Free Markets, Free People

Michael Barone

Prediction time (Update)

If you haven’t read Karl Rove’s analysis of the election, you ought too. Yeah, I know, Rove is partisan and all of that, but, like Michael Barone (who, by the way, has predicted a Romney win), he knows election demographics.

Rove makes a point that seems to be missed by a lot of people or, perhaps, ignored instead:

He maintains a small but persistent polling edge. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama, 47.2%. The GOP challenger was at or above 50% in 10 polls, Mr. Obama in none.

The number that may matter the most is Mr. Obama’s 47.2% share. As the incumbent, he’s likely to find that number going into Election Day is a percentage point or so below what he gets.

Why is that significant?

For example, in 2004 President George W. Bush had 49% in the final Gallup likely-voter track; he received 50.7% on Election Day. In 1996, President Clinton was at 48% in the last Gallup; he got 49.2% at the polls. And in 1992, President George H.W. Bush was at 37% in the closing Gallup; he collected 37.5% in the balloting.

If you can’t get above 47%, and your challenger is running above that number, chances are you aren’t going to win.

Then there are the polling demographics. Remember when I said that if a poll has D+ anything, it is likely wrong? I stand by that:

One potentially dispositive question is what mix of Republicans and Democrats will show up this election. On Friday last week, Gallup hinted at the partisan makeup of the 2012 electorate with a small chart buried at the end of its daily tracking report. Based on all its October polling, Gallup suggested that this year’s turnout might be 36% Republican to 35% Democratic, compared with 39% Democratic and 29% Republican in 2008, and 39% Republican and 37% Democratic in 2004. If accurate, this would be real trouble for Mr. Obama, since Mr. Romney has consistently led among independents in most October surveys.

So, assuming Gallup is right, and it is R+1 as we’ve been saying is likely here, what does that mean for the polling that’s going on?

Take a look at this handy little chart from RCP:

The chart makes the point about how important it is for the polling company to get the mix correct and the probability that many of them haven’t. If they’re not properly skewed, you aren’t going to get valid results. We know there are still polls being run out there with D+5 and up to D+8. Those were legitimate in 2008.

This ain’t 2008 (and you have to ignore 2010 to believe it is) by a long shot.

Then there’s this:

Gallup delivered some additional bad news to Mr. Obama on early voting. Through Sunday, 15% of those surveyed said they had already cast a ballot either in person or absentee. They broke for Mr. Romney, 52% to 46%. The 63% who said they planned to vote on Election Day similarly supported Mr. Romney, 51% to 45%.

So, what is happening is the Democrats are getting their most motivated voters to the polls early and they’re still running behind the GOP.  If, in fact, that’s the case, then who will the Dems be trying to turn out on Tuesday and how successful will they be?  It all comes down to enthusiasm, doesn’t it?  And as measured, that too resides on the side of the GOP (well, except for the NYT poll, unsurprisingly):

Finally, while looking that that chart, remember that independents have been breaking large toward Romney. More than for any GOP candidate in recent history.  Add all the other demographics that have shifted significant support from Obama in the last election to Romney in this one, not to mention the atmospherics that simply aren’t there for the incumbent and it is difficult to believe that Obama will win.

So, all that said, I’ll predict a Romney win with slightly over 50% and around 279 electoral votes.  I’ll also predict that Nate Silver will be donating $1,000 to charity and David Axlerod’s mustache will be absent Wednesday of next week.

UPDATE: A reminder for all the doubters out there who want to dismiss Rove – In 2008 Karl Rove predicted an Obama win with 338 EVs (actual: 365)

~McQ

As Obama’s political troubles multiply, the “racism” excuse begins to emerge

Michael Barone notes something I’ve been watching happen over the past few months:

As Barack Obama’s lead over Mitt Romney in the polls narrows, and his presumed fundraising advantage seems about to become a disadvantage, it’s alibi time for some of his backers.

His problem, they say, is that some voters don’t like him because he’s black. Or they don’t like his policies because they don’t like having a black president.

Barone goes on to explain what that’s such a bankrupt excuse:

There’s an obvious problem with the racism alibi. Barack Obama has run for president before, and he won. Voters in 2008 knew he was black. Most of them voted for him. He carried 28 states and won 365 electoral votes.

Nationwide, he won 53 percent of the popular vote. That may not sound like a landslide, but it’s a higher percentage than any Democratic nominee except Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.

Democratic national conventions have selected nominees 45 times since 1832. In seven cases, they won more than 53 percent of the vote. In 37 cases, they won less.

