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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

The Reality Show of Voting: You And Your 129 Close Relatives

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Assimilation, Immigration on November 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

 

 

Your 129 close relatives decided your vote.  No, it’s not a strange Univision reality TV show, though there sure are many of those.  It was the 2012 US Presidential Election.You see, you’re a middle class American and you were born in lovely Guadalajara, Mexico in 1975.  Your average family meant a busy childhood for you and your six siblings.  In 1976, the average fertility of an average Mexican woman was an astounding 7.2 children [1], though it is nearly the same as the USA today at 2.3 [2].  Dad and Mom’s generation was a busy one.

Each of your parents had six siblings.   Of those 12 blood-related aunts and uncles, five of the six married and they had the average six children each.  That meant 22 aunts and uncles and sixty total cousins.  For some reason, three were named Jorge.  You recall youthful Quinceañeras, weddings, Easter and Buena Noche family events were always crowded.  Your four grandparents each lived to around seventy years.

When you immigrated to the US at age five, your family absorbed American culture.  Only four of your six siblings married, and they each had just three children.  That gave you 12 total nieces and nephews.  You married your high school sweetheart and had just two children.

Your spouse was a second generation Mexican-American and had two parents and two siblings, one of whom, Marissa, married with just two children. 

You graduated from the University of Texas and live today as a successful accountant the pleasant Houston suburb of Katy.  Your lawn is trim and green; you own a Toyota Camry and a Ford SUV.   You fly the American flag from your front porch.  Every Sunday, you attend Catholic mass.  While politics is of little concern to you, you’re generally for reasonable taxes, helping those who need help and like most Mexican-Americans, you’re uncomfortable with abortion.  You remember your Dad liked Ronald Reagan, who granted citizenship to your parents back in the 1980s.

At least once a year, you go back to visit relatives in Mexico.  You lost touch with some of your cousins, but most are a phone call away.  Some stayed in the large commercial city of Guadalajara, a few moved to the capital of Mexico City or to the growing metropolis of Monterrey, and others moved to California and Illinois.  Your siblings live in Texas, Florida, Arizona and the two sisters live in different suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

You were underwhelmed by the economy 2009-2012 but you have deep roots in Mexico.  You are, first and foremost, an American but on occasion in your life, someone screamed “wetback” or “Spic” at you from a car.  No, your car doesn’t run on tacos.  Most of the whites and blacks you come across with are very nice but sometimes you received unpleasant stares.  Last summer, when your cousin Isabella visited from Jalisco state, her husband played some ranchero music from the rent-a-car and some local teenagers laughed loudly through their open window.  These things are not a really big deal to you, the economic opportunities and freedom in the US make it well worthwhile.

But, deep down, you’re always a tad bit aware that some people don’t much like “Mexicans” and, American-citizen that you are, it’s always there in your mind.  You know your cousins Rosa and Maria snuck into the US with their husbands and have been living illegally in an apartment in Iowa, of all places, where they work at a slaughterhouse doing work no native-born American will do.

You heard about legislation in Arizona to demand proof of citizenship for anyone who looked like they could be an illegal immigrant.  You sure didn’t like that; you wondered why a Mexican-American citizen of the USA like yourself would be apt to get stopped when your Chinese-born and Korean-born coworkers would not, to say nothing of the rest who simply looked white or black. 

At times, there was national press about some obscure Republican from Colorado, a Tom something or another, who ran for President on a platform of shutting down the border.  You hear that term from time to time, shut down the border.  Since you cross it periodically to visit relatives or for vacations, you know it’s already shut down.  It can take eight hours to cross the line and the Border Patrol agents often are a bit icy.  You wonder what would happen if you ever had your wallet stolen in Mexico and lost your ID; getting back into your own country, the USA, would be a nightmare.  You have a hunch it’s a lot easier to cross from Canada.

Prominent national Republicans seem reasonable enough; you were okay with George W. Bush, who actually spoke Spanish.  You’ve already forgotten some words from disuse all these years, but you’re aware a lot of Americans are strangely obsessed with the Spanish language.  Which is odd, you know every aspiring Mexican wants to learn English and people in Mexico grow up listening to American pop music and watching US movies and TV shows with Spanish subtitles.  You know #1 hit albums in Mexico in 2012 include English-language hits from Adele, Madonna and that boy band called One Direction.  There aren’t any Spanish-language #1 albums in the USA.  You laugh when you hear English is “under attack.”  From what?

