Tag Archives: economy

“Not Fixed”

Obama Fails to Change the Trajectory of the Race

Normally I like to use Mark Halperin’s write-up because I really respect his work and appreciate the way he smartly puts things on paper even when it is something I don’t want to hear.  His grades for the debate were B- for Obama and C for Romney.  I can live with those grades but I thought his write-up was pretty weak.  He makes a couple good points as you’d expect but his wording and phrasing was overwhelming negative towards Romney.  If you read only the reviews and not he grades you would think he gave Obama a B and Romney a D-.  In light of the fact that his B- grade is the exact same grade he game Obama after the disastrous Denver Debate,  I  have to grudgingly admit this was a poor effort on his part — especially the near hyperbolic words and phrases he uses to describe troubles for Mitt Romney.

One of the better discussions of the debate in my opinion was by Ari Fleisher on CNN who talked about the debate in baseball terms with each debate accounting for 3 innings of a 9 inning game. The blowout first debate for Romney was like a team scoring 5 runs in the first three innings.  I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment which is backed up by every poll, in enthusiastic fundraising numbers as well as through the post-debate despondency on the Left.  So after debate 1 we are looking at a score of Romney 5 Obama 0.

For the second debate with most people scoring it a draw Fleischer said that would be a 0 to 0 outcome over those three innings.  He then conceded you might give Obama 1 run to Romney’s 0 based on some of the snap polls.  I would go with the 2nd scoring and grant Obama a run for representing his case strongly as his base would see it — something he did not do in Denver. At the same time Romney did a good job in areas like forcefully distinguishing his prospective Administration from the Bush years, consistently articulating his focus on job creation as well as remaining appropriately critical of why we should move on from Obama.

Romney didn’t score though because of his fumbling the Libya opportunity.  If he was going to land a knockout blow, that was his opening and it was right there for the taking. We can criticize Candy Crowley for inappropriately interjecting herself there but Romney was already fumbling before she made even more of a mess in that situation.  The facts and severity of the situation in Libya will ultimately overwhelm any debate fallout from the missed opportunity but if Romney were going to add to his momentum and put some runs on this board, this was his moment and he missed it.  It doesn’t set him back but it does keep him from extending the lead.

So I’ll score the second debate Romney 0 Obama 1. If someone wants to make the argument that Obama won this debate to balance out Romney winning the first debate, that may be technically accurate but the two debates were materially different in terms of voter impact.   In our baseball analogy, after 6 innings, the score is Romney 5 Obama 1. Romney still has momentum and growing voter support even if he didn’t augment it in this debate.  You saw this is those same post-debate snap polls where voters overwhelming supported Mitt Romney on issues of the economy, jobs and the deficit.  This is materially important because every Battleground State or National poll says those issues are paramount to a super majorities of voters and Mitt Romney continues to be the run away leader on those issues.  Barack Obama’s inability to move those numbers are why, despite his improved performance, he most likely did not persuade the voters he needs to get over 50% in the polls or dissuade the Romney voters he needs to stay home.

Both candidates came out combative and ready for the fight.  The problem for Barack Obama is the public is ready to replace him as President evidenced by the stubborn consistency of his polling always around 47% support (that is below the necessary 50% threshold). The public saw a Mitt Romney in the first debate who they deemed plausible as President and nothing in this debate did anything to disabuse them of that notion.

10 Quotes that Haunt Barack Obama

Politico has a fun re-cap of quotes from President Obama that have dogged him throughout this re-election process and may well get a rehearing in Wednesday’s debate:

[A]s the president and his team well know, Obama in Denver on Wednesday will be defending a first-term record that looks strikingly different than the one he imagined when he took office in January 2009. Obama’s own words, and those of his closest aides, culled from his first campaign and the early phase of his presidency, tell the story. Cumulatively, the quotations are an anthology of lofty aspirations that fell to earth, and boastful predictions that didn’t come true. All presidents have plans that don’t work out. But many of Obama’s off-the-mark quotes echo because—as a president with a short history in Washington and no previous executive experience—he faced an especially jarring collision between his confident assumptions about how he would govern and the reality of what was possible.

“Washington is broken. My whole campaign has been premised from the start on the idea that we have to fundamentally change how Washington works.”

In retrospect, Obama’s exaggerated belief in his own capacity to transform Washington—not to mention his own wavering self-discipline in resisting nakedly partisan politics—looks like his most naïve miscalculation about his own power.

“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Obama biographers and even friends have noted his tendency from a young age to sometimes to let self-confidence curdle into excessive self-regard—a trait he will try to suppress in Denver. But the main problem with Obama’s quote was not that it was immodest but that it was inaccurate. Obama has not presided over an especially skilled political operation. Relations with key members of Congress and with key political figures in states have been frayed, driven by complaints that Obama does not do enough outreach and political fence-tending.

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”

In this quote, from a February 2009 interview on NBC’s “Today” show and widely repeated this year by taunting Republicans, Obama was referring to the pace of economic recovery. Obama’s explanation, of course, is that his policies, including the $787 billion stimulus package, averted depression and made possible a slow but still incomplete comeback. But the words haunt Obama because they were a reminder of how profoundly he and his economic team misunderstood the long-term nature of the crisis that confronted them upon taking office.

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The Iowa Poll Takeaways — Des Moines Register

Many state’s have one reporter that stands out among all others reporting on local politics.  In Wisconsin there is Craig Gilbert, Nevada has Jon Ralston and Iowa has Jennifer Jacobs. Easily the very best articles on the state have been penned by her and below is her detailed look at the recent Iowa Poll published in the Des Moines Register showing Obama with a 4-point lead but plenty of opportunity for Romney:

The election is all about an economy that Iowa voters think President Barack Obama has done too little to fix. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows Obama is ahead in Iowa 49 percent to 45 percent. But if Mitt Romney can convince voters that he truly knows how to doctor the nation’s ailing economy, the GOP presidential candidate can still put Iowa in his pocket, political analysts say. Half of Iowa adults disapprove of the job the Democratic president is doing on the economy, an issue that 59 percent of likely voters here rank as one of the most important, the poll found. Romney has built his campaign on the argument that his business knowledge, gained in building the private equity firm Bain Capital, better equips him than Obama to create jobs. Likely Iowa voters agree by a hefty 25 percentage points that the Republican nominee would better care for the needs of businesses. “The numbers are striking — that’s his opportunity that he’s not cashed in on,” said the Register’s pollster, J. Ann Selzer. “It’s just a huge opportunity.” But so far they’re not convinced Romney will do a better job of shoring up the economy. He trails slightly (47 percent to 46 percent) in voters’ perception of who would be the better economy fixer. The news from battleground Iowa, whose six electoral votes are a vital puzzle piece in the journey to 270, means there’s even more pressure on Romney to make a slam dunk case for his economic prowess during three presidential debates this fall. In the first debate, on Wednesday, three of six segments will focus on the economy.

Paul Ryan trumps Joe Biden

Another noteworthy finding: Although Iowa’s likely voters give Obama the nod at the top of the ticket, a strong majority believe Romney’s running mate, budget-and-deficit repairman Paul Ryan, is an asset. More likely voters think Vice President Joe Biden is a liability to the ticket than a lift.

Saturation campaigning and ads have voters attention

Thirty-seven days from Election Day, Iowa has few undecided voters left — just 2 percent. But 10 percent of likely voters say they could still change their minds. Of that group, more than half are independent voters.

Feeling better about Obama

As federal debt grows, gridlock confounds Congress, trouble spots heat up around the world and joblessness remains high, Iowans are feeling more optimistic. And for the first time in three years, Obama’s job approval in Iowa is above water. Seven months ago, Iowa was a trouble spot for Obama. More Iowa adults disapproved of the job he was doing as president (48 percent) than approved (46 percent). In hypothetical head-to-head matchups in mid-February, Obama trailed a trio of GOP candidates, including Romney, in the wake of intensive Republican messaging throughout the caucuses. Obama has mounted a vigorous counterattack: 10 days of campaigning in Iowa this year, 67 campaign offices opened, a successful Democratic convention and more than $13 million in TV ads here. The president’s job approval is nowhere close to his Iowa high of 68 percent shortly after he took office. But he has crossed a symbolic point crucial for re-election: More Iowans think he’s doing a good job as president (51 percent) than a bad job (47 percent).

