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Posts Tagged ‘Election 2012’


Election Pre-Mortem

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Obviously, Romney is going to win handily tomorrow. The question is why? More specifically, how did I get it so wrong:

If Republicans lose the independent vote 58% to 42%, they will lose. And that’s not even considering the fact that Mihos in fact took 7% of the vote for himself. I think we could expect similar results if Gingrich goes rogue and runs third party.

So I hope you’re a bit more informed about Mitt Romney’s electability now. Nominating Mitt Romney will, I believe, lead to a massive loss in November. My hope is that is doesn’t have an effect down ticket.

More or less, Obama ran the entirely wrong race in all the wrong ways.

Back in 2004, when Bush beat Kerry, I was in a car with some liberal friends who asked me what I thought of the election. I told them that I thought Howard Dean would have had a better chance of beating Bush, a thought which intrigued them. They asked me to elaborate, which I did. I told them that in an election between someone who believes in something, and someone who believes in nothing or whom at least appears to believe in nothing, the something will win every time. I told them that Bush was a poor President who was very beatable. But Kerry, rightly or wrongly, came across as a guy who believed in nothing. And as a result he was seen as unfit to lead, and so voters stuck with what they knew, despite their reservations about the current President.

Given the poor state of the economy and the generally poor performance of Obama as President, the best he could have hoped for was a scenario similar to 2004, in which the challenger is deemed unacceptable for some reason. In some sense, the Obama camp knew this, which is why they went so negative so early in the campaign. But the way in which they did it was completely idiotic, to put it mildly.

Evidently, the Obama camp lives inside its own echo chamber. Instead of going after Romney as a man who changes his views on a whim, who apparently believes in nothing, an accurate and potent criticism of the man, they decided to try to portray him as a right wing extremist.

Because the Republicans spent the entire primary season wringing their hands over Romney because they were concerned about nominating someone too right wing.

Romney was the quintessential politician who believed in nothing, who ought to have been beaten by anybody who believes in something. Instead he was portrayed by the Obama camp as someone who believed in something, just something different from Obama.

This blunder more or less handed the election to Romney. But that was only the beginning.

It would seem as if the Obama team really spent the election shitting its pants over the Tea Party. In case you were unaware the Tea Party is more or less un by middle aged middle class women. This marks a very dangerous fissure in the Democratic coalition. If middle class women peel away as a reliable source of votes, the Democrats are in trouble. So they spent their entire convention screaming about birth control and abortion. It was absurd and certainly didn’t convince anyone of anything. More importantly, it squandered another opportunity to show how Romney is a guy who believes in nothing.

Finally, for reasons that puzzle me, they failed to go after the Mormon angle in the way I assumed they would, namely by pointing out that Romney proselytized what was then a racist religion for two years. Obama surrogate Andrew Sullivan has only just mow started asking those questions, way too late.

So say hello to President Romney. I don’t hold out much hope that he’ll be any good as president. But he certainly can’t be as bad as Obama has been.

UPDATE: So obviously, I shouldn’t have written this, and should have just stuck with my original prediction. I certainly appears that Obama simply had a better ground game in the battleground states, and got turnout that was at or near 2008 levels, something that I wasn’t considering could seriously take place. Now we all have to brace ourselves, for the implementation of Obamacare and the debasement of the currency. It’s gonna get ugly.

UPDATE 2: Ira Stoll mirrors my thoughts.


A Repeat of 2006 – Mitt Romney is NOT Electable

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Mitt Romney has been running on the idea that he is “electable”. The idea is that he’s so clean cut and well spoken that he was able to win the governorship in one of the most liberal states in the country. And while his narrative has taken a bruising lately, it still holds because he’s claiming to just be more electable than the other candidates. This is utter nonsense, and the notion needs to be dispelled.

Mitt Romney is in fact the least electable candidate in the race. His past performance in Massachusetts indicates as much. The only thing required to understand this is a touch of knowledge about Massachusetts political history.

