources of information and ideological input. It is also becoming more and more obvious that the less influence (market share) that the old media has the more extreme their ideological bias becomes which is creating a death spiral for the old media. The more influence they loose the more extreme they are which drives more and more consumers to seek out alternative sources. What makes this worse for old media and the liberal/progressive movement as a whole is that those who are the primary consumers of information are also those who are most politically involved and active. In affect the liberal media is driving away those most likely to cast votes in elections.

It is quickly reaching the point that the old media is basically just a facade that is only recognized as a powerful dispenser of information and influence within an ever decreasing base of followers primarily itself, while an ever growing portion of society ignores or disdains it. This media death spiral has only quickened during the Obama administration.

The Popularity Myth

Part of the narrative of the old media which is not really born out by facts is that Obama has been and remains a very popular president. First let's consider the election itself although Obama won the electoral college vote by a wide margin he did it by tiny margins in key states where he was able to tremendously outspend McCain. As I wrote just after the election:


Looking at the state by state comparisons of money spent it is obvious that Obama was able to pour money into key battleground states, far beyond the resources of McCain. Some Examples

In Florida Barack Obama spent a total of $36.7 million to McCain's $8.3 million a staggering $24.4 million dollar advantage or as a per vote basis Obama spent $8.86 for every vote he received while McCain spent $2.11 for each of his votes. That number is even more staggering when you consider that includes just 205,000 more votes for Obama out of over 8 million cast.

In North Carolina Obama outspent McCain $10.7 to $3.5 million or $5.04 to $1.66 for every vote they each received, basically a 3 to 1 margin to win a state by fewer than 14,000 votes or less than 1% of the votes cast.

In Virginia Obama outspent McCain $23.8 to $7.5 million or $12.15 to $4.35 per vote received.

In Ohio Obama outspent McCain $21.4 to $14.5 million or $7.90 to $5.80 per vote received.

The overwhelming money advantage allowed Obama to go after traditionally Republican states and compete. Take Indiana which borders his home state and where Obama was expected to have a very outside chance. Obama outspent McCain $11,800,000 to $428,895 or $8.63 to $0.32 for every vote received. This 25 to 1 advantage in spending helped Obama eke out a win by fewer than 26,000 votes or less than 1% of votes cast. With that large of an advantage in cash, an advantage that McCain had no chance of matching even if his campaign had been up to the challenge an outside chance at victory became a reality for Obama.

This is not to say that Obama would not have won with everything else this election cycle flowing his way, but it sure did not hurt. One is left to wonder though what would have happened if our next President had not broken his promise and taken public financing.

Or as the The Congressional Quarterly pointed out
It is in their spending rates, however, that the extent of the Obama campaign’s advantage over McCain is most dramatic.

Obama spent a total of $740 million, including $252 million since Oct. 1. McCain, who was limited to $84 million in spending after the Republican convention due to his participation in the public financing scheme, spent less than half that — $293 million total.

McCain was vastly outspent in the final two and a half weeks of the campaign, reporting $26.5 million in disbursements to Obama’s $146.6 million.

At a conference on election law held in Washington D.C. on Thursday, campaign finance expert and McCain general counsel Trevor Potter reflected on the moment when the enormity sunk in about what the Republican campaign was up against.

Potter called the Obama campaign’s 30-minute broadcast “infomercial” in the final week “a brilliant move,” adding, “I think it was at that moment when our . . . outside finance people and others realized they were dealing with a different league here.”

If you want an interesting contrast go back and watch that infomercial from the campaign and compare it to the president Obama has become and you can see why he was able to "fool some of the people, some of the time"

However even with this tremendous unprecedented spending and situation advantage Obama had, his popular vote victory was less than that of George H W Bush over Michael Dukakis in 1988.

Though Obama initially enjoyed a very strong "honeymoon" approval from the American public, it quickly dissolved when he began governing far to the left of his campaign rhetoric. The Tea Party for all the attacks on it by the once influential media sprung up within months of his inauguration based solely on his policy initiatives. Liberal media narratives not withstanding, the source for the Tea Party's name and it's initial catalyst was based on the rant of Rick Santili on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Note the description on the CNBC web site:

CNBC's Rick Santelli and the traders on the floor of the CME Group express outrage over the notion they may have to pay their neighbor's mortgage, particularly if they bought far more house than they could actually afford, with Jason Roney, Sharmac Capital.

Santili's outrage as well as the movement his rant inspired were the result of Obama's policies. As I have pointed out before, in both the Rasmussen (June 2009) and Gallup (December 2009)Obama has not enjoyed a monthly approval rating above 50% his first year in office. Worse, for Obama, he is underwater in approval ratings and has been so for some time on almost every important issue. Nowhere is this more illustrated and damaging to him than the recent Gallup poll which sows that 71% of Americans disprove of handling of the economy.

