Swing State Pres

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Wanna Be Elected! (June 4, 2012)

May was a tough month for Obama!  The headline is:  the race got even closer and is now a virtual dead heat.  At this point I still give the advantage to Obama, largely due to the delegate map and the "charisma" factor, but that jobs report sure didn't help!

 

Let me go through some election news and then update the key indicators I identified in my last post:  the latest polling, the charisma factor, the delegate map, and, of course, the Obameter!  The Obameter held up rather well in May, meaning that it tracked the polling quite nicely….as the Obameter swung back from favoring Obama (+13) in April, just about back to the January baseline (+1) in May, the polls narrowed accordingly.  Maybe I have something here!

 

Major Election News

 

Face it, it's been a slow period.  The candidates bashed away, people yawned, no real "Events" that shook things up dramatically.  The candidates are desperately seeking to control the news cycle but somehow never quite succeeding, as the Tea Party, Trump, Biden and the news of the day routinely get in the way.

 

The Obama camp did unleash a fury of ads designed to undermine Romney's lead credential, his success at Bain Capital.  Poking holes in Romney's claims to be a job creator, the Obama ads walked a tough line between smashing private equity (a nice populist theme) and appearing to be anti-capitalist and anti-jobs.  Romney survived this onslaught nicely.  My own view is that this focus naturally takes the argument directly to the economy, which is simply not a good Obama issue.  I think arguments that Romney is a flip-flopper, or a hard core conservative, or that he is elitist and out of touch have far more resonance to both independents and the liberal base – and there are plenty of YouTube clips to support these critiques.  Making Bain the centerpiece is risky.

 

Romney, for his part, actually won his party's nomination, taking the Texas primary (among others) and passing the magic 1,144 delegate mark.  He foolishly squandered that newsbyte by choosing to share the stage with Donald Trump, of all people, who promptly shifted the focus away from Romney and back on to the "birther" issue, which Romney has disavowed!  The news cycle picked up on it, and Mitt blew a nice story.  What was he thinking!!!!!

 

Richard Lugar lost the Indiana senatorial primary, which essentially opens Indiana up for the Democrats.  Twenty years ago Lugar would have been described as a hard core conservative.  But he lost his bid for a seventh term to Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party acolyte who believes there is "too much compromise" in Washington, not too little.  Wow!  Lugar was unopposed in 2006 – unopposed by the Democratic Party!  And just six years later, he loses a Republican primary, and loss it handily (61/39) to a Tea Party candidate.

 

Of course, in 2010, the Tea Party candidate lost two elections the Republicans should have won, with Christine "I Am Not a Witch" O'Donnell in Delaware and Sharon "Second Amendment Remedies" Angle in Nevada.  If the Republicans had those seats now, they would be a lock to take control of the Senate in 2012. Might Indiana follow?  At this juncture, the only poll I've seen has Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelley deadlocked at 35/35…with 30% undecided.  So Indiana, a state which would have been a Republican lock with Lugar, is now "in play."

 

The Presidential Race

 

Polling Updates:

 

For the month of April (using RealClearPolitics.com data), Obama was +1.5 versus Romney, down from +3.5 in April.  And if you want to parse if further, polling in the first half of the month had Obama to +1.7, shrinking further to +1.0 in second half of May polling.

 

The Charisma Factor:

 

I noted last time that, in the races since 1948 pitting a "charismatic" candidate (e.g., Reagan, Truman, Ike, Clinton, Obama, Bush II) versus a "boring technocrat" (e.g., Carter, Kerry, Gore, Dewey, Mondale), the charisma candidate won every time – 9 out of 9.

 

I compare the net favorability ratings of Obama and Romney to arrive at the "charisma factor."  For April, Obama averaged a 52% favorable and a 44% unfavorable, for a net +8.  Romney had an average favorable of 45% and an unfavorable of 43%, for a net +2.  So Obama maintains the lead on this front, for a "net net" of +6.

 

The Delegate Map:

 

Last time I concluded that there were eight toss-up states, with 120 delegates up for grabs, and Obama needs 37 of them to get to the required 270.  Despite the "bad month," the electoral map still looks very good for Obama.  In month of May polling, Obama leads either statistically or directionally in six of the states, with Florida now a dead heat and trailing only in North Carolina (and now within the margin of error).  The margin has narrowed in some states (versus April) but expanded in others. 

 

At this point, I truly question whether Michigan should be in the "toss up" camp…it has gone to the Dems in each of the past four elections, and Obama is up at the polls, and the whole auto industry story plays well for Obama.  If you add Michigan to the Obama side, that gets him to 253 delegates, needing only 17 from the 7 states (aside from Michigan) below.  That means any two out of the others, or Florida or Ohio alone.  Now all of these states are very close, and it is early, of course…and we'll see what happens in June after that jobs report.

