February 15, 2012

A FEBRUARY NAIL-BITER

Why Obama Will Embrace the 99 Percent (NATE SILVER, 2/15/12, NY Times Magazine)
 
By early February, Obama's approval rating had climbed to 49 percent in the Real Clear Politics average, a six-point improvement from three months earlier. Although it's not a terrific approval rating, it may be enough to get Obama another term. In 2004, George W. Bush won a narrow victory with essentially identical metrics: G.D.P. growth of 2.9 percent and an approval rating of about 48 percent on Election Day.

Still, Obama's position isn't solid enough for him to beat just anybody. Bush benefited from running against a middling opponent like John Kerry, against whom he was able to squeeze every ounce out of his approval rating.

The model I created evaluates the strength of the opposition candidate by considering his ideology on a left-to-right scale. Candidates who are closer to the center have historically done better than those closer to the wings. (I've updated the model's measure of ideology to account for new data.)

Obama's most likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, continues to rate as a "generic Republican." In fact, he now scores at exactly 50 on the 100-point scale from centrist to extremist. That means an election against Romney, like Bush's against Kerry, would mostly be dictated by the fundamentals of the economy and by evaluations of Obama's job performance. With 2.5 percent G.D.P. growth from now through November, Obama would be a 60 percent favorite to win the popular vote.

Posted by at February 15, 2012 8:12 PM
  

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