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Daryl Cagle via politicalcartoons.com

William Galston is a noted scholar (formerly the Saul Stern Professor and Dean at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland) and experienced political hand (Bill Clinton's Deputy Assistant for Domestic Policy in the '90s) who is currently the Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

This past week, Dr. Galston released a white paper, titled "Six Months to Go: Where the Presidential Contest Stands as the General Election Begins." It caught my attention since that's a topic of great interest to us, and I was pleased to see some familiar themes (see Things that matter in the presidential election, and things that don't) covered in the paper.

Six topics in particular were the focus:

• An examination of polling results and public attitudes toward both candidates and important issues of the day.

It remains to be seen whether the negative perceptions of Romney that resulted from the nominating contest will endure. For the time being, at least, Obama enjoys a sizeable advantage on a host of personal qualities. He has a narrow edge in most of the key swing states. And his path to 270 electoral votes is easier than Romney’s. In short, he begins the general election contest with a modest advantage, which adverse developments at home or abroad could eliminate or even reverse. The 2012 election will be hotly contested, and the victor’s margin is unlikely to approach Obama’s seven-point edge in 2008.
• The mood of the country
Reflecting diminished confidence in government and public life, younger Americans are more likely to view the American dream as resulting from personal achievement. They are also less likely to give priority to ensuring opportunity for all members of society. Because they cannot rely on government for financial security, they experience increased pressure to provide for themselves and their families. But they are not confident that they will be able to do so if current trends continue.
• The issues
Every survey finds that economic issues dominate public concerns. The most recent survey of the Pew Research Center asked respondents to rank eighteen issues on a four-point scale from “very” to “not at all” important. Eighty-six percent said that the economy was very important, with jobs a close second at 84 percent. By contrast, four hot-button social issues—immigration (42 percent), abortion (39 percent), birth control (34 percent), and gay marriage (28 percent)—came in at the bottom.
• Ideology
The election of 2012 takes place against the backdrop of a political system that is more polarized along partisan and ideological lines than it has been for many decades—indeed, if standard political science measures are correct, since the 1890s. This fact has already reshaped the campaigns of both the president and his challenger.
• What kind of election will 2012 be?
It appears that 2012 will be more like 2004—a classic mobilization election—than either 1992 or 1996. Like George W. Bush, Barack Obama has turned out to be a polarizing president who has induced many voters to choose sides very early in the process. So the enthusiasm of core supporters—their motivation to translate their preferences into actual votes—will make a big difference.
• The Electoral College
The focus of this paper thus far has been on the national electorate. But of course we do not have national elections. As the 2000 election painfully reminded us, the structural difference between the national popular vote and state-by-state results can sometimes be consequential.

But it is important to keep 2000 in perspective. The Electoral College comes into play only when the popular vote is narrowly divided. If a candidate wins the popular vote by as little as 2 percent, it is very unlikely that the loser can win a majority of the electoral votes.

Dr. Galston was kind enough to respond to further questions we had about November 2012.

(Continued below the fold)

Daily Kos: A variety of sources (economic forecast models, online betting forums, pundits, polls) agree with your assessment of a close election, but one that Obama modestly leads. Short of a change in the economy (i.e assuming we continue with a slow but steady recovery and no euro shock), will this be the way it winds up? Is there any way this will not be a referendum on Obama? Can Obama make it a choice between him and Romney as in 2004?

Bill Galston: In my article, I argue for two basic propositions.  (1) Elections involving incumbents are first and foremost referenda on their records.  (2) In 2012, it's Obama record on the economy that matters more than everything else put together.  Compared to other recent elections with incumbents running, the economy right now is neither strong enough to guarantee victory nor weak enough to ensure defeat.  If it gains momentum, Obama will win with room to spare.  If it weakens further in response to the European crisis, the odds are that he'll lose.

This is not to say that the public's judgment of Romney is wholly irrelevant.  If the people decide that he's not an acceptable replacement for Obama, the president will be reelected despite widespread disappointment with his performance.  But that's not why Kerry lost in 2004.  The right analysis, which I lay out in my paper, is that Bush did just well enough during his first term to earn an approval rating of about 50 percent, which turned out to be his share of the vote.