Country on the wrong track, but …

Most Iowans, 54 percent, continue to believe the nation is on the wrong track, the poll found. But those who think the country is going in the right direction have increased by 10 percentage points since February. “When 10 percent more people think the country is headed in the right direction, that’s 10 percent less who feel the need for a change,” Castellanos said. It’s a big uptick, from 30 percent to 40 percent, even though the economy has remained sluggish. The government released revised growth statistics last week, downgrading second quarter growth from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent. Strategists said there’s still wiggle room for attitudes about the economy to change. Two monthly jobs reports remain before Election Day and four debates — three presidential and one vice presidential. The fact that Iowans’ optimism has shifted so much since February signals how much voters can be moved, strategists said.

Voter perceptions

  • Obama leads Romney by 6 or more percentage points in voters’ perceptions of his ability to determine the future of Medicare, health care and tax policy, and to handle relations with other countries as well as military engagement in Afghanistan and tension in the Middle East.
  • Among all Iowans, 50 percent approve of Obama’s work on relations with other countries, but he has ticked down a couple of points since February, possibly tied to unrest in Libya or his positions on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
  • Meanwhile, he’s upside down on his job approval on health care and the economy. Obamacare is not helping him, but perceptions have improved since February.
  • So have opinions about his handling of the economy, up 7 percentage points since February, to 45 percent. Those gains helped push him to positive territory in overall job approval.
  • Romney’s big issue advantage: He has opened an 11-point lead in perceptions of his ability to reduce the federal deficit, one of the most important issues to 27 percent of likely voters, ranking third behind health care (31 percent). The economy leads the list by far (59 percent).
  • But among independent voters, Romney has a 5-point lead on the economy, and a 12-point lead on the deficit. If he can continue to drive that message, there’s opportunity to shake loose persuadable independents, strategists said.

Get out the vote

The Obama campaign is heavily focused on early voting, which began here last week. Its goal is to build a margin before Election Day, when Republicans tend to turn out more heavily than Democrats, strategists said.

Obama Leaving the Economy as He Found It Part 2

This may become a regular feature.  Yesterday I pointed out how today’s weak economy is mirroring the bad state of affairs when Barack Obama took over as President.  Obama decries how awful things were when he was handed the baton, but it looks like it will be just as bad for the next guy:

Chicago Business Barometer Falls Below 50 for First Time Since 2009

U.S. manufacturers suffered a slide in new orders during September, sending the keenly watched Chicago Business Barometer down to a seasonally adjusted 49.7 from 53.0 in August, the first contraction in three years.

Order backlogs also retreated to their lowest level in two years in the latest downbeat signal from a manufacturing sector still concerned with the pace of China’s economic recovery and the ongoing euro-zone crisis. While other regions have factory surveys from private groups or regional Fed banks, economists at BTIG point out the Chicago PMI has among the highest correlations with the national Institute for Supply Management survey. Firm says the Chicago PMI’s unexpectedly bad September report suggests this month’s reading for the ISM — out Monday — will be the fourth month in a row in which the index is below 50. And a reading below 50 means factory sector is contracting.

The survey of Chicago-area purchasing managers published Friday by the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago, still better known as the Chicago PMI, was well below the consensus forecast of 52.5.

Obama Leaving the Economy Exactly How He Found It

Barack Obama likes to talk about how he was handed the economy in horrible shape.  Well I guess he learned his lesson about leaving things how you find them. The drumbeat of bad news drones on and on now 4 years after $1 trillion dollars in “stimulus” was wasted on crony capitalism that created no jobs and has yet to revive the economy.  The latest comes from business slowing and dropping investment orders for large manufacturing equipment as well as a revision to just how bad the economy has been this year:

The precarious position of the U.S. economy was evident Thursday as separate reports showed a steep decline in orders for big-ticket items in August and growth in the spring was lower than forecast. Orders for durable goods—those designed to last longer than three years, such as cars and televisions—fell 13% from July to a seasonally adjusted $198.5 billion, the Commerce Department said. The drop, the largest since January 2009, largely reflected fewer purchases of commercial aircraft, a volatile category that can skew the data. However, demand for most other items, including automobiles, also fell, albeit at more modest pace, which could mean continued sluggishness in the economy through the rest of 2012.

The report came as the government said the economy grew more slowly in the second quarter than previously thought. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product grew at an annual pace of 1.3% in the April-through-June quarter instead of 1.7%, as weak consumer spending and the drought in the Midwest held back growth. The decline in durable-goods orders caused concern that businesses and consumers are hunkering down as threats to the U.S. economy loom—including the prospect of tax increases and spending cuts at home, and a broad slowdown in economies abroad.

Notice the part highlighted above.  Business long-term faith in any economic revival is apace the exact time Obama entered the White House. Chilling if you think about it.

This is much the same as the manufacturing  sector which contracted for the third straight month in August.  We’ll find out next week of Obama can make it four-in-a-row.  There had not been three straight readings below this contraction line since May-July 2009.

And the job picture, already embarrassingly ugly,  grows gloomier by the day:

Putting pressure on an already lousy job market, the mass layoff is making a comeback. In the past week, Cisco, Lockheed Martin and Borders announced a combined 23,000 in job cuts.  Those announcements follow 41,432 in planned cuts in June, up 11.6% from May and 5.3% vs. a year earlier, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Meanwhile, state and local governments have cut 142,000 jobs this year, The WSJ reports, and Wall Street is braced for another round of cutbacks. This week, Goldman Sachs announced plans to let go 1000 fixed-income traders.

This only adds to Business Insiders damning list of the 21 Biggest Layoffs of 2012. And next week’s monthly jobs report will most likely be another sad reminder of Obama’s inability to get America working again as well as the unbelievable truth that he has no plans to change anything in the future.

This is the reality of 4 years with Barack Obama as President.  No one, least of all the remaining employed Americans. can afford another four years of Obama’s “Economic Patriotism.”

Regaining the Initiative

While the polls may be overstating any lead President Obama has, the reality is Mitt Romney needs a momentum boost.  Maybe that comes on the stump with a refined and energized message.  Maybe that doesn’t come until the October 3 debate.  But regardless Romney could use some momentum right now.  Dan Henninger gives Romney some great constructive advice (unlike the petulant whining critiques from other circles) on how to regain the initiative and drive home a winning message:

Stupid,” in the famous quotation from 1992’s Clinton vs. Bush campaign—”It’s the economy, stupid”—is whoever thinks a U.S. presidential election is about something else. All presidential elections are about the economy. Yes, there are other issues, but it’s also true that a whale has pilot fish. Still, most politicians would rather talk about anything but the economy, which they see in one of two ways—as a personal piggy bank or a mystery. Neither is discussable in public. This is the sixth presidential election since “stupid” was first identified, and nothing has changed.

Whose economy is it?

Barack Obama has reduced the whole economic record of his first term to one word: Bush. He’s talking about the next U.S. economy, in which, he says, some people will be making windmills. Or capturing the rays of the sun. His rebooted challenger, Mitt Romney, led an audience in Nevada last week through his plan to revive the economy. Mentioned first, and so presumably most important, he’d pursue “energy independence.” Second most important: Crack down on trade “cheaters.” That would be China, which is a long way from Vegas.

The debates

Next Wednesday night, these two will be hauled onto a stage in Denver for their first debate on “domestic issues,” a euphemism for the economy. Nothing—and that includes Jim Lehrer—can make these two talk about the economy as it’s understood by the average American voter. But the odds are Mitt Romney will talk about it and Barack Obama won’t. Mr. Obama will stay on message in Denver, redirecting his opponent and interrogator to the economy before he was president (or even in politics)—”challenges that have built up over decades”—and about the wind-driven economy that will exist after he’s re-elected. But not about the economy in between. If this were an episode of “Homeland,” Mitt Romney’s first question to his evasive competitor would be: “Mr. President, what are you hiding?”

Handed a raw deal

It’s true, as Mr. Obama argues, that the numbers of unemployed Americans began to rise abruptly after September 2008 when the financial crisis erupted, and that the president’s name then was George W. Bush. What Mr. Obama won’t say is that the financial crisis resulted from the implosion of a housing market transformed into a toxic landfill by Congress, regulators, Fannie, Freddie and mortgage packagers. The Bush presidency was a bystander.

