April 14th, 2012

2012: referendum on Obama?

I think these points by pollster Scott Rasmussen are true:

Now [that Romney is almost certain to become the Republican nominee] President Barack Obama moves to center stage and becomes the defining figure of the general election campaign. Now it’s about Obama, not Romney, as the election becomes primarily a referendum on his first term.

The most important indicator of the president’s prospects will be his job-approval rating…Obama’s ratings suggest we are heading for a potentially very close race. For the past 32 months, the full month approval ratings for the president have been remarkably stable, holding to a very narrow range of 44 percent to 49 percent. People seem to have formed an opinion of the president, and nothing can change their minds. Those who oppose the president tend to feel more strongly about it than those who support him.

True as far as it goes. They have not yet begun to fight, however.

The general voting public (as opposed to the politically-obsessed denizens of the blogosphere) hardly knows Romney at this point. Obama will try his very best to make sure that voters get to know the worst of Romney, or the caricatured and/or distorted version of Romney. Whereas—unlike in 2008—the public actually knows a lot now about Obama. Maybe not his past or his grades, but what’s far more important to them—his job performance.

So Obama’s approval ratings (barring some enormous game-changing event) are quite set, but Romney’s are not. That means that more of those who weakly support Obama could be moved to the Romney camp, whereas those who detest Obama are not going to be changing their minds about him.

One thing I don’t credit, however, is the oft-repeated idea that people lie on polls to say they approve of Obama more than they actually do, either because they don’t want to be thought racist or for some other reason. I don’t think that’s much of a phenomenon at all, for the simple reason that I remember it was much-discussed in 2008, and many people said McCain would do better than the polls had shown as a result. But he did not. In fact, the polls were fairly spot-on in predicting the election results.

I have long felt that 2012 would be a close election. I see no reason to change my mind now.

26 Responses to “2012: referendum on Obama?”

  1. expat Says:

    Turnout among the supporters will be a big factor. Romney needs to cause some cognative dissonance among people who basically like Obama so they don’t show up at the polls.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    Here is a reason that Obama will garner approx 200-220 electoral votes:
    Romney now gets to define the job Obama has done.

    Most voters do not pay close attention to political matters, and have not given hard consideration to the job Obama has done. The have a vague feeling about it. Yet, their voting decision will occur after they take a moment, or more, to truly consider the job Obama has done.

    Romney will get to define that. Romney surrogates will get to define that. Romney has, all along, employed the former opposition researcher for the RNC, and that opposition researcher will get to help define the job Obama has done. That opposition researcher is tight with Drudge; Drudge is in the tank for Romney (after being in the tank for Obama in 2008), and Drudge will get to help define the job Obama has done. Wall Street was in the tank for Obama in 2008, and detests him now, and will help define the poor job Obama has done as POTUS.

    Voters will notice Obama has been a poor POTUS, and will vote Obama out of office by a decisive margin. It was always going to happen this way, and it will happen: Romney 330ish electoral votes; Obama 210ish electoral votes.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    expat: yes, there are a lot of Obama supporters who still kind of like him but are no longer at all enthusiastic. But a lot of them are not upset by the prospect of Romney being elected instead; he doesn’t frighten them. That means they may stay home if their support of Obama becomes weak enough.

  4. Gary Rosen Says:

    “referendum on Obama?”

    Of courese it is. Elections involving an incumbent President are *always* a refendum on that President. That is why the Dems are trying almost daily to come up with a “look, a squirrel!” moment because if they try to run on BO’s record they will get squashed.

  5. SteveH Says:

    Lets say Romney wins by 5 points. How do we recover or move forward with 45% of people having such an incredibly bizzare view of what leadership or success for a country even means?

    The way i see it, if Romney doesn’t win by 15 or 20 points, we are in deeper doo doo than we want to imagine.

  6. chuck Says:

    if Romney doesn’t win by 15 or 20 points, we are in deeper doo doo

    I was amazed that Kerry could do as well as he did. When it comes down to it, I think there is only a small percentage of voters who can go either way, the rest are going to vote Democrat of Republican no matter who the candidates are. So every election is going to be close.

  7. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    chuck said, “When it comes down to it, I think there is only a small percentage of voters who can go either way, the rest are going to vote Democrat of Republican no matter who the candidates are. So every election is going to be close.”