That means President Obama won a larger percentage of the vote than Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and (though you probably don’t want to bring this up in conversation with him) Bill Clinton.

Those are facts.  Those that didn’t vote for him or support him, for whatever reason the last time, are even more unlikely to support him this time, given his record.  If race was the reason for not voting for him in 2008, you’re probably going to find 99% of those type people in this bloc of voters in 2012 as well.

So if he loses, he’s going to lose because his support eroded among those who put him over the top the last time.  Some aren’t going to vote for him this time and others are going to support the opposition candidate.

Is the left really going to try to sell that as a result of “racism”?

Yes.  That is a developing theme.  The fear, I suppose, is that the white guilt the race war lords have tried to instill and exploit for years has been assuaged by his election and thus can no longer be exploited for his re-election.

Thus the push to reestablish the meme.

It’s all over the place.  Joy Behar and Janeane Garofalo provide a typical example.

How absurd has it gotten.  Well, the Congressional Black Caucus is always a good place to go to figure that out:

Angela Rye, Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus, argued that President Obama has struggled during his first term due to racially-motivated opposition from conservatives who dislike having a black president.

"This is probably the toughest presidential term in my lifetime," Rye said during CSPAN’s Q&A yesterday. "I think that a lot of what the president has experienced is because he’s black. You know, whether it’s questioning his intellect or whether or not he’s Ivy League. It’s always either he’s not educated enough or he’s too educated; or he’s too black or he’s not black enough; he’s too Christian or not Christian enough. There are all these things where he has to walk this very fine line to even be successful."

She said that "a lot" of conservative opposition is racially-charged, citing the use of the word "cool" in an attack ad launched by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS superPAC.

"There’s an ad, talking about [how] the president is too cool, [asking] is he too cool? And there’s this music that reminds me of, you know, some of the blaxploitation films from the 70s playing in the background, him with his sunglasses," Rye said. "And to me it was just very racially-charged. They weren’t asking if Bush was too cool, but, yet, people say that that’s the number one person they’d love to have a beer with. So, if that’s not cool I don’t know what is.

She added that "even ‘cool,’ the term ‘cool,’ could in some ways be deemed racial [in this instance]."

“Cool” is racist?  Who knew?  They’re essentially making this stuff up on the fly.  Racism has become, for some, the tool of choice to stifle debate and muffle free speech.  Don’t like what you’re hearing?  Claim it’s racist and they’ll shut up.  How “cool” is that?

By the way, speaking of “blaxploitation”, what would you deem this ad?

More examples of racially charged words you never knew about?  Well, consult the ever knowledgeable Ed Shultz for the latest:

On his MSNBC program last night, Schultz referred to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), someone Herman Cain would seriously consider as a running mate, as "the guy who used an old Southern, racist term when talking about defeating President Obama during the healthcare debate. Below is the offending statement:

DeMint (Audio, July 9, 2009): "If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him."

“Break” = racism.  Of course Ed Shultz, “racism” authority, was also the guy who edited a tape by Governor Perry of Texas to make a perfectly innocent remark sound racist.  He later apologized for it.

Chris Matthews is not averse to making the racism excuse, or at least, interviewing those who will:

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown if House Chairman Darrell Issa’s treatment of Attorney General Eric Holder was "ethnic." Brown agreed, and Matthews said some Republicans "talk down to the president and his friends."

Because, you know, lying to Congress and the death of two federal agents as a result of a horrendous operation has nothing at all to do with Issa’s inquiry.

Finally there is this nonsensical “correlation is causation” study that the NYT saw fit to print.

Oh, yes, the racism charge is fully loaded and ready to be used, no question about it.

Obama’s possible failure to be re-elected couldn’t be because he’s been a dismal failure as president and a huge disappointment even to those who elected him could it?

Nope, it has to be because he’s black.

Back to Garafalo and Behar for a wrap up:

“And I don’t understand why so many people are reticent to discuss race in this country. We are not a post-racial society,” she added.

“No, not yet,” Behar said. “Not in our lifetime. There‘s no country in the world that’s post-racial yet, I don’t think.”

“Until the human condition changes, we won’t be,” she added …

Actually, it won’t change until some among us quit finding racism as the primary motive behind everything that happens when there are much more plausible reasons available.  The fixation on racism comes from the left and is its fall back position whenever it encounters political or electoral reverses.  It is convenient.

But racism is an excuse, not a reason. This goes back to the almost religious belief on the left that it isn’t their message (or performance) that is being rejected, so it must be something else.  The means of message delivery must be deficient or the race of the messenger is causing a racist public to reject it.

It couldn’t be because he has been a terrible president or that the message sucks.

Nope, it has to be racism.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

Voters flee to states with less government intrusion

Daniel Mitchell provides a bit of ground truth that we’ve recently seen demonstrated via the census numbers:

The world is a laboratory and different nations are public policy experiments. Not surprisingly, the evidence from these experiments is that nations with more freedom tend to grow faster and enjoy more prosperity. Nations with big governments, by contrast, are more likely to suffer from stagnation. The same thing happens inside the United States. The 50 states are experiments, and they generate considerable data showing that small government states enjoy better economic performance. But because migration between states is so easy (whereas migration between nations is more complicated), we also get very good evidence based on people “voting with their feet.” Taxation and jobs are two big factors that drive this process.

Seats were gained by two types of states – those with "right to work" laws and states without income tax. The states with relatively low income taxes also gained.

Says Michael Barone:

…growth tends to be stronger where taxes are lower. Seven of the nine states that do not levy an income tax grew faster than the national average. The other two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, had the fastest growth in their regions, the Midwest and New England. Altogether, 35 percent of the nation’s total population growth occurred in these nine non-taxing states, which accounted for just 19 percent of total population at the beginning of the decade.

For the “we have the lowest taxes in the world” bunch that continue to claim our taxes should be even higher, these numbers should drive the point home.  Americans are indeed voting with their feet and they’re fleeing to states that encourage vs. discourage businesses (and thus the creation of jobs) and states which don’t tax the income of job holders.  Unsurprisingly those states are mostly found in the South where free markets and free people are concepts that aren’t esoteric thought exercises, but something which those that live there both desire and demand.

Certainly that doesn’t mean the South is perfect by any means.  It’s just much better than the rest of the country when it comes to those two things that people hold to be important – enough so that they’re moving there in record numbers to take advantage of the business climate.  Texas, for instance, picked up 4 House seats.  Florida 2.  The rest of the South, except Louisiana (the Katrina effect), picked up one each.

This is another indicator of why I see Democrats and their agenda having problems in 2012.  That message hasn’t yet sunk in.  Whether it will or not, remains to be seen.  But to this point, they’re still a “big government” party.  Republicans seem, at least on the surface, to understand what the voters said the last election.  Spine, however, is an ever fleeting commodity in Washington, and if they – as they usually do – buy into this “need” for “bipartisanship”, then they’re fools and they’ll fail.  Bipartisanship is vastly oversold.  If ever the GOP played hardball, now is the time.

Of course, the other side of that is if the GOP succeeds in some small way and convince President Obama to sign those victories into law, Obama will obviously try to claim he’s the reason it became a law.  A little reflective glory.  Spin cycles will be on overdrive and the GOP must be as transparent as possible during this next Congressional period so any such occurrence will reflect favorably on them and not the President.

Let’s be upfront here – we need Obama playing golf permanently in 2013.

Anyway, the demographics of the new census and the why and wherefores of the population shift were just too interesting to pass off.  Daniel Mitchell then asks the most salient of questions in conclusion:

This leaves us with one perplexing question. If we know that pro-market policies work for states, why does the crowd in Washington push for more statism?

The one word we all know and loath, of course – power.

~McQ

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About “Reconciliation”

Despite all the rumors of back-room deals already agreed upon by the Democrats the House may be short of the votes necessary to pass the Senate version of the Health Care Reform bill.

Of course the rumored plan is to have the House pass the Senate bill without change and then have the Senate amend it to the House’s liking through the reconciliation process which only requires 51 votes to pass.

Not so fast.

First the House has to pass it – and, according to at least one source, they may be as many as 100 votes short. Michael Barone explains why House Democrats may be less than enthusiastic about voting for this bill:

Why are House Democratic leaders having such trouble getting the 217 votes needed for a majority (because there are vacancies now in two Democratic-held seats)? Look at it this way. Imagine you’re a Democratic congressman from a not entirely safe district. The leadership comes to you and says, We’d like you to vote for the Senate bill. Oh, and by the way, we can’t change a word in it. You’ve got to vote for the Cornhusker Hustle and the Louisiana Purchase and all that other garbage.

But hey, the leadership guy will go on, there’s no risk, because the Senate will fix everything through the reconciliation process. You will be suspicious of this. You will note that using the reconciliation process requires favorable rulings from the Senate parliamentarian, rulings over which you have no more leverage than you have over phases of the moon. It requires 50 Democratic senators willing to go along with reconciliation, and given the poll numbers that have been coming out lately that’s not a sure thing. And it requires steady leadership from Harry Reid—who just last week, without notice to the White House, the House leadership or the senators involved, yanked a Baucus-Grassely bipartisan “jobs” bill and substituted a much smaller one of his own.

A. First you have to trust Nancy Pelosi enough to vote on it.
B. Then you have to trust Harry Reid to do what he says he’ll do – i.e. initiate the reconciliation process and address the specific points the House wants changed.
C. You have to hope there are enough Democratic Senators (not in tight races) who’ll go along with reconciliation. And finally,
D. You have to hope that the process is favorably ruled upon by the Senate parlimentarian.

If all of that doesn’t come to pass and the Senate bill passes unchanged, the Democratic member of the House has handed his political opponents in this year’s midterms some ready made ammunition. He or she will have voted for the Louisiana Purchase, Cornhusker Kickback and all manner of other other objectionable portions of the bill. Concludes Barone:

The only protection you have against this is the assurance that the Senate parliamentarian and scared incumbent senators will come through for you, and that Harry Reid will pursue a steady course.

So your response to the leadership is either, I gotta think about this, or, Hell no. The House Democratic leadership’s problem is that it cannot credibly promise that the Senate will keep its part of the bargain.

In terms of trust, my guess is Senate Democrats rank somewhere below used car salesmen and lawyers.

~McQ

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Was Colin Powell Wrong?

Colin Powell said that it appeared to him that Americans not only wanted more government services, but were willing to pay for them. Michale Barone, who is probably one of the better poll interpreters out there, looks at a gaggle of them and isn’t so sure Powell is right (Powell has since become concerned with Obama’s expansion of government and spending):

Last month’s Washington Post/ABC poll reported that Americans favor smaller government with fewer services to larger government with more services by a 54 to 41 percent margin — a slight uptick since 2004. The percentage of Independents favoring small government rose to 61 percent from 52 percent in 2008. The June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported that, even amid recession, 58 percent worry more about keeping the budget deficit down versus 35 percent worried more about boosting the economy. A similar question in the June CBS/New York Times poll showed a 52 to 41 percent split.

Other polls show a resistance to specific Democratic proposals. Pollster Whit Ayres reports that 58 percent of voters agree that reforming health care, while important, should be done without raising taxes or increasing the deficit. Pollster Scott Rasmussen reports that 56 percent of Americans are unwilling to pay more in taxes or utility rates to generate cleaner energy and fight global warming.

Of course the fun of all this is to try and determine what all of that means. Analysis is then turned into political action – or so it is supposed to go. But the problem is determining what “Americans favor smaller government with fewer services” really means. Like “hope and change” everyone has their own idea of what “smaller government” is, and my guess is it isn’t much smaller than it is now if at all. Instead, poll respondents may be saying they don’t want it to get much bigger.

Probably the most interesting trend in these cited polls is the movement of Independents away from what can only be favoring a big government Democrat. Anyone who actually paid attention to the campaign of Barack Obama and didn’t realize he was a guy who was fully invested in big government and sweeping federal programs shouldn’t have voted.

Reality is here now. All the “hope and change” hoopla has finally boiled down to intrusive and very expensive government programs such as cap-and-trade and health care reform. The election bill is coming due. Yet, if these polls are to be believed, the majority of Americans – while still favoring Obama personally with high approval ratings – are not at all happy with the direction the Democrats are taking the country.

This apparent recoil against big government policies has not gone unnoticed by Americans. Gallup reported earlier this week that 39 percent of Americans say their views on political issues have grown more conservative, while only 18 say they have grown more liberal. Moderates agreed by a 33 to 18 percent margin.

What has driven much of this shift in opinion is the economic downturn and the problem the average American has understanding the huge deficit spending policies of this administration. He certainly understands that the same policies applied to his household would be an unmitigated disaster. So common sense opposes deficit spending, especially at the unheard of levels this administration has committed itself too. Thus far, too, the economy hasn’t responded, and job losses continue unabated. As with all politics, the proof of any policy is in its execution, and the execution of the stimulus has been awful, to be charitable.

That leads to a loss of confidence. But it also leads to a little soul searching on the part of those who’ve agreed, with their vote, to give the Democrats a chance. They’re now beginning to wonder if they made a mistake. The economy is tanking, unemployment is 2.5 points above where they said it would be unless they passed the stimulus, and they’re talking about tacking two monstrous tax and spend programs (cap-and-trade and health care) on top of it all.

No wonder the nation is growing more “conservative”. Of course, again, it is up to the political analysts to try to determine what “more conservative” really means and convert that to votes for their side. I have every confidence that the GOP won’t have a clue how to do either the analysis or the conversion, but these polls seem to indicate that there is a lot for the right to exploit politically. However, distracted by the Palin/Sanford/Ensign nonsense, and without a strong voice to make their case, I’m sure they’ll miss this opportunity completely.

That’s not to say the Democrats won’t self-destruct as they’ve always done in the past, however, Republicans need to rally and stop both cap-and-trade and health care “reform” in their tracks. It seems, if these polls are to be believed, that they have the support of the public. The question is, do they have the ability to form the necessary political coalitions to stop this huge expansion of government in Congress or not? If not, taking it apart later isn’t as easy as one thinks. Very few programs, once passed into law, are ever discontinued at a later date.

However, the unfortunate part is if the GOP does successfully stop this legislation, they’ll be roundly demonized by the left, something the left does very well and the GOP defends against very poorly. Their inclination, then, is compromise. And that means accepting the premise the Dems are floating but trying to make its impact smaller and less intrusive. That, most likely, will be what we’ll end up with – and if so, the GOP will deservedly be tagged as a “bi-partisan” part of the disaster that follows and will have killed their only possible electoral advantage.

If the GOP wants back in this thing, they’ve got to assume Colin Powell was wrong (and the polls seem to suggest that), reject the premises contained in both cap-and-trade and health care reform completely and unify as the “party of smaller and less intrusive government”. That’s how they regain power. To retain it, however, they’ll have to walk the smaller government walk instead of, as they did last time, becoming Democrat-lite. And that’s where they always fail.

~McQ

Michael Barone: The Three Rules Of Obama

Michale Barone, observing the Obama presidency as it unfolds, has penned his own “Three Rules of Obama”.

Rule one:

First, Obama likes to execute long-range strategies but suffers from cognitive dissonance when new facts render them inappropriate.

Barone cites Obama’s long range strategy of conciliatory diplomacy with the likes of Iran and North Korea being “undercut by North Korea’s missile launches and demonstrations in Iran against the mullah regime’s apparent election fraud.”

His assumption that friendly words could melt the hearts of Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been refuted by events. He limits himself to expressing “deep concern” about the election in the almost surely vain hope of persuading the mullahs to abandon their drive for nuclear weapons, while he misses his chance to encourage the one result — regime change — that could protect us and our allies from Iranian attack.

Obama apologist continue to insist his policy of “restraint” is the right course. Events and history seem to argue otherwise. Bottom line: not very agile when his presumptions are shattered.

Rule two:

Second, he does not seem to care much about the details of policy.

The “closing” of Guantanamo is perhaps the perfect example. Obviously politically satisfying at the time it was announced, its execution has been an absolute fiasco. None of the underlying problems of closing the prison had apparently been researched or considered when the promise was made.

And that’s not the only example:

He subcontracted the stimulus package to congressional appropriators, the cap-and-trade legislation to Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, and his health care program to Max Baucus. The result is incoherent public policy: indefensible pork barrel projects, a carbon emissions bill that doesn’t limit carbon emissions from politically connected industries, and a health care program priced by the Congressional Budget Office at a fiscally unfeasible $1,600,000,000,000.

Obama sees himself as the grand vision guy and it is up to his minions to put his vision together. Of course, that sort of outsourcing is bound to come up against competing agendas. He doesn’t seem to take that into account, apparently doesn’t do the necessary work to assure his version of his agenda is the dominant one and the result is chaos. Bottom line: his legislative and executive inexperience is the worst enemy of his aggressive agenda.

Rule three:

Third, he does business Chicago-style.

“Transparency” and “openness” are now just a words as he and his administration begin to insist on more and more executive privilege. And there’s also the example of the IG mess, not to mention the stories of threats and intimidation toward auto company bond holders and banks.

Key point?

From Chicago he brings the assumption that there will always be a bounteous private sector that can be plundered endlessly on behalf of political favorites.

Just ask the UAW (and other unions) and ACORN. And Barone uses precisely the right word here – plunder. All of his grand plans are based on plundering the rich and redistributing the spoils to favorites. A more destructive presidency is hard to imagine.

Hope and change.

~McQ