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June 01, 2012

Matt Yglesias Confirms: The Economy Is Awful Under Obama

Why do I say he confirms that?

Because he really wants to share, um, credit with Republicans.

Impressed by conservatives ability to pretend to believe that Obama is 100% responsible for events 1.5 years into divided government.

And 3.5 years into Obama's term, with 2 years of undivided, Democratic-unified government.

Remember when someone kept saying the previous Conservative Wisdom -- Obama's the favorite! gleep! -- was all effed up as usual? Tony Harden says so now.

Mitt Romney is now the front-runner to win the White House in 2012

If Mitt Romney turfs Barack Obama out of the Oval Office in November, then we might well look back on today and say that this was the day that the 44th President of the United States lost his bid for re-election.

The jobs numbers were appalling - just 69,000 jobs added last month, unemployment clmbing to 8.2 per cent and the ranks of the long-term unemployed swelling by 300,000. As Jim Pethokoukis of AEI notes, if the Obama administration hadn't slashed the numbers looking for jobs, unemployment would be 10.9 per cent.


The problems for Obama are stacking up. Not only is there the economy - and even if that gets better, this is the period when people's perceptions become set in aspic - but there's an inept campaign strategy and a tilt to the Left that is likely to alienate moderates and independents.

As John Podhoretz argues persuasively, Obama seems unable to make a case for why he should be re-elected, as Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43 did. Simply being Barack Obama, the personification of people's vague dreams, is no longer enough.

Obama's rambling, responsibility-dodging address in Minnesota showed that while his beautiful words may have been ideally fitted for the 2008 election, speechifying not do it this time around. Contrast it with Romney's relentless hammering of his jobs message on CBNC shortly beforehand and you can see why more thoughtful Democrats are getting very, very concerned.

Like Matt Yglesias. I really do not understand what kind of Fool's Paradise they'd been living in -- in 2008, I was reasonably confident McCain would lose.

While I did get excited about the chance that Palinmania would overcome McCain's huge problems, I was sort of baffled at how that could happen-- Palin was a thrilling personality, but our economic problems were real, and we were in two unpopular wars that didn't seem to be closing in on victory.

Those are facts on the ground. A talented politician can only do so much. (And when the financial crisis hit -- gee, then it was all over. McCain could have pinned that to Obama but insanely chose not to, reasoning "if we're talking about the economy, we're losing." Um, if you don't explain why your opponent is to be doubted on the only issue on people's minds, you're definitely losing, dude.)

At any rate: I knew this in 2008.

What the hell kind of Weapons-Grade Cocoon have liberals been living in?

How disconnected from the actual facts of the world do you have to be to imagine that a deepening depression is not going to count as a rather major mark against Obama?

What do these people think the majority of voters actually vote on? Half-baked, half-hearted gay marriage endorsements?

You should read Harden's piece, but here's a bit from the end:

Put all this together and what have we got? Romney must now be considered the narrow favourite in November. Of course, Obama could well be re-elected. But this feels like a moment similar to the one in mid-December 2007 when Obama began to eclipse Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

Although I'm holding off on saying it until after Wednesday, I've been privately saying what Fritzworth said today. Not only am I pretty confident Obama loses, but I do not think it will be close. I think it will be something like 56% for Romney.

By the way, let me explain the psychology of why people always say "it will be close." People like to say this because it seems safe, and also, because it demonstrates they are "serious" thinkers who are not just making "crazy predictions."

This is why, as I've pointed out, the New York Times supposed football predictions always show the games final scores pretty close -- 24-17, 31-27, and so forth.

Well, about half the games are pretty close. About half are not close at all. In many games, things simply break for one team. If things break for the team that was already stronger on paper, it's a blow-out.

People feel safe in making these "it will be close" predictions, but actually these predictions aren't very well-founded on logic or history. They're actually founded on emotion -- the desire to not look silly and not stand out from the crowd.

A realistic, logical view of these things would always bear in mind that sometimes it's simply not close at all; sometimes it's just a drubbing.

And by sometimes I mean "almost 50% of the time."

People who always say "it's going to be close" aren't really trying to predict anything. They're just babbling. If you're really going to make predictions, you have to take into account the not-at-all-uncommon situation where it's simply never really close at all.

Going by actual electoral history -- actually, you know, presidential contests aren't usually all that close, are they? We always keep in mind Bush v. Gore and that 0.005% difference (or whatever).

But Obama won by seven or eight. Clinton beat Dole by more than 8 (with Perot taking 8.4 -- I'd forgotten that).

Yeah, you could say that's "close," in a way. But in a national presidential election, that's really a convincing win where the outcome was never seriously in doubt.

Given actual electoral history, why do people cling to the notion "it's going to be close"? It's going to be close -- if Obama's winning. If that happens, somehow, Obama's lead will be small, and he'll squeak by with a narrow 2 point win.

If Romney wins, however, it's much more likely to be closer to a 6 point victory, which isn't all that close, or possibly even the nine point drubbing Jimmy Carter received at the hands of Reagan.

Just remember that every time you hear about the "intangible powers of incumbency." Yeah, Jimmy Carter had those. So did the Elder Bush.

They still lost.

And they lost for the exact same reasons Obama is likely to lose.

I do not know how the hell these prognosticators have been so confident of Obama's chances given that the two incumbents who lost elections in the past 40 years have lost precisely because the economy was in the crapper and they seemed incapable of doing anything positive about it.

One positive word for Obama's chances: In many of the crucial swing states, the unemployment rate is below the national average.

Some key battlegrounds are doing better than the nation as a whole. And even if the presidentís policies didnít cause the improvement, it could help his case that the economic outlook has brightened under his stewardship.

Auto and steel workers in battleground Ohio are getting jobs again. The unemployment rate in the state on Election Day is expected to be close to 7 percent.

That is certainly a helpful fact on the ground for Obama, at least in Ohio... but we'll see about that predicted rate of "close to 7 percent."

Which is, by the way, pretty bad.

The media complained incessantly about Bush's 5.6% national average, but apparently they think that Ohioans will love Obama for a predicted "close to 7 percent" rate.

We'll see, we'll see.

By the way, that article noted:

And the national numbers do still matter. Headlines on weak jobs reports donít help Obama. And he has only a few of those left, starting with Fridayís report, which is expected to show the economy added a mediocre 150,000 jobs in May. The stock market, which took a big hit in recent weeks as fears about Europe mounted, has a big impact on consumer confidence and voting behavior. A falling Dow often means a faltering incumbent.

Well. What a difference a day makes.

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posted by Ace at 06:22 PM

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