Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, all rights reserved. Links and forwards are welcome and encouraged. For comments and permission, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2012 Storm
Jay B Gaskill
Try the following thought experiment:
It is Monday, October 1, 2012 and the most consequential election of the 21st century takes place on Tuesday, November 6, just 30 days from now, and the polls tell us that it is too close to call.
The winner will need 270 votes in the Electoral College. California and New York (55 & 31) will almost certainly go for the incumbent (total 86), counterbalanced by Florida -27, Texas -34, New Hampshire -4 and Ohio -20 (total 85). For some daunting details, see the footnote.
Governor Ronald Reagan won a crushing 525 electoral vote landslide in 1984 because his coalition included patriotic, socially conservative families, traditionally employed in the trades, the so-called Reagan democrats. But, after years of downsizing and outsourcing these families left the GOP in the wake of the 2008 crash and voted for Obama’s “hope and change”.
But this time even Ohio may be in play.
“In a state where half the voters are whites without a college degree, the conclusion is inescapable: The white working-class independents who voted en masse for Ohio Republicans 12 months ago nearly unanimously rejected the state GOP’s top priority. Since no Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio, that’s a bad sign.”
[See the more of the article, “Losing the Working Class”, and a LINK below.]
Like everyone else facing the unsettled conditions of 2012, the Reagan democrats are insecure, anxious, even deeply frightened about our failing economy, and the very future of the USA. Yes, they are prepared to vote against “betrayal and being short-changed”, but only if they are presented with a realistic alternative that does not worry them even more. What do they want in a candidate?
They want preparation, common sense, competence and a sense of optimism in a new leader, without a whiff of phoniness or puffery. At the moment, they are feeling battered and misused. Because they have been betrayed, they will respond cautiously.
Back to our thought experiment: Assume that by the eve of November 6, 2012, the economy has limped its way into a shallow, mostly jobless crawl-back, arguably a weak trend, possibly a death rattle. Assume that the national unemployment number is slightly better than it is today (probably a result of a federal spending surge utilizing unspent stimulus moneys, but who can tell?). Assume that the incumbent has gotten good press. Assume that, during the campaign, he has tuned his rhetoric to centrist ears. Now run four candidate scenarios in your mind:
Which of these POTUS candidates would you want making the case against the administration and what, exactly would the best arguments be?
NOTE: In this field, only Gingrich and Romney have done sufficient homework to prepare for a tough campaign, and only those two have also done the necessary prep work to assume office if elected.
Is there yet another brilliant, charismatic candidate waiting in the wings? Not in the GOP.
So the hope and the promise for 2012 come to this:
[A] The GOP nominee will be able to present and sell a credible economic recovery plan that does at least three things: (1) contrasts clearly with the Obama approach, (2) effectively addresses the concerns of the former Reagan democrats, (3) reassures the nervous and restores their confidence and optimism. There always will be other issues. For example, national security developments can cut both ways. A sitting president has ammunition (pun intended) to change the national narrative. But, as before, in 2012 –“it’s the economy, stupid.”
[B] The fractious factions within the GOP, the conservatives and the libertarians, will close ranks with enthusiasm and empower their candidate to open the way to the formation of that much larger coalition needed to govern this country during its most serious economic challenge ever.
If you have concluded that the country needs a fresh team at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it’s not too early for a dose of realism with your cup of coffee.
Losing the Working Class
Henry Olsen in – The Weekly Standard
The chief example is the Ohio referendum that repealed the GOP’s elimination of public-sector unions’ collective bargaining rights. Properly recognizing that public-sector unions have driven up compensation to unaffordable levels, union reform was a top priority of the GOP base. Ohio voters, however, disagreed by a 61-39 percent margin.
A close examination of the results shows how widespread the repudiation was. Repeal was narrowly endorsed in only six counties, all strongly Republican. Everywhere else, the margin of repeal was high. Turnout was also high, about 90 percent of the 2010 total, and slightly skewed to Republican regions of the state. In a state where half the voters are whites without a college degree, the conclusion is inescapable: The white working-class independents who voted en masse for Ohio Republicans 12 months ago nearly unanimously rejected the state GOP’s top priority. Since no Republican has ever been elected president without carrying Ohio, that’s a bad sign.