 

 

Electoral

        Obama Margin

 

Votes

4/23

6/4

Michigan

16

5

10

Wisconsin

10

0

5

Ohio

18

3

3

Florida

29

1

0

Colorado

9

0

3

Virginia

13

7

4

Missouri

10

-3

1

North Carolina

15

-8

-3

 

THE OBAMETER

 

All of which brings me to the Obameter!  I've added two columns (to the chart below) versus last month, one that is a "final" for the month of May, and the other which incorporates the news of Friday, June 1, specifically the backsliding jobs report (with a rise in the unemployment rate to 8.2) and a 275-point drop in the Dow.

 

The Obameter shifted from a +13 versus the January 1, 2012 baseline back to only +1 by the end of May, driven primarily by an increase in Romney's favorability rating, from 37% to 45% for the month.  Nothing like securing the nomination to improve a politician's standing, and this jump was particularly welcome for Romney since his favorability ratings were very low for a challenger (and remain so).  Consumer confidence dipped in May as well, and the Dow dropped by over 300 points (on average for the month).  These trends were only modestly offset by a drop in the price of gas and a tick down in the unemployment rate (that is, before Friday's uptick).

 

I had hoped the Obameter would track the head-to-head polling and indeed it did.  As the Obameter decelerated down to +1, Obama's lead narrowed, as noted, to an average of +1.5.  Thus the Obameter and the polling are basically where they were on January 1….with Obama narrowly ahead, for all purposes a dead heat. 

 

The news of June 1 was particularly ominous, denting Obama's narrative that the economy was improving, if slowly.  The up tick in the unemployment rate interrupted that narrative, and the 275-point drop in the Dow that followed was a clear verdict on the job report.  The Obameter has dropped into negative territory for the first time this year, suggesting that upcoming polling may marginally favor Romney, by 1-2 points.  We'll see!!!

 

 

Baseline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

5-Jun

Unemployment Rate (beginning)

8.7

8.5

8.3

8.3

8.2

8.1

8.2

Consumer Confidence (end)

65.0

61.5

70.8

69.5

68.7

64.9

64.9

Price of Gas (average for month)

3.32

3.44

3.64

3.91

3.96

3.79

3.79

Dow-Jones (average for month)

    12,076

    12,551

    12,889

    13,084

    13,031

    12,722

   12,119

Romney Favorability (average)

38.0

35.0

35.8

36.8

36.6

44.6

44.6

"Events"

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unemployment Rate (beginning)

8.7

2

4

4

5

6

5

Consumer Confidence (end)

65

-4

6

5

4

0

0

Price of Gas (average for month)

3.32

-1

-3

-6

-6

-5

-5

Dow-Jones (average for month)

    12,076

5

8

10

10

6

0

Romney Favorability (average)

38

3

2

1

1

-7

-7

"Events"

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBAMETER

0

5

17

14

13

1

-6

Obama versus Romney

1.1

1.7

4.6

4.8

3.5

1.5

tbd

 

So as June unfolds, Obama is on rocky ground….still ahead, in my view, with the strength of the delegate math, but vulnerable.

 

I've had a "song request," so this one, based on the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated," goes out to Mr. Cox in Illinois….

 

Twenty-twenty-twenty three weeks to go, I wanna be elected

Gotta win Florida and Ohio, I wanna be elected

Time to do a roadtrip, I just can't make a goof

Someone go get Seamus, and strap him to the roof

I may not be so cuddly, but Obama is aloof

I've got to raise more dough

 

Twenty-twenty-twenty three weeks to go, I wanna be elected

I'm in a channeling Goldwater mode, I wanna be elected

Just get me to the airport, put me on a plane

Hurry hurry hurry, I've got to bash again

I can't control my banter, the media's a pain

It goes up on Huff Po

 

Twenty-twenty-twenty three weeks to go, I wanna be elected

Smashing Obama wherever I go, I wanna be elected

I can't control the Birther, I think I don't like gays

Hurry hurry hurry, just 160 days

Those Tea guys make me nervous, but they're the latest craze

Let's go go go go go!

 

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be elected

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be elected

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be elected

Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be elected

 

 

2 comments:

  1. Your analysis focuses quite a bit on the economy, clearly the central issue in this election. But there's a lot of noise about women's issues out there right now. How do you factor this into your calculus?

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  2. I've got it on my "list" to look at the demographics of the election at some point soon, since they played such a huge component of Obama's 2008 win. Women comprised 53% of the voting public in 2008, and Obama took 56% of them versus 43% for McCain. They split the men. Romney cannot afford to lose much more. For a number of reasons he is loathe to talk about "social issues" at all and the core of his general election strategy to focus on the economy and avoid the conservative far right's hot button issues. He'll placate them as much as he has to, but that is a really fine balance, because turnout from the "base" (essentially the Tea Party wing of the party) is crucial to him. I will say one thing: Ann Romney will play a very visible role in this campaign, to "shore up" Romney's credentials among women, and it will be interesting to see if Michelle Obama matches her. More to come on demographics!

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