Daily Kos: Why the discrepancy between the state polls (Obama, e.g., leads in OH and VA) and the (currently close) national indicators (see above)? When do the state and national polls start to be meaningful, given that 2/3 of the electorate say they have made up their mind?

Bill Galston: The state polls are starting to reflect the tight national race.  Obama is behind in Florida and North Carolina and is no better than tied in Ohio and even Wisconsin.  In the end, the electoral college majority can diverge from the national popular vote majority only when the national margin separating the major party candidates is very thin--say, one percent. If the margin is even two percent, the odds that the popular vote loser will win an electoral college majority are extremely low.

I'd start paying attention to the polls right about now, because they are leading indicators of the kind of election this will be if the underlying conditions don't change much between now and November.  

Daily Kos: Pew's Center for Excellence in Journalism notes a steady diet of unfavorable news coverage of Obama. Does this matter?

Bill Galston: Not much.  When an incumbent is running, the people already have a ton of information, so additional information via the press is less significant than it would be if the candidate were running for the first time.  In addition, most people are more inclined to trust the evidence of their own senses than they are the judgments of journalists.

Daily Kos: Why does Obama have so much trouble with the older white vote? Does the recent polling from Stars and Stripes suggesting Obama does well with military voters surprise you?

Bill Galston: There are a number of factors.  From the start, Obama's appeal was strongly generational.  Older voters don't understand him, and vice-versa.  In addition, older white voters are less accepting of the new multi-ethnic America that Obama symbolizes.  The recent Census Bureau report that a majority of births are now to non-white parents will strike some older white voters as a threat that the country they have known all their lives is slipping out of their grasp.

As for military voters, two points: (1) Obama is getting much higher marks for his conduct of defense and foreign policy than for his stewardship of the economy.  Along with other Americans, military people like his aggressive conduct of the war on terrorists.  Indeed, it appears that Obama has neutralized--at least for now--longstanding Democratic vulnerabilities in this area.  And (2), the Obama administration has worked hard to earn the trust and support of veterans.  It has been particularly forceful in areas such as health care and rehabilitation for wounded veterans, and in recent months it has been emphasizing employment opportunities for former military personnel as well.  Gen. Shinseki is getting high marks as the VA Secretary.

Daily Kos: What story is the media missing in the early going? What should we be paying more attention to?

Bill Galston: On the substantive front, the performance of the housing market and Obama's record in dealing with it are sleeper issues.  From an electoral standpoint, reporters should be asking some hard questions about key "blue states" such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  If Obama can hold them, then Romney's path to victory remains narrow.  If not, the challenger's options multiply.

Thank you, Dr. Galston.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Kerry almost won (12+ / 0-)

    He lost the popular vote by close to 3% but a change of 60,000 votes in Ohio and he would have won the electoral college.
    Probably best that didn't happen because we could have had a president who lost the popular vote by close to 3 million.

    •  low odds but not impossible odds (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wolf10, happymisanthropy

      there could even be an electoral tie. Such things, including another election with an electoral-vote discrepancy are unlikely but not impossible.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:18:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kerry probably did win Ohio (17+ / 0-)

      except that Ken Blackwell was the one counting the votes, and he and Diebold had boasted that they could guarantee a Bush win.

      We should already be watching for which state(s) the Republicans are going to "guarantee" this time around.

      •  Kerry lost and it wasn't Diebold (9+ / 0-)

        2000 is another election entirely, but the popular vote win for Bush is consistent with his win in OH.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:28:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, but no :(. (11+ / 0-)

        It was very close and I don't doubt that somebody, somewhere did try to swing votes in GOP favor, but although I initially believed that there was "foul play," after looking at the evidence and numbers, it's clear that Kerry lost Ohio.  Not by much, but he did.

