August 30, 2004


Close, but Bush will win (Marc Erikson, 8/30/04, Asia Times)

In Las Vegas you can bet on most anything - but not on US elections. It's a federal law. British bookmakers, who are not under such restrictions, offer odds of 5/6 for both Kerry and Bush. Most recent US polls project a statistical dead heat. It is nonetheless likely that Bush will eke out a victory on November 2. Americans' basic attitudes on the major issues, the likely course of events over the coming two months, and key economic-demographic factors favor the Republican. [...]

We've left some important economic/demographic indicators for last. They may prove the most important. Contrary to Kerry's contention in his convention speech that the US middle class is shrinking and its income declining, US Internal Revenue Service (the federal tax collector) statistics show that the number of tax returns in the $75,000-$100,000 bracket increased by 8% between 2000 and 2002 while the number of returns in the above-$200,000 categories dropped by anywhere from 10-50%. Incomes of those earning $100,000 or less advanced marginally, while incomes of the big earners above $100,000 declined substantially.

Overall, some 75% of Americans now consider themselves middle-class, 4% are upper-class, and the remainder working- or lower-class. The upper and working/lower classes in 2000 voted overwhelmingly Democratic and are now pro-Kerry. Al Gore, the Democratic candidate in that election, got fully 56% of the upper-class vote. And as the middle class has expanded, it has moved into the suburbs. In 2000, 50% of voters were suburbanites; this year it will be nearly 52% - and upward mobility out to the suburbs from the inner cities generally favors Republicans.

Upper-upper-class members, whether George Soros, Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs, have made no secret of their political preferences. On Wall Street, contrary to popular perception, Bush's support is soft. The rich don't much care about entrepreneurship, wealth creation and new-home ownership. They've got it. They worry about wealth preservation (and hence don't like deficits that drive down bond prices). The middle class does worry about fiscal and regulatory measures designed to create wealth and ownership. It's their principal preoccupation. Bush's "ownership society" will favor them and they'll favor it.

And then, of course, there's the Hollywood-Nashville divide. Nashville's country crooners like Bush; Hollywood's stars hate Bush and will vote Kerry by default. California and New York are solidly in Kerry's camp. But Gore in 2000 lost Tennessee, his own state. Tennessee again will be the better predictor this year.

It's great fun watching foreigners throw in the towel.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 30, 2004 8:51 AM

As of this morning, Tradesports has Bush at an astounding 57.2% . Ten days ago he was barely above 50%. This is the 'post-convention bounce' a few days early.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at August 30, 2004 9:06 AM

Asia Times is actually based in New York, its editor/publisher and many of its writers are American.

Posted by: pj at August 30, 2004 9:34 AM

It's become pretty clear that Kerry did get a post-convention bounce of about 6 points, which masked (by offsetting) his falling to his natural level of support.

Posted by: David Cohen at August 30, 2004 9:50 AM