President Obama is finally getting a break after a politically rough year. It is my opinion that he will most likely win the general election in November. Here is why.
First, the economy is picking up steam. Consumer confidence is rising significantly—this metric is a more accurate predictor of re-election than the oft-mentioned unemployment rate.
Obama’s economic policies have not worked perfectly, but they sped up the recovery sufficiently.
I’ll provide two examples of his policies: the stimulus bill and the auto bailout.
The stimulus bill’s short-term benefits are largely agreed upon in the academic community—the legislation cut taxes and delayed government layoffs until alternative jobs were available for the afflicted workers.
As a result, the economy recovered more quickly, and structural unemployment was reduced.
Since everyone is going to hound me for evidence here, I am providing the link to a fantastic, apolitical column by Ezra Klein which surveys the academic studies of the stimulus.
I should also note that the jury has yet to decide whether the final cost of the bill will outweigh the economic benefits. The article can be found online at http://wapo.st/pNqBOI.
The bailout of General Motors prevented the messy liquidation of a significant portion of the auto-manufacturing sector.
The company is once again profitable after a government-managed bankruptcy. Voters, especially the Democrats in Michigan, will remember this fact when they go to the polls.
(Side-note: The justification for implementing a government-managed bankruptcy rather than a private-sector one is simple: in the middle of severe credit crunches, inadequate private capital exists for the bankruptcies of such large companies. On the other hand, the government can raise the necessary capital with the click of a mouse).
In the end, the bailout didn’t even cost the taxpayers a dime—they actually stand to make around $20-60 billion after the cost of the auto bailout is subtracted from the profits of the bank bailouts.
My second point is straightforward—Obama has money, and a lot of it.
He has a well-established network of small-amount grassroots donors. He is now accepting SuperPAC funds, which will bring him enormous amounts of cash from unions and other single, wealthy donors such as George Soros.
In the meantime, the Republican contenders are burning millions of dollars in the primaries as they bloody each other, while Obama is projected to raise over $1 billion for the general election.
Contrary to the complaints of many liberals, the Citizens United decision will probably help Democrats more than the Republicans. Such flagrant money-flinging probably won’t be healthy for our democracy, but I will gripe about that issue later.
Third, the Republicans are self-destructing in the primaries.
Mitt Romney, the only candidate moderate enough to be elected by the entire country, is alienating the all-important independent voters in the polls as he panders to right.
For example, polls show that the contraception flap drove young, independent women (most of whom are sexually active and use contraception) away from the GOP.
This is a crucial demographic which propelled Obama to the White House in 2008 (not solely African Americans, as most assume).
Not only are women outnumbering men, but they also vote more often and are better educated.
Romney needs this demographic, but he’s scaring them off.
They may not come back before November.
Of course, energizing one’s base is also important during elections, but decades of research shows the independent vote to be necessary for victory.
Not that it matters—Romney can’t even excite the Republican base.
Many of them refuse to vote for him.
Instead, voters are fracturing the party and leaning towards socially conservative candidate, Rick Santorum.
The GOP is finally paying for its endorsement of the Tea Party. While the drawn-out Democratic primary of 2008 helped to increase Obama’s underdog popularity, polls show that this elongated Republican primary is hurting all of the candidates’ reputations.
Fourth and least controversially, Obama is an incumbent. His name is recognized throughout the United States.
He already has in place a huge, well-funded campaign infrastructure. Incumbency is actually Obama’s greatest asset—incumbents typically don’t lose.
All of these observations suggest Obama’s re-election in November, bar any black swan events such as war with Iran or the breakup of the euro-zone.
Unfortunately, black swan events are by definition unpredictable, so take this opinion with a grain of salt.
Regardless, one must agree that the Republicans aren’t helping themselves.
Do they want to win elections? Or do they want to blissfully ignore the 120 million non-conservatives in this country?
Those citizens can vote too, and the Republican Party would do well to remember that come 2016.
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