        I did voter protection work in '04 and saw some really vicious shit that went down - in New Hampshire, of all states - a state that we don't associate with rednecks and Southern-style voter suppression.  There is way too much real, ongoing voter suppression for us to erroneously direct our energies on the other stuff.  FWIW, I'm glad that we were there and did what we could, but it wasn't much.

        In comparison, in 2008, I did voter protection work in rural Virginia (in a very conservative, white exurb of Richmond where Obama was completely flattened by McCain/Palin), and I felt 1,000% better about what we did.  We had training, we had materials, we had instructions - and most importantly, we had a hotline to Chicago that we could call - and were encouraged to call.  I in fact made use of that hotline once to relay something that I was told by a voter that concerned me, and the plainly well-educated election lawyers in Chicago were able to quickly ascertain what had actually happened (we weren't allowed access into the polling rooms) and explained to me that it was a normal Virginia voting practice for high-turnout elections.

        I no longer remember what it was, something different boxes being used to store ballots because turnout was higher even than the historically high numbers that the Commonwealth had expected; they asked for lawyers and law students to staff the polling stations, but I was a California lawyer with no election law experience, so I deferred to Chicago, as I hope the other volunteers did as well.

        So I sleep well at night knowing that it didn't take place in electorally significant amounts in '08 and that the Obama campaign has laid excellent groundwork to protect the '12 vote.  I strongly hope that his campaign is somehow able to pass on that institutional skillset to the DNC for the '16 campaign, but... campaigns are revolving doors and who the hell knows what the party will look like then.  How many people even knew how to spell Barack Obama in 2000?  I certainly didn't, and I was one of the "Rox"-ers beginning with his '04 DNC speech.

        "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

        by auron renouille on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:03:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Missing questions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wolf10

    Debt...deficit spending....entitlement spending....

    Good questions, great responses.  Nothing that I see that will square away our country's true problems.

    Polls and politics and so forth?

    Where are the questions that matter?

    Thanks.

    •  all excellent topics (9+ / 0-)

      but not the topic of today's discussion.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:20:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, none of this goes to the discussion? (0+ / 0-)
        • The issues
        Every survey finds that economic issues dominate public concerns. The most recent survey of the Pew Research Center asked respondents to rank eighteen issues on a four-point scale from “very” to “not at all” important. Eighty-six percent said that the economy was very important, with jobs a close second at 84 percent. By contrast, four hot-button social issues—immigration (42 percent), abortion (39 percent), birth control (34 percent), and gay marriage (28 percent)—came in at the bottom.
        Really?
        •  The Republican Choir (6+ / 0-)
          Debt...deficit spending....entitlement spending....
          Republicans have done their damndest to make these burning, (IMO pseudo)economic issues but more certainly to derail Obama's legislative agenda.  The voters are not buying it, other than the Republican choir which runs around trilling about the sky falling, Europe-style collapse, Greece, France, Spain, blah-blah-blah.

          The voters do not seem to be up to worrying about that when they KNOW somebody that's out of work or has a threatened job or whose schools have just cut teachers/days/services/programs.

          There is also good reason to believe that the never-worked-in-the-past austerity programs of the right wing here and in Europe are under renewed scrutiny and some modest experimentation with Keynesian economics is in order.

          Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

          by TerryDarc on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:51:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  if we talk baseball (a different topic) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Delilah

          or movies, are you overly concerned if your choices of topic are not covered? There's a solution... cover them another time.

          It's that simple.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:27:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm working on a diary detailing for the Repub's (12+ / 0-)

    are destroying the good work of Gen. Shinseki.

    Bring those still in Afghanistan home NOW . . . It's long past time.

    by llbear on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:19:59 PM PDT

  •  Well done, both interviewer and interviewee (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, DemFromCT, Wolf10, fcvaguy, cocinero

    Enlightening stuff.

  •  Polarizing? (15+ / 0-)
    "Barack Obama has turned out to be a polarizing president who has induced many voters to choose sides very early in the process."
     
    Perhaps true in the narrow vocabulary of polling and statistics... But the word utterly fails to describe the man and his actions. Unless Galston is talking about Obama's stubborn refusal to change the color of his skin.