Blistering critique of the reality

Also left unsaid by Mr. Obama but free for the telling by Mr. Romney is that as the U.S. unemployment rate hit 9.5% in June 2009 and a shocked public was looking for a response, the new president introduced the Affordable Care Act. Whatever else one may say about ObamaCare, it has nothing directly to do with U.S. employment. For the next nine months, as unemployment ran between 9.5% and 10%, Congress at Mr. Obama’s insistence worked on his health-care legislation. When Mr. Obama signed the bill into law in March 2010, the unemployment rate was 9.8%. If an opponent wanted to describe this in partisan terms, he might say that the president legislated an entitlement dream while the economy burned.

Henninger goes on to identify a great many things Romney could use to highlight the failures of President Obama but it all begins with a crisp sharp message forcefully stating in plain terms the contrast between having an actual vision for changing the future and misrepresenting a past that never was.

Why the Q-poll is a qrock — New York Post

If you’re feeling motivated, please visit the actual column linked here. Leave a comment on the Post’s website regarding the column (if available), email the NY Post link to the universe and tweet it out from the New York Post website as many times as you like if you have a twitter account.  It’s all I’ll ever ask of you. — “Keith”

Why the Q-poll is a qrock

By KEVIN PATRICK

Yesterday’s Quinnipiac Poll results were great news for President Obama: The Q-poll has him ahead by substantial margins in three battleground states — up 9 points in Florida, 10 in Ohio and 11 in Pennsylvania. Take a closer look: These numbers seem less like a scientific effort to measure how the campaign is going, and more like a drive to push it in that direction.

Simply put, the Quinnipiac surveys oversample Democrats; they only make sense if we believe that President Obama’s supporters are going to turn out in even greater numbers (relative to Republicans) than they did in 2008. Questions about the partisan makeup of poll samples have been rampant this election season, and Quinnipiac (which recently partnered up with CBS and The New York Times for polling) is at one extreme of that debate.

The 2008 election was a banner year for Obama and Democrats in general. The top of the ticket was a historic candidate (now our nation’s first black president); America had war and Bush fatigue, and the financial meltdown created an anti-Republican wave. Plus, Obama’s opponent, despite a great biography, was a poor candidate — a foreign-affairs and military expert running when the economy was the issue. John McCain’s campaign also had far less cash to spend.

All these factors helped yield to a strong Democratic advantage at the voting booth — where more voters identified themselves as Democrats than Republicans by a remarkable 7 points, 39 percent to 32 percent. This was the best advantage for Democrats in over a generation; in polling shorthand, we refer to it as D +7. For comparison, the 2004 split in party ID was perfectly even at 38 percent apiece (the GOP’s best showing in any recent presidential contest), and the average split in modern elections is D +3.6.

But Obama’s advantages are clearly less strong this year. He’s given us 8-plus percent unemployment for three years, economic growth below 2 percent and 23 million unemployed — and now the American flag is being burned across the Muslim world. Plus, Mitt Romney’s ground game far exceeds McCain’s 2008 effort.

But the Q-poll is having none of it. Like some other polling outfits, it is consistently and systematically insisting that Election Day turnout will favor Democrats as much or more than Obama’s 2008 best-in-a-generation advantage. In the Q-polls released yesterday, the spread between Democrats and Republicans each exceeded Obama’s 2008 advantage.

In Florida, the 2008 actual result was D +3; yesterday’s Q-poll had it at D +9. In Ohio, it was D +8 in 2008, D +9 in the Q-poll. And Quinnipiac gave us D +11 in Pennsylvania, versus a 2008 result of D +7. Mind you, each of these states has seen dramatic changes in party preferences since 2008 — electing Republican governors, flipping the state legislatures to GOP control, etc. Quinnipiac and others have given us polling that reflects a Democratic edge exceeding 2008 all year — including in last week’s Q-polls on Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Doug Schwartz, the director of Quinnipiac Polling, recently addressed these criticisms, citing the change from 2004 to 2008 to justify his sampling: “A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compare it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party-ID gap.” Um, so why is Schwarz assuming that the trend from 2004 to 2008 will continue in 2012?

Again, we have a president mired in a weak economy — with the economy remaining voters’ top issue (no survey even shows a close second). And Obama’s 2008 voting coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012, especially Hispanics and the youth vote.

But Quinnipiac uses 2008 as the norm — and then adds in even more Democrats, because, says Schwartz, there are “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.” Yes, more people identify with Democrats — that’s why national polls should reflect a sample that’s D +2 or D +3, and state polls should reflect a sample between the 2004 and 2008 electorates — not the unusually and likely unrealistically large Democratic advantage that Quinnipiac is awarding President Obama.

Like to The New York Post column: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/why_the_poll_is_qrock_56LUGAzegy7yn9zE8PsymK#ixzz27dv2FZLG

Ohio in Focus

From the inception of this blog Ohio and Virginia have been 1 and 1a in terms of priorities for both campaigns.  Should one campaign win both those states they almost certainly win the election.  The Romney campaign is spending three days in Ohio to being home what has been a tough nut to crack in an otherwise dead heat race:

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are making multiple stops this week alone in a state that’s trending toward the president, endangering Romney’s White House hopes.

Dueling Campaigns

The popularity of Obama’s auto industry bailout, and a better-than-average local economy, are undermining Romney’s call for Ohioans to return to their GOP-leaning ways, which were crucial to George W. Bush’s two elections. Ohio has 18 electoral votes, seventh most in the nation, and no Republican has won the White House without carrying it. Romney is scrambling to reverse the polls that show Obama ahead. On Tuesday, he made the first of his four planned Ohio stops this week, joining his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, for a rally near Dayton. On Wednesday, Obama will visit the college towns of Kent and Bowling Green, and Romney’s bus tour will stop in the Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo areas.

Campaign Saturation

Not even Florida has seen as many presidential TV campaign ads as Ohio, and neither nominee goes very long without visiting or talking about the state. When Obama touted his “decision to save the auto industry” on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, he mentioned not the major car-making state of Michigan but Ohio, which focuses more on car parts. “One in eight jobs in Ohio is dependent on the auto industry,” Obama said.

The Kasich Konundrum

One problem for Romney is that Ohio’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate is below the national average, as the Republican governor, John Kasich, often reminds residents. “We are up 122,000 jobs,” Kasich told a panel during the Republican convention last month. “The auto industry job growth is 1,200,” he said, perhaps trying to play down that sector’s role. Kasich says he supports Romney and Ohio would do even better if Obama were replaced. But the governor’s understandable pride in the state’s job growth runs counter to Romney’s message that Obama is an economic failure.

An opening for Romney

The Fox News poll suggests there’s room for Romney to advance. Nearly one in three Ohio voters said they are “not at all satisfied” with the way things are going in the country, and an additional 26 percent are “not very satisfied.” Only 7 percent are “very satisfied,” and 34 percent are “somewhat satisfied.” Romney is trying to tap that discontent. But he’s having mixed success with his chief target: white, working class voters who are socially conservative and often have union backgrounds. A generation ago they were called “Reagan Democrats.”

Auto Bailout Boon

In 2009, Obama’s administration used billions of taxpayer dollars to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat while they reorganized through bankruptcy. Romney said the companies should have been allowed to enter bankruptcy without government help. But an array of officials at the time said the automakers would have gone under without it. GM still owes the government about $25 billion. But many workers in Ohio and elsewhere consider the auto bailout a success. It affected thousands of businesses, some of them fairly small, that make an array of products that go into vehicles, new and used. Jeff Gase, a UAW union member who introduced Obama at a Columbus rally last week, credited the president with saving the paint company where he works. “Mom and pop body shops” buy the paint, Gase said, and now his plant is running “full steam ahead.” Romney notes that many Ohio car dealerships went out of business during the industry reorganization.

Bring the fight to Obama

Still, the Republican is pushing hard. Romney has forced Obama to run ads in Ohio defending the administration’s handling of China trade and the U.S. coal industry. Romney’s ads say government regulations are stifling the energy industry and Obama hasn’t been tough enough on China’s protection of its exporters, two claims the administration rejects. Ohio, meanwhile, appears to be the only state this week where Obama’s campaign is still airing a 60-second ad called “The Question,” which disputes Romney’s claim that Americans are worse off than they were four years ago.