But there are some small-time Republicans, some sheriffs out west, that Governor of Arizona and some US representatives who sometimes get mighty angry about “immigration”, “the border” and “the illegals” that steal jobs.  You know that last point is a joke.  If all the illegals left tomorrow, America’s lawns would grow long and America’s plates would go uncleaned in the nation’s restaurants.  You don’t even remember the name of the Republicans, they were low-level ones, mostly out  West, but a few spoke of taking away birth right citizenship, which struck you as deeply unfair and targeted at Mexican-Americans.  The political TV ads these folks ran, you saw excerpts on national TV, always showed dark-skinned Latinos sneaking under fences.  It’s never an Irish college kid who over-stayed his Visa, which is funny, because that guy Martin in the computer lab at work, the programmer guy – yeah, the dude who actually sings about Guinness beer – he was an illegal when he over-stayed his visa.  But no one runs TV ads about drunken Irish illegals.

You heard something on the radio news about an obscure Republicans talking of “live ammo” for the Border Patrol.  You shuddered at that, after all, some of your cousins crossed and who knows who else might someday.  Other crazy ideas were sticking alligators in the Rio or using unmanned drones to take out illegals.  You know there are Minutemen out there who spend their free time wandering the Arizona desert to stop immigrants.  They’re trying to stop the same people who clean the dishes at Applebee’s and wash cars at Spick-N-Span Wash for those same Minutemen.  You really get the sense some people really don’t like “your type.” 

That bothers you because it cuts against your family.  Like most Mexican-Americans, you’re big on family.  You loved your grandparents, your parents and your uncles and aunts.  Uncle Jose is the one who taught you to pitch a baseball!  Uncle Pablo was a blast when he used to tell you and your brothers stories about women when your dad wasn’t around.  These are your gente, your people.  And no one is more pro-family than your extended family.  Some people are all hat and no uterus!

All that talk about immigration rubs you the wrong way when its said “lazy” people want to come to the US for its welfare system (you’d go to Spain for that!) or to drop by and have “anchor babies.”  Anyone who thinks Mexicans are “lazy” has never seen your brother Ricardo juggle three jobs like an acrobat.  If anything, the Mexicans you know probably work too hard, they should relax once in a while.  That’s why your Dad always looked so tired with his full-time janitor job plus the side job as a handyman. 

That Mitt Romney guy never spoke crazy but he did talk tough about closing down illegal immigration.  Obama promised some immigration reform, but he didn’t even try, which frustrated you.  Still, he eventually came up with this complicated half-measure, a “Dream Act.”  It wasn’t much, just letting some college kids stay for two years.  You noted their parents and siblings could still be deported in the meantime.  But… it was something when the Republicans offered nothing so you took the meager Dream Act and thought, well, it’s a start.  And you voted Obama in 2012.  Like 71% of other Latino American voters. [3]  Will the Republicans compete for your vote in 2014 and 2016?

[1] http://www.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/pop-mex.html

[2] http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/mexico_statistics.html

[3]  http://news.yahoo.com/poll-latino-vote-devastated-gop-even-worse-exits-181922111–politics.html

 

Obama Presidency 2009-2012: Weakest Economic Recovery On Record

In 2012 Elections, Economy, Obama Administration on October 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

When deciding who to vote for President, the footnoted piece provides a sense of perspective about the exceptionally weak economic recovery of the Obama presidency.   This recovery is just one-third as large as the “Reagan” recovery from the 1980-2 recession.  The recession ended more than three years ago, but people feel it has not ended because the recovery is so tepid.  The Wall Street Journal said:

It’s important to understand how unusual this kind of weak recovery is. Deep recessions like the one from December 2007 to June 2009 are typically followed by stronger recoveries, as there is more lost ground to make up.

