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June 09, 2011

The Reek of Sweaty Desperation: Bob Shrum (Who's Not Terribly Good At Politics) Has Interesting Evidence of Obama's Reelection Inevitability

Via LauraW., Ramesh Ponnuru smells that stale sweat stink of the 1am gambler who's lost everything except his wedding ring and wants to hit a pawn shop before placing one last big bet on the 4th quarter of the Hawaii game.

Shrum's column is more of the same It's In The Bag stuff, and one wonders who he's trying to convince, the reader, or himself.

He maybe doesn't have the proper physical perspective on things:

Even from NYU’s campus in Florence, Italy, I could feel the gears of political prognosis shifting back home.

Really! You don't say!

NYU's summer-school European Vacation campus in Florence, Italy?

That sounds perfectly lovely! Sounds like you've got a pretty good sense of the pulse of the American heartland!

Anyway, that's not where he gets his Obama-Will-Win jazz from; rather, he compares Obama to, giggle, Reagan.

The past doesn’t repeat itself, but to the extent that it hints at rather than reveals the future, the relevant signs suggest that Barack Obama is in a more advantageous position than Ronald Reagan was. In Gallup’s June 1983 numbers, Reagan’s approval was 43 percent; in late May and early June, Obama was five to eight points higher.

One can look at Reagan's not-so-good poll numbers at this point in his presidency.

Or, one can look at the factors underlying those poll numbers -- and how they were, based upon the underlying factors about to completely change, about to change themselves.


Reagan only posted a 2.60% quarterly growth rate in his ninth quarter. (Chart here, 1st quarter of 1983 if I'm counting right. Not so good; 2.60% is barely keeping pace with the rate of expansion of population and won't add new jobs. It'll only keep jobs from being freshly lost.

But the next quarter-- his tenth -- he posted a 10.9% quarterly GDP growth rate. And that will add new jobs. Oh, it won't be repeated -- that burst of explosive growth is just a one-off thing in recovery-- but succeeding quarters will be at 5%+ and then drop to a nice 3.5% average. A sustained rate of growth that will create new jobs.

In Reagan's case, it was repeated, almost, for a year: In successive quarters the economy grew like gangbusters at 6.5%, 7%, 7.4%, and 5%. Now that is a recovery.

So, point is, at this point in Clinton's term the help of a hiring boom was already on its way and in fact was late -- took a while for people to start hiring. But on the way it was.

At this point in Reagan's term the economy had shifted from negative to slightly positive at 2.60%, but the next quarter was a jolt that woke everyone out of their Carter-years torpor.

So help was definitely on the way there.

But Obama?

Yeah, unless Obama is about to post a 10.9% quarterly growth rate this current quarter, I don't think Obama is about to experience the sudden surge in popularity that Reagan did.

The public's attitude reflected in these polling numbers was based on something, Shrum. You're not so dumb that you don't know that.

Reagan's low-ish number in this quarter of his presidency was based on a very deep recession only recently ending, and ending in just the previous quarter.

However, his reelection numbers were based on the most furious rate of growth in the postwar era.

Unless you know somethin' about a surging V-shaped recovery in the next two or three quarters, I'd drop this whole "But Reagan was only at 43%" jazz.

You're just misleading your readers. True, they wish to be misled; they love the cocoon.

But what people want isn't always what's best for them.

Reagan's Unemployment Line Vs. Obama's: This blogger has to use some forecasting to project the unemployment rate going forward in Obama's term, but I think his forecasts are fair and even generous, because few people are talking up a sub-8% unemployment rate.

Most liberals are in fact saying that if he gets it down to 8% -- eight percent! A very high rate! -- then he should be fine.

So I take 8% as sort of the under/over.

Point is, Obama will almost certainly not have Reagan-like GDP growth anytime soon, and he almost beyond a doubt bank-it-and-crank-it (I don't know what that means either, but it sounds like an expression) not have a 7.2% and falling-fast rate of unemployment, either.

Yes, Reagan did go into the election of 84 with a 7.2% rate of unemployment. Yes, that is quite high.

But the trend was obvious here. So obvious he won 49 states. Successive quarters of huge GDP growth will be followed by a serious surge in hiring. Before the election, the unemployment figure was falling sharply, and people believed -- for good reason -- the trend would continue.

There is no data to support the idea that the public has that understanding now.

In fact, there's data against that, with 48% believing we've got Depression 2.0 coming this year.

I suppose that actually helps Obama -- lowered expectations have long been his longtime companion and unconquerable ally.

But based on the current economic figures, it looks like Obama will merely match, and not exceed, the meager expectations people have for him.

No one can predict the future, except of course the psychic who correctly divined the Texas Murder Lawn.

If Obama's got 'round-10% GDP growth comin' round the bend, then yes, he's a shoo-in for reelection.

If not, then probably not.

I don't know. I don't know anything. I just think it does not look good.

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posted by Ace at 01:01 PM

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