Quinnipiac Indicts Itself in Polling ID Debate

National Journal interviewed pollsters on the great party ID debate and Republican complaints that far too many Democrats are being sampled in the surveys. They gave fair hearings to both the polling outfits and critics like Rick Wilson in yesterday’s New York Daily news who observed thusly:

“Far too many of the public and media polls have set their likely voter screens and models to something looking more optimistic than the 2008 turnout model,” GOP consultant Rick Wilson wrote in Sunday’s New York Daily News, “which even Obama’s most dedicated partisans think is highly unlikely.”

But the real loser in this debate was Doug Schwartz, director of Quinnipiac Polling. In addition to childishly dismissing the complaints as sour grapes by Republicans, Schwartz indicts himself in explaining the controversy:

Schwartz, whose institute conducts polls in battleground states for CBS News and The New York Times, asserts that pollsters who weight according to party identification could miss the sorts of important shifts in the electorate that could be determinative.

“A good example for why pollsters shouldn’t weight by party ID is if you look at the 2008 presidential election and compared it to the 2004 presidential election, there was a 7-point change in the party ID gap,” Schwartz said. Democrats and Republicans represented equal portions of the 2004 electorate, according to exit polls. But, in 2008, the percentage of the electorate identifying as Democrats increased by 2 percentage points, to 39 percent, while Republicans dropped 5 points, to 32 percent.

Asked specifically about GOP complaints regarding the party-ID composition of public surveys, Schwartz said: “They’re the ones trailing in our swing-state polls.” “There are more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party,” he added.

Our entire point is party ID changes from election to election yet Quinnipiac and the other polling outfits act like 2008 is the baseline and they are adjusting upwards in favor of Democrats from there.  2008 was a best-in-a-generation advantage for Democrats.  Obama’s job approval is locked below 50%.  The unemployment rate has been above 8% for 3 years and it’s actually higher if you count the people so despondent they simply quit looking for a job. There isn’t one economic indicator that is positive for President Obama and the economy always surveys as by far the #1 issue for voters (there is never even a close 2nd). Every single survey shows Obama’s 2008 coalition is less enthusiastic in 2012 than in 2008 (especially Hispanics and the youth vote).  But Schwartz and other lemmings use 2008 as the norm and add in more Democrats for flavor because according to Schwartz “more people who want to identify with the Democratic Party right now than the Republican Party.”  Few dispute more people identify with the Democrats which is why polls should be D +2 or D +3.  However, no sane person looks at the litany of reasons outlined above and says I think Obama’s going to have even a bigger advantage in 2012 than he had in 2008.  It’s professionally incompetent to reach such an absurd conclusion only the most politically partisan person could reach.

What a Failing Economy Looks Like: More Americans Added to Food Stamps Than Find Jobs

Every month the Right decries that the unemployment rate is much worse than the statistical measure because any decrease is from Americans simply dropping out of the work-force.  For anyone wondering where these people go, we have the answer. Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard picks up on a Senate Budget Committee graphic detailing of the embarrassment that is President Obama’s economic record.  This is the same Senate that is violating its Constitutional duty in refusing to pass (or even propose) a budget for the last 3 years:

As the chart shows, between April-June 2012 (the most recent three month block for which government data is available), only 200,000 jobs have been created while 265,000 individuals have been added to the food stamp rolls. Additionally, in that time period, 246,000 workers were awarded disability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another chart shows that the last three month block is part of a larger trend. The chart, also from the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee, shows that “Workforce Shrinks Since January 2009 While Millions Sign Up For Disability And Food Stamps.”

As the chart shows, since January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, the net change jobs has been negative (-1.3 million), while 5.7 million workers and dependents have been awarded disability and a whopping 15.1 million have been added to the food stamp rolls. “A total of 46,670,373 Americans are now on food stamps,” according to the minority side of the Senate Budget Committee. “The food stamp program has doubled in size since 2008 and quadrupled since 2001.” And the government program isn’t cheap: “Spending on food stamps alone is projected to reach $770 billion over the next decade.”

State of the Race: Nevada

Nevada is a strange nut to fully understand.  A solid majority of voters come from Clark County (home to Las Vegas) which is solidly Democrat whereas the rest of the state is Republican.  The difference in each election is simply how each campaign “minds the gap” shrinking or expanding its margins across these two realities. There is a non-existent state GOP party (which is how you end up with Sharon Angle as your Senate candidate in 2010) that got overrun by Ron Paul zealots (and I mean zealots)  such that the Romney campaign and RNC joined forces to form a fully funded shadow party Team Nevada run by some of the refugees from the hollowed out state party.  At the same time Romney is still licking his wounds from telling the economic truth that the housing market needs to bottom before it can rebound. This was a bit of hard truth Nevadans didn’t (and still don’t) want to hear since much of their prosperity was based on the excesses of the housing bubble and they are still wading through its aftermath. Despite all this the race is still a dead-heat.  Obama’s lead in the polls is much like his lead elsewhere, predicated on a Democrat turnout unlikely to be seen in 2012. Team Obama also got a boost when a the powerful culinary union backed off its threat to sit out the election and will now send its troops to support Obama although at a 20% reduced level than 2008. But the reality is, like many of the Battleground States, while are open to changing the resident in the White House Nevada is still waiting for Mitt Romney to “make the sale” and win their vote:

If there’s anywhere President Obama should be deep in a hole, it’s here in Nevada, which has been flattened by the Great Recession like few other places. The state suffers the highest unemployment rate in the country and for many months led the nation in home foreclosures and personal bankruptcies as well.  But with just over six weeks left until the election, the president holds a small but steady lead in this Western battleground.

The economy

The economy and its lackluster performance is the overriding issue this election: Countless polls and other voter surveys have made that abundantly clear. But for many there is no straight line from disappointment on that front to a vote for Romney or, conversely, any assurance that those feeling better off are ready to support Obama…The economy remains a big concern in Nevada. At 12.1%, joblessness is 4 percentage points higher than the national rate. And, while there are incipient signs of a housing recovery, with foreclosures down and even some improvement in home values, experts say it may be decades before the state’s devastated real estate market and construction industry fully mend.

Party ID dictates views

Still, more than three dozen random interviews with residents across the Reno area — the swing portion of a swing state — found that some things mattered more than dollars and cents to people weighing their votes. Party loyalty was a big factor, a thumb on the scale for Obama as aggressive organizing efforts and a feeble GOP have given Democrats a voter-registration advantage of more than 60,000 statewide. (For perspective, there were about 1 million votes cast in the presidential race in Nevada in 2008.) Democrats…praised Obama for tackling the tough situation he inherited. Republicans said Obama had been as bad, or worse, than they anticipated back in 2008…[lamenting] the “horrendous” debt that has grown dramatically under the president. For those less partisan — the independent and persuadable voters who will probably decide the election — there was less inclination to blame the president for the slow recovery and little faith that any politician, Democrat or Republican, could make a huge difference right away. So other issues came up.

Opening for Romney

[One voter] worries about the effect the president’s healthcare overhaul will have on her husband’s small construction business, which is finally picking up after several tough years. She wants to hear what Romney has to say in the debates before deciding whether to vote for the president again. Others, too, said they might back the former Massachusetts governor if they warmed up to him some and were convinced he could do a better job than Obama, especially in boosting the economy. But it’s not a given, even for those who have had it rough over the last few years.

More than the economy

The simple “are you better off” question worked brilliantly when Ronald Reagan posed it in 1980 as a campaign capper in his debate against Jimmy Carter. But even if most here were quick to say yes or no, their answers only scratched at the deeper calculations many are making as they decide how — and even whether — to vote.