This is happening because the differences between white working-class independents and the GOP’s conservative base are becoming too substantial to ignore. The GOP base voter believes the deficit is as large a problem as the economy; the white working-class independent does not. The GOP base voter believes cutting entitlements is necessary to cut the deficit and that taxes on the rich should not be raised; the white working-class independent disagrees. The GOP base voter wants to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan; the white working-class independent wants to come home. The GOP base voter scorns Occupy Wall Street; the white working-class independent thinks the Occupiers have something of a point.
In the past, Republican politicians would respond to such differences by avoiding areas of disagreement. But that option is no longer possible. Avoiding the deficit now means America will turn into Italy later. Conservative Republicans need to understand why white working-class independents disagree with them.
Real Clear Politics – The Obama Uptick
…it is reasonably clear that the OWS protests have shifted the political debate somewhat from a discussion about austerity and government spending to one about inequality and corporate profits. This shift has probably served to energize a lethargic Democratic base. More important, the shift also has reminded moderate and conservative Democrats why they still identify with the party in the first place. Indeed, a large portion of the president’s surge has come from firming up support among Democrats, as opposed to bringing independents and moderate Republicans back into his camp.
Moreover, the onset of the Republican primary season hasn’t been a huge boon to Republicans. The headlines have been Mitt Romney’s flip-flops, Republican dislike for Romney, Rick Perry’s gaffes, Michele Bachmann’s gaffes, and Herman Cain’s sexual harassment charges. Stories about Newt Gingrich’s infidelities and troubled tenure as speaker of the House are likely right around the corner.
And when combined with Occupy Wall Street, the political oxygen is sucked up. This has actually had the net effect of making Obama look presidential and “above the fray.” This creates a bit of a good news/bad news situation for him. It is good news because the Republican Party purposely designed this year’s primary season to stretch into April. In other words, we may see an extended period of decent job approval numbers for the president. This is key, because it can help energize the Democratic base. More importantly, it will prevent donors and supporters from writing him off.
On the other hand, it is bad news because the Republican primary will wrap up, and the protests will probably end, either with a bang or a whimper (Obama probably prefers the latter). At the same time, there hasn’t been a change in the fundamentals of Obama’s presidency.
The author, Jay B Gaskill, is a well-known California attorney. Follow his commentary on The Policy Think Site ( www.jaygaskill.com ), the Dot 2 Dot Blog and other links.
 The remaining semi-solid blue states (Alabama -9, Alaska -3, Arizona -10, Arkansas -6, Georgia -15, Idaho 4, Indiana -11, Kansas -6, Kentucky -8, Louisiana -9, Mississippi -6, Missouri -11, Montana -3, Nebraska -5, North Carolina -15, Oklahoma -7, South Carolina -8, South Dakota -3, Tennessee -11, Utah -5, Virginia -13 & Wyoming 3) yield a total of 128 more. That gets the challenger only to 213 if Ohio is included. The 57 vote gap can be made up with a limited number of plausible combinations, say Pennsylvania (21), plus New Jersey (15), plus Wisconsin (10) and Michigan (17). Subtract Ohio and the challenger’s task moves from the “we can do it” column to the “we might well blow it” one.
 The latecomers in this race are learning that this campaign is a really big deal, one that requires organization, staff support and a lot of money. As I write this, there are effectively only 11 months left to unseat an incumbent who has raised more campaign money than the entire GOP field combined, and who begins the race with the nation’s two largest states in his pocket.
 This time there can be no WWII surge to end a depression, if in fact that war ever did. We start the 2013 budget year owing more money to foreign lenders than we owed (in constant dollars) at the end of WWII. Moreover, when peace broke out in 1945, the USA was the only major manufacturing country left standing; most American families had been forced to save up consuming power because of rationing; gasoline was cheap; and there was a growing world market for American goods. We are living the negative image of that moment of triumph.