    True that. The election will be won or lost among the independents. That is why Romney cannot be hard on Obama as a person. He must very carefully avoid personal attacks, even though Obama and his minions will attack him personally. That is a tough job, because it is very tempting to attack Obama on his lazy work ethic, his unusual appointments (czars who are extreme leftists, leftist academics, people who can’t do their taxes right, etc.), his associations with shady characters (Ayers, Rezko, Wright, etc.) in his Chicago days, and his extravagant family vacations. Independents are likely to see such as being mean spirited.

    He has to win more than 50% 0f independents. Also, enough hard core right wingers and libertarians that don’t care for Romney must see him as at least a far better option than Obama so that they will come out and vote. Had the hard core conservatives not stayed home in 2008, McCain would have come much closer to winning.

    I receive e-mails everyday that attack Obama personally. I happen to agree with the sentiments. I no longer have any respect for the President. On the other hand, a few of my neighbors are independents, and I believe such attacks would drive them to vote for Obama. It is too bad, but that is just the way the psychology mathematics work out

  8. Curtis Says:

    We’re in that grey area now, the area between known and unknown, smart and stupid, free and not free, good and evil. We’re there because a large portion of people rejected the traditional way of wisdom and have a much reduced capacity for discerning bullshit. The grey area, having not yet become black and therefore not providing feedback, allows a lot of bullshit to pass for grub. People are eating bullshit. If the night prevails, then the scrubs, the poor poor scrubs, will be the first to perish and the real war will continue and continue and continue as it always has. But for now, we teeter, we totter, as a whole people, in the grey area, the twilight zone, between the pit of our fears and the summit of our success.

  9. Curtis Says:

    Referendum on Obama?

    Hey, what’s that smell? Shit. Smells like dog shit.

    (Remember the Cheech and Chong skit?)

  10. Otiose Says:

    What reassures me is that the more I listen to Romney the better I feel about him. He comes across as someone who will be the president of all the people and will in good faith weigh choices carefully.

    From the first I heard Obama he sounded good, although especially once I knew of his past associations (e.g. Rev Wright), I never bought into his BS. The more I’ve been exposed to him the smaller and less presidential he has become. He is too ideological, too racialist in his perspective, and far from open minded (i.e. he doesn’t let new facts get in the way of his goals). In short he doesn’t try or perhaps is oblivious to his not being the president of the all – he’s an advocate for a very narrow point of view – a point of view he is not capable of rising above.

    As the campaign unrolls I’m confident that Obama will fall behind and stay behind. I don’t believe the final tally will be close.

    In ’08 a lot of people in the middle didn’t know him and wanted to believe his nice sounding words, and he got the benefit of that doubt. That won’t be the case this time. There’s a lot of money out there itching to make sure people know the details of what he is, was, and has done.

  11. jms Says:

    I don’t think that people lie on polls, but I do suspect that conservatives hang up on pollsters more than liberals, and that this is a fairly new phenomenon. I think that this is why all of the recent polls show a ludicrous skew towards Democratic respondents. Conservatives have lost all respect for the mainstream media, and their contempt towards the polling organizations is growing as the polls obviously no longer reflect reality. Liberals love the mainstream media and love taking polls about how wonderful the President is, because they love how the polls show liberals pulling way ahead of conservatives.

    It’s a positive feedback loop that is wrecking the entire polling industry, and too many push polls and too much bias are the cause.

  12. gcotharn Says:

    Ugh: Romney makes another error; WILL NOT STOP insulting conservatives whom Romney TRULY BELIEVES are troglodyte haters. The latest: Romney sends out surrogate to say “The Governor is not as anti-immigrant as his primary campaign statements make him seem.” So, Romney reminds us of two things of which he constantly reminds us:

    1. Romney believes we conservatives are troglodyte haters.
    I am not a hardened anti amnesty voter. However, I understand the thinking of persons who are hard anti amnesty: they believe in the rule of law; refuse to support persons who have broken the law. Also, they do not believe amnesty works: they believe amnesty always becomes diluted, and fails to accomplish what it promises to accomplish. I understand that – esp the part about amnesty not working. All of it is respectable reasoning: there is nothing hateful about that reasoning. Yet, Mitt Romney believes person who reason that way are haters. He believes it strongly enough to be willing to send out a surrogate to state it publicly. Ugh.

    2. Mitt Romney is telling us that he is a liar who, rather than acting on principle, is lying to us in order to get himself elected.

    I know many of my friends, here, look at Romney and see a good and decent man. I see a man who is flawed in areas in which I do not easily tolerate flaws: flawed at the core, an apple with a worm. I can name many flaws which I would easily tolerate in a candidate. I would tolerate infidelity much more easily than the core flaws of Mitt. Mitt Romney is flawed in areas which grate, in areas in which it is important to be unflawed.

