D. Dowd Muska


‘Hope and Change’ -- It Only Looks Dead

September 22, 2011

The Electoral College isn’t interested in candidates’ nationwide “favorability” ratings. It doesn’t monitor the price of gas, nor the performance of the stock market. It doesn’t track campaign donations. And it couldn’t care less about Soccer moms and NASCAR dads.

Keep these verities in mind the next time you hear GOP pols, media consultants, and pundits happy-dance on the president’s political grave. Barack Obama appears Carteresque today, but with less than 14 months to go, he still enjoys a considerable advantage in the only contest that counts on November 6, 2012: the battle for at least 270 electoral votes.

Sure, Obama is badly wounded. Perhaps fatally. But a simple thought experiment demonstrates the president’s shockingly enviable position: Can he win all the states captured by John Kerry in 2004? It’s almost a certainty. California won’t go Republican in 2012, and neither will Illinois, Maryland, New York, and the 15 other states (plus the District of Columbia) that favored the Democratic nominee over George W. Bush in the first post-9/11 presidential election. Even with their clout dropping due to population loss to the South and Southwest, the Kerry states will deliver Obama a whopping 246 electoral votes -- just 24 shy of victory.

The Republican nominee can rely on more states, but not many people live in Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, and West Virginia. Rick Perry or Mitt Romney -- let’s face reality, and recognize that the GOP will not nominate its best option, Gary Johnson -- has a “lock” on a mere 180 electoral votes.

That leaves nine states, and 112 electoral votes, up for grabs. Obama can lose eight of them, winning Florida alone, and be reelected. Alternatives include wins in Nevada and Ohio, or Colorado and North Carolina.

A generalized sense of disappointment about -- even anger at -- the president over the condition of the economy and a potentially unrepayable federal debt crippled Democrats last year. But PR gurus Myra Adams and Mark McKinnon warn that the Tea Party Election might not be repeated: “The 2010 midterm voters that [sic] swept Republicans into control of the U.S. House, governorships and state legislatures were older, whiter, and more conservative than those who went to the polls in 2008. Despite this ‘white flight’ from the Democratic Party, young voters, more minorities, more women, and generally more liberals will be back in 2012. Though some of the liberal base may hold their nose, they’re not likely to desert the Democratic incumbent in November. And there is no doubt that Obama’s billion-dollar campaign will find some way to get his core constituents to the polls.”

Keeping the moonbats on board became much easier, given what The Wall Street Journal called Obama’s recent “shift to a strikingly populist tone.” Leftists, reported POLITICO, “cheered President Barack Obama’s plan to hike taxes on the wealthy to cut the deficit.” The right’s echo chamber has convinced itself that class warfare won’t work. Yet surveys show that committed liberals aren’t the only Americans who seek to punish “the rich.” An April poll by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found that a gargantuan 75 percent of “moderate” registered voters back higher taxes on incomes that exceed $250,000. (So do 45 percent of tea-party supporters.)

Obama has further pledged that he will not “abandon the fundamental commitment that this country has kept for generations.” Translation: Don’t worry, greedy geezers, those “entitlement” checks will keep coming!

Scare-the-seniors is another tactic dismissed by conservative activists, analysts, and pundits who fail to understand Americans’ level of support for Big Government. Last month a CNN poll revealed that 62 percent of political independents believe “major changes” should not be made to Social Security and Medicare. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans concurred, as did 52 percent of tea-party supporters.

A final factor should help Obama: incumbency. Since George Washington, 21 out of 31 of the presidents who secured their parties’ nods to run again enjoyed a second term. At 67.7 percent, it’s a win rate a few points shy of Tom Brady’s stellar completion percentage this season.

Obama’s presidency has been even more disastrous than his predecessor’s administration. The community-organizer-in-chief has expanded Washington’s involvement in the Middle East’s slaughterhouse, raised taxes, added trillions to the national debt, intensified the federal takeover of healthcare, and appointed two dreadful justices to the Supreme Court.

But with an edge in the Electoral College, a reenergized base, and history on his side, it’s far too early to bet against Obama. However frightful a notion, he could be around for another 64 months.

D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.

# # # # #