Republicans Should Move to Middle and Shouldn’t

Mitt Romney lost Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States because the incumbent did particularly well among racial minorities, young voters and women — three groups that are likely to determine the outcome of future elections as well. For Republicans to appeal to them and remain competitive, they have to moderate their positions on some issues but stay the course on others.

If Tuesday’s election had been a referendum on President Barack Obama, there’s a good chance that Romney would have won. A slim majority of voters indicated that they trusted him more to handle the economy than the Democrat. Republicans won overwhelmingly in 2010’s congressional and gubernatorial elections because voters trusted them more to reduce the deficit and boost employment than the president’s party. But on cultural and social issues, public opinion increasingly favors Democrats over Republicans. Read more “Republicans Should Move to Middle and Shouldn’t”

Barack Obama Reelected on Edge of Fiscal Cliff

Incumbent president Barack Obama won a second term on Tuesday after a hotly-contested election. While his Democratic Party did not regain control of the House of Representatives, it hold on to its majority in the Senate, inaugurating four more years of divided government.

The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, had been neck and neck with the president in national preelection polls. But in most of the crucial swing states, including Ohio and Virginia, the incumbent eked out sometimes narrow victories, providing him with a comfortable Electoral College majority — even if the race in Florida was still too close to call on Wednesday morning.

Americans elect their president and vice president not by popular vote but through an electoral college system that advantages smaller states. Nevertheless, the outcome of the popular vote hardly ever differs from the outcome in the Electoral College. The most recent exception was in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore won roughly half a million more votes nationwide but George W. Bush won five more points in the Electoral College. Obama on Tuesday won a little over one million more votes than his challenger. Read more “Barack Obama Reelected on Edge of Fiscal Cliff”

Auto Bailout, Energy Loom Over Election in Rust Belt

Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States may well be decided in the northeastern “Rust Belt” states of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin and the demographically comparable state of New Hampshire. Together, these states account for 58 electoral votes in the election, more than enough to tip the balance in either candidate’s favor.

Incumbent president Barack Obama has almost consistently polled ahead of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in all five states but the latter cannot win the election without carrying either Pennsylvania, Ohio or two of the three remaining northeastern swing states. That is, assuming he wins in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia which seems likely. Read more “Auto Bailout, Energy Loom Over Election in Rust Belt”

Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!

Las Vegas Nevada
Skyline of Las Vegas, Nevada (Shutterstock/Andrey Bayda)

Often forgotten amid the larger, classic swing states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, the American West is finding itself in a new position of prominence in the 2012 election and will likely retain that prominence as the country’s demographics shift in the Democrats’ favor over the coming years.

With the Midwest probably in President Barack Obama’s column and the entirety of the South probably in Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s (with the possible exception of Virginia), Tuesday’s election may come down to three states in the Rocky Mountains that all went for Obama in 2008, George W. Bush in 2004 and split between Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

The region was uncompetitive for Democrats in 2000, with the exception of New Mexico which Al Gore won by a mere five hundred votes that year. In 2004, the region was one of John Kerry’s many “backup” paths to victory (besides Florida and Ohio) that didn’t pan out. In 2008’s election between Obama and John McCain, it didn’t make the difference — preelection polls weren’t close and the election was effectively decided well before results came in from the West.

What will happen this time around? Recent history might offer a clue as to what we can expect — history as recent as the 2010 congressional elections. Read more “Electoral Fight of the Future: Go West, Young Man!”

Barack Obama Deserves Second Term

Regardless of whether or not this presidential election is a referendum or a choice, President Barack Obama deserves to be reelected on both counts. On the economy and foreign affairs, the Democrat has shown himself to be a better candidate than any of Mitt Romney’s public personas.

The first issue of Barack Obama’s presidency was his handling of the economic collapse which is also his strongest case for reelection. The crisis left a classic liquidity trap in which demand had dropped to very low levels and interest rates had already been lowered to the minimum. This required an immediate Keynesian approach.

By passing the Recovery Act and injecting $787 billion into the American economy only three weeks after his inauguration, the president stopped the ongoing hemorrhaging and quickly stabilized the markets. Despite near unanimous Republican political stonewalling, the president got billions of dollars into green energy investment, health information technology, middle-class tax relief and more.

