Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Toward the Economic Middle

Ramesh Ponnuru has an interesting essay on what has gone wrong for the GOP electorally:
Republican weakness emerges even more clearly when we look at a longer timescale. From 1896 through 1930, Republicans were the dominant party, holding the White House and Congress most of the time and losing the presidency only when they split, as in 1912 and 1916. The Great Depression made the Democrats into the dominant party until 1968. Only one Republican won the presidency during that period, and under highly unusual circumstances: He had won World War II, the Democrats had held the presidency for five consecutive terms, and the country was beset by inflation, corruption, and an unpopular war in Korea.
The Democrats lost majority status in 1968 — they would lose five of six presidential elections from that year through 1988, and win one by a hair — but Republicans did not gain it. They never held the House and rarely held the Senate during that streak of presidential wins. Why didn’t Republicans become the dominant party then? It wasn’t because of foreign policy: That boosted them during the second half of the Cold War, when the Democrats became the relatively dovish party. That’s a big reason Republicans did better at the presidential than at the congressional level. It wasn’t because of social issues: The hippies and McGovernites helped make Republicans the party of middle-class values.
What they did not do is make the Republicans the party of middle-class economic interests. Most Americans associated the party with big business and the country club, and did not agree with its impulses on the minimum wage, entitlement programs, and other forms of government activism designed to protect ordinary people from cold markets. Americans came to be skeptical of government activism mainly when they thought it was undermining middle-class values (as they thought welfare undermined the work ethic). And even when voters thought Republicans were better managers of the economy in general, they thought the GOP looked out for the rich rather than the common man.
 (Via David Frum.)

Back in the Day

Andrew Kaczynski brings us back to a distant era (2005), when Senate Democrats celebrated the value of the filibuster as a way of preserving Senate traditions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Skills and Pay

Adam Davidson looks at manufacturing wages:
Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister’s pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a “union-type job.” Isbister, after all, doesn’t abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour.
The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.
In a recent study, the Boston Consulting Group noted that, outside a few small cities that rely on the oil industry, there weren’t many places where manufacturing wages were going up and employers still couldn’t find enough workers.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Moving Forward

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal makes some smart points about how to strengthen the Republican Party.  Some key points:
2. Compete for every single vote. The 47% and the 53%. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent. President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we try to unite all Americans.
6. Quit "big." We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything. We must not be the party that simply protects the well off so they can keep their toys. We have to be the party that shows all Americans how they can thrive. We are the party whose ideas will help the middle class, and help more folks join the middle class. We are a populist party and need to make that clear.
 Republicans and conservatives can make a case for a politics that will provide opportunity for all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's the Economics

Over at the National Review, I have a piece examining the economic slice of the exit polls.  Among the working class, Romney slipped from McCain's level of support in 2008, and this slippage may have cost him a few states:
According to exit polls, Romney improved on John McCain’s national performance among households making under $30,000 a year and over $50,000 a year (though he still decisively lost those making under $30,000 a year). However, for those households making between $30,000 and $49,999, he underperformed: McCain lost those voters by twelve points, while Romney lost them by 15. Moreover, because of the economic travails of the past four years, members of those working-class/lower-middle-class households rose from 19 percent of the electorate in 2008 to 21 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, members of households making under $30,000 a year rose from 18 percent of voters to 20 percent of voters. So the income segments of the electorate in which Republicans perform worse have been growing, and, among those on the economic edge, Republican electoral performance is declining.

This trend was exaggerated in many swing states. In New Hampshire, Obama went from winning the $30,000–$49,999 demographic by three points in 2008 to winning it by 21 in 2012. In Ohio, the president went from an 8-point margin of victory to a 12-point one in that demographic. In Virginia, his margin went from ten points to 22; in Colorado, from three points to 23. In Nevada, McCain lost that economic category by 18, but Romney lost it by 36, and, in Pennsylvania, the gap between Obama and his Republican opponent grew from 17 to 23 points. And not all these changes can be traced to changes in the ethnic composition of the electorate. In Virginia, for example, the Hispanic portion of the vote remained the same, as did the president’s victory margin among Hispanics, but Romney still lost considerable ground among working-class voters.
Read the rest here.

Ramesh Ponnuru has some further reflections along these lines.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Just Romney

Some on the right are arguing that Romney's loss last week was due to his weakness as a candidate or his purported moderation.  That argument would need to address the fact, however, that, in fourteen out of eighteen hard-fought Senate races, the Republican candidate ended up performing worse than or equal to Romney in that state.  In some states (such as Missouri, Indiana, and Montana), the Republican performed more than eight points worse than Romney.  So Romney in many places performed better than other Republicans in key match-ups.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Morning After

A few thoughts:

In the twenty years between 1992 and 2012, Republicans have won the popular vote once (2004).  1932-1952 was the last twenty-year period where the GOP won the popular vote only once (in 1952).  Democrats went through a similar dry period between 1968 and 1988, only winning the popular vote in 1976.

According to exit polls, Romney lost ground in many states with working class voters, especially those making between $30,000 and $49,999.  For those making under $30,000 and those making over $50,000, Romney improved on McCain's performance, but, for those in that middle range, Obama improved his performance, going from a 55-43 lead in 2008 to a 57-42 lead in 2012.  Obama's gains with the working class was particularly pronounced in states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Nevada, Virginia, and Colorado.  That working-class swing helped pull down Romney in many battleground states.

Independents did swing toward Romney (he won them in many battleground states) but not by enough.

Immigration-related politics cannot really be blamed for the losses in New England, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana (for the Senate), Missouri (for the Senate), or a number of other outstanding nail-biters.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012: Results Thread

(To be updated throughout the night)

In Virginia, things are still close.  In Prince Edward County, Obama is performing at about the level he did in 2008.  In many other counties, though, Romney seems to be exceeding McCain's margins by a point or two.

CNN has now called Michigan for Obama.

UPDATE: Scott Brown concedes to Elizabeth Warren.

And George Allen has conceded in Virginia.

UPDATE 11pm: North Carolina called for Romney.
Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida all seem to be crucial steps on Romney's path to the presidency at the moment.

UPDATE after midnight: Most of the networks have now called the national race for President Obama.

UPDATE 12:53am: Romney concedes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

On Election Eve

Quin Hillyer (who has a pretty good record from the past) suggests a significant Romney win.  Allahpundit games out some of the conventional routes to 270 for Romney.  The polls are really tight, but supposedly some internal polling for the Romney campaign shows that a number of swing states are close.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Common Disappointment or Popular Prosperity?

Over at the Daily Caller, I think about an undercurrent of the 2012 presidential race: can we break out of the rut of the present?
We’re all familiar with the depressing statistics. Over three years with unemployment above 8%. A dropping labor-force participation rate. Persistently large and growing trade deficits. A collapse in family net-worth and family incomes. A lack of opportunity for America’s young people. Year after year after year of trillion-plus deficits. Social Security and Medicare going bankrupt even faster than expected.

An undercurrent of this election — one the Romney campaign has grasped — is the debate about whether to accept as normal the past decade’s hollowing out of the middle class and the downgrading of prosperity. The “new normal” is one of skyrocketing gains for the few and treading water for the many and a stagnation in growth for the economy as a whole. This outcome is not necessarily the result of free markets (indeed, it has taken considerable government intervention to arrive at the current state), and it also imperils long-term growth: the rich may have absorbed almost all the economic gains of the president’s anemic recovery, but the economic pie is smaller than it could have been.
Read the rest here.