Swing State Pres

Sunday, July 6, 2014

June Month in Review: Everyone is Losing and No One is Winning (Except Hobby Lobby, Randolph Macon and ISIS) (July 6, 2014)

The media and the country, except for the extreme elements, appear to have moved on from the “trifecta” of issues that appeared so damaging to Obama and the Democrats last month – the VA hospital scandal, the Bowe Bergdahl hostage exchange and Obama’s courageous executive order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  New news has replaced them in the cycle, and neither party has benefited from the controversies that have emerged in their wake.

Hardly was the proverbial ink dry on the Bergdahl case when Iraq began to crumble anew, due to rapid gains made by the strikingly named ISIS group (for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” although other similar acronyms abound).  ISIS overran the western portion of Iraq, essentially eliminating the Syrian border, though their drive has either stalled (or is retooling) short of Baghdad.  Obama suffers, of course, because his withdrawal of U.S. troops two and a half years ago was made with the assessment that Iraqi forces were sufficient to maintain order. 

But GOP attempts to capitalize on these events have fallen flat, because war-weary Americans want no part of a renewed commitment of ground forces to counter ISIS, and much of the fallout has been a reminder of how foolish George W. Bush was in engaging Iraq to begin with.  Apart from thoughts of “Vietnam” racing through my head, I also consider Senator Joe Biden’s 2006 plan to divide Iraq into three loosely-knit states, the Kurds in the north, Sunni’s in the west and Shiite’s in Baghdad.  Still a good idea, and perhaps the time has come.

The abrupt ejection from electoral politics of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was the next bit of breathless news.  Cantor was upset by a right wing economics professor at Randolph Macon named, David Brat, a totally unforeseen result (those savvy Republican pollsters had Cantor up by 30+ points heading into primary day) that will pit him, oddly, against a fellow Randolph Macon colleague.  The Cantor upset, of course, immediately rewrote the political landscape.  Or did it?  Despite Cantor’s loss, Tea Party candidates fared poorly in the primary season, displacing no  “moderate” (this being a relative term) Senate incumbents, even the highly vulnerable Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.  Cochran managed a stunning run-off win over State Senator Chris McDaniel, who had upset him, though not quite decisively enough, in the primary.  Cochran won, ironically, on the strength of Democrats, largely African-American, who were allowed to crossover in the runoff election if they had not voted in their own primary.

The net/net?  Republicans felt the sting of the ouster of their Leader.  Both parties lose any chance at immigration reform, which Brat ran on exclusively as a candidate.  And Democrats did not get the benefits of any unelectable crazy right-wing candidates emerging in their tough Senate battles, unlike 2010 when the GOP threw away good chances to unseat Democrats in Delaware, Indiana, Nevada and Missouri (remember Christine “I Am Not a Witch” O’Connell, Richard “Rapist’s Gift of God” Mourdock, Sharron “Far Right” Angle and Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin?).  The only upside of the Cantor defeat, modest indeed, was the swift election of Californian Kevin McCarthy as the new GOP House Leader, who is certainly more moderate then Cantor.

The Supreme Court wrapped up the month with more rulings straight out of the Moral Majority playbook, including the infamous “Hobby Lobby” case.  The conservative Christians who own the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores had their desire to exclude certain forms of contraceptives (IUDs and morning after pills) under their insurance plan upheld by the court.  This is obviously a blow to Obamacare, a chipping away undertaken by our third political branch, which has already emboldened other religious groups to seek exceptions.  But it also hurts Republicans, who continue to estrange themselves from the mainstream (lest we forget, 98% of women report using contraceptives), and will see an electrified liberal electorate outraged perhaps just enough to make a difference in November.

And the economy?  Once upon a time I decided to time these monthly updates to ensure the latest employment numbers were included (they are typically delivered on the first Friday of the month).  That was back when the whole nation waited for the numbers with bated breath, and that one data point seemed to hold the key to Obama’s reelection.  But now another strong jobs report received surprisingly little coverage, and Obama received little credit, with 288,000 jobs created (the fifth consecutive month topping the 200,000 mark) and unemployment dropping to 6.1%.