When Mike Dukakis left government after attempting to run for President, he left state government in shambles. He lied about having balanced the budget, and the people of Massachusetts were fed up with him and the Democrats. Into this environment, the people of Massachusetts elected Republican Bill Weld as governor, and gave him enough of a minority in the legislature so as to be able to sustain a veto. That was in 1990. Bill Weld was re-elected in 1994, and grew bored with being governor, and resigned in 1997, leaving the office to his Lt. Governor Paul Cellucci. Cellucci was a real local (locals would call his sort a “townie”), who ran up an extraordinary amount of personal credit card debt, calling into his question his ability to be a good manager. Nevertheless, he managed to get elected to the governorship in his own right in 1998. Cellucci resigned in 2001 to become the US ambassador to Canada, leaving the office to Jane Swift, who gave birth to twins while serving as acting governor, and chose not to run for the office herself.

It was into this string of Republican wins that Mitt Romney threw his hat into the ring. In other words, he was the third Republican governor in 12 years of continuous Republican governors in the state. So his win was not nearly as impressive as he made it sound. Massachusetts had Republican governors for 12 years running before he showed up. So they were used to it.

But really, he provided no reason for people to vote for him in 2002. He ran a similar campaign to what he’s running now, that he’s a good manager who can help fix problems. The real reason why he won was because his opponent, Shannon O’Brien imploded after likening teenage abortions to getting a tattoo, and then tried to make light of it by offering to show her tattoos on the campaign trail. In light of such rank idiocy, Massachusetts opted for Romney.

I’m going to skip over how he governed, except to point out that Romney made a real effort to get Republicans elected to the state legislature, and his effort was a complete and utter failure. Republicans lost seats while he was governor.

After being governor for four years, Romney could see the writing on the wall. he would lose re-election. And so he made the preposterous argument that he’d accomplished everything he’d wanted to accomplish as governor and that as a result he was going to go. And he set up his Lt. Governor to be the next Republican nominee, a woman named Kerry Healey.

Now Kerry Healey was someone few had heard of prior to Romney picking her to be his Lt. Governor. She’d never held political office before, but she’d had a good showing in some race or another before Romney tapped her. She held a PhD in criminology and married a centimillionaire. She was a caricature of herself and of a pearl wearing country club Republican. In fact, she was such a caricature that she was donned the nickname “Muffy”, not from her adversaries, but from the state’s premier right-of-center columnist, Howie Carr.

But that is not all, oh no that is not all. See Muffy had what would have been a primary challenger, a man by the name of Christie Mihos. Mihos was a self made businessman in Massachusetts, having started a chain of convenience stores from scratch. And he had been active in Republican politics for some time. He deserved a spot on the primary ballot. but Romney’s henchmen played games with the Massachusetts State Republican convention, refusing to let Mihos’ supporters in. As a result, he didn’t get the requisite 15% of the vote required to get on the ballot. In response, Mihos went apoplectic.

But before we get to Mihos’ response, let us recall that much the same thing has been happening in this current race. Romney’s cronies got the FLorida primary moved up in contravention of Republican Party rules, as a firewall of sorts to stop any possible challengers. And they are rumored to have had a hand in keeping Perry and Gingrich off the ballot in Virginia.

When you win a primary legitimately, opposing candidates tend to get in line and endorse you. But when you win by dirty tricks, you engender permanent opposition. Which brings us to Christie Mihos’ justified jihad against Mitt Romney.

Mihos ran an independent candidacy, running exclusively against Muffy, ignoring the Democrat in the race (whom we’ll get back to). Mihos ran what has to be one of the most outrageous ad campaigns in the history of televised politics. His ad literally depicted Beacon Hill politicians sticking their heads up their own asses, in cartoon form. And not just generic representations of politicians, literally, Mitt Romney and Muffy. See for yourself:

I shudder to think what newt Gingrich is going to do to this man in the general election once he has nothing left to lose.

So back to our story. Muffy’s real opponent in the general election was a man named Deval Patrick. He was a well spoken black lawyer, who had served on some major corporate boards and has been in Clinton’s justice department for a period of time. He ran on a theme of “Yes We Can!” If that sounds familiar, it should. His campaign manager was David Axelrod and the campaign he ran for Deval Patrick was a dry run for the one he would eventually run for Barack Obama. Which is to say, 2012 will not be the first time that the Romney and Obama teams will have faced off. They faced off in 2006, and the result was NOT pretty.