    Watch this quote get picked up by FOX and spun beyond recognition.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:21:38 PM PDT

    •  unlikely (6+ / 0-)

      Gallup has already noted this, based on how many Rs like Obama, how many D's liked Bush, etc...

      http://www.gallup.com/...

      Obama Ratings Historically Polarized
      Job approval 80% among Democrats, 12% among Republicans

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:25:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The question is who's done the polarizing, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Terri, mumtaznepal, cspivey

        the president who repeatedly reached across the aisle, or the House that gave him the finger every time.

        Calling Obama a "polarizing president" is frankly bullshit. The nation is polarized, but he's done everything in his power to prevent it short of resigning.

        "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

        by Bob Love on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:13:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think what was meant was that, right or wrong, (0+ / 0-)

          people pick sides over him on a very visceral, gut basis. In that way, "he" is polarizing.

          You've got people who like thoughtful, educated, intelligent, articulate leaders and those who are suspicious of all of that (and inherently wary of "others", which, yes, includes blacks).

          The only reason that change is so hard is that the moderates on "our" side are Tories who support the aristocracy.

          by Words In Action on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:10:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  What anyone thinks he may have intended (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mumtaznepal, cspivey

            is beside the point. What he actually wrote is at the very least a gross distortion.

            No president in many decades has tried to be as accommodating as Obama.

            It's perfectly obvious that many if not most people will, like you, be willing to read his comment in benign ways. I'm just reading what the guy wrote, and seeing the pernicious meme it creates.

            "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

            by Bob Love on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:35:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The black half or the white half of his skin (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      COBALT1928

      color that needs changing?  ; )

      The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

      by Wolf10 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:38:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, he polarized me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      COBALT1928

      But then again, so did Romney...For in the case of Obama, against in the case of the Mittster. Positive polarization can be well, very positive, especially as the paper also refers to an enthusiasm gap that needs correcting

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:43:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The right has been polarized since Clinton (14+ / 0-)

      I remember talking heads declaring Clinton was a failed President before the inauguration. Any Democrat would be instantly polarizing and, to the foot soldiers of the far right, American exceptionalism means white males. Period. It's tempting to think that these foot soldiers are being sold a bogus line economically but I suspect they don't care about that. They can't have a black President, it tarnishes their "exceptionalism", that because they are American they are better.

      If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

      by jgnyc on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:46:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Talking heads have ALWAYS labeled any (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jgnyc, cspivey

        Democratic President as polarizing.  Don't you know?  They came in an trashed the place like Clinton.  They don't belong.

        A Black Democratic President is nothing but an affront to their domination of "The Place."

      •  Not just Bill, Hillary too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jgnyc, jiffykeen

        In '07-'08 she was labeled as too polarizing to be elected.

        •  It would be the same wackiness with Hillary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cocinero, jiffykeen, Delilah

          though I do think she'd be running ahead of O on the reelection thing because she's white and there are a bunch of older female Republican far right soldiers who would secretly vote to see a woman in office and are thoroughly energized against a young, smart black man. With Hillary the right would be insinuating she was gay and promoting a "secret lesbian agenda" --- (insert secret lesbian agenda joke here "Indigo Girls reference"?)

          Note this isn't some pathetic PUMA comment. I supported and support Obama and was not under the illusion he was to the left of the Clinton machine at any point. And, while I doubt she's running, I'd probably support Hillary in 2016 unless Howard Dean or Bernie Saunders or some fire breathing New Dealer with a real shot was running.

          If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

          by jgnyc on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:02:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Point taken (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Terri, jiffykeen

      Our President is sometimes frustrating in his desire to reach out to the other side... to build consensus.  But, I think here Galston is referring to the fact that, because of the color of his skin, there are those who just won't get on board... no matter how sane his agenda.  For some reason, the guy just doesn't want to call a racist a racist...

    •  Yeah- I read polarizing and was like HOW the hell (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, mumtaznepal

      is he polarizing?

