Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Check-in on Obama's Promises, 2010 Updates, Ridiculous Protest?

Is Obama Doing What He Said?
Today marks President Obama's 230th day in office, 15.7% of his term now having been completed. Time for a check-in on if he is doing what he promised.

The continuing cry from conservatives around the country is that President Obama ran as a moderate and has governed as a liberal. I've written about this fallacy before -- to me, President Obama clearly ran as a liberal on POLICY issues (his views on taxation, health care, climate change and such were all well known early in the primaries), but ran as a post-partisan "uniter". On the post-partisanship question, he has failed more than he has succeeded, with the hallmark legislation of his administration passing in a partisan fashion and prospects for a highly bi-partisan piece of health care reform legislation floundering. That being said, I've noted by way of the partisanship index, that for all the rancor in Washington, there are actually a number of smaller pieces of legislation that have been quietly getting done in a very bipartisan manner. On balance though, it would be hard to credibly say that President Obama has changed the tone in Washington.

On the policy front, the emperical evidence indicates that President Obama is headed largely down the path that he committed to. First, on major policy inititaives: the stimulus, healthcare reform and carbon control legislation are all exactly along the lines of what President Obama articulated on the campaign trail. His policy in Iraq, is, if anything, more Conservative than how he ran -- combat troops are staying longer and 50,000 "non-combat" (whatever that means), troops are staying 2 years longer than he committed on the campaign trail. In Afghanistan, President Obama campaigned on escalating military efforts and he is certainly headed down that path.

Looking at the raw numbers, the latest, independent, assessment gives President Obama the following scores on the 516 promises that they documented from the 2008 campaign:
Of the 516 promises, 59 have some sort of "final" disposition (they have either been kept, broken or compromised.) At 11.4% of his 516, this is slightly behind scheduled, if he is going to deal with all his promises in his 4 years in office.

Of the 59, 41 of the promises are rated "kept", 11 are rated "compromise" and 7 are rated "broken". Giving 1 point for kept promises and half a point for compromises, this gives President Obama a promise keeping rating of 79%.

Of the 457 that do not have a final disposition, 91 are rated "in the works", meaning President Obama clearly still supports them and is working towards implementation. 12 are rated "stalled" meaning that the President has not outright broken them, but appears to have either passed on opportunities to implement changes or has made it clear that it is not a policy priority. The remaining 354 are rated "no action", which simply means that the issue hasn't really come up yet.

This gives us the following rates:
(1) Promises Dealt With (11.4% of total)
Kept: 69%
Compromised: 19%
Broken: 12%
Overall Score: 79%

(2) Promises To Be Dealt With (88.6% of total)
In The Works: 20%
Stalled: 3%
No Action: 76%

Kept: 8%
In The Works: 18%
Compromised: 2%
Stalled or Broken: 4%
No Action: 68%

% Promises Completed (1 pt for Kept, 1/2 pt for In the Works or Compromised): 18%
% of Term Completed: 16%

Not too bad a record, all things considered. Of course, we don't have comparability with other Presidents, based on the relative newness of, which is a fantastic project for holding politicans accountable. It would be hard to imagine a modern President who would have better ratings at this stage in his Presidency, though.

2010 Updates
Not a ton of new news in the races, but the trend definitely seems to be heading towards the GOP. Here is the latest news:

Nevada -- two new polls again possible opponents show Sen. Harry Reid (D) trailing two possible opponents, although both were withing the margin of error. This is enough to take the race all the way from a likely DEM hold to a toss-up. You could make a case to take it to a Lean Republican Pick-up, but I'll wait for some more information to confirm it -- I don't like to move races three notches in one update unless there is more information than this.

New York -- no change to the rating...yet. Incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillebrand (D) is crushing Rep. Peter King (R) in statewide polls, but is in a dead heat with Gov. George Pataki (R). I'm going to leave this a likely DEM hold for now, as it is unclear that Pataki will run, but it would move to a toss-up if Pataki announces that he is in.

Massachussetts -- we initiate coverage with the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D). It is very unclear who the candidates will be, but in this heavily blue state, I'm initiating this one as a likely DEM hold.

Illinois -- no change in the rating as this one remains a toss-up. New polls show Kirk and Giannoulis in a deat heat, confirming that this will be a hot race.

Pennsylvania -- remains a toss-up for now, but may shift back in the blue column. Polls show incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D) beating former Rep. Pat Toomey (R) in a general election. But he has to first get past a primary challenge. If Sestak unseats Specter in the primary, however, Toomey leads in the general. Specter is leading primary polilng now. Democrats would be wise to stick with him or they may give this seat up.

Florida -- more evidence that Gov. Charlie Crist (R) is way ahead in this one. He continues to hold double digit leads in new polls. This one stays a likely GOP hold.

All of which leaves us with:
Safe DEM Holds (7)
Maryland, New York (Schumer), Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii & Wisconsin

Likely DEM Holds (3)
North Dakota, New York (Gillebrand), Massachussetts

Lean DEM Holds (2)
Arkansas, California

Lean DEM Pick-ups (3)
New Hampshire, Ohio, Missouri

Toss-ups -- GOP Held (0)

Toss-ups -- DEM Held (3)
Nevada, Illinois, Pennsylvania

Lean GOP Pick-ups (3)
Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut

Lean GOP Hold (3)
Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia

Likely GOP Hold (6)
Florida, Alaska, Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota

Safe GOP Hold (6)
Alabama, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah

Which leaves us with a projection of:
GOP Pick-up of 0 to 3 seats (central projection +1 seat)
GOP pick-up of 11 seats is needed to gain a majority

In the House, polls are all over the map. The Rasmussen Poll (which this year has almost always been the most GOP-leaning poll on all subjects), shows the GOP at +7%, whereas the Ipos-McClatchy poll shows the DEMS at +8%. Neither of these scenarios seems plausible right now. Taking a "margin of error overlap" approach to all the polls, my guess is that we are somewhere between GOP +1% and DEMS +2%. The sample-weighted average of all polls shows Dems +0.7%.

Based on this, my current projection is:
GOP Pick-up of 16 to 34 seats (central projection is +17 seats)

I'm not sure what to do about the Rasmussen polls going forward if the current trend of them being 10-15% more Republican than all the other polls continues. On the one hand, I could throw them out as an outlier. On the other hand, I don't really know whose sampling methodology is right and perhaps Rasmussen has found a formula that the other guys have missed that will prove to be more accurate. Without emperical evidence to validate polls versus results, it is difficult to know. And Rasmussen was well within the mainstream last November (+6% for Obama vs. an actual result of +7.2%.) My inclination is to leave them in the averages and hope to continue the trend from last November, where a large group of sample-weighted polls lead to a very reliable results.

The President Can't Talk to School Kids?
Even Democratic hypocrites (and there are plenty of them) would never have dreamed of protesting President George W. Bush reading to school children. Yet, conservatives across the nation are protesting President Obama speaking to school children, claiming some sort of political indoctrination. That's right, folks, the Orwellian plan of the Obama Administration is to indoctrinate third graders by having the President talk to them about achieving their goals while sending secret subliminal messages that will make them force their parents to support universal health care. What a joke.

President Reagan actually made a blatantly political speech to school kids in the 1980s, speaking out against the evil of taxes, and nobody protested or threatened to pull their kids out of school. All indications are that President Obama's speech will be a heck of a lot more benign than this. If these protestors are serious, than I fear for the type of education their kids are getting at home.

I'm not one to liberally throw the race card around, but does it strike anyone else that these protestors don't so much have a problem with the President addressing school kids, but perhaps with a BLACK President addressing school kids. Shame on them.

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