The most recent comparable recession occurred in 1981-1982. Yet as the nearby chart shows, the Reagan expansion exploded with a 9.3% quarter and kept up a robust pace for years. By the 12th quarter of expansion, growth popped up to 6.4.%. At this stage of the Reagan expansion, overall GDP was 18.5% higher versus 6.7% for the Obama recovery, according to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

Even comparing this recovery with the average since the end of World War II, the Obama growth rate is well below the norm of 15.2%. The U.S. is running about $1.5 trillion of economic output behind where it should be.

This may sound like an abstraction, but it is the difference between a robust job market and lost opportunity for millions of Americans. It is the difference between a small federal budget deficit and more than $1 trillion for four straight years. It is the difference between a rising or falling poverty rate. [1]

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443477104577553211912280818.html

Job fair picture from Wikipedia Commons.

$249 Million Obama Grant Recipient, Defective Battery Maker A123 Systems Bankruptcy

In Electric Cars, Government Spending, Obama Administration on October 18, 2012 at 12:04 am

A123 Systems, Inc. logo.svg

The flailing saga of private firms going bankrupt after massive infusions of public funds continues with A123 Energy.  It defaulted on its debt and is declaring bankruptcy.  It received a $249 million grant in strings-free taxpayer money, using $129 million to build a factory.  [1]  It was a grant of money, not a loan, not equity. 

Like Solyndra and others who received government money, it didn’t live up to its job creation promises (touted by President Obama in 2009 as going to create “more than 3,000 [jobs] by the end of 2012.” [2]  Not quite.  It shipped defective batteries, leading to a $55 million recall and was selling batteries at a ratio of $1.57 cost to $1 revenue. [3]  Not a long-term winning strategy.

A123 is just another example of why governments, regardless of the party in the White House, should never, ever pick and choose winners, or as Mitt Romney pointed out, “pick losers” in private business.  They use scarce tax dollars and, sadly, fail because politicians like Mr. Obama haven’t a clue about what is a good or bad business idea.

Considering President Obama’s dislike of many for-profit corporations, the hand outs to private firms like Solyndra, A123 and Johnson Controls make no sense whatsoever.  Good ideas will get built on their own, they don’t need government hand-outs. 

[1] http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2012/10/16/187/

[2] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443675404578060882850041910.html?KEYWORDS=electric+car+crash

[3] http://www.technologyreview.com/news/427991/what-happened-to-a123/

Pictures (A123 Systems logo & Solyndra building with “for sale” sign) from Wikipedia Commons.

There Is No Tax Deduction For Off-Shoring Jobs

In Political Rhetoric, President Obama, Tax Breaks on October 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

During the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney, President Obama repeated a charge I see in the netherworld of liberal blogs and progressive’s Facebook posts.   As the head of the Business Round Table, John Engler, wrote in an op-ed:

What the candidates didn’t agree on was whether there is a deduction in the U.S. tax code that encourages companies to move plants overseas. Mr. Obama contended that such a deduction exists. Mr. Romney said, “I’ve been in business for 25 years and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, there are no specific tax credits or deductions for moving plants and jobs overseas. …the tax code provides a deduction for all business expenses, including plant-closing costs, severance pay and worker retraining. [1]

I’ve never seen any “offshoring” deduction and am confident the Joint Committee on Taxation is correct that no offshoring jobs tax credit exists.

As President, Mr. Obama should know the law.  If he thought there’s a tax credit for exporting jobs, why didn’t he undo it during the past four years, especially the two when his party held complete control of Congress?  The answer is no such tax credit exists, Obama continued the spread of a false internet rumor.

Image of a globe centred on India, with India highlighted.

 [1] http://www.4-traders.com/news/BR-Business-Roundtable-The-Wall-Street-Journal-Op-ed-Engler-Corporate-Taxes-the-Myths-and-Fa–15327082/

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Big Bird Doesn’t Need Obama’s Federal Handout

In 2012 Elections, Federal Deficit on October 10, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Big Bird - Library of Congress, Living Legends, Award & Honors, 2000.jpg

Being a 1%er, Big Bird doesn’t need your taxes.  If you have children, surely you’ve spent plenty on Elmo, Big Bird, Muppets and other Sesame Street character royalties.  Perhaps you’re a PBS contributor.  To get our federal deficit under control, we need to cut spending.  President Obama thinks it’s an outrage Mitt Romney suggested easing Sesame Street off its federal subsidy, but the outrage  lies in a President who refuses to cut spending, even in unnecessary areas, though the country’s credit rating was downgraded on his watch.

