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“The Wrong Right Move”: Terrible News For Mitt Romney

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at D’Evelyn High School in Denver, Colorado over the weekend.

Once it became clear that President Obama received a significant bounce from the Democratic National Convention, the next question was whether this bounce would translate to an enduring advantage for his campaign.

On Friday, polls from National Journal and Reason magazine gave Obama a seven-point lead over Mitt Romney, 50–43 and 52–45, respectively. Saturday was a quiet day for national polling, but Sunday saw the release of two tracking polls by Rasmussen and Gallup. Rasmussen was unchanged from the last few days; Romney and Obama remain tied with 46 percent support, though Obama’s job approval has ticked down: 48 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove.

Obama began last week in a similar position with Gallup, but both his approval—and performance against Romney—improved in yesterday’s tracking poll. He now earns 48 percent support to Romney’s 46 percent, and has a job approval rating of 51 percent, with 43 percent disapproval. This morning, a set of national polls from Zogby and Politico/George Washington University show Obama with a decisive lead in the race. The Politico poll finds Obama leading Romney by 3 points among likely voters, 50 percent to 47 percent, while Zogby has Obama up 8, 49 percent to 41 percent.

These results should be considered with polls released last week—from NBC News and the Pew Research Center—that show Obama above 50 percent against Mitt Romney. Relative to his post-convention bounce, Obama’s position has declined, but overall, he’s unquestionably stronger than he was before the conventions. Here is a chart to illustrate the general change over the last three weeks.

As you can see, Obama’s position has sloped downwards since the beginning of last week, but Romney’s has also declined, leaving them in the same rough position.

If there’s an upside for Romney, it’s that Gallup and Rasmussen show a neck-and-neck race. But that’s the extent of the positive news for the former Massachusetts governor. Indeed, if we move our attention to state-level polling, the picture looks even worse for the Republican nominee. In the most critical state for Romney, Florida, his position has deteriorated. Public Policy Polling gives Obama a four-point lead in Florida, while Mason-Dixon puts him ahead by 1 percent. If you’re unwilling to put Florida in the “leans Obama” column—on account of Romney’s one-point lead in Friday’s Purple Strategies survey—then the most you can say is that Florida is a toss-up that tilts in Obama’s favor.

There’s no way in which this isn’t terrible news for Romney. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, there is no way for him to reach 270 without winning two states from the “leans Obama” column, like Wisconsin and Michigan. At most, he gets 256 electoral votes—and that’s if he wins every other swing state on the map.

Here’s where Romney stands: He consistently trails Obama, hasn’t held a lead in national polls, and is nearly five points way from the 50-percent mark in most polling averages. His support is collapsing among core demographics like older voters, and he has lost his advantage on the economy. Doubling-down on conservative positions might build enthusiasm among his base, but it won’t help him catch up with Obama; both sides are winning the vast majority of their respective partisans and partisan leaners.

In other words, unless Romney can win undecideds and convert Obama voters, he simply doesn’t have a path to the victory.


By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, September 24, 2012

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Romney’s Optimism Cure”: Are You Feeling Reassured By The Confidence Fairy?

Mitt Romney is optimistic about optimism. In fact, it’s pretty much all he’s got. And that fact should make you very pessimistic about his chances of leading an economic recovery.

As many people have noticed, Mr. Romney’s five-point “economic plan” is very nearly substance-free. It vaguely suggests that he will pursue the same goals Republicans always pursue — weaker environmental protection, lower taxes on the wealthy. But it offers neither specifics nor any indication why returning to George W. Bush’s policies would cure a slump that began on Mr. Bush’s watch.

In his Boca Raton meeting with donors, however, Mr. Romney revealed his real plan, which is to rely on magic. “My own view is,” he declared, “if we win on November 6, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back, and we’ll see — without actually doing anything — we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

Are you feeling reassured?

In fairness to Mr. Romney, his assertion that electing him would spontaneously spark an economic boom is consistent with his party’s current economic dogma. Republican leaders have long insisted that the main thing holding the economy back is the “uncertainty” created by President Obama’s statements — roughly speaking, that businesspeople aren’t investing because Mr. Obama has hurt their feelings. If you believe that, it makes sense to argue that changing presidents would, all by itself, cause an economic revival.

There is, however, no evidence supporting this dogma. Our protracted economic weakness isn’t a mystery; it’s what normally happens after a major financial crisis. Furthermore, business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly since the official recession ended. What’s holding us back is mainly the continued weakness of housing combined with a vast overhang of household debt, the legacy of the Bush-era housing bubble.

By the way, in saying that our prolonged slump was predictable, I’m not saying that it was necessary. We could and should have greatly reduced the pain by combining aggressive fiscal and monetary policies with effective relief for highly indebted homeowners; the fact that we didn’t reflects a combination of timidity on the part of both the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve, and scorched-earth opposition on the part of the G.O.P.

But Mr. Romney, as I said, isn’t offering anything substantive to fight the slump, just a reprise of the usual slogans. And he has denounced the Fed’s belated effort to step up to the plate.

Back to the optimism thing: It’s true that some studies suggest a secondary role for uncertainty in depressing the economy — and conservatives have seized on these studies, claiming vindication. But if you actually look at the measures of uncertainty involved, they’ve been driven not by fear of Mr. Obama but by events like the euro crisis and the standoff over the debt ceiling. (O.K., I guess you could argue that electing Mr. Romney might encourage businesses by promising an end to Republican economic sabotage.)

You should also know that efforts to base policy on speculations about business psychology have a track record — and it’s not a good one.

Back in 2010, as European nations began implementing savage austerity programs to placate bond markets, it was common for policy makers to deny that these programs would have a depressing effect. “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect,” insisted Jean-Claude Trichet, then the president of the European Central Bank. Why? Because these measures would “increase the confidence of households, firms and investors.”

At the time I ridiculed such claims as belief in the “confidence fairy.” And sure enough, austerity programs actually led to Depression-level economic downturns across much of Europe.

Yet here comes Mitt Romney, declaring, in effect, “I am the confidence fairy!”

Is he? As it happens, Mr. Romney offered a testable proposition in his Boca remarks: “If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If it looks like the president’s going to win, the markets should not be terribly happy.” How’s that going? Not very well. Over the past month conventional wisdom has shifted from the view that the election could easily go either way to the view that Mr. Romney is very likely to lose; yet markets are up, not down, with major stock indexes hitting their highest levels since the economic downturn began.

It’s all kind of sad. Yet the truth is that it all fits together. Mr. Romney’s whole campaign has been based on the premise that he can become president simply by not being Barack Obama. Why shouldn’t he believe that he can fix the economy the same way?

But will he get a chance to put that theory to the test? At the moment, I’m not optimistic.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, September 23, 2012

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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