Battleground State Polls: Romney +1 in Florida vs Obama +3 in Colorado, +4 in Ohio, +3 in Virginia — Purple Strategies

The latest from Purple Strategies is up and as always, tons of data for poll junkies.  We’ve blogged their last three releases and this one is a good result for Obama.  The only caveat is Purple strategies uses 12 states as their battlegrounds and 2 are pretty solidly Obama states (Minnesota and New Mexico).  So this will skew the top-line numbers a little Obama ‘s way.  Regardless, Romney-Ryan was leading in the previous survey and now they are trailing.  And the individual state breakdowns are also good news for Team Obama:

  • Obama holds a 5-point lead across the 12 Purple States (49% to 44%), reversing a 1-point lead for Romney-Ryan 1 month ago
  • President Obama now leads among independents across the 12 Purple states
  • This important sizable 5-point spread unsurprisingly mirrors his overall advantage
  • This is the first time lead for Obama among independents across the 12 Purple States in 7 months
  • Silver lining for Romney: 14% of voters say they are either undecided (6%) or open to changing their mind (8%)

Colorado (Obama +3):

  • Obama currently leads 48% to 45%, the same margin he had in the last poll
  • His vote total is down a point, as is Romney’s
  • The gender gap is smaller in this state than elsewhere. Obama leads among men by 1 point, and among women by 5 – a gap of just 4 points

Florida (Romney +1):

  • Romney holds on to a slim 48% to 47% lead in the state, which has tracked toward Obama over the last few months
  • The change is driven by independents, among whom President Obama has a 10-point margin, 52% to 42%

Ohio (Obama +4):

  • Ohio has been one of the more volatile states in our polling, with the lead changing hands almost monthly
  • Obama now leads the state 48% to 44%, despite continuing to trail among independents by 10 points
  • Obama’s strength lies in a more consolidated base, with 90% of Democrats supporting him, compared to 82% of Republicans favoring Romney

Virginia (Obama +3):

  • Virginia remains a key state for both campaigns, and has swung between the two candidates in Purple Strategies polling
  •  Today, Obama leads 46% to 43%, a reversal of Romney’s 3-point lead last month

The economy

  • 34% say the economy is getting better, 5-point improvement from August
  • Forty percent (40%) say it is getting worse (25% staying the same)

Voter perception of performance on the economy is the single greatest predictor of the vote:

  • Among those who say the economy is improving, Obama leads 94% to 4%
  • Among those who say it is getting worse, Romney leads, 86% to 8%
  • The improved (though still low) perception of the economy plays an important explanatory role in the improved performance seen for President Obama across the Purple Poll

Job Approval

  • At 47% job approval, Obama’s rating is as high as it has ever been in the PurplePoll (tied with June and April)
  • Obama continues to struggle to reach 50%, a level which would indicate stronger electoral position
  • Romney still has an opportunity to gain ground

 

What Mitt Romney Should Say

I like that Mitt Romney didn’t back away from his comments leaked from a private fundraiser, especially since it is nothing new and simply just a more relaxed candid version of what he says in his stump speeches.  But he can really run with this if he focuses the message on that persuadable middle he mentions in his remarks.  His script should go something like this:

I have a message for that middle of America getting squeezed in today’s economy.  Help is on the way.  My solutions will be for all Americans but I know plenty of people don’t want to change the status quo.  That is the strength of a democracy, we have choices.  But I want to talk to the person who has lost out in the Obama economy — the person who lived within their means during boom and bust times and pays their bills.  They bought the house they could afford and they make their mortgage payments on time.  Who is looking out for them? Their grocery bill has skyrocketed while home values sag.  They are working longer hours for no increase in pay. To fill up their car at the gas station, their costs have doubled. Their tax burden grows. Their days grow longer, their breaks grow shorter and the deficit only tax-payers can rescue gets even larger. And what about the people who have fallen in this Obama economy and want to get that new job? Where is Obama’s plan for a second term?  He offers no solutions except more of the same.  We’ve tried that and it failed.  I want to offer those people a chance at a new job –a roaring economy that puts people back to work, not on government doles the country can no longer afford. The people who want to get back to work are who I want to talk to.  A growing economy offers greater long term help to that middle part of America than any quick fix government solution that helps in the moment but gets in the way of the longer-term solution — a new job, affordable food at the grocery store, cheaper gas at the pump, stable housing prices, a brighter future and a secure legacy for our children and grandchildren.  That is the middle of America I am talking to.

This will contrast with today’s news after four years of Obama economics:

The Drumbeat of a Bad Economy

No matter how hard the media tries to “flood the zone” on any topic that will help Obama or hurt Romney, the relentlessly weak economy 4 years into the Obama Presidency continues to trump all. Two stories in major news papers today reflect this reality. First the New York Times writes on how quickly attention turns to the failing economy even after the media circus around national conventions:

Only hours after accepting his party’s nomination for a second term, President Obama found himself on the defensive over a jobs report that was weak in almost every way. The disappointing report leaves the president and his advisers with fading hopes that the economy will surge ahead before Election Day — much as it did late last year — and allow them to amplify his case that the country is on the road to recovery. And so on Friday Mr. Obama found himself making the complicated argument that the flagging recovery, while not good enough, is at least persistent enough to show that he has put the country on the right path. He has also found himself in the bleak position of having to prove to voters in the 59 days before they head to the polls that despite the sluggish economy and high unemployment, Americans would be even worse off with Mitt Romney at the helm.

For the past two years, Mr. Obama based his campaign on the argument that Democrats had reversed an economic free fall and helped put millions of people back to work. But that argument has proved harder to make with middling-or-worse jobs reports month after month. The August report shows that the unemployment rate fell only slightly, and even that drop was largely because hundreds of thousand of workers had given up looking for jobs. The bad economic news, with the August jobs report showing continued misery particularly for the less-educated and the long-term unemployed, electrified Republican pollsters and politicians eager to interpret it as yet more evidence of the failure of Mr. Obama’s economic policies. On Friday, Mr. Romney made a full-throated argument that Mr. Obama is failing as an economic steward, referring on Twitter to the Democratic National Convention as a party and the jobs report as the hangover. “There’s almost nothing the president has done in the past three and a half, four years that gives the American people confidence that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to jobs and the economy,” Mr. Romney said on his way to a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa.

And then the Wall Street Journal piles on with 2008 Obama supporter and now Romney supporter Mort Zuckerman pointing out the bad jobs results are even worse than the already bad headlines imply:

Don’t be fooled by the headline unemployment number of 8.1% announced on Friday. The reason the number dropped to 8.1% from 8.3% in July was not because more jobs were created, but because more people quit looking for work. The number for August reflects only people who have actively applied for a job in the past four weeks, either by interview or by filling an application form. But when the average period of unemployment is nearly 40 weeks, it is unrealistic to expect everyone who needs a job to keep seeking work consistently for months on end. You don’t have to be lazy to recoil from the heartbreaking futility of knocking, week after week, on closed doors.

The alarming numbers proliferate the deeper you look: 40.7% of the people counted as unemployed have been out of work for 27 weeks or more—that’s 5.2 million “long-term” unemployed. Fewer Americans are at work today than in April 2000, even though the population since then has grown by 31 million. We are still almost five million payrolls shy of where we were at the end of 2007, when the recession began. Think about that when you hear the Obama administration’s talk of an economic recovery. The key indicator of our employment health, in all the statistics, is what the government calls U-6. This is the number who have applied for work in the past six months and includes people who are involuntary part-time workers—government-speak for those individuals whose jobs have been cut back to two or three days a week.

They are working part-time only because they’ve been unable to find full-time work. This involuntary army of what’s called “underutilized labor” has been hovering for months at about 15% of the workforce. Include the eight million who have simply given up looking, and the real unemployment rate is closer to 19%.

In short, the president’s ill-designed stimulus program was a failure. For all our other national concerns, and the red herrings that typically swim in electoral waters, American voters refuse to be distracted from the No. 1 issue: the economy. And even many of those who have jobs are hurting, because annual wage increases have dropped to an average of 1.6%, the lowest in the past 30 years. Adjusting for inflation, wages are contracting.

We are experiencing, in effect, a modern-day depression. Consider two indicators: First, food stamps: More than 45 million Americans are in the program! An almost incredible record. It’s 15% of the population compared with the 7.9% participation from 1970-2000. Food-stamp enrollment has been rising at a rate of 400,000 per month over the past four years. Second, Social Security disability—another record. More than 11 million Americans are collecting federal disability checks. Half of these beneficiaries have signed on since President Obama took office more than three years ago.

Battleground Highways — The I-4 Corridor

We have blogged about the most important strip of road in Florida — the I-4 Corridor — previously as part of larger posts.  But the Daily Herald took a look specifically at this road and its role in determining the outcome of Florida’s 29 electoral votes:

The once-booming Florida economy that was battered by the recession and is now recovering at a frustratingly slow pace. Once a symbol of explosive Sunbelt development, where construction cranes seemed as common as palm trees, this haven for retirees, tourists and Northern transplants is trying to recapture its glow. But first the state has to bounce back from a housing bust and a steep plunge in population growth. Florida’s economy is center stage in President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s high-stakes campaign for the rich trove of 29 electoral votes. One of the biggest prizes still up for grabs, this state, a hard-fought White House battleground in 2000, could be just as pivotal this year. And no turf may be more important than the I-4 corridor, the heart of swing voter country, home to foreclosures and fresh starts, pain and prosperity, hope, anxiety and a frustration with politics — America in microcosm.