ECONOMETER

The Econometer continues to climb, now at + 59, meaning, key economic measures are substantially better than they were on Election Day 2012 when Mitt Romney last promised that the economy could only improve if he was elected.  The latest rise was due to the strength of that job report, growing consumer confidence and a surging stock market.  Why does the economy no longer matter in elections?  Or will it return when things get serious after the aptly-named unofficial kickoff to the election season…Labor Day?

Econometer
Election Day 2012
6-Apr
4-May
8-Jun
6-Jul
Econometer
0.0
53.3
52.5
56.0
59.0






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
6.7
6.3
6.3
6.1
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
83.9
82.3
84.8
85.2
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.62
3.74
3.75
3.77
  Dow Jones
      13,330
 16,339
 16,308
 16,617
 16,882
  GDP
3.1
2.6
0.1
-1.0
-2.9

PRESIDENT OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

The cumulative effect of Bergdahl, the VA and ISIS finally caught up to Obama, and after months of steady progress to rebuild his approval ratings to the mid-forties, they took a dip (as predicted last month).  Nothing too staggering, a couple of points, but the margin of error is very small and these numbers will ultimately have a huge impact on Election Day.

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
6-Apr
4-May
8-Jun
6-Jul
  Approve
49.6
44.2
44.5
45.6
43.6
  Disapprove
47.4
51.9
51.4
50.5
52.2
  Net
2.2
-7.7
-6.9
-4.9
-8.6

GENERIC BALLOT

On the other hand, the Democrats are building a small but significant lead in the generic Congressional ballot, and now have their biggest lead in months, albeit only two points.

Generic Ballot
Election Day 2012
6-Apr
4-May
8-Jun
6-Jul
  Democrat
46.3
41.0
38.0
42.2
41.0
  Republican
46.0
39.4
40.0
41.5
39.1
  Net
0.3
1.6
-2.0
0.7
1.9

OBAMACARE

Obamacare appears to have stabilized in a negative zone for the Democrats, and the only thing that could shake that positively (perhaps) is good news on renewal prices for 2015 plans, which should be announced starting this summer.

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
6-Apr
4-May
8-Jun
6-Jul
  For/Favor
40.0
39.8
41.0
40.1
41.2
  Oppose/Against
50.8
52.0
50.0
51.7
53.8
  Net
-10.8
-12.2
-9.0
-11.6
-12.6

2016 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

Hillary Clinton continues to hold a huge lead over Joe Biden, with all awaiting a 2015 announcement.


2013
2013
2014
2014

Jan-Oct
Nov/Dec
Q1
Q2
Clinton
59
67
67
69
Biden
13
11
10
13
Warren
6
7
7
7
Cuomo
4
3
2
2
O'Malley
1
1
2
2
Schweitzer
1
1
1
1
A/O or N/A
24
25
20

2016 REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES

The Republicans continue to jockey among a nine-person field (and more in the wings).  Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee head the field but none of the crew is out of range at this stage.


2013
2013
2014
2014

Jan-Oct
Nov/Dec
Q1
Q2
Paul
13
14
12
14
Bush
12
10
12
13
Huckabee
13
13
14
12
Christie
16
19
12
11
Ryan
14
11
11
11
Cruz
10
12
8
7
Rubio
14
9
8
7
Walker
3
5
5
5
Perry
0
0
6
5
Santorum
0
0
0
3
Jindal
3
3
3
3
Other/N.A.
2
5
9
12




2 comments:

  1. I was just in the elevator with Chris Matthews, Gwen Ifill, and Stephen Colbert.

    "Thank God Obambeter is back," said Matthews. "Now I know what's going on." Ifill and Colbert nodded.

    Me? The Middle East tragedy just won't stop. Goes back the Britain, France, the US always there somewhere, T.E. Lawrence, and Gertrude Bell. Lawrence and Bell? They said the region is tribal. Western political boundaries are artificial. Leave these people to govern their own region.
    Wick Sloane

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the Kurds may be taking the bull by the horns and initiating part of the Joe Biden partition plan (at least in northern Iraq). Who knew they were such ardent followers of Joe's advice?

    ReplyDelete

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