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Back to the Bench?

Chris Carlson
Carlson Chronicles

With presidential debates behind us and just a few days until half of the eligible voters cast their ballots on November 6th, let’s check the indices outlined in a mid-September column for tracking who may win.

1) The 80/40 rule which basically says if President Obama receives over 80% of the total minority vote, Governor Romney has to receive an almost impossible to obtain 60% of the total white vote. It appears the President is hanging right there at the 80% number but some of that is considered “soft” and could still switch. Meantime Governor Romney has started to surge among the white vote primarily
due to a significant swing in the female vote (an 18 point turn around) and also is closing in on the 60% number. Toss-up.

2) Independent women are starting to move gravitating towards Romney due in part to the challenger’s strong performance in the first debate and to his staying on the economic message which is his strength. Advantage: Romney.

3) As goes Ohio so will go the challenger’s hopes. The President still leads in the crucial state, but momentum is with Romney as he is closing the gap and is within the margin of error in most polls. However, Romney may have surged ahead in several other crucial toss-up states including Florida, Colorado and Nevada. In close races the one with momentum at the end usually prevails. Advantage:

4) The 5% lie factor. Clearly this one benefits Governor Romney and one suspects part of his closing surge is in fact from those who are now giving an honest answer to pollsters rather than what they perceive to be the politically correct answer. Advantage: Romney.

5) The money race. President Obama had a record breaking August, collecting $181 million but the Romney campaign collected $171 million according to press accounts so Romney still leads the money race.

6) The debates. Romney overwhelming won the first debate in the public’s view and held his own, thus coming across as a worthy equal not to be mention capable president, in the subsequent debates. Advantage: Romney.

With a few days to go, if these indices are correct, for only the second time in the last 50 years a Republican will have wrested the presidency away from an incumbent Democrat. The prior occurrence was Ronald Reagan’s defeat of Jimmy Carter.

Of course Democrats returned the favor twice also, with Jimmy Carter defeating the un-elected Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton defeating George H.W. Bush.

If the President loses, here are six reasons why, all of which this writer concurs with. I owe the six to my former Gallatin partner and Andrus colleague, Marc Johnson, who outlined these six in his Johnson Post blog of October 12th.

Johnson prefaces the six saying they present a “damning indictment of a guy who at a basic level doesn’t get—or like—politics,” and a guy who “just lacks the Bill Clinton-like skill to relate the art of governing to the drama of campaigning.”

1) The President displayed “an astonishing failure at a basic level of political communications” to convey the importance of his historic health reform legislation. Johnson judged the president guilty of thinking that the rightness of his policy obviated the need to explain it clearly and concisely to America’s

2) The President granted way too much control of his legislative agenda in the first two years to then Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

3) The President failed to focus laser-like on the economy in the wake of the 2008 election.

4) The President failed to back up his own Fiscal Reform Commission’s recommendations to address the spiraling debt crisis with a combination of spending cuts, modest revenue enhancements and needed entitlement reforms. Johnson points out that if the president had held close the recommendations from the commission headed by Erskine Bowles and former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson they would have given him bi-partisan political and policy cover during the entire campaign season.

5) The President never really explained why the country came close to a second Great Depression nor held anyone accountable for the near catastrophe.

6) The President “has no convincing story to tell about his years in office and little to say about what a second term would look like.”

The question is why? Author Michael Lewis (Blindside, Moneyball) may have it right. … He draws an analogy to the way Obama approaches his basketball game to the way he approaches his job: he plays to win, but is cautious, likes to see frequent passes until the right shot opens up, and seldom shoots the ball himself unless it is a high percentage make shot. Woe to those who gun and don’t work as a team.

At a time when the nation is looking for leadership it wants to believe can help lead the country back to economic prosperity it appears the voters just may be about to send the President back to the bench.

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