Wednesday, October 31, 2012

State/National Polling Divide

Sean Trende ponders the differences between various swing-state polls that give the president an edge and the various national polling that seems to give the edge to Governor Romney.  Trende points out that national polls have proven more accurate than state polls in the past, which could give some more hope to the Romney campaign.

Also, it is at least very interesting that the map has expanded considerably over the past few weeks in the Romney camp's favor.  Now, Romney is within a few points in Michigan and Pennsylvania, neither of which have gone Republican on the presidential since 1988.  Wisconsin also seems very close.  Romney is eating into Obama's map, suggesting more possible combinations for Romney to get to 270.  Meanwhile, the president's options are narrowing.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mitt and the Middle Class

Bill Kristol celebrates the turn of the Romney campaign in the past month:
If Romney wins, he’ll have won for the right reasons...

If Romney wins, he may do so with the highest percentage of the popular vote won by a Republican presidential candidate since the end of the Cold War. He’ll be the first challenger to defeat an incumbent who hadn’t been weakened by a primary challenge since 1932. Victory will be a real achievement, and it will be made more striking by the character of his campaign. So Romney will have a broad field in front of him on which to lay out plans to govern. 

MA Senate: Still Close

A new Boston Globe poll shows Scott Brown with a slight edge over Elizabeth Warren:
The survey indicates Brown holds a razor-thin 45 percent to 43 percent lead over Warren among likely voters, well within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Brown’s lead evaporates, with 47 percent for each candidate, when voters who are undecided are asked which candidate they are leaning toward.
The poll is a reversal from a September Globe survey that showed Warren ahead 43 percent to 38 percent, as well as several other recent polls that have found Warren with a slight lead. The shift underscores the belief long held by both sides that the race, active for more than a year, would be competitive until the end.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Romney: Reform Ahead

On Friday, Mitt Romney gave a speech in Iowa offering an overview of the economy and stressing the need for a broader prosperity for America.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Free-Market Case for Ending Too Big to Fail

In the Daily Caller, I explore a free-market argument for ending Too Big to Fail:
The impetus for ending TBTF would not be to punish Wall Street but to restore it. In the current situation of opaque and indefinite government support, no one knows who’s going to be the next Lehman Brothers (a big bank that was allowed to fail). Some well-connected players may feel free to gamble under the belief that Washington will back them if those bets go bad, but one or more might be wrong in that assumption: their lucky firm could be the one Washington decides is to be the sacrificial lamb before bailing out other big banks. The liquidation of that firm could wipe out the wealth of its shareholders and also cause many traders to lose their jobs. If this bank had not assumed that it would have government protections, however, it might have acted more prudently. Fear of failure is one of the greatest sharpeners of prudence in a capitalist marketplace; by putting the safety net of government bailouts under certain banks, we at once encourage them to be more reckless and to make less sound investments. This is a bad outcome from both a civic and an economic perspective.

Republicans would benefit politically from ending TBTF. Such an enterprise would appeal to popular dissatisfaction with the banking system. But there is an even more pressing reason for trying to achieve this aim: ending Too Big to Fail would be a defense of the free market. In 2008/2009, the banking system came closer to being socialized than at any time since the Great Depression. If we are interested in ensuring a market-oriented banking system, we must apply the principles of the market to the banking system.
 Read the rest here.

On a similar note, the cover story of this week's Weekly Standard explains the various ways in which Dodd-Frank accelerates the concentration of capital in a few giant banks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Debate III

This debate was not as fierce as the last one.  One of Obama's aims tonight was to try to delegitimize Mitt Romney and make him appear unfit as commander-in-chief.

Did he succeed?  If snap polling is any judge, no.  Mitt Romney came out of tonight still seeming like a very plausible commander-in-chief.  No matter what the spin room might be saying, that outcome can't make the Obama campaign too happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

By the Way

Romney and Obama got into a heated discussion over gas prices.  The president rightly noted that economic uncertainty at the beginning of his term helped lower gas prices, but Romney also rightly noted that the White House hasn't exactly been proactive in trying to deliver lower gas prices to Americans.