Investigators found minimal fraud and waste and given the impact it had on the economy, both short and long-term, the spending in sum appears to have been worth it: The economy rebounded with the stimulus saving or creating around two and a half million jobs. The recovery only really slowed down once governors began to institute austerity at the state level and Congress refused to renew any form of stimulus because of the perceived failure of the first round as well as its large impact on the deficit.

However, the Recovery Act was uncommonly large because the slump was too — and it turns out more massive than the stimulus. The oft cited “promise” that unemployment would be at 6 percent right now is a canard, citing a projection, not a promise, by the transition team based on the belief that gross domestic product loss in late 2008 was 5.4 percent. It turned out that the contraction rate was 8.9 percent — unheard of since the Great Depression. Thus, a larger stimulus was economically necessary, though politically impossible.

Having no stimulus? That would have resulted in a Second Great Depression, permanently less revenue and a larger weight in the safety net — much worse for the deficit than temporary spending.

We know this because countercyclical spending has been economic orthodoxy since the 1930s. Democratic and Republican presidents alike have always spent money in some form to juice a down economy. When they haven’t, it has stagnated. This creates a natural deficit but that’s okay — interest rates are low during liquidity traps and are historically so right now.

(Given that the task of economic stimulus is evidently incomplete, pursuing it or not remains the choice for the future.)

Other issues are dwarfed by the president’s averting of economic catastrophe, yet still have large importance — especially in contrast to the plans of Mitt Romney and the congressional Republicans. Read more “Barack Obama Deserves Second Term”

Mitt Romney Offers Real Hope of Change

If an election is primarily a referendum on the incumbent, Barack Obama does not deserve to be reelected this November.

When he came to office, the Democrat promised to transcend the traditional party divides to cut the federal budget deficit in half and revitalize the nation’s economy.

Four years later, none of those promises have been met. The political culture in Washington is more toxic than ever. Read more “Mitt Romney Offers Real Hope of Change”

Atlantic Sentinel Responds to Final Obama-Romney Debate

Incumbent president Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, debated foreign policy in Boca Raton, Florida tonight in what was their third and last televised debate before November’s election.

The Atlantic Sentinel‘s Christopher Whyte said the debate was “not a blowout for either candidate.” Both held their positions well on a number of fronts, he said. Read more “Atlantic Sentinel Responds to Final Obama-Romney Debate”

Obama, Romney Could Be Locked in Electoral College Tie

Less than four weeks before Americans are scheduled to elect their next president, the race is anything but over. Incumbent president Barack Obama is virtually tied with his Republican challenger Mitt Romney in preelection polls. There is a chance that neither candidate secures the majority they need to win.

Americans elect their president and vice president not by popular vote but through an electoral college system that advantages smaller states. Nevertheless, the outcome of the popular vote hardly ever differs from the outcome in the Electoral College. The most recent exception was in 2000 when Democrat Al Gore won roughly half a million more votes nationwide but George W. Bush won five more points in the Electoral College.

With 538 Electoral College votes up for grabs, it is possible that neither candidate wins the 270 that are needed to win. Read more “Obama, Romney Could Be Locked in Electoral College Tie”

Whoever Wins in November, Divided Government Likely

Whichever party wins the American presidency in November, Republicans are likely to remain in the majority in the House of Representatives while the Democrats could well retain their control of the Senate.

After the spectacular success of the Republican Party in the 2010 congressional elections, when it won 63 House and six Senate seats, the 2012 election seemed a golden opportunity to reclaim control of both chambers of Congress. Republicans are defending only ten Senate seats next month compared to 23 on the Democratic side, several of them in conservative states such as Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and Virginia. Read more “Whoever Wins in November, Divided Government Likely”

Obama Doesn’t Really Believe in Free Enterprise

President Barack Obama hailed free enterprise in his debate with Republican Mitt Romney in Hempstead, New York on Tuesday night. His policies in the last four years have shown anything but an appreciation of capitalism.

“I believe that the free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known,” said the president. “I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But,” he added, “I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules.” Specifically, he called for tax increases on the rich as part of a “balanced” approach to fiscal consolidation.

Even if taxes on incomes over $1 million were raised to 100 percent, the revenue would fall roughly $300 billion short of mending a $900 billion deficit. That is assuming those people would keep earning money and why should they?

So the president’s program of giving everyone a “fair shot” isn’t really about taxes. It’s about the government deciding that certain people and certain industries don’t have a “fair shot” in the free enterprise system and should intervene to make sure that they do. Read more “Obama Doesn’t Really Believe in Free Enterprise”