Thursday, October 11, 2012To follow up on my last post, I want to unpack why I think it is that Obama is still the favorite in this election. First, I suspect that Romney's numbers were depressed because his campaign had been so awful up to the point of the election. All his debate performance did was get him the bump he (strangely) never got at the Republican national convention, and to put him roughly where he ought to be, given the fundamentals.
Speaking of the fundamentals, here's why Democrats need to, well, if not relax, then at least not go into hysterics.
1) Obama's job approval rating is at about 50%. The single biggest mistake I've ever made in analyzing politics was thinking George Bush was going to lose, because I wasn't paying close enough attention to his job approval rating. In fact, Obama's job approval right now is HIGHER than Bush's was at this point in 2004.
2) The economy continues to improve, as do perceptions of it. The last several job reports, rising consumer confidence, and today's release of new unemployment claims (the lowest in four years) should all bolster the President's bid.
So yes, I expect this election to be very close. But right now Obama is still in the driver's seat. Now if his campaign unravels in the last month, blundering from one mistake and poor debate performance after another, it could cost him the election. But Reagan had a pretty crappy debate in 1984 and it didn't end up changing anything.