But still: a gallon of gas cost an average of $1.79 when the president took office.  As of September 2012, it averaged $3.86 a gallon.  According to BLS statistics, gas has never been that expensive in September.  Never.

Hard-Fought Second Debate

Romney and Obama's second meeting was a bit more contentious than their first.  Unlike in the first debate, the president came ready to battle.  Obviously, the left's demands that he become more aggressive and assertive were successful.

Romney started out strong, and his final remarks ended his showing tonight on a high note.  Romney's remarks on the economy, college graduates, trade policies, and the current state of the middle class were often very effective.

There is an uncertainty: this was a very contentious debate, with Obama and Romney talking over each other at times.  I'm not sure how this will play with undecideds.  Some might view Obama as less presidential for getting into such heated exchanges, but they could also become aggravated with Romney and view him as too belligerent.  Or it might not make any difference.

Romney had the momentum going into this debate.  I'd guess that the president did well enough tonight for his troops on the left to rally behind him.  I'm not sure I can say Obama won the debate, but he didn't lose it decisively, either---at least compared to two weeks ago.  And Romney might still have the momentum.

UPDATE: Polling suggests, and some in the Romney campaign have been quick to emphasize, that Romney dominated on economic questions.  For example, in the CBS snap poll after the debate, Romney won the economy 64-35.  I've also heard that there's been some potentially positive movement for Romney among undecided women voters after this debate.  More polling will show if that movement is realized over the next week or so.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Will: Too Big to Fail an Opportunity for Romney

George Will explores the virtues of Romney taking on Too Big to Fail:
If in four weeks a president-elect Mitt Romney is seeking a Treasury secretary, he should look here, to Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Candidate Romney can enhance his chance of having this choice to make by embracing a simple proposition from Fisher: Systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs), meaning too-big-to-fail (TBTF) banks, are “too dangerous to permit.”

Romney almost did this in the first debate when he said the Dodd-Frank Act makes TBTF banks “effectively guaranteed by the federal government” and constitutes “the biggest kiss that’s been given to — to New York banks I’ve ever seen.” Fisher, who has a flair for rhetorical pungency, is more crisp:

There are 6,000 American banks, but “half of the entire banking industry’s assets” are concentrated in five institutions whose combined assets amount to almost 60 percent of the gross domestic product. And “the top 10 banks now account for 61 percent of commercial banking assets, substantially more than the 26 percent of only 20 years ago.” The problems posed by “supersized and hypercomplex banks” may, Fisher says, require anti-obesity policies equivalent to “irreversible lap-band or gastric bypass surgery.” The land of TBTFs is “a perverse financial Lake Wobegon” where all crises are “exceptional,” justifying “unique” solutions that are the same — meaning bailouts. This incurs “the wrath of ordinary citizens and smaller entities that resent this favorable treatment, and we plant the seeds of social unrest.”

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Smith Gains in Pennsylvania

Bob Casey  won a decisive Senate victory against Rick Santorum in 2006, and many analysts had assumed that he would have a fairly easy path to reelection against Republican Tom Smith in 2012.

But some recent polling has suggested that Casey might have a slightly harder road ahead in his reelection challenge.  The latest Philadelphia Inquirer poll has Casey with a 10-point lead (48-38), which is still pretty solid.  But an Inquirer poll in August gave him nearly a 20-point lead.  And Casey has fallen below the 50% margin.

Indeed, no recent poll has given Casey over 50%.  And some other recent polls have this race down to single digits.

A continued strong performance by Romney could help push Smith over the top.

Friday, October 12, 2012

VP Debate

Biden's performance in tonight's debate is likely to fire up the Democratic base---in noticeable contrast to the president's showing last week.  For the most part, Ryan held his own.  It remains to be seen how much this debate changes the dynamic of the race (vice-presidential debates usually don't have the biggest effect).

