Saturday, February 28, 2009

The 2012 Race Is On, Obama's Approval, Iraq Withdrawal and Bipartisanship

2012 Race -- Let's Get It On!
So, I know this is unfair. President Barack Obama has been in office a mere 40 days -- just 2.7% of his term. We haven't even issued a report card on his first 100 days yet. But heck, this site is called Electoral Vote Predictor and let's face it, with Gov. Bobby Jindal's (R-LA) response speech to the President's address ot a joint session of congress (by the way, if anybody knows why this was not a State of the Union Address, please e-mail me and let me know as I can't find any constitutional reason why it wasn't as the constitution dictates no schedule for State of the Union Addresses), the 2012 race is on.

Here is our first poll results from CNN/Opinion Research on the 2012 Republican Nomination:

Okay -- so clearly the best known politicans in the Republican Party (Palin, Huckabee and Romney) head the list early -- this poll probably underestimate's Jindal's potential (as it does other potential 2012ers such as Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN)), but it probably means more for the Republican Party than it would for the Democratic Party. Republicans, as I've written in the past, have a much greater tendency to nominate the "next guy in line" than do the Democrats.

Think back to the past few cycles and who the non-incumbent nominees were:
Democrats Nominate: Jimmy Carter
Background: A virtually nationally unknown Governor from Georgia

Republicans Nominate: Ronald Reagan
Background: Well known Governor of California who had previously run for President and even received a protest electoral vote in 1976

Democrats Nominate: Walter Mondale
Background: The Minnesota Senator was known reasonably well to political insiders, but not well known nationally.

Republicans Nominate: George Bush
Background: Universally known sitting Vice President, 1980 Presidential candidate
Democrats Nominate: Michael Dukakis
Background: Governor of Massachussetts, well known in New England and the Northeast with limited national awareness

Democrats Nominate: Bill Clinton
Background: Nationally unknown Governor of Arkansas

Republicans Nominate: Bob Dole
Background: Long-standing Senate Majority leader and former Presidential Candidate (in 1988)

Democrats Nominate: Al Gore
Background: Unviersally known Vice President
Republicans Nominate: George W. Bush
Background: Governor of Texas, member of one of the most famous American political families

Democrats Nominate: John Kerry
Background: Long-standing Massachussetts Senator, somewhat known nationally

Democrats Nominate: Barack Obama
Background: First-term Illinois Senator, known nationally for 2004 Democratic Convention speech
Republicans Nominate: John McCain
Background: Perhaps the most-known Senator in the country, former Presidential candidate (from 2000)

As you can see, Republicans have, since 1976 (and further back if you recall Nixon, Eisenhower, etc.), generally nominated very well nationally known politicans.

By this measure, it appears at this point highly likely that the nominee will be one of the top 3 candidates listed in the poll (Palin, Huckabee or Romney.)

Let's analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as Jindal:
Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK)
Strengths: Likeable, very popular in Alaska, reformer record, attractive, strong support from right
Weaknesses: Ghosts of 2008 -- questions linger about her intellectual horsepower and whether she harmed McCain's run, no foreign policy experience

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) Strengths: Extremely funny, superb interviewer and debater, excellent campaigner, social issues credentials with the right
Weaknesses: Economically more liberal record, extreme conservative views on issues like evolution

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) Strengths: Smart, attractive, well-spoken, business cred, good record in Democratic state
Weaknesses: Major flip-flops on social issues, displayed a bit of a mean streak in the primaries, Mormon faith could be a risk

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) Strengths: Popular governor, great personal story, conservative credentials
Weaknesses: Looked foolish in refusing stimulus money, then accepting 98% of it, very flat appearence on national stage last week.

In all, my money is on Romney if he makes another run. If economic issues are the order of the day, then a guy with economic cred would seem like the way to go and conservatives by and large seem to not be concerned with his flip-flops on abortion, gay rights and gun control.

But we are a long way off and given the carnage that has hit the Republican Party the past few years, I wouldn't be totally surprised if they go a completely different path from the past 30 years and pick a man or woman who is not well known, such as Pawelnty.

Tracking Obama's Approval 40 days in, Obama continues to post strong numbers. A sample-weighted composite of all opinion polls shows him with a 39% approval - disapproval rating (0% would be neutral approval.) While there has been some erosion from the huge numbers he was posting immediately after the innauguration (+56%), it has been in the 39-44% range since January 27th (since his the post-innauguration high wore off) and is well ahead of the 7.2% he won the election by in November. You expect in a President's first 100 days for him to show pretty well, as people tend to root for a new President to succeed. These numbers will obviously fall off as President Obama handles contentious issues such as Health Care, Cap and Trade and the budget. But this clearly shows why he is pushing so much, so fast -- he has the wind at his back in terms of public support and he will probably never have another opportunity this strong to get major legislation passed.

Note: I am using the same methodology for this poll that I used for tracking the national results in the 2008. I correctly and exactly predicted Obama's national margin of victory at 7.2% in the final count, so I'm very confident in the methodology (we did slightly less well in the state-by-state picks, where less data were available, correctly predicting 48 out of 50.)

Iraq Withdrawl & Bipartisanship

President Obama this week announced his plans to withdraw combat troops from Iraq by August 2010. This is notable for several reasons:
(1) It is 3 months later than his campaign promise
(2) The President announced his intent to leave 35,000 to 50,000 "non-combat" troops for support beyond this timeframe. The agreement with the Iraq government requires all troops to be gone by the end of 2011.

This is, ironically, probably not that different from what a John McCain Iraq plan would have looked like. In fact, Sen. McCain (R-AZ) stated initial support for the plan outline, while many congressional Democrats are outraged at the slow pace.

What did we expect? Obama left Robert Gates in place at Defense and has been adjusting course with input from the Commanders in Iraq.

Calm down, Dems -- we are getting out of Iraq -- don't fret over 3 months. And don't fret over some trainers for the Iraqi government left behind. We wanted to get out, not to kick the roof in on our way out.

This issue shows the interesting thing about this concept we have been talking about called "bi-partisanship". Republicans do what Republicans do -- they support the President when he takes more conservative positions and oppose him when he takes more liberal positions, vice versa for Democrats. So, the only ways we achieve "bi-partisanship" is if we compromise in the center, as Bill Clinton did on welfare reform. There is potential for this on issues like immigration reform and education, but let's face it, Republicans are not going to support universal healthcare or cap and trade. They aren't supposed to. They are Republicans.

If you like this site, visit us often and tell your friends.

No comments: