Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The latest Electoral College Count

Right now the President's national approval rating is hovering right around 40%. That's always a bit deceptive in that the 2012 election is state by state contest where his approval rating can vary greatly. It really doesn't matter that Obama is under 50% in New York, odds are he's going to win there next November. And it doesn't matter that his approval rating is around 25% in Oklahoma; he's not going to even come close in the Sooner State.

It is much more important that his number is around 50% in states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia (to name a few). There are really nine states that will decide this election: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Of the states he won in 2008 two of them (Indiana and North Carolina) are already out of reach. He can afford to lose Virginia and Florida as well but he has to win most of the rest to be reelected. There's almost no chance he can pick up states he lost to John McCain in 2008 so he must create a "firewall" of states that will get him to 270 Electoral Votes.

Right now I think it is very likely (if the election were held today) he'd probably lose Virginia, Florida and Ohio. If that happened the Republican candidate (now probably Rick Perry) could win without winning any other states. Obama will certainly concentrate a lot of effort in those three states knowing that if he can win at least one of them he'll have a puncher's chance of winning by an eyelash.

He's got another problem: there are several other states that he won in 2008 that are in danger of falling into the GOP column. The biggest one in Pennsylvania. The Keystone State has not voted Republican since 1988 but Obama's numbers are terrible there. If he loses here it really doesn't matter-he loses the election. At the same time he'll have to hold on to Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin which will not be an easy task. If the GOP cracks this part of the firewall the Republicans will place one of their own in the White House in 2012.

Here's a look at the current vote count:

Safe Republican (24 states, 206 EVs)
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming

Leaning Republican (3 states, 60 EVs)
Florida, Ohio, Virginia

Even (6 states, 55 EVs)
Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin

Leaning Democrat (5 states, 42 EVs)
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon

Safe Democrat (12 states and the District of Columbia, 175 EVs)
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia

The President clearly has a high bar to meet to be reelected. It will be tough but it can be done. The Independents that no longer support him are not coming back any time soon so we'll see what he does in the coming weeks and months to try to stabilize his approval rating and salvage his Presidency.


The Snitch

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Presidential race changes and may change again

Rick Perry's entrance into the GOP Presidential primary will certainly shake up the race. Right now only Perry and Mitt Romney have a shot at securing the nomination. While my friends at Powerline blog think Romney will win the nomination I completely disagree. Perry will probably win or come close in Iowa (he was Agriculture Comissioner in Texas and he's an evangelical) and that will siphon Michele Bachmann's votes. Certainly Romney wins in New Hampshire but Perry will crush him in South Carolina by at least ten and probably fifteen points.

I don't know if pictures showing Perry wearing a pistol while he jogs will resonate with soccer moms (probably not) but he can claim his state created more jobs than all the others combined in the last ten years. In a time when 3,000,000 less people are working than when Obama took office that will be a powerful talking point. He will certainly run an aggressive campaign (unlike John McCain). He's won five times in Texas statewide and is a proven fundraiser and bareknuckle brawler. Just last year he crushed Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the GOP primary for Governor. Up to that time KBH was the most popular politician in Texas and Perry came from behind to beat her by 21 points.

Certainly a national election is not like Texas and he'll take a beating from the media which will do everything it can to paint him as an extremist in the hope that they can help reelect the President. Being from Texas in 2012 is probably a drawback as this century has already had a Texan be President and that albatross will hang over his head. There are also terrible rumors of his private life that are floating out of Travis County. If there is substance to the rumors his candidacy will almost certainly be finished.

In the end I don't think Perry, Romney or Obama will win the Presidential election of 2012. I believe by Labor Day Paul Ryan will jump in and will create a stampede that will crush his rivals and pose a serious challenge to the President. In the next post I'll look at the Electoral College problem the President faces next year.


The Snitch

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thoughts on the Wisconsin recalls

Despite spending around twenty million dollars to recall six Republican State Senators, the Democrats (or more precisely their union and PAC allies) came up short in last Tuesday's elections. Two seats did switch: Dan Kapanke lost in LaCrosse in a district that is probably around D+5 and Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac lost. His district is at least R+3 but he had severe personal problems came up two percent short. The Democrats thought he was particularly vulnerable as he had won his first term in 2008 by just 200 votes. Luther Olsen of Ripon survived with 52% and Alberta Darling, a particular target for the Democrats, won with 54% of the vote. We won't know for a while but estimates are that three million dollars was spent against her. That's simply an amazing sum that's several times the average. She's close to the governor and she is the Chairperson of the Finance Committee. If the Democrats could have knocked off Olsen or Darling they'd control the chamber but it simply wasn't meant to be.

Next week there will be two Democrats on the recall ballot: Jim Holperin in the northeast section of Wisconsin and Robert Wirch, who sits in a district in the far southeastern part of the state. In my opinion, Holperin is very vulnerable. He squeaked by in 2008 to win his first term but he's facing an aggressive GOP challnger. There haven't been many polls on the races so it is hard to know where they stand. I do expect a poll or two to be released Monday.