The key to understanding Massachusetts politics is to know how much of the vote is really up for grabs in any election. In Massachusetts, 30% of the voters will vote for the Republican candidate no matter what, and 40% for the Democrat. This leaves 30% up for grabs, the independent vote so to speak. While at first glance it doesn’t seem like that big of a difference, if you do the math you will see that a Republican needs to win 2/3 of the independent vote to win an election. This is what Scott Brown did. So that fact that Muffy lost and Deval won shouldn’t be a serious concern, at least if the independent vote was reasonably split.

But it wasn’t.

Here’s how the vote broke down:

  • Muffy: 779,807 35%
  • Mihos: 161,012 7%
  • Patrick: 1,230,065 56%
  • Green: 43,032 2%

Let’s translate this. Assume that Mihos’ votes were really republican votes, and the Green Party’s votes were Democrats and run the percentages. We get:

  • Muffy/Mihos: 42.5%
  • Patrick/Green: 57.5%

And to get the independent vote breakdown, we subtract 30% from the right and 40% from the left:

  • Independents voting right: 12.5%
  • Independents voting left: 17.5%

Or put differently, the independent voters split as follows:

  • Independents voting right: 41.6%
  • Independents voting left: 58.3%

If Republicans lose the independent vote 58% to 42%, they will lose. And that’s not even considering the fact that Mihos in fact took 7% of the vote for himself. I think we could expect similar results if Gingrich goes rogue and runs third party.

So I hope you’re a bit more informed about Mitt Romney’s electability now. Nominating Mitt Romney will, I believe, lead to a massive loss in November. My hope is that is doesn’t have an effect down ticket.


Interpreting the Polls

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

So a new poll came out on the Republican primary in New Hampshire. Talk radio has been pumping it all morning. And the results were positioned as shocking.

Before we even get to the results of the poll, what I find shocking is that seemingly everywhere I went to read the results of teh poll, nobody has printed a simple chart or list of the poll results. Instead, we’re left to scour through the paragraphs to attempt to piece together for ourselves what the poll is saying. Moreover, nobody seems to want to link to the actual poll results. Not even Channel 7, who commissioned the poll. So I’m going to return the favor and not link to them either. Instead, let’s summarize the main poll findings, and link to the poll source first:

Mitt Romney 41%
Ron Paul 14%
Undecided 11%
Rick Perry 8%
Sarah Palin 6%
Michelle Bachman 5%
Newt Gingrich 4%
Rick Santorum 1%
Herman Cain 1%
Buddy Roemer 1%
Every Other Candidate 0%

I bolded the part of the poll that is supposed to be newsworthy. Namely, Mitt Romney would appear to be running away with the race in New Hampshire and Rick Perry is behind such nobodies as Ron Paul, John Huntsman, and Undecided. Now let’s dig into the numbers to see what they really mean.

First thing to note is that this poll is of likely voters in the upcoming New Hampshire primary. Also worth noting is that new Hampshire allows same day registration, and does not require one to have been a member of a political party for any length of time to vote in that party’s primary. This means that barring a primary challenger to President Obama, a large number of Democrat voters will show up to the polls to vote in the Republican primary. We’ll discuss their motivations in a bit, but suffice it to say, the motivations of a Republican primary voter who has no intention of voting Republican in the general election will be quite a bit different from those of a Republican primary voter who will likely vote for the Republican nominee in November.

So let’s take a look at the next important question asked in the poll: “If your first choice for the Republican Presidential nominee dropped out of the race, who would you vote for instead (READ LIST), for whom will you vote or toward whom would you LEAN at this time?”

Undecided 27%
Mitt Romney 21%
Rick Perry 20%
Ron Paul 9%
Michelle Bachman 6%
Newt Gingrich 5%
John Huntsman 5%
Rick Santorum 3%
Rick Santorum 3%
Sarah Palin 2%
Gary Johnson 1%
Every Other Candidate 0%

So when we look at the 2nd choice for voters, Rick Perry jumps up into a virtual heat with Romney, and surprisingly, Undecided becomes the top choice. Perry’s jump to a dead heat in 2nd choice picks mirrors a belief I’ve had about Perry, namely that he’s everybody’s second choice. If you’re a libertarian Republican, Rick perry makes for a decent second choice after Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. And if you’re a religious Republican, he’s a decent second choice behind a Michelle Bachmann or a Rick Santorum. Really, if you support anybody other than Romney or maybe Huntsman, Perry comes across as a good second choice.

So what’s going on in New Hampshire? Well, many voters feel like they don’t have to compromise, that they can afford to hold out to vote for their candidate, even if he seems to have no chance of winning, because it’s so early in the race that anything can happen, and that their vote in effect makes a statement to the rest of the electorate about the candidates. There is some truth to this, but I suspect that as election day looms near, that many of those Santorum, Bachmann, Paul, and Cain voters will start to ask themselves, “Do I want Mitt Romney to be my nominee, or would I rather have Rick Perry?” Among self-described conservatives, Perry gets 25% of the second choice vote, as opposed to 16% for Romney. This makes sense. As a result, I would expect the race to close in tighter as we get closer to election day.

The second thing to take note of is the makeup of the electorate in New Hampshire. Consider the following numbers taken from the poll:

  • Q34: Would you describe yourself as conservative, moderate or liberal?

    Conservative 49%
    Moderate 42%
    Liberal 7%
    Undecided 3%

  • Q33: Are your values similar to the values of the Tea Party:?

    Yes 48%
    No 40%
    Undecided 12%

  • Q31: Do you think that the near-universal health care bill passed by Democrats last year should be repealed, modified or left alone?

    Repealed 55%
    Modified 30%
    Left Alone 11%
    Undecided 4%

  • Q30: Do you agree or disagree that raising taxes should be an option for helping to reduce the national debt?

    Disagree 57%
    Agree 38%
    Undecided 5%

As you can see from reading the above questions, there is a non-trivial portion of the New Hampshire electorate, which intends to vote in the Republican primary, which is very much out of step with how the candidates themselves would govern. Not one candidate to my knowledge believes that raising taxes should be under consideration to reduce the national debt, yet 38% of likely voters believe it should be. Not one candidate believes that Obamacare should be left alone, yet 11% believe it should be. And a full 7% of the electorate out and out describes themselves as liberal.

Thankfully, due to the cross tab analysis provided by Suffolk University, we can see how these people said they would vote. Only 28/400 or 6.75% of respondents self-identified as liberal, while 167.400 or 41.75% identified as moderate. But moderates have leanings of their own. But how to judge them? I decided to use question 31 as the litmus test. Anyone who identifies as a moderate but says that Obamacare should not be repealed is in fact a liberal. Let’s see how this plays out:

Q31: Do you think that the near-universal health care bill passed by Democrats last year should be repealed, modified or left alone?

Answer Romney Paul Huntsman Perry Palin Bachmann Gingrich Undecided Total
Repealed 107 24 7 30 13 12 8 14 220
Modified 45 26 16 3 5 4 4 16 120
Left Alone 8 6 15 0 1 0 0 9 43
Undecided 4 0 2 0 4 2 2 3 14

The first thing to note is how different John Huntsman’s numbers are from everyone else’s. In case anybody had any doubt from the laudatory media coverage has received, John Huntsman is the first choice among liberals in this race. I also expected to find Romney getting the lion’s share of the “modify” voters. However as a percentage of his voters, Romney’s “modify” percentages are not significantly higher than most of the other candidates excluding Perry.

What to conclude here? I expected to find some evidence that Romney’s voters were more moderate or liberal than the other candidates, but we don’t see that. The two candidates who are attracting the liberal vote right now are Huntsman and to a lesser degree Paul. However, Perry’s strength is understated, and there does appear to be some likelihood that he will generate a stronger showing than he shows now, as voters begin to abandon their second tier candidates and gravitate towards the non-Romney in the race.

There is a risk, of course, of non-Republican voters turning out to vote for Romney, not as a spoiler, but because they believe that the Republican nominee will likely get elected, and that they would prefer Romney to Perry. But if that theory is true, I have yet to see it in the data.

I’d be interested in what others see in the data.