A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: romney economy

Proof Bill Clinton Could Sell Igloos To Eskimoes, Elevators To One-Story Buildings, Etc.

by evanmcmurry

Greg Sargeant notes* that a new Spanish language Obama ad explicitly makes the claim that the economy is “recovering,” something the Obama campaign has been hesitant to do for fear of seeming out of touch with voters still feeling the brunt the recession.

What changed? A little speech by one Bill Clinton:

There are signs that voters may be growing more open to this argument, in the wake of Bill Clinton’s convention speech, which spelled it out very effectively. As MSNBC’s First Read crew notes this morning, the new NBC/WSJ polls in Florida, Ohio and Virginia show a jump in the number who think we’re on the right track, to oer 40 percent. [sic]

The NBC team attributes this to Clinton’s argument: “No president — not me or any of my predecessors — could have repaired all the damage in just four years. But conditions are improving, and if you’ll renew the president’s contract you will feel it.” Clinton, of course, will continue to play a key role in trying to make swing voters feel better about the direction of the economy.

 That’s obviously a pretty big assumption—I don’t now how NBC found a causal connection between Clinton’s speech and the change in numbers—but I have no problem buying it, either. It sure wasn’t Obama’s speech that did effected the change, nor was it the wan jobs report that followed the next morning.

You may also enjoy this drink with an irony back: Republicans talked up Bill’s speech, expecting him to overshadow Obama, and remind people of the good times they enjoyed under his presidency that Obama has been unable to replicate. No such luck!

As a side note, a lot of people before and during the conventions made the dismissive argument that “conventions no longer matter.” I wonder how those authors feel now. Obama received a pretty sizable bump from the convention that has yet to fade; more important, he now polls even with Romney on who would better handle the economy, effectively neutralizing Romney’s one strength. Add on the above change in the “right track” metric, and I bet we will look back on the DNC as the moment the election slipped once and for all from Romney’s grasp.

* Link feature not working for some reason; maybe it needs a tax cut.

Your Friendly Reminder That Voters Still Blame Bush For The Economy

by evanmcmurry

Will Saletan continues his lark/thought experiment of coming up with reasons to support Mitt Romney with a seven part breakdown of Romney’s post-convention strategy. Here’s the money part:

The numbers are familiar and will be vigorously debated. Romney will focus on the unemployment rate; Obama will focus on the number of new jobs created. But the key phrase tying it all together for Romney is Obama economy. Those two words, repeatedly paired, will burden the president with perceived responsibility for the weak economy, regardless of the extent to which he (as opposed to President Bush, Wall Street, Europe, congressional Republicans, or other factors) is at fault.

Saletan is careful to say perceived responsibility, as anybody with two eyes who’s been alive for the past five years know the current economic malaise has little to do with our current president. I’m not making that up: voters simply have not switched blame for the current economy to Obama, and that includes the respondents of the most recent poll taken this week by Washington Post/ABC News. Poll respondents don’t approve, by a majority, of Obama’s handling of the economy, but that opinion seems heavily mediated by their understanding that Obama inherited an awful hand. For all the giant crop of articles being written about how Obama maintains his electoral advantage despite the 8.3% unemployment rate, you would think this fact would get mentioned more: voters still blame Bush for the economy.* The idea that a slew of Romney ads will change their minds when three-plus years of Republican efforts have failed to do so seems specious.

The economy is certainly paramount to any discussion of Romney’s electoral strategy. But the idea that voters will hold Obama responsible seems to be getting taken for granted in that discussion, when there’s not a lot of evidence to support it. I understand why the Republican National Convention avoided any mention of Bush; but I don’t see why the rest of us should.

* If you stand upside down during a harvest moon, you might see them blame a third party. Lemme explain.