Some other thoughts from Ed Driscoll, Hot Air, Justin Green, and Bill Kristol.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Same Boat II

A surging Mitt Romney might have some benefits for his fellow Republicans in other races.

Scott Brown, for instance, might be seeing his edge against Elizabeth Warren being renewed.  Prior to the first debate, a WBUR/MassINC poll had Obama up 28 points over Romney (60-32) and Warren up 4 points over Brown (49-45) in the Bay State.

In a WBUR/MassINC poll taken after the debate, Romney significantly ate into Obama's lead in Massachusetts, knocking it down to 16 points (52-36).  And Brown took a 3-point lead over Warren (48-45).

Significantly, both polls use the same partisan splits (36D/12R/52I).  Also interestingly, Brown's and Warren's favorability/unfavorability ratings remain about the same across both polls.  Brown's favorability rating does inch up a couple points, but I don't think that increase is enough to explain a 7-point improvement in his standings against Warren.

What we might be seeing in Massachusetts is an increasing sentiment among voters that Republican policies might work for them as well as for the country as a whole.  Because of this belief, they are more willing to support Republicans on the Congressional level.

Time will tell if other voters in other states feel this way.

Monday, October 8, 2012

From the 47% to the 100%

Over at The Daily Caller, I have a column up explaining the deeper ramifications of Romney's win over Obama in the debate last Wednesday.  Romney has moved toward advocating a sense of conservatism that can benefit everyone:
But rhetorical style alone cannot explain Romney’s win. Over the past week, Romney has decisively turned his back on a faux-Randianism, one that says conservatism should be the deification of the wealthy few, the castigation of the poor and elderly as parasites, and the elevation of selfishness and pride over community and humility. Romney’s performance in Wednesday’s debate offers a striking counter to the sentiments of the infamous 47% video, which he repudiated on Thursday.
Rather than attacking Social Security and Medicare as instruments of financial slavery (as some in the faux-Randian right view them), Romney defended their value and pledged to make them sustainable. Dismissing the dogma that marginal tax cuts will always pay for themselves (something that even a tax-cut hawk like Paul Ryan has also implicitly rejected), Romney pledged that he will not support a tax-cut plan that adds to the deficit. Instead of arguing that government regulations always harm the economy, Romney stressed that regulations are essential for a market economy. Faced with accusations that his policies would lead to a Hobbesian state of nature, Romney cited his own record as governor of Massachusetts.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More on Free Trade

Eamonn Fingelton looks into some of the facts of the international auto market in Japan:
Yet facts are facts. Here are a few which, though they remain hidden from most Americans, are widely known to media commentators, diplomats, Japan scholars, and of course aspiring presidential candidates:
  1. The Japanese government has used a plethora of constantly evolving regulations to keep the combined share of all non-Japanese automakers to just 4 percent of the Japanese market. The share never varies, whether the yen is strong or weak. (The yen is up nearly 50 percent against the dollar in the last five years.)
  2. The Detroit corporations, in common with all major automakers, make many cars in Europe configured for Britain’s drive-on-the-left roads, and by extension for Japan’s. They also make countless components and assemblies that have been shut out of Japan for no other reason than that they are not made there.
  3. Even Volkswagen, which sells broadly as many cars around the world as Toyota, has been allocated—that is the right word—just 1 percent of the Japanese market; by contrast Toyota’s share is close to 40 percent. (Volkswagen is lucky, incidentally: Hyundai’s share is 0.02 percent and Daewoo’s 0.003 percent, and this in a country where close to 1 percent of the people are ethnic Koreans.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Race Tightening?

National Journal has a new poll out showing a tie between Romney and Obama.  This poll adds to the seeming trend of the race tightening.  Romney's new focus on the economy may be working.

About That Video...(II)

The Daily Caller digs up video of an Obama speech from 2007Hot Air suggests that some other more recent scandals and setbacks might also be focused on.