There are more than 500 cable channels, including channels devoted to History, children’s TV shows, public affairs, documentaries and culture.  Is it unthinkable PBS could survive on its own?  Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 in compensation in 2008. [1]  “Sesame Street is a lucrative enterprise.” [1] From 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street earned $211 million in toy and consumer product sales. [1]  Its 2009 tax form shows Sesame Workshop took in $140 million in 2008 in 2008, with government grants accounting for just over $14 million of that (roughly 10 percent). [1]   The proportion from government was down to 6% in 2011. [4]

“Sesame Street appears in more than 120 countries,” [2] with licensing revenue achieved from all.  Big Bird has his own spot on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. 

According to Slate, “The Workshop earned about $45 million in merchandising during 2010, which accounted for one-third of its total revenue. The rest came mainly from distribution fees and royalties, and from an assortment of private donors, corporate sponsors, and government.” [3]  Sesame Street is obviously very profitable because, “The production budget for Sesame Street domestically is about $16 or $17 million per year, which produces about 26 episodes.” [3]

The Wall Street Journal provides data on Sesame Street’s significant assets:

At the end of fiscal 2011, Sesame Workshop and its subsidiaries had total assets of $289 million. About $29 million was held in cash and “cash equivalents,” mainly money-market mutual funds. Another $121 million on the balance sheet was held in “investments.” According to the accompanying notes, these investments included stakes in hedge funds and private-equity funds. [4]

Everyone likes Big Bird.  He is in no danger of extinction if he loses his government handout.  President Obama should be ashamed of his false claims and unauthorized usage of Big Bird in Obama’s campaign ad.  Big Bird should at least receive royalties for the Obama campaign, but the President would prefer to pay with your tax dollars. [5]

 

Sesame Street logo.svg 

[1]  http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/feb/28/jim-demint/sen-jim-demint-takes-aim-muppet-lobby/

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/12/business/media/12sesame.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

A sample international licensing deal with British retailer Marks & Spencer is located at:  http://www.licensing.biz/news/4600/MS-to-debut-Sesame-Street-apparel.

Another example of the licensing value of the iconic Sesame Street characters is seen with Google at http://www.licensing.biz/news/4231/Sesame-Street-celebrates-40th-with-Google.

[3] http://www.slate.com/articles/business/explainer/2012/01/does_sesame_street_lose_money_.html

 

[4] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443982904578046671220961776.html

[5] http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57528812/sesame-workshop-to-obama-take-big-bird-ad-down/

For more on the business history of Sesame Street, see http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/businesses/M-Z/Sesame-Workshop.html

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

Crystal Ball: 2012 Elections Predictions: Romney, Obama, Boehner, McConnell

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Voting Patterns, Mitt Romney, Occupy Wall Street Protests, President Obama on December 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Happy New Year!

Today’s post is my prediction for the 2012 Election season.  I have made a habit of doing this in the past with friends but this is my first locked for eternity in cyberspace.  I formally put forward my election predictions on New Year’s Eve the past couple of elections.  For 2008, I predicted Obama would beat Hillary and McCain would beat Huckabee and Romney, and Obama would win the Presidency.  In 2010, I was probably as lucky as prescient in emailing my friends Dec. 31, 2009 the GOP would win a net +62 in the US House, +6 Senators and +7 Governors.  I was off by just one in the House (+63)!

Now that I have raised the bar to an improbable level that I will probably regret in 11 months, let the predictions begin.

PRESIDENT:

In the GOP Nominating Contest, I continue to think Mitt Romney will overcome all competition.  If he wins Iowa, it is probably all but over, barring a major misstep on his part.  Someone else, e.g. Ron Paul, may win Iowa but Iowa winners tend not to win the nomination, just ask Presidents Gephardt, Harkin, Muskie or Huckabee about Iowa.  Iowa may winnow out some of the also-rans, especially amongst the most conservative.  Romney has the money, the organization and the poise to likely pull off the nomination.  Few seem to discuss the many delegates available in ‘blue’ states like Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, New York or Massachusetts that I expect Romney to win, just as McCain did in 2008.  Obama did something similar in 2008, winning the most delegates in a lot of states he had no prayer of winning in the fall (e.g. Texas and Montana).  I expect Romney will win a fair amount of cross-over moderate Democrats and independents in states, like Illinois, with open primaries.  Gingrich somehow managed to not get on the ballot in important Virginia.