Paul Ryan Is A Drag, And Other Things We Learned From The New WaPo/ABC Poll

by evanmcmurry

There’s a pile of stuff to work through in the new WaPo/ABC News poll, but the most interesting is about Paul Ryan, if nothing than because we’ve been over the rest before. Follow me here:

  • Ryan’s numbers are net positive, with 50-31 percent in approving of his choice. Seems like a nice figure, except that Republican VP’s Greatest Hits have all polled at 60% approval at this point. That’s right—both Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney had higher numbers than Ryan four and twelve years ago. Even Joe Lieberman garnered a 60% approval rating twelve years ago, which shows how lulled the Democratic Party was in 2000. Meanwhile, in terms of whether Galt For Halloween makes voters more or less likely to vote for the presidential candidate, respondents split evenly, 14-14, with 70% saying Ryan makes no difference. That’s at least ten points lower than both Biden and Palin got four years ago. Relative to previous elections—i.e., taking away how he factors into the specifics of this race—Paul Ryan is a weak choice for VP.
  • When described in the abstract, respondents favor Paul Ryan’s budget plan 46-44. When the voucherization of Medicare is described with specifics, that number drops to 30-64%, with only 11% strongly supporting the plan. Assuming that anybody who would be scared by Obamacare is already a Romney voter—which is not a certainty, but a likelihood—and the Dems have way more to gain from going after Ryan on Medicare than the GOP has bashing Obama over Medicare.

Take these factors together, and Ryan seems like nothing but a liability to me. All that could change if he gives some amazing convention speech, of course. (Still, eight percent of respondents found Ryan too liberal. Can’t win for losing with this crowd.)

More of note:

  • On the breakdowns of who handles what better, Romney bests Obama on the economy and the deficit, and Obama beats Romney on almost everything else. But more interesting is the change in all these numbers—Romney is down by three points on nearly every single issue, including the economy, from the last time the poll was taken. Romney beats Obama on the economy 46-44, but it was 49-44 seven weeks ago; he lost three points on handling small businesses, while Obama gained two. Those are not good signs for a candidate whose entire campaign is predicated on an economic argument. Combine this with Romney’s atrocious likability rating—only 27% like Romney—and you have an unlikable candidate who’s losing his only strength.
  • Romney is down on almost every other metric—down four points on the deficit, three on health care, four on abortion and gay marriage*, and TEN** on energy. The uniformity of the drop suggests that it might have more to do with the sample than a change of opinion, but still, Romney is, at the very least, making no headway against Obama on any issue.
  • Romney is beating Obama on who would handle the economy by a statistically-negligent two points, but he loses, by a lot, on economic breakdown questions. Who better understands the economic problems people are having? Obama, 49-37. Whose policies favor the middle class? Obama, 2-1. Romney presents himself with an aura of competence, so I can see why people side with him overall on the economy; but like his running mate, his image breaks down under the slightest scrutiny.
  • Romney beats Obama by five points on handling taxes. This may have been heard more as a competence question than an ideological one. If you asked me in a bar, “Who’s better at handling taxes, Romney or Obama?” I’d say, “Mitten, of course! He’s so good he won’t even release them for fear of bragging.”
  • Most important, to me: respondents still blame Bush for the economy. This explains a lot of why Obama is still doing so well, despite the high unemployment rate, slow recovery, etc. For all that we hear about the short memories of the general populace, Romney & Co. have failed to make this Obama’s economy. Since Romney doesn’t offer anything else, they haven’t given voters who don’t blame Obama for the economy enough of a reason to drop him.

* I still don’t understand why abortion and gay marriage are both grouped together under the same category.

** This seems to deserve more comment than my paltry understanding of energy policy can give it. A ten point shift is massive, especially given that nothing of note has happened in terms of energy or the environment. What happened?

Americans Want A Small Government That Invests Heavily To Grow The Economy But Maintain Economic Freedom

by evanmcmurry

Via Greg Sargeant:

 The NBC/WSJ poll also finds that Romney holds the edge on who has good ideas for improving the economy, 43-36. But 80 percent say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who will fight for fairness and encourage investments to grow the economy and strengthen the middle class, versus 68 percent who lean towards restoring “economic freedom” and “small government.” And Obama leads on who would fight for the middle class, 49-33.

Here’s the actual question:

Q22 Now, I’m going to read you some statements you could hear about government and the economy from candidates running for president. After I read each statement, please tell me if you would be more or less likely to vote for that candidate, or if it would make no difference in whether you would vote for that candidate. (IF MORE, THEN ASK:) And would you be much more likely or just somewhat more likely to vote for this candidate? The (first/next) one is a candidate for president who…

Will fight for balance and fairness and encourage the investments needed to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class

July 2012+ ……………………………….   80

Wants to restore the values of economic freedom, opportunity, and small government.

July 2012+ ……………………………….  68

So that means a minimum of 56% want both. Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others, I guess. Memo to future pollsters: it might be helpful to make respondents choose between these two options, so they don’t end up supporting Bamittrack ObRomney.