Stark contrasts

If the glittery, crowded empire of Mickey Mouse offers a sunny view of Florida’s recovery, a half-hour away on I-4, a cavernous warehouse provides a stark contrast. Walking past rows of floor-to-ceiling mayonnaise jars, ketchup bottles, soup cans, baby carriages, blankets and tons of other supplies, Dave Krepcho, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, doesn’t mince words: “We have a disaster going on, but it’s an economic disaster,” he says. “Month in and month out, I can’t believe the numbers.”

Food bank numbers tell a difficult tale

In the past four years, food distribution to 500 pantries, shelters, and other relief agencies in the six-county area has jumped about 60 percent. In the last year alone, that amounted to 36 million pounds of food. In a four-year period concluding at the end of 2009, the number of people served by the food bank skyrocketed from nearly 300,000 to 732,000 — and Krepcho says he hasn’t seen any decline in need since then. He estimates about 30 percent of those seeking help are first-timers. They’re blue-collar and white-collar, many middle class, even some upper middle class. They include college-educated couples and professionals. Krepcho knows their stories: The engineer who lost his job, his wife found work as a billing clerk, but they still couldn’t avoid foreclosure; the teacher who migrated to Florida for a job, only to see it disappear a year later in budget cuts.

Voter cynicism remains high

Four years ago, Barack Obama’s message of hope propelled him to the White House. Now he and Romney face the daunting challenge of selling economic remedies to voters wary of election-year promises. Both candidates have been frequent visitors to Florida and constant TV presences, pouring in tens of millions of dollars into commercials in this incredibly diverse state.

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Battleground State Polls: Romney-Ryan Ohio +3, Virginia +3, Florida +1, Colorado -3 — Purple Strategies

The latest Purple Strategies poll has plenty to chew on again.  We’ve blogged their last two polls and they consistently show a tight race with voters’ views edging slightly Romney’s way for the first time.  Today’s results include the Ryan bounce putting Romney into the lead for the first time in this poll and shaking up the volatile Battleground state polling that is a hallmark of Purple Strategies. Romney leads in Ohio +3, Virginia +3, Florida +1 and trails in Colorado -3. Highlights in this poll include:

  • Romney-Ryan lead Obama-Biden by 1 percentage point 47 to 46, up 3 from last month’s survey
  • Romney-Ryan lead with independents by 11%, up from a 5-point lead last month

Battleground state breakdowns:

  • Ohio: Super volatile Ohio now has Romney-Ryan with a 2-point lead 46 to 44
  • Previous three polls in Ohio resulted in: Obama +3 (July), Romney +3 (June), Obama +5 (April)
  • Virginia: Romney-Ryan lead by three 48 to 45, up 5 points
  • Florida: Romney-Ryan lead by one point 48 to 47, down 2 points
  • Colorado: Obama-Biden lead by three 49 to 46, up 2 points

Job approval and favorability

  • Obama’s job approval remains really bad at 43% approve versus 51% disapprove — that’s major November loss type ratings
  • State-by-state job approval (net +/-): Ohio (-10), Virginia (-10), Florida (-10), Colorado (-3)
  • Ryan is the most liked of all the candidates with a positive favorability ratio of 45 Favorable/39 Unfavorable (Independents like him 46/37)
  • Joe Biden’s favorability ratio is 41% favorable versus 48% unfavorable
  • Top of the ticket favorability shows a bump for Romney at 45/48 (or -3) up from his -8 last month; Obama favorability is 47/49 or -2

Big picture issues

  • Direction of the economy: Getting better 29%, Getting worse 44%, Staying the same 25%, Not sure 2%
  • Best plan for the economy: Romney-Ryan lead by 3 percentage points 46 to 43
  • Will bring real change to Washington: Romney-Ryan lead by 6 percentage points 46 to 40 — stealing Obama’s thunder/theme
  • Will protect medicare: Obama-Biden lead by 8 percentage points 48 to 40
  • Note: On protecting medicare, Florida has the campaigns virtually tied at 45 to 44 for Obama-Biden

Quick Hits

Haven’t done one of these in awhile so here goes:

By more than 2:1 voters prefer Romney over Obama on handling the economy

The Jewish vote in Florida is a cause for concern in the Obama camp

The Rob Portman effect in Ohio

Fracking boom in Ohio could boost Obama … that is if Obama weren’t opposed to it

Super interesting financial disclosures in US Senate races — focus on Cash on Hand portion

Romney to VFW: Defense cuts would be devastating

The high risk-high reward of a Paul Ryan Vice Presidency

 

Tackling Election Cliches

I’m reading Jonah Goldberg’s Tyranny of the Cliches where he debunks attempts by unserious thinking people who substitute cliches in place for serious analysis or argument when discussing substantive issues. The same holds true in election politics where writers and TV talking heads spout cliches to argue why a candidate will win when the slightest critical analysis of the data may say otherwise.  We see this relentlessly with Democrats citing the “coalition of the ascendent” to argue that demographic increases in Democrat voting blocks will usher in a generation of left-leaning politicians. No matter how many times this cliche is debunked, media parrots repeat this nonsense as if it is incontrovertible.

The Wall Street Journal takes-on some more typical cliches (“truisms’) in the 2012 election:

No incumbent could win an election with unemployment above 8%.

The post-World War II high on that front came when Ronald Reagan won re-election with unemployment running at 7.4%. That was a number so high that people previously would have said it made re-election unattainable—except that voters thought the economy was on the mend and were more focused  on the direction of the trend line than actual unemployment numbers. So the preconceived notion was wrong. This time the question of whether voters will re-elect Mr. Obama with unemployment in the 8% range may turn on whether or not they conclude that the economic circumstances he inherited were so exceptional that they explain and justify such an exceptionally high jobless number.

In a period of such economic ferment, the electorate is volatile.

Maybe. But the evidence shows a striking amount of stability. In many ways, not much has changed in the presidential race since Republican Mitt Romney locked down the Republican nomination this spring. In late April, the Gallup tracking poll showed Mr. Obama up 47% to 46%. Today, the Gallup tracking poll shows Mr. Obama up, 46% to 45%.

Campaign ads are aimed at undecided voters.

Yes, of course. But maybe not as much this time. As today’s Capital Journal column in the Journal notes, the share of the electorate that is truly undecided seems to be exceptionally small this year. A lot of campaign advertising seems aimed at locking down supporters–ensuring that wavering Obama voters don’t drift over to Mr. Romney, and to ensure that people who have drifted away from Mr. Obama and into the Romney camp aren’t tempted to return home.

Elections are a referendum on the incumbent.

This one probably is still true. But the Obama campaign, with its assault on Mr. Romney’s record at Bain Capital and his complex private finances, is doing a pretty effective job of making a lot of the summer debate about the challenger.

Elections are about the future.

Again, probably true. But the Obama effort turns in large measure on the past—specifically, saying to voters that the economic distress of recent years was the result of Republican policies of years gone by. At a California event Monday night, Mr. Obama asserted that the GOP wants “to go back to the same top-down economics that got us into this mess in the first place.” His fate may depend on whether he can make that argument work.

Is Nevada a Blurprint for an Obama Victory?

Harry Reid’s improbable re-election in 2010 is giving Democrats hope for a repeat in 2012 at the Presidential level. The author, John Dickerson, is very good but I seriously question his statement that “Nevada is Obama’s to lose…”  I’d like to know which ostensible “republican strategist” concurred with that whopper. Either way, Democrats hope lightening strikes twice and they can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat:

Nevada should be a state Barack Obama has no chance of winning. In an election about the state of the economy, no state has been harder hit. The unemployment rate is 11.6 percent, the highest in the nation. Sixty-one percent of the homes are worth less than the mortgage on them, also the highest in the nation. Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, but everyone there is underwater.  Still, Barack Obama has a shot in Nevada. He won Nevada by 12 points in 2008 and an average of polls right now shows the president ahead by 5 points (and perhaps more if you believe pollsters underestimate the Hispanic vote). Analysts in both parties say the state is the president’s to lose. Nevada is the most acute example of the key political dynamic in this election: The weight of a bad economy should sink the incumbent, but a combination of fortunate demographics and superior organization in the battleground states might rescue him in the end.