I just have a hunch Florida Senator MARCO RUBIO will be Romney’s VP choice.

Obama will be the Democratic nominee and despite idle talk, he will not dump Biden for Hillary Clinton.

We will get to the Presidential winner below. 

Congressional elections tend to follow the direction at the top of the ticket, meaning a Romney or Obama landslide win could mean coattails below for their respective parties.

US HOUSE:

Some of my Democratic friends have made up their minds the Republicans will lose the House.  History is not on their side.  The Democrats need to win at least 25 net House seats.  All 435 are up for reelection each year so anything is possible.  Not once in the modern era has a President been reelected with significant House gains, not even Reagan in 1984.  Why?  I think the answer is simple: a landslide reelection for a President only happens when the public is very happy with the status quo.  If the public feels the country is doing swimmingly well, the President will be reelected and whoever is currently in Congress will largely be returned.  Wave elections in the House happen against the party in power (e.g. 1974, 1994, 2006, 2008, 2010).  If a wave happens in 2012, it will be against the Democrats, not in their favor.

Another quirk to 2012 is Reapportionment and redistricting.  Declining states are generally Democratic ones, so some of the lost seats necessarily come from Democratic states with meager population growth like Connecticut or Massachusetts and winning states include Utah, Washington, Georgia, Arizona, Florida (+2) and Texas (+4).  Republicans controlled more states’ new maps than ever before and look to protect their 2010 gains in many states and squeeze out Democrats in places like North Carolina, Missouri and Indiana. 

Democrats controlled the Illinois map, which was unusually aggressive in targeting as many as eight Republican seats.   Illinois is huge in Democratic Congressional dreaming.  I live in Illinois and have followed the new map, which reportedly came from the national DNCC not local sources.  I think the Democrats overreached and will end up winning only a handful of GOP seats, most likely two in the Chicago suburbs and by spreading out Democratic voters as they did, they inadvertently forced one of their own, Jerry Costello, to announce his retirement [1] and the GOP has a 50/50 shot of winning that district, possibly offsetting a suburban Chicago loss.  Besides Illinois, the Democrats best shot is in California where the new map jumbles up many Members and the Democrats might win as many as a net five seats.  The Texas map was ultimately drawn by a Court and Democrats will probably win half of the four new seats and have a halfway decent shot at one incumbent Republican near San Antonio.

One of the underreported stories of 2010 is how the Republicans beat a lot of aberration Democrats who had managed to hang on in small town America years after the areas had trended Republican at the Presidential level, places like rural northwest Florida and Waco, Texas.  The GOP did not win very many urban or ‘tough’ suburban seats except a small number around Chicago, Orlando, Phoenix, Palm Beach, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York and the aforementioned San Antonio seat.  The Democrats will have to win in rural areas in states like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York to make a deep dent into the GOP 2010 gains.  Only an Obama landslide would do that.

Congressional retirements announced thus far strongly favor the Republicans [2] with a number of Democrats like Dan Boren of Oklahoma [3] giving the GOP highly probable pick-ups.

Some of my Democratic friends also are hoping Tea Party challenges will knock off some moderate GOP candidates, leading to fall defeats.  It is possible, but the overall impact will be slight, at most a seat or two.  This works the other way, too, as union or leftist netroots organizations could defeat a moderate Democrat or two, leading to fall defeats in centrist districts.

If Romney is the nominee and wins handily, I foresee the GOP winning some suburban seats they have come close to winning but not been able to crack in recent years, in places like Fairfax County, VA, Orange County, CA, suburban New York City and especially in Massachusetts.

Obama Health Care Speech to Joint Session of Congress.jpg

PREDICTION:  GOP HOLDS HOUSE, NET GOP HOUSE GAIN +1

US Senate:

Sobering for Democrats: 23 seats in play with retirements creating open seats in states like Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Virginia and New Mexico.