      "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

      by skyounkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:10:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  audience reaction (0+ / 0-)

        not his style or intent. He isn't deliberately that way, but...

        Only George W. Bush's fourth, fifth, and sixth years in office showed higher degrees of political polarization. Together, Bush and Obama account for the 7 most polarized years, and 8 of the top 10.
        http://www.gallup.com/...

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:06:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Calling him a "polarizing president" makes him (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Terri, jiffykeen, skyounkin

          the agent of the polarization. Why not say the nation has been polarized during his 3 years in office?

          This is so poorly, tendentiously or partisanly worded the guy should publish an apology either for deficient writing skills, stupidity, partisanship or all three.

          "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

          by Bob Love on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:22:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  No shit. The "Party Of No" (0+ / 0-)

      has been so healing during this time.

      The comment is so distorted that Galston should either take remedial English or wear a teabag to declare his party affiliation. What an ass.

      "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

      by Bob Love on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:18:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tis a shame Dr. Galston was not asked (9+ / 0-)

    if a more confrontational stance against Wall Street might have helped Obama, and by how much.

    And, more importantly, I think the most important - and most ignored - issue in this election is going to be the devolution of the U.S. from a democratic republic to a plutocratic oligarchy. I personally feel that each one of us, as citizen, must try to find some way to raise awareness of this issue whenever we can. Given that Dr. Galston is part of the establishment, it would have been interesting to see how he reacted to the issue.

    A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

    by NBBooks on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:32:47 PM PDT

  •  What about the effects of Citizens United? (4+ / 0-)

    Is it not an extremely relevant to such a discussion?

    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:35:51 PM PDT

  •  Interesting analysis. (8+ / 0-)

    It represents one among a range of possibilities.  I think what is lacking in the analysis is how the Occupy movement changed the national discussion to jobs and fairness.  Voters have consistently said they support policies that favor the interests of the 99%, and that includes a lot of policies that contemplate a role for government to ensure fairness and equal opportunity.

    That's how Obama builds his margin against Romney.  In addition, we have an economy where one can plausibly make a glass half-empty v. glass half full argument.  If the monthly economic data over the next 4-5 months resemble what we saw at the tail end of last year and beginning of this year, then I don't think you're looking at 2004, but something closer to 1996...probably in-between.  I also believe that if the data are good, Romney's own weakness as a candidate could help make Obama's margin a little larger than expected.  Romney has no regional base or home state to deliver electoral votes. He is not loved by any voter group or region.  The more consistent the signs of economic improvement, the less the election becomes a referendum on Obama, and the more it is about staying the course and putting the burden on Romney to demonstrate why he is the better man for the job, which is not an argument he is making to the public.  

    However, if the data are essentially flat like April, then I think a close election is more plausible.

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:37:21 PM PDT

  •  Best definition... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, vcmvo2, skyounkin, Terri, Leftleaner
    In addition, older white voters are less accepting of the new multi-ethnic America that Obama symbolizes.  The recent Census Bureau report that a majority of births are now to non-white parents will strike some older white voters as a threat that the country they have known all their lives is slipping out of their grasp.
    of a racist I've ever seen... or at least the most polite.
  •  The Republicans are trying their hardest to (2+ / 0-)

    keep the economy crappy. I wonder if Mr. Galston thinks this is effective or will the public see them as obstructionist?

  •  Well done DemfromCT (7+ / 0-)

    I really enjoyed this FP story - very insightful.

  •  What a banal analysis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, caliberal2001, dhshoops

    Nothing new. It's what we call a "Magic Eight Ball" prognostication.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:52:39 PM PDT

  •  Well what have we here, pray tell? (4+ / 0-)
    Like George W. Bush, Barack Obama has turned out to be a polarizing president who has induced many voters to choose sides very early in the process. So the enthusiasm of core supporters—their motivation to translate their preferences into actual votes—will make a big difference.
    What?  No focus on that vaunted "Moderate" that we must jettison any semblance of progressive policy in order to woo?

    What a confusing turn of events.

    2012's New Game:  Find the Moderate before the Meme Dies!

