Swing State Pres

Monday, June 18, 2012

Greece is Absurd (June 18, 2012)

THE DASHBOARD
Obama continues to be ahead marginally on Dashboard (look to the right) measures, slightly ahead on the Obameter, the Charisma Factor, and in Swing States.  The Latest Polling is basically a dead heat, though directionally favoring Romney.

  • The Obameter.  Over the last week, Obama has benefited from an upswing in the stock market and slightly lower gas prices, pushing the Obameter slightly into positive territory for him (+0.8)
  • The Charisma Factor.  Recent favorability data shows a slightly widened Obama lead, up from +3.3 to +4.4.
  • Latest Polling.  New polling continues to nominally favor Romney (-1.0) although it could not be much closer.
  • Swing States.  New polls in Ohio and Iowa are showing Romney with slight leads, and therefore a narrowing of Obama's overall Swing State lead (+1.5).  I have a new feature on the right, called the Electoral College Projector, and based on the polling it shows Obama with a reasonably comfortable 318 to 220 margin.  That margin is buoyed, however, by my throwing true "dead heat" Florida into Obama's column due to the Charisma factor…if those 29 delegates go the other way, Obama's lead is cut to 289 to 249….still enough.  Yes, Obama can win even if he loses Florida AND Ohio.

OBAMETER








Baseline







1-Jan
31-Mar
30-Apr
31-May
4-Jun
11-Jun
18-Jun
Unemployment Rate (beginning)
8.7
8.3
8.2
8.1
8.2
8.2
8.2
Consumer Confidence (end)
65.0
69.5
68.7
64.9
64.9
64.9
64.9
Price of Gas (average for month)
3.32
3.91
3.96
3.79
3.79
3.67
3.63
Dow-Jones (average for month)
    12,076
    13,084
    13,031
    12,722
    12,119
      12,332
       12,580
Romney Favorability (average)
38.0
36.8
36.6
45.2
44.0
44.0
44.0
"Events"
0
0
0
0
0
0
0








Unemployment Rate (beginning)
8.7
4
5
6
5
5
5
Consumer Confidence (end)
65
5
4
0
0
0
0
Price of Gas (average for month)
3.32
-6
-6
-5
-5
-4
-3
Dow-Jones (average for month)
    12,076
10
10
6
0
3
5
Romney Favorability (average)
38
1
1
-7
-6
-6
-6
"Events"
0
0
0
0
0
0
0








OBAMETER
0.0
13.9
13.3
0.5
-5.4
-2.0
0.8
Obama versus Romney
1.1
4.8
3.5
1.5
-2.0
0.7
-1.5




THIS WEEK'S ELECTION NEWS

It started off as a slow week but ended fast.  There are three news items worth noting, in my view.

The first is money.  The Romney campaign raised $77 million in the month of May, versus $60 million for Obama.  This was the first month Romney raised money as the presumptive nominee – and the first he could raise funds jointly with the Republican National Committee -- and clearly many who had been holding back felt free to let loose behind him.  This was also the first month Romney out-raised Obama, though both increased considerably over April ($44 million for Obama  to $40 million for Romney.  Romney and the RNC had $107 million cash on hand as of the end of May, whereas Obama and the DNC have not yet released their end-May cash-on-hand number, which was $140 million at the end of April.

This, of course, excludes Super PAC money, which will play a huge role in the race.  Just to give you an idea, Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich's former backer, announced he will donate $35 million to three Republican Super PACs.

The second event was Obama's executive action to no longer deport illegal immigrants if they pass a certain set of conditions (came to the U.S. when they were under the age of 16, have been here more than five years, currently in school or the military, etc.).  This is a huge breakthrough for the 800,000 people affected by the action, and was politically significant for two reasons.  First, Obama by-passed Congress with this action, continuing his efforts to instigate action in the face of congressional inaction (Congress has been unable to pass meaningful immigration reform for years, despite, at times, reasonable levels of bi-partisan support).  Second, Obama's deportation policies – he had deported more than 1.1 million illegals, the most of any administration in 50+ years – were starting to deflate Hispanic support.  This was viewed by many as a purely political move to shore up and energize this crucial support group (see my June 11 post) and while that is likely true, it was undoubtedly a pretty darn effective one.

Romney's response was to attack the process (that is, by-passing Congress) but, when pressed, he would not commit to repealing the action as President.  With Jeb Bush and other Republicans calling for more Republican efforts to appeal to Hispanics, in full recognition of their rising political  strength, Romney has to walk a fine line here – and therefore he cannot continue to take the hard line he espoused in the debates.

The final major event of the week is the election in Greece.  The radical-left Syriza party lost Sunday's election, thereby saving the "bailout" plan and keeping Greece within the Euro currency and community.  This buys more time for a stay-within-the-Euro solution, but that is hardly the same thing as "all has been resolved."  Greece is still a mess, but from a U.S. election standpoint this outcome is good news for Obama, because if Greece followed the radicals and exited the Euro, it would clearly throw the world economy into disarray, and among many other implications (all of them dire), that would actually be a boost for Romney (though not to his personal portfolio).

This coming week might see the Supreme Court rule on Obamacare.  That's a big one!

THIS WEEK'S ELECTION TOPIC:  "THE MESSAGE"

"Neither candidate, to my mind, has even begun to organize his campaign thematically around a single, powerful message. Even the most boring of technocrats can have a powerful message (Jimmy Carter: "I will never lie to you.").   And Teddy Kennedy's 1980 flop is instructive about the limits of charisma in the absence of a focused and compelling message.  Romney has yet to put together the cogent, believable, and relevant explanation of how his private sector business experience makes him the better man to lead the country.  Obama's task is providing a succinct, not-defensive, and unequivocal answer to the question no first-term president can avoid: "are you better off now than you were four years ago?  "Which candidate will ultimately solve his message challenge? Frankly, Romney has an easier task, but he is a terrible communicator. Obama has a harder explanation, but is the better communicator.  This much I know: the one that develops the message that actually resonates with the voters will suddenly have a major asset; perhaps even a game-changing competitive advantage."

Steve sent me this a few weeks ago and he is absolutely right.  I listened to each candidate's stump speeches this week (through the wonders of POTUS satellite radio), and each is pursuing the archetypal pose.  Romney the challenger is running the "referendum" message:  "Obama does not deserve re-election."  Obama the incumbent is running the "choice" message:  "You are better off with me than Romney." 

If one accepts that the central challenge for each candidate is to simultaneously excite their "base" while winning over undecided independents, it is striking how neither strategy accomplishes either objective.  The base of each party wants to hear its standard bearer offer a full-throated vision of its wing's favorite causes.  Neither candidate is about to do that anytime soon, because, quite simply, neither candidate wants to be associated with the "crazy" wing of his own party, the "tax and spend" liberals and the Christian conservatives.  That's for primaries.

If the undecided independents want to hear anything (and they really don't start paying attention until the week before the election) they probably want to hear how each candidate is going to break the logjam that is Washington.  Neither candidate discusses this, because the reality is, there is no good idea on how to do this. Congress's approval rating is at 17%, up from the low of 10% but still anemic.  Congress has to decide whether to revert back to compromising, and until it does, no President enacts major legislation.  Early primary returns (see:  Indiana, Lugar loss) indicate that Republican "non-compromisers" are as popular as ever.  Obama, who fancied himself not so much as a transcendent leader but as a pragmatic Democrat, promised to break the logjam in 2008.  Who will dare promise that again?

And so I think Steve is right.  Someone will have to find a better message that does more than "choice" versus "referendum."  And I think I know what the topic will be:  the so-called "Taxmageddon."  In the immediate months after Election Day, there will be no rest for the campaign weary.  President Obama or Romney will face three deadlines that could define his terms:  the expiration of the "Bush tax cuts" (New Year's Eve), the imposition of the "sequester" Budget cuts, and the need to raise the debt ceiling (mid-February).  A deal of some kind must be made – across the board tax increases are out of the question, the sequester cuts are incredibly arbitrary, and not raising the debt ceiling is as unappealing (and foolish) as it was last summer.

If Obama wins, he has the leverage of the first two, though not the third.  Congress is already discussing, behind the scenes, the contours of a massive deal – a Grand Bargain – to address Taxageddom.  I suspect Obama and Romney may be forced to reveal their own plans in the fall.  Their message on Taxageddom may be the leadership message many are waiting for.

SONG

I know I mentioned Greece in last week's song, but it is all over the news so what the heck, here is another one totally focused on Greece….to the tune of, naturally….Frankie Valli's "Grease."

They've got huge problems and there is no light
We gotta plug their debt…we gotta bail it out right
There's meltdown danger on a global scale
I haven't felt this bad…since back when Lehman failed
Greece is absurd!

Greeks have a pension that is quite okay
Retire at 61… and get four-fifths of your pay
No wonder Germans are a bit put out
They go to 67… and get less of a payout

Greece is absurd!
{Greece is absurd, is the word that you heard}
They've got Euro dudes reeling
Greece is the place where the debt is an ocean
Greece is a very bad feeling

The Germans want the Greeks to cut back more
But that's what Cameron did…look at the UK's score
Austerity is not a terrible thing
But if it's growth you want… no spending means no spring

Greece is absurd!
{Greece is absurd, is the word that you heard}
They've got Euro dudes reeling
Greece is the place where the debt is an ocean
Greece is a very bad feeling

The balance sheet's an illusion
Wrapped up in trouble laced with confusion
What are we doing here?

We hope that what we do will be contained
That what goes down in Greece, won't end up also in Spain
There is a chance that we can keep it whole
If there's no Euro, pal, that continent's on the dole

Greece is absurd!
{Greece is absurd, is the word that you heard}
They've got Euro dudes reeling
Greece is the place where the debt is an ocean
Greece is a very bad feeling

Grease is absurd
Is absurd
Is absurd
Is absurd
Is absurd
Is absurd…

2 comments:

  1. Tom,

    I was just in an elevator with Chris Matthews and Bob Woodward. They are both reading Obameter and asking, "Who is Tom Gardner?" I told them you'd been at Oxford with Bill Clinton. They were impressed and embarrassed they didn't already know you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is embarassing. You should further humiliate them by noting I am a personal friend of Nate Silver, and that I once appeared on Saturday Night Live! (Well, that last part is true.)

      Delete

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