Broken economy

The economy in Nevada isn’t just bad, it’s broken.  At the height of the boom in 2006, construction represented 12 percent of the workforce. Since the housing bubble burst, 90,000 construction jobs have been lost. Construction workers now represent only 4 percent of the workforce. No one expects the industry to return to earlier heights. Anyone who might want to swing a hammer in another state can’t leave, because they’d lose money on their house. In the first quarter of 2012, Nevada had the No. 1 foreclosure rate in the nation. The rate of debt to house value in Nevada is 114 percent. People aren’t just hurting, they’re imprisoned.

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Obama’s Achilles Heel Getting Worse

It is not exactly new news that President Obama’s Achilles heel is the weak economy. This singularly issue, however, absent meaningful improvement will more and more determine the election outcome as November nears.  This was seen earlier today in the Purple Strategies poll where they revealed a crucial nugget for both Obama and Romney down the stretch:

The impact of voters’ perception of the economy on their presidential choice is dramatic. Among those who believe the economy is getting better, 93% support Obama, 4% favor Romney. And among those who say it is getting worse, Romney leads Obama 84% to 7%. Indeed, this question is now more predictive of vote choice than any other question we ask – including partisanship.

Unfortunately for President Obama, today was yet another day of increasingly bad economic data that portends not only a continuation of the current weak economy but very real risks to it getting worse in the coming months:

U.S. stocks fell on Monday after a steep rally in Friday’s session, as investors focused on a weak read on retail sales, the latest data to indicate slowing in the economy. Concerns about how the economy might be impacted by slowing growth and issues in Europe have pressured equities in recent weeks. Many investors remain concerned about the impact economic uncertainty will have on outlooks. Many companies have warned on profits in recent weeks. Negative to positive earnings guidance for the second quarter is 3.3 to 1, the worst since 2008, Thomson Reuters data showed.

The poor retails sales results were only the latest economic releases showing material weakness in the US economy.  Due to the accumulation of weak results, numerous economists across Wall Street lowered expectations for economic growth the quarter just completed:

  • Goldman Sachs lowered GDP expectations to 1.1% from 1.3%
  • JPMorgan to 1.4% from 1.7%
  • Barclays to  1.4% from 1.5%
  • And Macroeconomic Advisers, a favorite of the White House, now thinks the economy grew at just 1.0%

Jimmy Pethokoukis puts together all the data and importantly points out why these recent numbers are such bad news for the coming months:

As I have written previously: “Research from the Federal Reserve finds that that since 1947, when two-quarter annualized real GDP growth falls below 2%, recession follows within a year 48% of the time. And when year-over-year real GDP growth falls below 2%, recession follows within a year 70% of the time.”

When you tie the first point regarding voter perceptions on the economy determining likely voter preference with the closing point of across the board expectations for a slowing economy, President Barack Obama’s Achilles heel may grow into his fatal flaw.

Obama +1 in Florida

A new Mason-Dixon poll shows the race in Florida is basically a dead-heat with Obama at 46% and Romney at 45%.  The President’s approval remains under-water and Romney’s wealth is a net-positive according to the poll. Interestingly in the poll, adding Marco Rubio to the ticket reverses the position of the two candidates:

In our exclusive Florida Decides Poll, Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are in a virtual dead heat in Florida, with Obama getting 46 percent of the vote and Romney getting 45 percent. Another 2 percent say they plan to vote for libertarian Gary Johnson and 7 percent remain undecided at this time. Obama is currently struggling with overall job approval. Half of the people polled say they disapprove of the job he’s doing: 50 percent to 46 percent who approve. The president even finds disapproval in his own party, with 15 percent of Florida Democrats saying they disapprove of Obama’s job the past four years.

Fifty-four percent also say the country is on the wrong track, including nearly a quarter of Democratic voters, and many believe the man who ran on a campaign for change, isn’t changing things for the better. The economy has been the issue top of mind for the majority of Americans, but 41 percent of Floridians say Obama’s actions to stabilize the economy have only made it worse. Only 35 percent say his efforts have improved the economic situation and 22 percent say it’s had no effect at all.

It may be the economy where Mitt Romney’s background could serve the presumed Republican candidate well among Florida voters. While 39 percent of people say the man with a personal wealth of about $240 million is out of touch with the average American, 46 percent say that financial success can serve as an inspiration to other people.

The party ID is curious in that they used party registration which is harder to compare to prior elections.  In the poll party registration was D +3 (D: 43, R: 40, I: 17).  In 2004 Party ID was R +4 and in 2008 it was D +3.

Iowa Evangelicals on Board with Romney

As if her 1300+ words in USA Today wasn’t enough, Jennifer Jacobs filed another 1100+ words on the evangelical vote and Romney’s appeal to this most-important voter bloc in Iowa. Included in this great piece is a nugget where of 12 evangelicals who viewed Romney “very unfavorable” in February, 11 are now voting for him.  Such is the unpopularity of Obama:

Romney’s strength in the 2012 Iowa caucuses was with economic voters, especially those in the Des Moines suburbs. But the same evangelical conservatives who sidestepped Romney twice in the Iowa caucuses could be his best friends in the
general election.

Local surrogate importance of Rep. Steve King

As the general election approaches, Romney is running as strongly as conservative icon U.S. Rep. Steve King with voters in Iowa’s GOP-dominant western coast, according to internal polling obtained by The Des Moines Register. That’s a good sign for Romney — there’s no such thing as a King/Obama voter. If Iowa’s evangelicals put a GOP presidential candidate over the top, it wouldn’t be the first time. Everyone — including the Register’s Iowa Poll — thought Democrat John Kerry would win Iowa in 2004. But a larger than expected evangelical voter turnout in the western part of the state secured the Iowa trophy for George W. Bush.  The guy with the spatula who flipped Iowa for Bush that year? King, said Chuck Laudner, the congressman’s former district director.

Repeat of 2004 or maybe not

Romney isn’t repeating Karl Rove’s 2004 appeal-to-the-base strategy in Iowa, his campaign strategists say. The Rove-directed George W. Bush re-election campaign targeted mainly northwest Iowa and a ring of Des Moines suburbs. Romney’s campaign intends to hold those coalitions in place, while pursuing voters in purple counties in eastern Iowa, southeast Iowa and central Iowa. President Barack Obama’s perceived liberal agenda alone is a bloody shirt that revs up the right, so Romney can invest his dollars in reeling in independents and conservative Democrats, numbers that could put him over the top in what is expected to be a close race here. And his message will focus on the economy, an issue that plays to his background as a businessman and the emotions of listeners pummeled by the recession and its aftermath.

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Obama’s Economic Recovery is Always Right Around the Corner

Reason.com itemizes an incredible list of “Once-a-month quotes from the Obama administration and the media about how the economy will be booming any minute now.” Be sure to read all 42 of them which include each month’s rate of U-3 unemployment and labor force non-participation:

  • January 10, 2009: Council of Economic Advisers Chair-designate Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, economic advisor to Vice President-Elect Joe Biden: “As Figure 1 shows, even with the large prototypical (stimulus) package, the unemployment rate in 2010Q4 is predicted to be approximately 7.0%, which is well below the approximately 8.8% that would result in the absence of a plan.” (Unemployment 7.8 percent, labor force non-participation 34.3 percent)
  • February 25, 2009: Vice President Joe Biden: “We have an opportunity to get the nation back to work and back on its feet….And we have to do it right.” (8.3 percent, 34.3 percent)
  • March 15, 2009: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke: “We’ll see the recession coming to an end probably this year.” (8.7 percent, 34.4 percent)
  • April 14, 2009: President Barack Obama: “[W]e are beginning to see glimmers of hope.” (8.9 percent, 34.4 percent)
  • May 18, 2009: CNNMoney: “Job recovery may be on the way.” (9.4 percent, 34.3 percent)
  • June 9, 2009: NewGeography.com: “There are plenty of reasons that Krugman and others are seeing encouraging signs in the economy.” (9.5 percent, 34.3 percent)
  • July 14, 2009: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner: “The force of the global recession is now receding.” (9.5 percent, 34.5 percent)
  • August 4, 2009: Boston Globe: “Vice President Joe Biden, put in charge of keeping waste and fraud out of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, declared today ‘without reservation‘ that the recovery plan is working.” (9.6 percent, 34.6 percent)
  • September 24, 2009: CNN: “Biden on the Recovery Act: ‘If It Fails, I’m Dead‘” (9.8 percent, 34.9 percent)
  • October 31, 2009: President Barack Obama: “I am pleased to offer some better news that—while not cause for celebration—is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.” (10 percent, 34.9 percent)
  • November 13, 2009: Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner: “We are seeing growth resume in the United States.” (9.9 percent, 35 percent)
  • December 13, 2009: Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council: “Today, everybody agrees that the recession is over, and the question is what the pace of the expansion is going to be.” (9.9 percent, 35.4 percent)
  • January 27, 2010: President Barack Obama: “And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again.” (9.7 percent, 35.2 percent)
  • February 1, 2010: Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag: “We just came through a year in which a second Great Depression was averted.” (9.8 percent, 35.1 percent)
  • March 15, 2010: John Cassidy, The New Yorker: “Economists are still debating what it was that ended the financial crisis and turned the economy around. It is inarguable, though, that Geithner’s stabilization plan has proved more effective than many observers expected.” (9.8 percent, 35.1 percent)
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Scenes From the Bus Tour: Pennsylvania

Erin McPike at real Clear Politics follows the bus to Pennsylvania noting the upbeat nature of Romney’s criticism of Obama.