    There is a reason that Obama's Chiefs of Staff come from Wall Street Banks. And it has nothing to do with Change We Can Believe In.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Sun May 20, 2012 at 02:56:42 PM PDT

  •  Galston seems to have an anti-Obama leaning (6+ / 0-)

    in general. He had a recent article about how Obama was not trying to win Ohio. Odd, considering his first day of campaigning featured a rally in Ohio.

    Galston uses the latest Quinnipiac poll of OH, where Obama only leads by 1, but the average shows Obama ahead by 4.6. That includes a PPP poll from May that shows Obama by 7.

    Florida, is a pure toss up, while only Rasmussen has Obama ahead in NC. Note, even a SUSA poll from late April had Obama leading there.

    •  There are an awful lot of people (0+ / 0-)

      who have an awful lot vested in there being a horse race.  

      I am also disgusted by his almost gleeful acceptance of what I call the inevitability factor -- as if there is no question that people vote robotically based on the economy without looking at which elected officials are systematically trying to ensure that the economy works in a manner that fairly represents their interests.  

  •  Galston (5+ / 0-)

    I posted an inflammatory diatribe regarding the good Dr. Galston, but the computer ate it. I will try to repost with a cooler. more charitable head.

    I don't understand why he's being featured at this site. He stands for everything Kos fights against.

    His perpetual theme--which was obviously imprinted on his lizard brain via Post Reagan Stress Disorder during the years when the conservative movement's upswing "laid the Stomp & the Whipsong" on his generation of liberals-- is: "Move Right, Democrats, or suffer the fate my man Mondale suffered in the 1980s!".

    Galston needs to be put out to pasture. His irrelevant maunderings can only sow confusion and demoralization belowdecks.

    nothin' to see here folks, just a massive labor uprising.

    by WesEverest on Sun May 20, 2012 at 03:10:58 PM PDT

    •  I enjoy hearing from all sorts of people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cocinero, Delilah

      ...within reason.

      So how does he "stand for everything Kos fights against", out of honest interest and curiosity? How exactly is discussing the issues I highlighted in the main post "sowing confusion and demoralization belowdecks?"

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:34:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  William Galston? Who cares? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Love, WesEverest

      That was my reaction when I saw this interview here and I too was a little surprised to see him featured so prominently. It's not about censorship or anything of the sort - it's just that Galston is a patron saint of the The New Republic and an insufferable third way bore. I liven DC an occasionally go to Brookings events for my job. Galston is featured prominently and can't suck up enough to the Republicans he features on his panels. And frankly there's nothing in this interview that is particularly enlightening.

  •  Ohio (5+ / 0-)

    See, here's what I don't get about Ohio.

    From 1990 to 2006, Republicans controlled the governorship and the legislature. And from 2002-2006 they controlled the President, both Houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. They passed all their tax cuts and trade agreements, and basically turned the government over to Big Business.

    So if Republicans are so great for the economy, why isn't the economy in Ohio booming, or at least noticeably better than in other Rust Belt states?

    •  I don't get it either (5+ / 0-)

      Ohio is my home state and I like to think I have some understanding of the people there.  But, like you, I am at a total loss to understand why, after so many promises of prosperity from Republicans have failed to bear fruit that so many people still vote Republican.

      A great mass of middle class and working class whites shifted from D to R because of race, these were the Reagan Democrats.  I thought it was wrong, but at least I understood what was happening.  But Republicans have had the state for most of the time since Reagan and nothing that they promised has happened.  So why do they still vote R?  Does anyone ask them?

      •  It would be so much worse with Democrats, though. (0+ / 0-)

        Only criminal would own guns, gay sex education would be mandatory in elementary school, whites' back yards would be given to blacks in reparation for slavery, men would have to wear burkas in bed, and Christians would be sterilized.

        Is that what we want for Ohio?

        I know, you're thinking ....