If anything, these elections show the raw power of the unions and especially of organizations like the ProgressNow network, which is a sixteen member liberal umbrella organization funded by unions and megarich liberals. They poured everything they had into these recalls. How can they spend so much money legally? As long as they don't cooperate with the campaigns of the respective candidates they can pretty much do whatever they want. Wisconsin was saturated with commercials, mailings, and paid workers who flooded the state. The President is planning to raise 1 billion dollars for his campaign next year. Unions will fund about 400 million and will expect a large return politically. The automatic deducations of union workers (especially public sector workers) fund a robust Demcoratic machine that can renew itself every month as more donations pour in. In states like Wisconsin, public workers can now choose to withhold their donations which can do great damage to the Democrats effort in 2012 and beyond. As union dues dry up their influence will continue to wane. That explains part of the great hysteria in Madison; many intrinsically knew that union power and their symbiosis with the Democratic Party was on the line.

This election was to serve as a warning for any GOP or other public officials who wanted to take on the unions. Instead, it has heartened conservatives that they can win elections even when they are outspent (in this case probably around 2 to 1) and in a purple state (like Wisconsin). 89% of Americans are not in unions and, in the end, I believe their hysterical tactics they used in Madison along with consistently negative advertising proved to be their undoing. The GOP was energized and fought back hard; they put in a lot of resources and squeaked by with a victory just as they had in the April Supreme Court election.

Ironically, the issue that set the recalls going was never mentioned in the campaign advertisements. Governor Walker's bid to end collective barganing was not mentioned, only allusions to how he had "cut the education budget." There was also a lot of time spent on senior scare tactics as each GOP State Senator apparently wanted to "end Medicare as we know it," whatever that means (that will be a preview of next year's Presidential campaign). It really shows that collective barganing is a losing issue. The people it motivates aren't going to vote Republican anyway and political independents don't have the work protections that union people do and for the most part pay a lot more for their insurance and pensions and so the issue doesn't resonate with them.

Perhaps the funniest thing about this whole mess is that Wisconsin's budget is now in surplus and several school districts are not going to have to fire teachers because they are not as constrained by collective bargaining. As this trend continues and more people see the success of the Governor's plan he'll end up gtting at least partial credit for what he pushed through and put everything on the line for. While very vulnerable next year he won't go down without a fight and the Democrats should think long and hard about trying to recall him and face the prospect of him winning yet again.

One last thought; who is to blame for the end of collective barganing in Wisconsin? Is it Scott Walker? The GOP legislature? The answer is Barack Obama-the biggest union ally in the history of the Presidency. Had he not overreached and gone so far to the left in the first two years of his Presidency GOP gains would have not been so great at the national and state levels. And, if he somehow gets himself reelected, collective bargaining will be dead for several cycles in Wisconsin and other states as GOP majorities in many stathouses will endure for years to come.

In the end, Wisconsin had a choice to be like Illinois or Indiana. Illinois is in a state of political and economic chaos. The public pension system is terribly underfunded (in Cook County alone there are over 100 billion of unfunded liabilities) and taxation is very high. Indiana on the other hand, is solvent and growing. Even though it was very painful politically, Wisconsin has chosen to be Indiana and hopefully will continue to grow and proper in the years to come.


The Snitch

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Snitch is back!

Sorry for the long wait but, as Bill Murray said so eloquently in Caddyshack, "I was unavoidably detained." There's certainly a lot to talk about and I'll try to get an issue up every day.

A few quick Senate notes: Pete Hoekstra's entry into the Michigan Senate race makes it quite winnable for the GOP. Debbie Stabenow's positive/negative numbers are clearly underwater and she'll need help from Obama's GOTV efforts. A key for Hoekstra will be the Republican presidential nominee. If he's strong (a clear unknown at this point) it will help downballot candidates. It will take a lot of heavy lifting to get a GOP Senate winner in Michigan but I believe it will happen.

Pennsylvania doesn't look as good for the GOP. There's been no strong GOP challenger to Bob Casey who is clearly vulnerable. His numbers are much better than Stabenow's but the GOP is stronger in the Keystone State and just won the other Senate seat and the Governor's chair.

Sherrod Brown will lose in Ohio. Ben Nelson (NE), Claire McCaskill (MO) and Jon Tester (MT) all are gone. Along with open seats bound to fall in North Dakota and Virginia that gives the GOP 52. The Republicans have solid chances in the already mentioned Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida. With some luck they can pick off a couple more in New Mexico, Minnesota, and West Virginia. New Jersey and New York are possiblities but they'd need just the right candidate. If they were to run the table right now they could get about 58 but I think a more reasonable number is about 55. They'll clearly have a majority, it will just be a question whether or not it will be a workable one to pass their legislative agenda (provided a Repubican is elected President).

Redistricting should give a marginal edge to the GOP. They'll pick up seats in Utah, Nevada, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina and perhaps a couple other places but that will be offset by Democratic gains primarily in California and Illinois. Right now the GOP has 240 seats and I believe they'll gain about 5 in the next election. At any rate, the House GOP caucus will be able to pass any legislation they would like to in 2013. It will be the US Senate where the fight will really take place.

Tomorrow we'll talk about the President's lowsy approval numbers and how he could be the first person reelected with an approval rating of 45%.


The Snitch