Swing State Pres

Sunday, October 5, 2014

September Month in Review: Not a Secret and Not Much Service

If you turned the clock back about 150 years, you would find a White House where ordinary citizens could expect to walk into an unlocked front door without an appointment, no bodyguards to impede their progress.  Apparently not much has changed.  It strains credulity to imagine in this post-9/11 world how an intruder, armed with a weapon, managed to get all the way to the Green Room before being subdued.

But at least the Obama Administration acted quickly. After letting Secret Service Director Julia Pierson twist in the wind of a Congressional hearing, feeling the breeze of righteous pre-election outrage from both parties, she was let go, and replaced by acting Director Joseph Clancy.  Perhaps Clancy will first put an actual lock on the front door of the White House, and then move on to updating the Secret Service website, which still features his predecessor.  Then he might think about changing the name of the agency itself.  There is nothing remotely “secret” about it, and apparently there is not much “service” either.  Even in good times the name was ludicrous, an oxymoronic (or simply moronic) name straight out of “Get Smart,” but without the tongue in cheek.

To the witch’s brew that is the world we live in, we add the Ebola virus, a full blown epidemic in Liberia that has now made its way to the U.S.  The images from Dallas, showing the victim’s poor family cellophaned into their own apartment, are not exactly what one thinks of as first-rate containment.  The right wing crazies are trying to figure out a way to blame Ebola on Obama.  Let’s see, “Ebola” and “Obama” both have five letters, with alternating vowels and consonants.  And they both originated in Africa, of course.

The Secret Service mishaps and the Ebola crisis managed to push ISIS and Putin off the front pages, despite Obama’s announcement and subsequent swift implementation of direct bombing of ISIS targets within Syrian borders by a U.S.-led coalition.  No sooner had the bombs dropped when the fever pitch around ISIS vanished, new beheadings aside.  The ISIS struggle will be lengthy and messy, but at this juncture we are a long way from seeing the resumption of ground forces in the area.

And as we head into the final month before Election Day, we can only assume the Obama administration has an October surprise or two up its sleeve to shore up the sinking prospects for the Democrats in the Senate.  Let’s hope so, because otherwise things are looking bleak for the Democrats.

One might think that a resurgent economy would be a big boost to these tight races, but somehow the news of the unemployment rate dropping all the way to 5.9%, on the strength of 258,000 new jobs was muted.  If you had told anyone on January 1st of this year that, in 2014, Obamacare would reach over 8 million enrollments and the unemployment rate would drop below 6%, they would have assumed the Democrats were a lock to hold the Senate.  That they are not – and quite the opposite – is a reflection of the rocky year in foreign policy and continued poor communication of the Administration’s successes.

ECONOMETER

The Econometer held steady at +74, meaning the economy is in far better shape than on Election Day, 2012.  The unemployment rate dropped, gas prices declined and the Dow improved.  But consumer confidence, which is announced first, dropped from the prior months, likely due to the tepid prior months jobs report (which has since been revised upward.)

Econometer
Election Day 2012
6-Jul
4-Aug
8-Sep
5-Oct
Econometer
0.0
59.0
72.5
74.9
73.8






  Unemployment Rate
7.9
6.1
6.2
6.1
5.9
  Consumer Confidence
73.1
85.2
90.9
92.4
86.0
  Price of Gas
3.71
3.77
3.69
3.56
3.47
  Dow Jones
      13,330
 16,882
    16,990
    16,825
    17,066
  GDP
3.1
-2.9
4.0
4.2
4.2

PRESIDENT OBAMA APPROVAL RATING

Months come and go, crises emerge, the economy strengthens, the world roils, and yet President Obama’s approval rating remains as steady as a rock, flatlined at 43% for four straight months.  It has been between 43% and 46% every month in 2014 (it ranged between 40% and 54% in 2013).  Sentiment for the President seems to have calcified and it is hard to imagine what could possibly happen to jolt it upward.  Perhaps the air traffic controllers will go on strike.

Obama Approval Rating
Election Day 2012
6-Jul
4-Aug
8-Sep
5-Oct
  Approve
49.6
43.6
43.5
43.2
43.4
  Disapprove
47.4
52.2
52.8
52.2
52.5
  Net
2.2
-8.6
-9.3
-9.0
-9.1

GENERIC BALLOT

The puzzling change this month is in the generic ballot, which swung to the GOP for reasons I cannot quite discern.  The Republicans are now up by almost two points, a change that parallels the fortunes of a number of individual battleground Senate races.  (See the latest on all the Senate races right here:  http://www.borntorunthenumbers.com/2014/10/senate-update-election-2014-wake-up.html).

Generic Ballot
Election Day 2012
6-Jul
4-Aug
8-Sep
5-Oct
  Democrat
46.3
41.0
44.8
41.5
41.4
  Republican
46.0
39.1
42.3
41.0
43.3
  Net
0.3
1.9
2.5
0.5
-1.8

OBAMACARE

Obamacare as an issue is barely a whisper in the campaign, as neither Democrats nor Republicans want to touch it in the swing states.  But public opinion has been frozen at the same levels for an entire year, despite the success in meeting the enrollment goal and the lack of sticker-shock in 2015 renewal premiums.  Dems don’t want to touch it because it is unpopular;  Republicans don’t want to touch it because it is working.  Mitch McConnell knows more than 400,000 people in his state now have coverage….you think he is going to talk about rolling it back?

Obamacare
Election Day 2012
6-Jul
4-Aug
8-Sep
5-Oct
  For/Favor
40.0
41.2
39.5
42.0
39.4
  Oppose/Against
50.8
53.8
58.0
52.5
51.9
  Net
-10.8
-12.6
-18.5
-10.5
-12.4


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