        "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

        by Bob Love on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:22:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great observation and question. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

      by helpImdrowning on Sun May 20, 2012 at 04:05:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  History shows us... (0+ / 0-)
    The focus of this paper thus far has been on the national electorate. But of course we do not have national elections. As the 2000 election painfully reminded us, the structural difference between the national popular vote and state-by-state results can sometimes be consequential.

    But it is important to keep 2000 in perspective. The Electoral College comes into play only when the popular vote is narrowly divided. If a candidate wins the popular vote by as little as 2 percent, it is very unlikely that the loser can win a majority of the electoral votes.

    ... that the GOP will stop at nothing to ensure victory.  In both 2000 and 2004, Republicans employed strategies of voter disenfranchisement (to keep suspected Democrats from the polls), and voter fraud (to discount votes assumed to have gone heavily for Democrats after the votes were cast) to steal two Presidential elections.  The only reason Obama won is that he won so overwhelmingly.  

    Now that this is predicted to be a close race, the gloves will come off, and the GOP will be up to their old tricks.  We MUST be on our guard!!

  •  and the most important question of all: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love

    ...this will be the first presidential election since five of the most corrupt Supreme Court Injustices in American history (Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Roberts & Kennedy) decided, in their Citizens United ruling/abomination/in-kind contribution to the Republican Party, to insanely decide that it was a good idea to allow unlimited amounts of secret corporate cash to be used for political purposes.
    How important do you see this floodgate money in determining who the next president will be?

  •  Now this is imo, a great political cartoon. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cspivey

    Says so much that's true about today's politics and the fact that the republicans don't know quite what to do with a president that matches them in his own way when it comes to using patriotism as an election winning tool.

    I comment on this cartoon, because there was a very vibrant and interesting discussion on Matt Wuerker's cartoon earlier today, depicting the president either in the stance of a gay stereotype, or as a preening, football spiking kind of guy. Whichever interpretation, my position on Wuerker's cartoon, is that either way, Wuerker lost the majority of his viewers' trust.  At least here.

    This cartoon here, on the other hand, is singular and does not lard the visual with unnecessary controversy that subtracts from the credibility of the message.  

  •  Romney will be the next Preident. (0+ / 0-)

    I have sensed a coming confluence of things that will lead to a Romney presidency, and a republican house and senate.  Call it a perfect storm of stuff coming together to hand the Federal Government to the Repubs.  I fear we face a significant, and perhaps long, national nightmare.

    •  Bah. Who's to say? (0+ / 0-)

      The Romney Camp has got Charisma(tm).

      That's all they've got.

      Cheers.

    •  No he won't (0+ / 0-)

      52%-48% Obama w/ at least 325 electoral votes

    •  Would not surprise me in the least. (0+ / 0-)

      Everything seems to point to the fact that it HAS to get much worse before people will get deadly serious about making it better, which is what it will take to win this election. And I'm not talking about working hard on the ground to mobilize, etc. I'm talking about saying and doing the things that will win hearts and minds that haven't been won in the past four years.

      There has been too much complacency ever since the '08 election was won, as if everything could be attended manana. Well, it's manana and most if it still remains unattended. Make whatever comments you want about it, whether its fair or not that this President or the Dem Party ought to be held accountable for that given Republican obstructionism, but that's the way most people feel. And that will make a difference come Nov.

      I thought the take on young voters was interesting if only because not every conclusion they've done drawn nor those drawn about them were predictable.

      I also think Galston is dead on about the economy and the election. As in '08, the outcome will be decided by the state of the economy in Sept/Oct. Right or wrong, that's who it will go. People will ask: did this President fight for my economic survival? They will vote based on the answer they find inside. Period.

      The only reason that change is so hard is that the moderates on "our" side are Tories who support the aristocracy.

      by Words In Action on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:01:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He may one day be Preident (0+ / 0-)

      but he'll never be President. Americans must be very heavy pot users because their short term memory isn't worth a damn.

  •  Mood counts, for a *lot* (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    I cite: The work of a certain Austrian scientist, as previously cited by Public Radio International

    Mood counts for a lot in elections.

    Salud.