The smiling assassin:

Mitt Romney slapped a smile on his face and struck a positive note as his campaign bus started rolling through the Rust Belt on Saturday morning. In his trademark way of trying to convince listeners that he’s right, Romney said toward the end of his speech at the Weatherly Casting & Machine Co. here, “You can probably tell just by the smile on my face that I’m optimistic about the future.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee has a way of making his strategy obvious, and he did so again Saturday morning, making clear that a fix-it team is waiting in the wings to get the economy humming once more. To that end, he several times referred to dreamers and the importance of success in lifting up the country.

Verbal flub parried into a jab:

In teeing up an oft-repeated line about candidate Obama telling the “Today” show he needed three years to fix the economy or his presidency would be a “one-term proposition,” Romney said of his opponent, “Upon becoming governor — excuse me, president — last time . . .” Romney then cut himself off and noted, “Governor might be a better job for him to have started with.” To cheers and applause, he stuck with the theme: “I say that because I think you actually learn from experience. I think it helps to have been in business before you actually start to run something in government. And then after you’ve done something in government it helps perhaps to start at a lower level before you become president.”

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Colorado Has Lost That Rocky Mountain High … for Obama

The National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar writes about the voters who will decide the election in Colorado and the results are really bad for the President:

Veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart conducted a focus group featuring 12 undecided, ticket-splitting voters in Colorado. Ten of the participants voted for Obama in 2008; only three of them said they leaned towards re-electing him in 2012.   In an initial survey taking leaners into account, Mitt Romney led Obama 5-3, with four completely undecided.

Not fans of Obama any longer:

Listening to the feedback from the group, it was striking how many of them have grown disillusioned from their own expectations set by Obama’s soaring rhetoric from 2008, and the less-inspiring reality that transpired. After being shown footage of a campaign speech by Obama, the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn’t match his actions.

Most believed the economy was slowly improving, but not at a fast enough pace for them to justify supporting him again.  And several expressed concern that the economy could again head into a freefall, opinions shaped by the pessimistic economic reports in recent weeks.

Almost unanimously, the participants said they’d prefer to hang out with Obama over Romney, but no one said that would shape their vote in November. It’s a sign that even if Obama holds a significant edge on personal likability, it’s unlikely to translate into many votes if they view his job performance unfavorably.

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Five Myths About Battleground States

Despite my focus on Battleground states (and demographics admittedly), the Battlegrounds states are not in and of themselves the entire story of this election.  This is especially true because of the campaign Mitt Romney is running (and oddly enough Barack Obama ran in 2008). Mitt today, and Barack then, ran broadly-themed, over-arching national campaigns with a unifying theme.  I subscribe to that approach no matter the circumstances in every Presidential campaign. While I can hazard a smart guess, I cannot fully understand why the Obama campaign is running such a divisive, negative campaign that seemingly focuses on “small ball” rather than rallying the country like they did so well four years ago. But no matter, I would rather not see a repeat of the last four years so by all means Barack, continue turning off your base with themes that don’t sell even to your own party.

As for the five myths outlined in the enjoyable piece by Jonathan Bernstein, I don’t agree with everything in this list, but there are plenty of important points for anyone watching the election that will be decided by such a narrow swath of states:

1. Swing-state polls are the key to predicting the winner.

In fact, the opposite is true…if the Republican candidate does a little better overall, then he’s going to do a little better in close states such as Ohio and Nevada, too. Any candidate who wins the popular vote by at least 3 percentage points is certain to win the electoral college, and any candidate who wins the popular vote by as much as a full percentage point is overwhelmingly likely to win the electoral college.

2. A vice presidential candidate should appeal to key groups in swing states.

The National Journal’s latest Veepstakes rankings, for example, say that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty makes sense as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney because “in an election that could be decided by Rustbelt battlegrounds, it couldn’t hurt to have a guy capable of matching VP Biden’s blue-collar appeal.” And supposedly, Joe Biden was picked to help Obama with white working-class voters in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The problem is that there’s no evidence that vice presidential candidates have that kind of impact. A popular running mate might help by a couple of points in his or her home state…But home-state popularity isn’t transferable. So whatever folks in Duluth or St. Paul might think of Pawlenty, he might not appeal to voters in Dayton.

3. Ignore the national economy, and focus on swing-state economies.

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Romney +1 in Iowa

Rasmussen has an updated poll to what is thus far a dead heat in Iowa:

A new telephone survey of Likely Iowa Voters shows Romney earning 47% support to Obama’s 46%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

Concerning for the Obama campaign is the 10 point advantage Romney has on who can best manage the economy.  That should play well with the 7% Undecided/Other candidate voters.

Iowa is a funny state but one that Republicans had been competitive in before Obama carried the state by 10 points in 2008.  It’s a pure toss-up right now and both campaigns appear to be spending equally in the state.  We’ll see how Romney’s bus tour plays in the Hawkeye State next week.

Quick Hits

President Obama, Mitt Romney and other federal candidates can immediately start collecting contributions through text messaging services.

A new initiative called “I Vote Israel” is encouraging Americans living in Israel (Jews and non-Jews) to register and vote absentee.

Obama heads to Michigan this week — events are planned statewide through Friday.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner disagrees with Obama, says private sector not doing fine.

Obama tells Wisconsin TV station he was too busy to march with unions in the Wisconsin recall — no follow-up question about the 6 fundraisers next door.

Speaking of Wisconsin, apparently it was a win for Democrats according to DNC Chairman Howard Dean…no, really.

Obama to take another stab at the state of the economy in a speech Thursday in Cleveland, OH — that should be fun.

The Battle for Nevada

Nevada is one of the countries truest swing states with disaffected Californian’s moving in which helps Republicans while an increasing immigrant population helps Democrats.  Despite all the “demography is destiny” talk voters here express great concern over the economic woes that will likely determine the outcome in the Fall. The Associated Press breaks down the state of the Presidential race today:

Nevada is a true swing-voting state. It chose Clinton in 1992 and 1996, before swinging Republican in 2000 and 2004 for George W. Bush. It backed Obama in 2008. And if history is any guide, it could again choose the eventual White House victor, as it has every four years since 1980. The president is fighting against Nevada’s dismal economy while Romney faces a better-organized and better-funded state Democratic Party machine with a victorious track record. Those factors are leveling the playing field here, and Obama and Romney head into the summer seemingly locked in a close race in a state that both sides expect will be fiercely contested — and a true toss-up — throughout the fall.

It’s been largely a one-man show thus far:

At least $5.6 million in TV ads has been spent in the state, with Obama and his Democratic allies spending roughly $1.2 million more than Republican outside groups. Romney, himself, has yet to go on the air [Caveat not in the piece: Romney announced over the weekend a $113k ad buy in Nevada for this week in Las Vegas and Reno] …While Romney has yet to run any general election ads in Nevada, several outside groups are on the air and providing cover for him.

Who will decide the outcome:

Nevada’s outcome is all but certain to come down to a huge swath of independent and undecided voters here, many of whom say they’ll choose the candidate with the right economic prescriptions.perhaps more than in any other state, the race is shaped by the economy.

Challenges for Obama and his effort so far:

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