  13. gcotharn Says:

    Perry was drummed out of the race, in part, b/c of his horrible statement that those who disagreed with him re in state tuition for illegals “have no heart.” Perry deserved every bit of condemnation which came at him over that statement.

    Therefore, you would think the Romney campaign would have learned a lesson. Yet, the Romney surrogate statement: “is not as as anti-immigrant as he seems”, is every bit as bad as the Perry statement was. Exactly as bad.

  14. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I watched a panel discussion on C-SPAN this morning that claimed Republicans are anti-immigrant and will lose the black, latino, and asian votes because of it. It is to weep. The dems and progressives continually cast the Repubs as anti-immigrant to make them seem racist. They keep leaving out the important word – “ILLEGAL!” It is ILLEGAL immigration that Republicans, libertarians, and most LEGAL immigrants oppose. Not LEGAL immigration!

    Romney must keep emphasizing that position and calling them on their duplicity.

    Why does what a Romney surrogate says upset you so? If anything, the problem of what to do with ILLEGALS (NOT undocumented workers) who are here is a major problem. But it can only be solved after the border is brought under control. What Romney or one of his surrogates say right now has nothing to do with what will eventually transpire. Romney’s position of making everyone go home is, I believe, a good one even if it is only a starting negotiating position. Start at a lower standard and you are probably going to get another Reagan style blanket amnesty. That would be bad. But not so bad if the border is under control and many of the incentives (citizenship for new borns, immediate welfare benies, free healthcare, etc.) are no longer available.

  15. Gary Rosen Says:

    “Republicans are anti-immigrant and will lose the black, latino, and asian votes because of it.”

    Lose *black* votes by being anti-immigrant?!?!? Now of course blacks will vote overwhelimngly for Obama, but I suspect the position of the average black voter on immigration approximates that of Pat Buchanan.

  16. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Gary Rosen,
    That was the tentative conclusion of the panel, which was moderated by that noted independent, Juan Williams. Meh.

  17. beverly Says:

    OT but under the rubric of Weird Political News: 150 anarchists rioted in Astor Place, NYC, last night, attacking the Starbucks and the police. Starbucks patrons hid under the tables; injuries, property damage, arrests:


    Astor Place was the site of an historic riot in the 1800s as well, but in that one, 25 people died.


  18. beverly Says:

    According to Wikipedia, the underlying cause of the 1849 Astor Place Riot was class warfare/immigrants vs. “nativists” (WASPs and the Knickerbocker set). The immigrants and rowdies of the Bowery supported American Shakespearean actor Forrest; the upper crust supported English Shakespearean actor Macready, and the rowdies took to the streets in thousands to riot over the Englishman’s appearance in Macbeth.

    English teachers would kill for such passion over the Bard. He was considered popular entertainment in the day; everyone could quote him.

  19. beverly Says:

    I don’t agree that pointing out that the president of the United States has appointed avowed Marxists to key positions is a “personal attack.”

    What the hey?

    Really, we have to stop thinking of this as a pillow fight. I know that most independents, if they get solid evidence of the Zed’s misdeeds, would be outraged: the reason the jerk polls so high is that They Don’t Know This Stuff.

    We must get the word out. Must.

  20. Hope Change Says:

    IMO, Romney and the GOPE are the ones treating this like a pillow fight. That’s part of the reason I can’t support Romney or the GOPE.

    Here’s a story I found today. People who have lived through communism understand very well what’s being done in America right now:


    Catching wild pigs

    Posted by AC on April 16, 2012 at 12:55am

    Catching Pigs
    There was a chemistry professor in a large college that had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab, the professor noticed one young man, an exchange student, who kept rubbing his back and stretching as if his back hurt.

    The professor asked the young man what was the 
matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country’s government and install a new communist regime.

    In the midst of his story, he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, “Do you know how to catch wild pigs?”

    The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said that it was no joke.

    “You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come every day to eat the free corn.

    When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming.

    When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again.

    You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in the last side. 
The pigs, which are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat that free corn again. You then slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd.

    Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught.

    Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.”

    The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening in America.

    The government keeps pushing us toward Communism/Socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tax exemptions, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms, just a little at a time.

    One should always remember two truths:
    There is no such thing as a free lunch, and you can never hire someone to provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself. [end Ac’s comment]

    To win against Obama’s money, tricks and voter fraud, the Republican nominee has to be about something important.