Sobering for Republicans: need +13 to get to a filibuster-proof Senate.

At most, two Republicans are at risk (Brown in MA and Heller in NV).  I give Brown 60/40 odds, which are a little better with Romney on the ticket.  Heller is 70/30 solid.  A Giffords campaign for the open GOP Seat in Arizona would be promising for Democrats but appears not to be happening.

On the Democratic side, incumbents have their work cut out in Missouri, Montana and Florida.  The open seats are the biggest problem, especially in North Dakota and Nebraska, where GOP gains are going to happen. 

The GOP will get the +3 to even up the Senate, possibly even if Obama wins narrowly, but the question is if the GOP can be competitive in enough states to get near 13 if Romney wins?  The answer oddly is, yes, it is possible.  If the GOP runs the table on the open seats above and is able to win open seats in Connecticut or Hawaii (former Governor Lingle gives GOP an unusual Hawaiian opening), hold their own, and then beat some Democratic incumbents in industrial and purple states, then, it could be a GOP landslide.  The Democrats are also defending Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan and the GOP looks to have credible challengers for all.  Beyond that, West Virginia is fertile GOP territory but moderate Dem. Sen. Manchin should hold on and the GOP would need to run strongly in places like New Jersey, Minnesota and perhaps Washington state.  They would need a Romney solid win to get those coattails.

What about the Tea Party?  Again, my Democratic friends pretty much have it in the bank that credible GOP candidates will be knocked off by Tea Party unknowns in primaries.  It might happen though where is important.  A Tea Party challenger is never going to win in California but probably will win, anyway, in Indiana or North Dakota.

111th US Senate class photo.jpg

PREDICTION: GOP NET +5 in Senate, taking control.

GOVERNORS: GOP net +1.

PRESIDENT:

Most people seem to be unable to discuss this rationally because their emotions clog their analysis.  I have friends who guarantee an Obama landslide win and others guarantee an Obama landslide loss.

First off, I make no secret I’d like Obama to be defeated, but that doesn’t matter for my analysis.  Can he win?  Of course.   He’d benefit from the most conservative and least experienced GOP nominee and above all, from better job performance.  Strong employment gains, housing price gains and high GDP growth would improve his chances.

How much does ideology matter in a Presidential election?  Quite a bit.  See Nate Silver’s recent, excellent piece on Obama’s prospects [4] to see how statistical models do suggest the further a candidate is from the political center, the tougher it is for them to win the General Election.  This is not to say someone more ideological cannot win (e.g. Reagan in 1980 or Obama in 2008) but they tend to win only with strong anti-Washington, throw the bums out winds at their backs.  Thus, Obama will have more trouble with Romney than Santorum, Paul or Bachmann (none of whom has a prayer of being the nominee). 

The flip side of the coin nearly everyone fails to see is it also matters for Obama, does he run from the center or Left?  All indications are he is going to run a populist campaign from the Left.  The goal is to shore up his base and try to get to 51%.  Anecdotally, I know a lot of independents and soft Republicans who tell me, often in hushed tones, they voted for Obama in 2008 and they are hoping the GOP nominates someone not “too extreme” so they can vote against Obama in 2012.  The risk to Obama is alienating these successful private sector workers as he tacks to the Left and rails against economic success.  Again, the GOP nominee will be very important in determining who these centrist voters flock to.

Obama starts with the benefit of incumbency.  People tend to stay with who they know unless they are unhappy with the results.

Obama will have more money, perhaps upwards of $1 billion for his campaign.  Money helps but does not win elections per se.  Just ask President Kerry about money.  Obama’s money will buy an unprecedented amount of negative campaign ads.  No matter your ideology, I predict you will be turned off by the tone of the 2012 campaign.  It is a general rule of thumb in elections that you campaign positive (Reagan’s 1984 “Morning In America”) when the voters are happy with you but you run a negative campaign when they are not.  Obama’s economic track record means this will be a highly negative campaign.  That is not to imply it cannot work (see the unpopular Harry Reid’s 2010 Senate win).  Unfortunately, I fully expect Obama’s campaign to play up “racism” as if that were the reason people were down on the deficit, unemployment and the growth of government.  I doubt it is very effective with whites though the real goal will be to drive black turnout, which heated accusations of “racism” may produce.