Then there is this

The poll finds that just 36% of New Yorkers approve of Obama's job performance -- a 17-point plummet from the 53% rating he received in May. Meanwhile, 63% of voters give the president a negative job performance rating.

This does not mean that Obama will loose New York, though that is not outside the realm of possibility anymore, but as the story points out:

"If the Democratic National Committee has to spend money competing in New York for the presidential victory next year, they are in big trouble,” Greenberg said. “Because if they are competing in New York, which is a two-to-one Democratic state, that does not bode well for them nationally."

Then there is this:

Following up on his rough results in the last Quinnipiac poll, a new Muhlenberg College poll puts Obama's approval rating in Pennsylvania at 35 percent

All of this is being largely ignored or downplayed in the old media, but as they say, "this is the situation on the ground" President Obama, media narrative to the not withstanding, has not really ever been and is growing less popular as time goes on. In a nutshell, the idea of Obama is far more popular than the man and certainly of his job performance.

The Playing Field Has Changed

Two very important developments occurred in 2010 both of which work against Obama, the census and the mid-term elections. First the census has shifted electoral votes from traditionally blue states to Red and Purple states. As an example New York will have two less electoral votes (and congressman) while Florida will have two more of both. Texas is picking up four. In a close race this could be critical but I suspect it will not be close at all.

The far more important development is the 2010 mid term elections. First the governors. Governors are important because they control the political apparatus in a state, a presidential candidate going into a state controlled by an opposing parties governor receives virtually no support and certainly no photo ops with the most influential man in the state. The following states were won by Obama in 2008 and had a Democratic Governor but now have a Republican Governor and their electoral votes.

Maine (2)
New Mexico (3)
New Jersey (12)
Pennsylvania (18)
Ohio (16)
Virginia (11)
Wisconsin (8)
Iowa (4)
Michigan (14)

The only state that McCain won that flipped from a Republican Governor to a Democrat was Missouri (8). This is not to say that having these changes guarantees the Republican candidate victory but it does help. More importantly these switches in state governors represents a dissatisfaction in Democratic governance which Obama so clearly represents. For all the commentary about how the Republican candidates are too extreme these states which voted for Obama in 2008 quickly changed directions.

Not only do the states indicate a sea change in American politics at the Executive level it is even more true in the State legislatures. Over 700 net state legislative seats switched from Democrat to Republican

2010 Party Control
State legislatures saw an extreme shift in power after the November 2010 elections. Republicans now control 25 state legislatures, nearly double the 14 they controlled prior to the election.1 Democrats experienced a similar shift but in the opposite direction, from control of 27 legislatures prior to the election to just 16 currently.2

Of the 6,102 legislative seats up for election in 453 states, 13 percent changed party hands. Republicans took 732 of the 794 seats that switched. In stark contrast, just 46 seats switched to Democratic control, while 11 went to third-party candidates. In 2008, only seven percent of the seats changed hands, with the gain enjoyed mostly by Democrats, and just seven states experienced changes greater than 10 percent. That jumped to 24 states in 2010.

Most of the takeover occurred in House4 chambers, where 624 seats changed party hands. Republicans took 585 seats previously held by Democrats or third-party lawmakers. Just 30 seats changed to Democratic control and 9 changed to third-party candidates.

Senate chambers experienced similar changes, with 147 of the 1,146 seats up for election changing to Republican control.

Again the most important aspect of this drastic switch is not just the control of government at the state level, it is an undeniable indication of the direction the country is headed. But where it is important on the process level is this, states formerly controlled by Democrats such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania are now controlled by Republicans who are enacting far reaching reforms to the election process. Many states are now enacting voter ID laws, diminishing the power of special interest in elections, IE unions and in general undoing decades of Democrat control of state governments.

Summary

For all of the above reasons and those I posted in part 1, there is little doubt in my mind that Obama is done, we just have to endure a year of nastiness. If the past few months have proven nothing else it is that the Tea Party Movement is the most influential force in American politics. The progressive and their allies in the media can scream and slander to their hearts content but the people are less and less buying it and the more they play their childish games the more devastating will be their defeat.

Early Thoughts Part three

A New Day

The first thing that must be understood in trying to discern how the Republican selection process is going to shake out is that it is a new day in the Republican Party. The Tea Party Movement for all intent and purpose is going to be the driving factor. It is not as if the TPM will simply anoint a winner like in the old days when party bosses made back room deals and a nominee emerged. But the Tea Party will be the single most influential voice and force in the selection process.

Which brings us to the first point of discussion, Michelle Backmann. If Michelle Backmann is the Tea party candidate, how come she is not doing better among Republican voters in the polls? The simple answer is that she is not the Tea Party candidate, nobody is....yet. The reason that Michelle Backmann is so identified with the Tea Party is that she is head of the Tea Party Caucus in the House. How did this happen? She created the Tea Party Caucus and declared herself its head. It is not as if the Tea Party asked her to do this or even agreed with her doing it, as a matter of fact among the Tea Party there was and still is much disagreement whether or not they really want a caucus in the House and Senate claiming to represent them. Michelle Backmann saw an opportunity and took it, she was not chosen for it.