    We have an argument going on right now about what kind of people we are, and what the United States is meant to be.

    They’ve built some of the fences. The corn is definitely all over the ground. When will more than 50% of Americans be trapped like the wild pigs?

    Is that what American is all about?

    Or — and here is the TEA PArty side of the argument, and also Newt’s — we a FREE PEOPLE, endowed with individual sovereignty, which we LEND to the government, in a country build on INDIVIDUAL INNOVATION AND INITIATIVE, THE WORK ETHIC, FIERCE INDEPENDENCE.

    Newt is the only one who sees that to win this fall, we have MAKING THIS ARGUMENT. This is an 80% to 90% issue. This is the Reagan argument.

    If Newt is the nominee, we will win a decisive victory this fall. And THEN the important work will begin.

    Winning the election is the BEGINNING.

    Then we will begin the arduous and exciting task of restoring our Constitutional Freedoms and re-igniting our Free Markets, the gorgeous engine of our prosperity.

    Take a look at Newt. With Newt, we’ll win, and the win will mean something.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Hope Change: still in dreamland, I see.

  22. gcotharn Says:

    J.J. formerly Jimmy,

    Above, I am not exercised over Romney’s position re the immigration issue. There will be time, a year or two from now, for either agreeing or disagreeing with Romney’s actions re immigration.

    Rather, I am exercised over Mitt Romney, once again, throwing his dislike of me in my face, i.e. throwing his disdain of all conservatives into our faces. The man doesn’t like us. “Severe conservatives.” Mitt Romney believes we are small minded haters. And, I could, grudgingly, grumpily, sort of come to live with that, except he is determined to continually throw it in my face. And, so, every time I try and try to grumpily come to grips with Mitt, he reminds me of why I think he is a supercilious and condescending jerk. He may be able to process information and data, but he lacks wisdom about humanity. And he lacks the humility which could save him from himself.

  23. Darrell Says:

    How anyone could possibly think anything Romney might do could be worse than what 4 more years of Obama will do, boggles my mind. ABO

  24. Artfldgr Says:

    when someone throws a game, they always make it close, so its more believable…

    however, its a heads dems win, tails republicans lose. one side is willing to use whats coming, the other side would rather prevent it or contain it, etc…

    so if dems win, the fit hits the shan, whoopee for them… if the republicans win, the fit hits the shan, whoopee for who? the dems… who would work it to death.

    meanwhile you have the classical push pop i have described a few times. the press becomes hyper sensitive to actions which reflect or reinforce that constructed reality (regardless of facts), and on the other side of the same cloth, goes way out of their way to try to pretend or erase events counter to the constructed reality.

    Media censored seven hate crime mob attacks in Grand Rapids

    (they do the same with domestic violence… and how they treat different religions&atheism)

    on the weekend of March 24th and March 25th at least seven white people were brutally beaten by mobs of blacks in Grand Rapids, MI. Five of the victims filed police reports.

    As in Germany, the groups who were with the new regime received rewards.

    Our groups get the same in affirmative action, loans, businesses, housing, and when they act the state treats them asymmetrically (except where doing so would be a bigger problem), and often systematically looked the other way.

    its how the votes were curried on top of other games like fraud and outright brutality blocking voting stations that then made the difference in creating the idea that the people wanted this outcome (when most never understood what acceptance implied as they had not been familiar with the ideas of the new wave of statist administrators). its called legitimacy.

    if we laid out all the cards of what is possible, even if way out. it would shock people… several items on that list should never be there, ever.

  25. uncleFred Says:

    I think that people need to understand constitutes a big win in a presidential election, or almost any election at the federal level. A decisive win is anything over 5%. So if a politician loses 47% to 53% they are generally unable to raise support to contest that office in the next cycle. There are exceptions, but that the rule of thumb.

    Obama won in a wave election with a highly energized base against a dispirited republican effort and only won by 53% to 45%. Reagan won 51% to 41% in a three way race.

    If you look at the latest Rasmussen national poll Romney leads Obama 47-44 among likely voters. If the election were today the undecideds would break heavily against Obama he would lose something like 53-47 and would lose the electoral college something like 322 to 216. With down ticket carnage out of proportion to the popular vote difference.

    There is another key here. The strongly disapprove is about twice the strongly approve number. Weak approvers don’t make the effort to vote as much as weak disapprovers. The left is going to have a turn out problem.

  26. gcotharn Says:

    Uncle Fred,

    I am with you. Obama gets approx 200-220 electoral votes. That constitutes a decisive defeat.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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