I’m not sure if Nate Silver is incorporating way too much beltway conventional wisdom into his analysis or if he’s just decided to move into Firebagger Country, but his latest 35,000 feet analysis of President Obama’s re-election is that he loses unless the economy improves and his chances are 50-50 overall.
The problem is with the input parameters on Nate’s model:
Obama does indeed have a “Jewish problem.” Polls find that his standing among Jews has deteriorated: only about 54 percent of them approved of his performance in the most recent Gallup survey. But this is to be expected when a president has a 40-something approval rating. He also has a Hispanic problem and a problem among the white working class. He has a problem in Ohio and a problem in Florida and a problem in New Hampshire. He even has, to a mild extent, an African-American problem: Obama’s approval ratings among black voters are still high, but down to about 80 percent from 90 percent.
All of these, however, are symptoms of Obama’s larger problems, a set of three fundamental misgivings shared by much of the American electorate.
• First, many of us understand that Barack Obama inherited a terrible predicament. We have a degree of sympathy for the man. But we have concerns, which have been growing over time, about whether he’s up to the job.
• Second, most of us are gravely concerned about the economy. We’re not certain what should be done about it, but we’re frustrated.
• Third, enough of us are prepared to vote against Obama that he could easily lose. It doesn’t mean we will, but we might if the Republican represents a credible alternative and fits within the broad political mainstream.
I’m trying to figure out where somebody so dependent on actual facts, objective figures, and numerical analysis gets such a flawed model to start with. I’ll give Nate the second point there, most of us really are frustrated over the economy are there are serious differences about what should be done about it (although I’ve been yelling about what to do for a couple of years now.) But his assumptions that “we” think President Obama isn’t “up to the job” is just Village idiocy if anyone was capable of measuring President Obama’s accomplishments in an objective manner…which if anyone is supposed to be able to up in Villageland, it’s Nate Silver.
The third point is hokum as well. Has Silver been paying actual attention to the debates, the laughable policy gimmicks, the absurdity of the sound bites coming from the GOP in the last few months, or the current head-shaking controversies? Who is an actual credible alternative that would survive the primaries and still end up in the “broad political mainstream” in the general election next fall? Surely Nate understands this.
Finally he goes on to basically say that unless the economy improves, the President will basically lose the election. In both of his scenarios where the economy is stagnant, the President has long odds against Rick Perry and nearly impossible odds against Mitt Romney. No mention, of course, that if he’s right the Republicans have every reason to continue to obstruct and sabotage the economy, and so far it’s been pretty effective in blocking every attempt by the Democrats to improve the economy.
And finally, FINALLY, Nate basically says that the polls this early that show President Obama winning against every specific Republican in the race are simply too far away from November 2012 to be of any use, but he does throw in this caveat:
Obama has gone from a modest favorite to win re-election to, probably, a slight underdog. Let’s not oversell this. A couple of months of solid jobs reports, or the selection of a poor Republican opponent, would suffice to make him the favorite again.
I’m going to say the selection of any single Republican makes him the favorite again, considering that’s exactly what the polls continue to say and have now for a while: in a head-to-head matchup, Obama wins.
So how is he the underdog anywhere except inside the Beltway?