Early entrance polls from CBS show a three-way race among Ron Raul, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. According to the network, Paul’s supporters tend to be “male, younger, and many are first-time caucus goers.” Romney’s voters care most about electability, and believe Romney has the best chance of beating Obama. Santorum’s adherents appear to be looking for a “true” conservative. By true conservative, they likely mean of the socially conservative and religious kind.
In other words, Republican support seems to be evenly divided among the young (Paul), the pragmatic (Romney), and the ideologues (Santorum).
Of course, I hope the pragmatists win out. There is no point in spending millions of dollars to get a Republican elected who has virtually no chance of beating President Obama. Hopefully, the party realizes this point sooner rather than later. The last thing President Obama needs is more political dirt against the GOP frontrunner. Quicker consolidation is key for Republicans in this contest.
In the end I think there is going to be a lot of ammunition for the Obama campaign. Personally, from a realistic point of view, I’d say Romney will win the primaries. Obama’s biggest, and quite effective, strategy will be to attack Romney’s “flip-flopping”. There really is a lot of material to use here…pitting Romney against Romney. I foresee all that will hammer the question into voters’ minds, “If Romney wins which Romney will show up in the Oval Office?”
I fear you’re right. The problem is that the Republican’s have no better candidates on hand (unless you count Huntsman. Alas he’d never win the primary).
Right, Huntsman is about the best candidate. It’s a shame there aren’t more pragmatic thinking on that side of the political spectrum.
And those who are, like Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie have opted out. A real shame.
My biggest fear is that no matter who wins the nomination, some of the other candidates will decide to run as third party candidates. The result will be a diluted pool of voters guaranteeing a win for Obama. I hate the Idea of picking someone just because he can beat Obama. It would be nice to have someone in office who could actually do a good job.
Don’t get me wrong. I actually think Romney would do a good job. My worry is that the Democrats use the flip-flop charge mercilessly against him, resulting in his loss. Romney may be plain and unexciting, but he is highly competent. The president is extremely charismatic, but has a very weak economic record. Unfortunately, charisma tends to defeat competence in elections.
I also worry, as you do, about a third party spoiler. I hope folks have enough sense not to do that.
I wouldn’t say Obama has a VERY week economic record. I know many are judging him against the slow recovery but that, in my opinion, is not taking into account the depth of the recession or the realistic, economic predictions that the recovery will take 5-10 years. Under Obama we have seen a solid halt to the freefall we were in and a realistic recovery which is showing decent improvement in recent months. I feel the perceptions of his weakness is based on a general “instant gratification” mentality we have in the US which demands quick, impractical fixes.
Having said that, one significant issue I do have to acknowledge is the failure to address the housing crisis and its recovery. There should have been more focus on that along with other aspects of the economy where much of the policy attention has been placed.
My view is that a president only has so much influence on the economy, and that Obama certainly inherited a tough situation. I also think his initial actions to sign the stimulus bill were necessary, appropriate, and staved off a much worse economic disaster. That said, he squandered a lot of political capital on the Healthcare Bill, when getting the economy going should have been priority one. The Dodd-Frank Bill also does not seem to be helping the recovery either as it has resulted in banks passing the higher costs resulting from it to consumers. Healthcare deductibles are way up as health insurance companies scramble to increase fees before the healthcare bill takes full effect. The administration is also opposing attempts to increase domestic oil extraction at a time when oil prices are at $100+ per barrel. There is also a good reason why Americans expect the economy to be much better today – the President’s Council of Economic Advisors predicted that by 1Q12, unemployment would be at 6% with the stimulus, and over 6.5% without one. The current unemployment rate is still over 2 percentage points higher than the Administration’s worst economic scenario. Since the economy has woefully underperformed the President’s own worst case scenario, I think it is more than fair that he should accept some responsibility for not meeting his own targets. He has also had three years to meet them, which I think is a rather long period of time. I also think you are very right in your assessment that he should have done more to address the housing crisis.
Sean, perhaps he did waste political capital on the health care reform but I can understand his reasoning here. 1) healthcare insurance costs were/are increasing beyond sustainable rates and something needed to be done. 2) He correctly realized that another chance for reform would be a long way off if it wasn’t done when there was democratic control of Congress and before the GOP gained numbers in the midterms. He knew the gop would gain seats because he knew the economy would not be recovered and voters would be angry. 3) Rates may be going up as companies scramble for profits before the reform kicks in but that just speaks even more to the need for reform doesn’t it? The rates were going to continue going up without the reform and more than likely even more than they did since they had few checks to balance them out. 4) If healthcare cost could be brought under control and even lowered then consumers would have more money to work with, and yes, spend which would result in more demand and longer term recovery. And as the reform takes hold prices will level out or drop as competition kicks in through the insurance exchanges. Walgreens is already selling insurance and you Walmart will too. Plus, I can see down the road companies like State Farm, Farmer’s and Allstate getting into the business. They already sell you life, renters, homeowners insurance…why not health insurance?
Health care reform was a long-term vision for a more sustainable economy.
Dodd-Frank may not be helping much at the moment but isn’t that also due to a lot of efforts by the House to keep many aspects of it from going into effect? And we have already seen what happens when banks try passing those costs onto consumers… consumers revolt…(see BofA).
When did the President’s Council of Economic Advisers make those predictions? I’m wondering if they were not able to foresee a gridlocked Congress and the inability to continue an ongoing stimulus which many economists saw as necessary for a speedier and sustained recovery.
And just to point out one itchy point from your reply. You say there is only so much influence the president can have on the economy but at the end you’re placing more blame on him for not meeting the predictions of his advisers. I see myself doing something similar by perhaps placing more significance on his/democrats’ actions when things improve but defend any negatives as “out of his control”. Maybe that is the problem…too much of the complexities of our economy and full workings of the US Government is placed on ONE person’s shoulders. The realities probably trend more towards they are simply out of one person’s control…good or bad.
I promise you a more detailed response later this evening. In the mean time, the prediction I was referring to was Christine Romer’s analysis. I’m going to try to do a quick post on that later this evening, so stay tuned! 😉
“Sean, perhaps he did waste political capital on the health care reform but I can understand his reasoning here. 1) healthcare insurance costs were/are increasing beyond sustainable rates and something needed to be done. 2) He correctly realized that another chance for reform would be a long way off if it wasn’t done when there was democratic control of Congress and before the GOP gained numbers in the midterms. He knew the gop would gain seats because he knew the economy would not be recovered and voters would be angry. 3) Rates may be going up as companies scramble for profits before the reform kicks in but that just speaks even more to the need for reform doesn’t it? The rates were going to continue going up without the reform and more than likely even more than they did since they had few checks to balance them out. 4) If healthcare cost could be brought under control and even lowered then consumers would have more money to work with, and yes, spend which would result in more demand and longer term recovery. And as the reform takes hold prices will level out or drop as competition kicks in through the insurance exchanges. Walgreens is already selling insurance and you Walmart will too. Plus, I can see down the road companies like State Farm, Farmer’s and Allstate getting into the business. They already sell you life, renters, homeowners insurance…why not health insurance?”
I agree that #1 is a huge problem and something needed to be done. I understand the political calculus behind #2. #3 is definitely true. I also agree with the aim of #4. That said, the only thing the bill does that would like decrease costs is the mandate that everyone have health insurance. If challenges to that one provision win out in the Supreme Court, the bill will be worse than worthless, because nearly every other provision will make healthcare more expensive. In regard to competition, I know for a fact that State Farm is not in the healthcare insurance business because the margins are already too low, and costs are tougher to predict. Also, Obamacare was modeled from Romneycare, which has resulted in cost increases above the plan’s expectations. The bottom line is I agree that something needed to be done to contain costs. The problem is that the President should have deferred the problem until the economy improved, and that the plan will more likely result in increased costs due to adverse selection (higher cost patients join and strain the system).
