Disclaimer: This is a post about the American election. I don’t blame you if you wish to skip it. I am only putting this out here because this small window, the few weeks every four years in October and November, is the only time to put it out.
Here are trends that the professional political scientists look for:
-Americans vote against incumbents during a bad economy and for incumbents in a good economy. (Centuries of data show this. During the Long Depression, the electorate threw out party after party until the economy was improved.)
-The outsider tends to be favored for the presidency which is why most presidents are always governors. It is extremely rare for senators to be elected president.
-Due to modern party coalitions, a party will never get less than 45% of the national vote. In the rare times in the past century when this wasn’t the case, it was due to a collapse or shift of the party coalition.
-Most presidential elections are not close. They are decisive one way or another. 2000 and 2004 are anomalies and might have had something with W. Bush or his lackluster opponents or both.
-While it is said that presidential elections are more like 50 individual elections, when the national vote changes by 1%, three to four states flip. It is very unlikely for the electoral college to be evenly divided. It is also extremely rare for the popular vote to differ from the electoral vote as it has only occurred four times in the history of the country.
-United States is a center-right country nationally. No Democrat has ever been re-elected to the presidency since FDR with the exception of Clinton (who adopted many of the positions of the Republican Congress and still didn’t get 50% of the vote).
-Public polls tend to get more accurate the closer the election gets.
I want to explain some of my thought processes for what I said during 2008:
-In 2008, there was no incumbent president running for re-election so I didn’t assign the electorate blaming a bad economy on the R Party (although the electorate did).
-Both presidential candidates were senators in 2008. This meant they were both ‘insiders’ inside Washington and not from the outside like a governor. I didn’t feel this traditional indicator could be used in 2008.
-The American electorate rejects and punishes leftist ideology nationally. To date, no Democrat president has ever been elected by being left. When Mondale swore to raise taxes, he got punished by losing 49 states. JFK campaigned to cut taxes. Carter was a southern Baptist. Clinton ran on his southern roots and ‘its the economy, stupid’. Truman campaigned as a farmer. Obama also campaigned heavily on cutting taxes and reducing the deficit. I knew he wouldn’t do it, and I thought the electorate didn’t think so. But apparently, the electorate did think Obama would cut their taxes and reduce the deficit.
In addition, I said:
-Public polls are garbage that are used for news fodder. Internal polling, which is more expensive and not given out publicly, can be revealed by where the candidates and the money are going.
-”Nate Silver is a hack,” I said. (He threw out 2002 data for some reason. What I know today is that he was being fed data from the Obama Campaign in 2008.)
-I believed in ‘Spot Campaigning’. It is the idea that if a candidate spends a ton of time in a state, that state is more likely to ‘vote’ for that candidate. I probably believed that because of what happened in Ohio in 2004 (or Gore campaigning through the night in Florida in 2000). In gym workouts, spot reducing is like thinking you can reduce fat in your stomach by doing nothing but crunches. But the truth is that fat is universal over your body, and you can’t ‘target’ a body part to get rid of fat. Fat drains away evenly through the body. In a similar way, states cannot be ‘spot campaigned’. Campaigning and ad buys can only do so much, but it cannot buck a state beyond the national trends. Pennsylvania could not be turned no matter how much time McCain campaigned there.
So going forward in 2012, predicting the election is pretty much slam dunk easy. Incumbent president in a bad economy? He’s gone. That is the historical pattern.
What I want to say is:
“Are you crazy? The country has been downgraded twice, has a very bad economy with high unemployment, taxes are going up, had healthcare taken over by the government in way the public didn’t want, and currently has terrorism problems (with the attacks on the embassy). The question is not whether or not Romney will win but by how big the win will be?”
If you want to go for a more of state by state basis, start with 2004 as that was very even (and missing the strange things in 2000 like 3 hurricanes hitting Florida and that state being called early).
In 2004, Bush won Virginia and Florida solidly with around +5%. If Romney performs better than Bush did in 2004 (probable), pollsters would be considering Virginia and Florida in the bag and move from those states. And if Florida and Virginia are going Romney, then North Carolina and Indiana would be in the bag for quite some time.
Ohio should be a solid win for Romney as Ohio votes with the national average. If Romney performs better than Bush did in 2004, this not only places Ohio as a solid win but starts moving other states to toss-up status (which we are starting to see as well today). In 2004, Bush got 48% of the vote in Pennsylvania. If Romney performs better than Bush…
Vice presidents are traditionally picked so they can bring their home states. Ryan on the ticket seriously makes Wisconsin vulnerable. Biden’s homes state isn’t a swing state.
Romney only needs Ohio, Florida, and a state like Colorado and he’s won. And he’s probably past that at this point.
An Obama win in 2012 would be extraordinary due to the economic trends. No U.S. President has ever won re-election with such a high level of unemployment and poor economic growth. I’m saying an Obama win would be a huge shock to political science professors and to people who study the history of these things. The only exception to such trends in history would be 1936 with FDR against Landon. But Landon campaigned exactly on what FDR did in which the Democratic Party accused Landon of trying to steal their campaign of which he responded, “Why not?”
What I’m seeing today…
-Everyone is questioning the public polling. Even Jay Cost is pointing out how problematic it is for Gall-up to change their methodology just weeks before an election. It just isn’t done. http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-politics-and-gallup-poll_654143.html?nopager=1
-More and more people are calling out Nate Silver and calling him a hack. Silver has Obama to win at an 85% probability a month from the election. And we cannot question Silver because it is “math”. But look at how Silver is currently backpedaling. I think this guy’s reputation is going to be absolutely destroyed after 2012. The ‘genius’ spotlight will likely shine on the University of Colorado professors who made an election model that has been right for every election as far back as 1980 including Bush winning and losing the popular vote in 2000. That is impressive.
-No one wants to CONSIDER Pennsylvania voting R. I wonder if part of it is because of me. I can see the viewing numbers of my blog posts and the ones like Toast are massive. They have more views than pretty much all my blog posts combined. Someone posted my blog posts on political forums and media which attracted a ton of attention. I know some of the pundits had seen it. They see the current public polling saying Pennsylvania is becoming a toss-up, but they say, “No, there is no way it can go R. Everyone says it will go R, but it never does.” They just don’t want to end up looking silly like I did after 2008. You guys are such chickens, I swear.
I do believe the election was decided a long time ago. I know you’re not supposed to say that, but these economic trends are so negative that I don’t see how any incumbent politician survives.