With an n=small number, the pundits pontificate about their interpretation of history.
Amid the back and forth about Friday’s jobs report, one thing is abundantly clear: To win a second term on November 6, President Obama is going to have to defy history.
Unemployment! Reagan! Simple narrative!
With the new jobs numbers out today, it’s more clear than ever what the economy will probably look like to voters this November. It’s a very slow recovery, but it’s not a double-dip recession, either. There’s been, however, a fair amount of misunderstanding about what that signals for Barack Obama’s chances of a second term.
In particular, there’s a strain of punditry that theorizes that Obama will have to “defy history” to get reelected. This line holds that presidents don’t get re-elected when unemployment is over eight percent, or when “right track/wrong track” numbers are badly depressed, or when the president’s job approval on the economy is negative.
In fact, the election models political scientists and economists have developed suggest — when you plug in the fundamentals of this election cycle — that this will be a close race, and not one that Obama will have to defy history to win.
I’m with Bernstein. So is this guy:
“This sort of slow-growth region puts it in the too-close- to-call category,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta and developer of the forecasting model, which also factors in presidential job approval. Abramowitz said today that his model projects Obama will get 50.5 percent of the popular vote and has a two-thirds probability of winning.
More Alan Abramowitz:
These results also suggest that the impact of field organization can be just as great as that of spending on TV ads. The Obama campaign enjoyed an even larger advantage in field organization than in advertising dollars in 2008, and the findings presented here indicate that this advantage played a major role in Obama’s victories in Indiana and North Carolina and almost turned Missouri blue for the first time since 1996. Given the relative costs of field offices and TV ads, investing in field organization in the battleground states may be a more efficient use of campaign resources than spending on television advertising.
Read the above, then read the NY Times:
Since the beginning of last year, Mr. Obama and the Democrats have burned through millions of dollars to find and register voters. They have spent almost $ 50 million subsidizing Democratic state parties to hire workers, pay for cellphones and update voter lists. They have spent tens of millions of dollars on polling, online advertising and software development to turn Mr. Obama’s fallow volunteers corps into a grass-roots army.
Oh. My. God! Romney wil have so much money to spend advertising a guy no one likes. We’re doomed!
While the good news was coupled with an uptick in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent, analysts predicted that if the job numbers—however murky—are maintained over the next several months, Obama is likely to win reelection in November against his opponent Mitt Romney.
Mr. Obama’s probability of winning the Electoral College increased slightly on the economic news, to 71.1 percent from 70.2 percent.
Mr. Obama’s lead in the popular vote is quite narrow: the forecast projects him to win 50.7 percent of the vote, against 48.3 percent for Mitt Romney. (Interestingly, this is the exact margin by which George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004.)
There’s a secret lurking behind everything you’re reading about the upcoming election, a secret that all political insiders know—or should—but few are talking about, most likely because it takes the drama out of the whole business. The secret is the electoral college, and the fact is that the more you look at it, the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like you’ve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing. This is especially true now that it seems as if Pennsylvania isn’t really up for grabs. Romney’s paths to 270 are few.
The polling data forces Dan Balz to conclude that Obama is currently ahead and Romney trails:
The head-to-head polls have largely remained static in that time. But in looking at the numbers nationally and in the battleground states, the consistency of Obama’s lead is striking. More than two dozen national polls have been conducted since the beginning of June. Obama has led in the overwhelming number of them.
Polls in the most contested states show a similar pattern. In three of the most important — Ohio, Florida and Virginia — there have been roughly three dozen polls total since April, about the time that Romney’s GOP rivals were exiting the nomination race. In Ohio and Virginia, Obama has led in all but a few. In Florida, Romney has done better, but overall, Obama has led about twice as often.
Those polls are not definitive predictors of the November outcome, by any means. A movement in the national numbers, which could easily occur in the final weeks, will change the look of many of those states. But at this point, the available evidence suggests that the advantage, however small, is with Obama. If this were truly a dead even race, Romney should be ahead in these polls almost as often as he is behind.
So the consensus is that if the election were held now, Obama would win because Romney, by a small amount, trails. There’s time yet, and there’s conventions, there’s the VP candidate, there are the speeches. But the models and odds are all in Obama’s favor, even if by a small amount. Don’t get suckered into thinking this is a dead heat, because it’s not. But Tomasky’s point about this being a potential electoral rout remains just that—potential, not actual, at least at this time. Most predictors say the race will be a lot closer than that.
In the end, in a close election, campaigns matter. So far, Obama’s has been demonstrably better, and their decision to “burn” through the money on field costs and ad dollars to define Romney before he can define himself appears to be a very good bet.
Source: Daily Kos