“Dodd-Frank may not be helping much at the moment but isn’t that also due to a lot of efforts by the House to keep many aspects of it from going into effect? And we have already seen what happens when banks try passing those costs onto consumers… consumers revolt…(see BofA).”
I actually don’t think the bill is good in any conception…alas, that is another topic. The reason banks increased fees is that the Dodd-Frank Bill limited what banks could charge merchants for swiping debit cards, killing about $6 billion in industry revenue at the stroke of a pen (It was either $6 billion for just BoA or the industry as a whole. I cannot remember the precise details). Destroying $6 billion in revenue forces companies to find revenues from other sources (BoA’s disastrous fee increase) or by cutting costs. In bank-speak that means cutting employees.
“The realities probably trend more towards they are simply out of one person’s control…good or bad.”
I would say that the President has some degree of control over the economy. It is just the extent to which he has control, which is highly debatable. Otherwise, my apologies for the massive post. I wanted to answer your thoughtful response with something reasonably intelligent from a keyboard and not from an iPhone. 😉
I agree that in the US “charisma tends to defeat competence in elections”, but in the UK the three main party leaders have no charisma nor real pragmatism – all waffle and bluster. Though you have not got the leaders you would like you at least have a range of choices.
I think your right. Romney is probably the best of the bunch. I just wish we had a better bunch. I have to admit that I have a problem with the Mormon thing but it isn’t a deal breaker for me. Hopefully voters will not be put off by the flip-flopper label. Flip-flopping isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I wouldn’t want a president who was so stubborn or arrogant that he couldn’t be swayed to change his mind when the circumstances or facts warranted it. I think that being able to change is a sign of wisdom and maturity.
I never had any issues with having a Mormon president. To me, folks’ reactions to Mitt Romney’s Mormonism reminds me of the way people worried about the Pope controlling the White House when Kennedy was first elected (I wasn’t alive yet, mind you, but my parents have told me stories). In the end, it wasn’t an issue. The same thing will likely be true of Romney if he were to be elected. For most people, every candidate has some perceived flaw. For instance, I hated Bush’s patrician background, much as I similarly don’t appreciate Romney’s patrician background. No candidate is perfect, but the perfect is the enemy of the good.
This has been interesting to watch from a distance. As much as I lean more to the Republican side, I remember watching the last election’s primaries and getting the sense that the Democrats seemed far more “together” in terms of their top 3 candidates. Unfortunately I don’t see any more solidarity again from the Republican side and I think your assessment of the three “divides” is an accurate one. Plus, i see Paul more as a “protest vote” than anything at this point.
In Gingrich’s speech tonight he said that there’s going to be a “Great Debate” within the Republican party before there’s one with Barack Obama. Like you, i hope it happens sooner rather than later and as a US resident and business owner, I hope that pragmatism wins out over ideology.
I totally agree.
I have that hope as well but I can’t see that happenning given the emotionally charged, highly partisan atmosphere.
Unlike most of your readers and you, I like Obama. I also like Romney.
I would love Obama vs. Romney because I’d be happy with either as President. It would be nice to observe a campaign in which I thought either one would be a good choice!
I like, and prefer Obama, myself. Romney really has presented anything new and seems to lean more towards the same economic policies present under GW Bush.
My view is that Obama is stronger on defense by virtue of his recent record, while Romney is stronger on the economy. Given that the economy seems to be the more pressing issue, I think Romney is the better choice.
I have rarely been excited about any candidate. It usually feels like I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. I like your optimistic approach to this election. I wish I could share it.
Try Canadian politics for a change! We get more excited about hockey games and actually turn out for them in greater numbers (viewers) than we do with any debate. Thankfully, though, our system is producing some great leaders at the provincial and federal level.
Sorry, meant to add “where you can at least trust what they’re running on will actually happen once they’re elected.”