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2012 Election Watch: Lead: Obama. Momentum: Romney.

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Roughly two weeks have passed since we last took the temperature of the presidential race, and so it’s time for another look at where the candidates stand. Using our standard method of measuring the national swing since the 2008 vote and applying that swing equally across the board to all 50 states and the District of Columbia, we are able to convert national polling numbers into a very rough estimate of the electoral vote total of each candidate if the election were to be held today.

What today’s numbers show is, basically, more of the same. President Obama still has a narrow lead in the Electoral College, but Governor Romney continues to slice away at the President’s advantage. In today’s sounding, no states flip from the Obama column to the Romney camp since our last update, but the “magic number”, the swing in the polls needed to put Governor Romney in the White House, continues to narrow.

The race is getting closer.

A shift of just 1.67 percent in the popular vote would swing Virginia and Colorado into the Romney camp, giving the challenger a narrow electoral lead. Since we began this series of snapshots late in March, the magic number has dropped from 3.12 percent to 1.67 — almost cutting President Obama’s lead in half.

So as of now, the race seems to stand as follows: Lead: Obama. Momentum: Romney.

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  • stan

    If that’s the line, where can I bet? I think if a bookie put up that line right now, his book would tilt heavily to the red side.

  • thibaud

    Is the Waker election purely about unions, or is the outcome at least as much a reflection of Wisconsin’s unemployment rate?

    The latter would explain why Obama remains significantly ahead of Romney in Wisconsin, even as the same voters opt to re-elect a Republican governor.

  • Greg Q

    Expect Iowa to flip to Romney. They have judge imposed same sex marriage there, and don’t like it (which is why the three judges who were on the ballot in 2010 lost by 8 – 10 points each). Obama has essentially promised that if re-elected, he will do to America what those judges did to Iowa.

    The problem with your method is that it ignores all local issues. And that, IMHO, makes it essentially worthless. Because local issues matter (how many extra votes did Bush get in 2004, in states that had same sex marriage bans on the ballot?).

  • John Burke

    With a reported huge turnout, which normally favors the Dems, Walker is romping to a big win in Wisconsin. This should shake up the entire “blue” upper midwest.

  • Mark Michael

    The exist polls were unreliable – way off. Don’t assume they accurately reflect the voters’ opinion about for whom they’ll vote next November.

    Here’s a rationale for thinking the Walker win bodes badly for Obama: Obama and the public unions are allies and represent the same general public policies. WRM’s the Blue State Model, obviously. The swing voters in WI will “connect the dots” between now and November and decide Obama is of a piece with their own whiny, selfish, overpaid public unions. They’ll decide they need to stop the same thing at the national level as they stopped at the state level.

    The “happy talk,” no-pain, pro-growth politics which America was lucky enough to be able to indulge in for much of the last 60 years or so may be at an end.

    Reagan inherited high inflation (going above 10% for short periods), high interest rates (spiked near 20%), and a deep recession, but he got out of it without draconian budget cuts. If fact (as liberals constantly tell us!), he raised defense spending going into the recession, and we still came out of it despite that. (Gave a false sense to Keynesians that their ideas work. They don’t; never have, never will.)

    Reagan only cut domestic spending as a percent of GDP over his 8 years, and then only modestly. In nominal dollars, most domestic programs spent more over his tenure. That was hardly “root canal” politics. He also cut individual income taxes 25% across the board, which is a “happy talk” measure, not an adult, take your castor oil one. He did raise the payroll tax substantially to “fix” Social Security and Medicare, but hid behind a bipartisan commission, the Greenspan Commission, which advocated that dose of castor oil for the populace.

    Ross Douhat’s column today starts to get at the “inflection point” our politics is now facing: easy, happy-talk, no-pain programs no longer will work to correct our bloated public sector, excessive government transfer programs, excessive special interest subsidies. They’ve grown too large to “out run” or “out grow”.

    The number of people “in the wagon” – or doing too little given what they’re compensated – versus those “pulling the wagon” in the private sector and paying the taxes is just too large. As WRM likes to say, the math doesn’t work anymore.

    So will we be confronted with trench warfare politics for a while, a la how they fought World War I? Or like a Woody Hayes The Ohio State football team when they practiced “three yards and a cloud of dust” grind-it-out politics for a decade or so?

    Underlying this struggle may be something called the “Protestant Work Ethic”: has America lost it as an ideal for the ordinary American, or do too many of us get those comfy government handouts that we’re loath to see cut back? Niall Ferguson just had a PBS series discussing the age-old question, “Why did the West triumph so decisively over the other cultures in the world? What’s unique about the West – that other cultures did not have?”

    One of the “6 killer apps” he identifies is the Protestant Work Ethic. Since the Lutheran Reformation in the 16th Century, northern Europe and then America surged ahead of southern (and Catholic) Europe. He wondered why. He cites Max Weber as coining the phrase, “Protestant Work Ethic” and attributes that – coupled with competition – as a big factor involved. Weber visited America a hundred years ago and was surprised at the large number of Protestant churches in America. Small towns all had lots of churches, and they competed for members. They preached a form of hard work is a way to honor God: mundane, earthly tasks were just as pleasing to God as lofty ministerial professions.

    Protestantism in church was taken over and sponsored by the state. The churches became monopolies; they no longer had to compete for members. They became complacent. Today, in England, maybe 2% of the people attend church on Sunday. In America, it’s still over 40% who do. He claims that Protestantism is surging again in America, being rejuvenated.

    In a way, the struggle between the Blue Model and the red Tea Parties is a struggle between a wholehearted embrace of the Protestant work ethic and a more laid-back European social welfare culture.

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