Ice This Thing

In any close basketball game, the last few minutes take just about forever.  There are strategic time-outs to regroup and plan, and there are numerous fouls given by the team behind just to get the ball back.  An election is no different, and Hurricane Sandy is the timeout needed by Team Obama to ice the win.

But they had the lead going into it.  The economic reports coming out this week show the score very clearly, and it’s definitely Obama’s game to lose.  As the press starts to bubble how big the lead is and Romney starts to foul out, we can see how this developed very clearly over the long summer – as was noted in Barataria all along.

The real difference between an election and a hoop game is that not many people know how to keep score.

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2012 Predictions

The election is a week away.  It’s time to make a few predictions and offer some analysis, if only so that everyone can make fun of me when this is all over.

Regular readers know how much disdain I have for the horserace that characterizes most of the reporting, but in the end it comes down to that.  Still, there are many issues revolving around the ability to call this thing properly that are fascinating, at least to someone too far into it.  My fondest hope is that at least some of them break in ways that defy conventional wisdom and shake things up.

Ready?

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Dodd-Frank, a Non-Issue

The first presidential debate went over a lot of topics – taxes, Medicare, budgets – that were very much worth spending a lot of time on.  But one of the things that came up far more than I ever thought possible was the Dodd-Frank Act, aka the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.  Mitt Romney called it “the biggest kiss to New York banks I’ve ever seen.”  He went on at some length about it, too, claiming “We need to get rid of that provision because it’s killing regional and small banks.”

Some of you know far more about this than I do, but this absolutely shocked me.  Dodd-Frank is really a non-issue, a half-step where a bold march forward is called for.  About half the world thinks it went too far and half thinks it didn’t go far enough, meaning it’s a rough compromise.  And, in practice, it doesn’t seem to have really changed very much.

How did this come up as an issue?  Dunno.  But I’m asking all of you to correct me if I have this wrong.

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The Big Fight

The conventions are over and the election is less than two months away.  That can only mean one thing – voters in Florida and Ohio would be better off not watching any teevee.  Who is likely to win?  The race is shaping up to be Obama’s to lose, although it’s unclear how the US House or other key races will come out.

It’s time to make a few predictions as to how it will go – and what we should be watching for.  That way you can make fun of me later.  Here are what I consider to be the key points.  Ready?

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Tale of Two Reports

It was the best of reports, it was the worst of reports.  The story of jobs in the USofA continues to wind down like a Dickens novel, crammed of details and well defined moments lush with feeling and energy but lacking a strong, driving plot.  We know when it ends, of course – somewhere many pages from now in the election in November.  Exactly how it goes down is entirely another question.

But for August we have two job reports.  The ADP report showed a private employment gain of 200k, a wonderfully robust gain that suggests a strong economy is really turning the corner.  The official household survey from the Department of Labor came in with an incredibly weak 96k jobs gained, a number that is not really treading water.  Why the discrepancy?  What is the real state of jobs?  How will this play in the election?

Keep reading.  This novel is far from done.

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Convention(al) Wisdom

Why do we still have political conventions?  There is a legal requirement that they actually sit down and have the formal vote on who their nominee will be, but that does not take days of speechifying and pageantry.  If another political party like the Greens or Libertarians tried to get their conventions on prime-time teevee night after night they’d be laughed at.  So why do the two parties get so much unfiltered airtime?

Because people watch it.

About 40M Americans watched Obama’s acceptance speech in 2008, and nearly 2/3 of all Americans watch at least some of the conventions.  That’s about the same as the Olympics, generally speaking.  People actually want to hear the candidates speak without filters, and they want the party to tell the world what it stands for.

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Gaps & Gaffs

The long season that leads up to an election is more like a basketball game than any other sports analogy – you make your shots, stay with the plan, and stay focused in the last few seconds.  That is why campaigns are often defined by gaffs and mis-statements.

The recent comments by Rep. Todd Akin won’t be repeated here, but there are plenty of places where they have been refuted completely.  One of them comes from the Romney campaign, which even went as far as to call on Akin to quit his Senate race.  They don’t want this anywhere near their candidate.

Polls show that, like a good hoop game, the Presidential election is close.  But the gap among women is on the order of 15% and could become much worse.  How?  This takes us back to a number of mess-ups with women that defined the discussion last Spring and threatened to rub off on all Republicans – something they can’t afford.

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