Much is written about demographic changes.  It is absolutely true the country is becoming more Asian, more black and above all, more Hispanic.  I’ve seen projections the 2012 electorate will be as many as 2 points more Latino, which some have argued is a huge plus for Obama.  As I discussed in a recent post [5], the Hispanic vote varies widely by state and the 2008 Latino vote for Obama was 56% in Arizona, 57% in Florida, 61% in Colorado but 76% in California and 78% New Jersey.  This is inefficient from the Obama perspective.  Additional Hispanic voters in California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois will not change the outcome in those states Obama will be winning anyway.  On the other hand, southern and southwestern states like Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado are states Obama needs to win.  Since Obama’s share of the Hispanic vote will almost certainly decline from 2008, he may not be doing much better than splitting the incremental new Hispanic voters in many of those states.  A Marco Rubio VP nomination may even mean an outright GOP win of Florida’s Hispanic vote.

I suspect Obama will struggle to match his 2008 stong performance with blacks, college students and Jews in 2012.  The exceptionally high underemployment/unemployment rate for people in their twenties suggests the 2008 turnout will not be replicated.  In fact, I expect Obama to face a chasm of lack of excitement from Democrats, the mirror image of 2008 when people literally quit their jobs to work full-time on his campaign.

That said, it is splitting hairs to focus too much on how this or that subgroup will vote.  In the end, large macro effects drive all the subgroups in one direction or another.  I am seeing consensus economic forecasts of rather lousy GDP growth of 1.7% in 2012, with continued high unemployment and home prices still dropping or flat at best.  If so, Obama will be hard-pressed to win.  Nate Silver’s model suggests GDP is key and an economy near zero growth makes a Romney win highly probable, whereas he projects Obama squeaking it out at 4% GDP growth.  Mr. Silver is very good and I would not lightly dismiss his reasoning.  I agree GDP and unemployment and a general sense of wealth (especially housing values) are important, more so than a lot of the “debating skills” sorts of things that matter, but only at the margins.  As shown in polls, Obama’s major legislative achievements are unpopular with voters (Health Care/”ObamaCare” and the Stimulus).

What of Third Parties?  Usually much overrated, third parties and independent campaigns could, if well-financed, impact the campaign.  More likely than not, none will be.  A Trump or Ron Paul third-party run might be Obama’s best bet.  I am unconvinced a Bloomberg run would necessarily help Obama so much, perhaps even having an unexpected impact of making some states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Washington and Massachusetts more competitive for the Republicans.  That said, a billion dollar run by someone like Bloomberg would certainly stir things up.

Another factor might be the Occupy movements, which petered out with the cold but will probably return in the Spring.  The Occupy movements turned violent with vandalism and police confrontations near the end.  I fear they will be more violent and destructive if they gear back up because in the odd calculus of media attention just camping out gets old for the TV news.  The pressure to do something outrageous grows and mentally imbalanced Occupy participants may take the most heated rhetoric to terrible extremes.  If I know the American voter, political violence always backfires and thus, an Occupy shooting of say, an oil executive or man in a suit in New York City will hurt politicians like Obama who embraced Occupy.  Fingers crossed it never comes to this.

Thus, baring an unexpected post-Labor Day scandal (e.g. Obama or Romney sex scandal) or massive exogenous shock (e.g. major October terrorist attack), I think it will be ROMNEY defeating Obama in November.

Of course, this is all my judgment based on today and I might be wishing I never wrote this in a matter of months!  Happy 2012 and turn off that TV lest you be bombarded with ads!

[1] http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/aviation/185349-rep-jerry-costello-will-not-seek-re-election

[2] http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/195795-retirements-hit-dem-aspirations-for-a-house-takeover-in-2012-elections

[3] http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/165111-oklahoma-rep-boren-wont-seek-reelection

[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/magazine/nate-silver-handicaps-2012-election.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[5] https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/recent-drop-in-immigration-will-not-impact-growth-in-hispanic-turnout-in-2012/