Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can Anyone Cruise?...Is Obama’s Reelection Inevitable?

The Current Media Meme is Pure Nonsense

Just before the Republican National Convention a mainstream media (MSM) narrative began to take shape.  The false meme stated that Obama had the momentum and the necessary support to easily win reelection.  Soon another feature was added to the construct, i.e. Obama’s reelection was inevitable.  Too often this narrative was supported by selective polling data that underpinned the stories and ‘made’ them true.  The stories said Obama was inevitable because Romney was dangerous, cared only for the rich, could not empathize with ordinary people, wasn’t likeable, lacked needed experience, intelligence and even the temperament to be the president.  And good grief, he selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, thus the conclusion became obvious…Q,E.D.  The result of this tragedy (not just a mistake, but a catastrophe, a tragedy), if Romney were to be elected, it would mean no healthcare, no Medicare, no abortions and an extremist supreme court.  This construct was not just reported but pushed by CBS, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times et al.   

This meme aside, can any candidate cruise?...Can Obama?...Can Romney?  Is Obama’s reelection inevitable?  Let’s take a moment and assess some of the issues.  President Obama has important advantages.  He is the incumbent and Americans resist retiring an incumbent without strong reasons.  Obama has the ‘bully pulpit’ and is very willing to use its power and reach.  Further, Obama and his advisers have very few reservations about spinning, dissembling and outright dishonesty in their efforts to gain victory.  And most notably he has a blatantly fawning, biased and collusive MSM championing his reelection.  Nevertheless, Obama faces numerous challenges:
  • An 8.1% unemployment rate, the exit of 368,000 job seekers from the marketplace, and a miniscule addition of 96.000 jobholders during the past month.  America has 12.5 million people unemployed, 23.1 million under or unemployed, and the lowest labor participation rate in 30 years at 63.5%…a terrible and intractable situation. (source-USBLS)
  • An economy that is growing at a rate of 1.7% as measured by GDP.  Many economists are expecting even slower growth (1.0 to 1.5%) or a contraction (0 to -1.2%) in the immediate future.  Both the consumer and small businessman lack the confidence to spend and/or invest.  Both are being further constrained by record high fuel costs…in essence a growing regressive ‘tax’.  Finally, yearly deficits exceeding $1.2 trillion are now usual and a National debt exceeding $16 trillion continues to grow (US Commerce Dept.). 
  • An overwhelming number of likely voter (LV) polls show his approval ratings at 45-46%.  An approval rating below 50% on Election Day has historically meant that 80% of the undecided vote will go to the challenger...usually resulting in the incumbent’s defeat.
  • Many women are no longer supporting him.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll shows a decline in female support from 57% to 47%. as do others polls with similar results.  Rasmussen, Gallup, Reuters and other polls also show erosion in support among Hispanics, seniors and blacks…small reductions in each voting bloc translates into millions of votes.
  • The uncertainty of how 2.7 million workforce dropouts (in 2012) will vote, and how the 8.3 million job seekers who quit looking since Jan. 2009 will vote.  The legal impact of sequestration also looms since by law defense employers must notify workers if they are in danger of layoff.  Massive reductions in the defense budget could trigger up to 2 million layoff notices just before the election.
  • A small (very small) list of liberal columnists and journalists are becoming increasingly disenchanted and may be dampening already low Democrat enthusiasm by voicing their concerns.  For example, Maureen Dowd has sarcastically stated her displeasure in the pages of The New York Times, “Playing Now: Hail to Us Chiefs”.  (This is a must read article…it’s a hoot).
Mitt Romney does not have any special advantages due to office, yet he has an unusual opportunity.  Since WWII, the economy has never been so crippled.  Obama was handed a major economic problem, but his recovery efforts/plan have further debilitated the economy for a multitude of reasons.  In addition, Obama’s lack of a coherent energy plan has seen fuel prices skyrocket and the recent violence in the Middle-East has presented yet another focal point.  Still Romney faces a number of daunting issues that encompass:
  • The need to talk convincingly about both the economy and ideology…the tenets of being a Republican/conservative i.e. limited government, low taxes, personal responsibility, the rule of law etc. must be presented.  Americans self-define as conservative/moderate and represent a majority of more than 2 to 1 over those that say they are liberal/progressive. 
  •  Placing more emphasis on the economy, unemployment, debt, deficits and entitlements using an expanded plan.  More specificity is required; his 5 point plan is a start, yet to dislodge Obama he must broaden the plan and discuss direct economic fixes in greater detail.
  • Talking about the consequences and negative effects of Obamacare, the $831 billion Stimulus Plan, and the Dodd-Frank legislation.  He must also continuously decode for the voters Obama’s word usage such as ‘investment’ and a ‘balanced plan'.
  • Maintaining his base voter’s enthusiasm, a major current advantage.  Then develop effective methods to reduce supporter concerns, even panic in the face of media attacks… model ways to tactically diminish MSM collusive and relentless bias. 
  • Leveraging his increasing support with women, Hispanics/Latinos, seniors and the Jewish community.
  • Holding his own in the debates to offset the narrative he can expect from the MSM after the debates.
  • Insuring his surrogates understand polling (it’s weaknesses) and the differences in accuracy from one poll type to another.
Given the above no candidate can cruise…since this election is still within an eyelash.  The MSM story line of momentum and inevitability has been supported by selectively cited polls.  Of late, Gallup’s daily job approval poll is often cited.  The Gallup poll is an ‘All’ (A) voter poll.  All polls are based on questioning adults including aliens, felons and many who are not registered to vote.  One half or more of those surveyed will not vote.  More to the issue, of the half that can’t or won’t vote, 75% would have voted democrat (based on many studies).  All (A) polls favor the democrat by 7-9%.  Registered voter (RV) polls favor Democrats by 2-4%.  RV polls query voters who are registered to vote.  The difference between those questioned and those voting is material.  Historically, only 70-75% of those registered actually vote and 66% of those not voting would have voted democrat.  The bottom line is that likely voter (LV) polls are worth considering and then only carefully.  Polling organizations expend significant additional effort and money to produce LV data.  However, if a realistic turnout model is not used LV polls will be inaccurate. Currently many LV polls are based on 2008 turnout models and are inaccurate. Also note that famous does not=accurate…e.g. Gallup is famous yet has had a somewhat checkered record in recent elections.  

The use of polls can mislead due to consolidation of data or the use of averaging.  Real Clear Politics (RCP) average polls are frequently mentioned since updates occur daily with new data.  The RCP polls have two major downsides.  First A, RV and LV polls are averaged together.  Using RCP’s general election poll of September 9th the average result (of RV & LV polls) equaled 48.0% Obama, and 46.0% Romney.  Adjusting the RV polls to correct for the Democrat bias changes the RCP outcome to 46.5% Obama and 46.0% Romney, a significant variance.  Recent CNN polls are ‘combination’ polls meaning partly A, RV, and LV based on the question asked and thus are very difficult to decipher.  

In view of the forgoing, an objective observer can only deduce that neither candidate…Obama or Romney can “cruise” and that Barack Obama’s inevitable victory is a fairy tale construct of the MSM…so stay tuned…either man can prevail.