I would say that Michelle Backmann was the candidate whom, when she entered the race, most represented the anti-establishment wing of the party. Many people respect her for her uncompromising adherence to small government principles but I suspect that few consider her the best candidate in the race. She will probably stay in the 10 to 20% range as long as she stays in which very well could be until the end when whatever delegates she gets may be important.

It is noteworthy that Backmann has chosen not to participate in the Florida straw poll next month. Most see this as a mistake but I believe it is an indication that she knows her weakness and does not want to be a big looser here and would rather feed off her Iowa straw poll win as long as possible. Romney is also not participating probably because he did not want to offend Iowa Republicans because he did not participate in their straw poll and so has made the decision not to participate in straw polls at all.

Backmann I believe will be in it for awhile unlike the other two Tea Party favorites who have been in since the beginning Rick Santorum and Herman Caine both of whom are well liked but really don't stand much of a chance and may stay in until the Iowa caucuses but not much further.

John Huntsman is a non factor and will get very liitle support except from the Main Stream Media.

Newt is a non factor but he probably will stay in for awhile just so that he can stay in the public spot light which is good for the Republicans since he is the most dynamic in the debates.

Ron Paul is always an important factor because he has a very strong base of support and good financing but there is no chance that he will be the Republican nominee. Paul like Backmann could be influential if the nominee is not decided before the convention, unlikely, and he is the most likely to attempt a third party bid, but this is doubtful simply because he would not want to destroy his son's future political career.

Of the remaining declared candidates that leaves Perry and Romney. Pundits believe that all the so called "far right" candidates will divide the vote leaving the nomination open for Romney. However the first Rasmussen poll conducted after Perry entered the race does not reflect this. Perry quickly took a commanding lead over both Romney and Backmann.

The thinking is that Backmann will win in Iowa, Romney will win in New Hampshire and Nevada and Perry will have to win in South Carolina in order to keep his candidacy viable going into the important Florida primary. I do not believe that is going to happen.

Perry will win Iowa. In the coming months Republican voters, Iowa included, will recognize that Perry is a far superior candidate and would be a far better president than Backmann. Backmann will continue to have a strong core of committed followers but nearly all the undecided and other right leaning voters will coalesce around Perry and as the Caine, Santorum, Gindrich voters start to look for a winner, they will go to Perry more than to Backmann.

The one tactical mistake that Romney made by not participating in the Florida straw poll next month is that it leaves it open for Perry to win. The Florida straw poll is different than Iowa and an organization like Romney's could still do well, but I suspect that Perry will win it. If that happens it not only greatly diminishes Backmann's momentum coming out of her Iowa straw poll win it also adds to Perry's reputation as a front runner.

When the primaries begin in earnest next year if Perry wins Iowa and South Carolina and Romney wins New Hampshire and Nevada then the big showdown will be in Florida and money will not be an issue for either of them. Both candidates have a lot going for them in Florida, Romney has a superior and well established campaign organization. He also has a large northeast transplant constituency. But Perry has a couple of advantages that should not only neutralize Romney they will probably bury him.

Perry will have the Tea Party almost completely behind him at that point and the Tea Party in Florida is growing and growing more dominate in state politics, can you say Marco Rubio and Allen West. This will by far offset Romney's superior conventional campaign, not only in Florida but pretty much everywhere, it is a new day in Republican politics. The other advantage that Perry has that will greatly help in Florida and perhaps New Hampshire as well, is Rudy Gulliani.

For those who may not know, Rudy and Rick Perry are very close friends in fact Perry endorsed Gulliani for president in 2008. If Gulianni does not run for president himself, still an if, he will be campaigning vigorously for Perry which will in part offset the "transplant" factor. If Gulianni gets in the race himself he would eat more into Romney's support than Perry's.

If Perry wins the Florida primary which I believe he will then Romney will be in the same position he was in 2008 on the defensive trying to generate enthusiasm for his candidacy.

But there is no enthusiasm for Romney not in 2008 and certainly not in 2012. All the enthusiasm
in the Republican Party has been and will continue to be with the Tea Party and the Tea Party will be with Perry because he is the most conservative candidate with a chance to win. He a;so has "creds" with the TPM and Romney does not. I believe Romney could win the presidency too, but first he would have to win the nomination not with but against a highly energized Tea Party movement which looks at him as the status quo and the status quo will not win the Republican nomination in 2012.

But what if Palin or Ryan or Christie or Gulianni,or,or,or get in. I'll cover that in part four (when and if it happens)

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