    •  heh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaDA Bum
      Rather than like-ability, then, Casti said winning and losing pretty much comes down to one simple thing: luck.
      Maybe.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun May 20, 2012 at 05:32:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like-ability matters. (0+ / 0-)

        Kerry, Mondale, Gore, and Carter were too serious.

        George H.W. Bush was not very like-able, but neither was Dukakis.

        As much as I hated their policies, many people found Reagan and George W. Bush to be like-able (especially Reagan).

        Bill Clinton and Obama are very like-able. They seem to really enjoy the job of President.

        Even Republicans don't like Romney. That's why, unless there is a major economic disaster, Obama will win.

    •  It's everything. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaDA Bum

      Except for widespread voter suppression of multiple variety at every stage of the election, mood is everything.
      You really can't be too vigilant nor responsive to the mood over the months ahead; well, you can, you can be complacent about a lot of things, at your own peril.

      The only reason that change is so hard is that the moderates on "our" side are Tories who support the aristocracy.

      by Words In Action on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:05:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I mis-read the headline, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, Terri

    and was hoping for an interesting take on the election from William Gibson. Oh well.

    How many divisions does OWS have?

    by Diebold Hacker on Sun May 20, 2012 at 06:44:19 PM PDT

  •  Just shows that no mater what, we HAVE to (0+ / 0-)

    get out the vote with such strength that no amount of repub=lick=an trickery will steal this election. We know they are trying to use voter ID as a way to stop minority voters and there are lots of other tricks like Diebold Hacker might know of. WE CANNOT assume because a poll says Obama will win by any margin that he will. As is pointed out it may very well be a close election. We have to put our actions where our politics are and do everything we can to insure we win in every state and federal election we can so we can break the repub=lick=an caused gridlock of government.

    This election I see the young voters and minorities as keys, but can we get them Democratically motivated enough. I’m older (65), white, retired and know my Social Security has only come because of Democrats like us working to keep it and enrich it. Not as the repub=lick=ans want to do, send it to wall street to lose in hedge fund betting.

    Just A Real Nice Guy, thinking out loud.

    by arealniceguy on Sun May 20, 2012 at 07:23:24 PM PDT

  •  If Galston is right (and I think he is) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT

    About this being a mobilization election, that suggests that what Republicans are doing with respect to voter rights is more significant than what they are doing on issues such as  abortion and homosexuals which tend to arouse more emotion on this site.

    •  yes... two sides of the same coin (0+ / 0-)

      GOTV (for us, get out the vote) and KITV (for them, keep in the vote)

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon May 21, 2012 at 04:11:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting analysis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT

    There's some great insider information in this white paper, particularly about the changing demographics of states.  It's interesting to read how Colorado and Nevada are likely slipping out of the GOP's hands.

    That being said, I have a few disagreements as well.  If the campaigns themselves barely matter, how is it that Gore lost the 2000 election?  According to most indicators, he should have won, easily.  And I don't believe that Bush won in 2004 only because he was averaging around 50%....I think the constant "swift boating" of Kerry undermined him enough that the pre-election weekend announcement by bin Laden was able to swing the election Bush's way.

    Also, I think the author is cherry picking some polls to bollster his argument.  He's claiming that Romney is ahead in North Carolina and Florida.  But the RCP average has it at Obama +0.5% in Florida.  Romney is at +1.0% in North Carolina but that's entirely due to a one-day Rassmussen poll showing Romney at an unbelievable +8%.  Since that only gets Romney to an anemic "lead" of 1%, I'd say Obama is likely still slightly ahead there.

    Then he claims that Ohio is tied when the RCP average is 4.6%, and Virginia is tied when the RCP average is 3.2%.

    What I think some of these prognosticators forget is that sometimes a state's changing demographics happen quite rapidly.  West Virginia went from being solidly blue - it even voted for Dukakis in 1988 - to solidly red, basically over the course of one election.  IMO the same thing is happening, in reverse, in Virginia right now, and possibly Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico as well.

    •  even conceding all your polling points (0+ / 0-)

      it's still close.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Mon May 21, 2012 at 08:47:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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