In 2010, I looked at early voting in 20 states and found early signs of the disproportionate Republican turnout that would define the Tea Party wave. This year, the picture is more mixed, befitting the sort of non-wave election most are expecting. It should shock no one that signs point to a significant dropoff from 2008 for Obama; if Election Day trends hold, he seems likely to lose a handful of states he won four years ago. In particular, the early vote looks promising for Republicans in North Carolina, Florida and Colorado. But early voting in Iowa, Nevada, and (though it's tricky to assess) Ohio still looks strong enough for Democrats.
This analysis isn't conclusive; it's a faint clue at best. But with as much as 40 percent of the nationwide vote likely to have been cast before the polls open on Tuesday, here's what the early vote is telling us so far.
The economist Joseph Schumpeter -- yet another immigrant, and the most perceptive early analyst of innovation -- considered it to be the fundamental component of entrepreneurship: "The typical entrepreneur is more self-centered than other types, because he relies less than they do on tradition and connection" and because his efforts consist "precisely in breaking up old, and creating new, tradition." For that reason, innovators always encounter resistance from people whose economic and social interests are threatened by new products and methods.
Compared with the native-born, who have extended families and lifelong social and commercial relationships, immigrants without such ties -- without businesses to inherit or family property to protect -- are in some ways better prepared to play the innovator's role. A hundred academic monographs could not prove that immigrants are more innovative than native-born Americans, because each spurs the other on. Innovations by the blended population were, and still are, integral to the economic growth of the United States.
But our overly complex immigration law hampers even the most obvious innovators' efforts to become citizens. It endangers our tradition of entrepreneurship, and it must be repaired -- soon.
The main business lobby, Medef, has warned of more bankruptcies and layoffs, while an association of the top French companies, the Association Française des Entreprises Privées, called for a 30 billion euro, or $38.8 billion, cut in public welfare fees paid by employers over the next two years to try to reduce the weight of taxes and promote competitiveness. The group also called on the government to cut spending by $77.7 billion over five years, warning that France could no longer afford to have the state producing 56 percent of G.D.P.
The complaints come as a much-heralded report due next week on how to improve French competitiveness -- commissioned by Mr. Hollande in July from Louis Gallois, the former head of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company -- is being played down by the government. Mr. Gallois and Medef want "a competitiveness shock," in which some social welfare fees now paid by companies would be transferred to the general budget or covered by other taxes.
But Mr. Hollande, who was criticized during the campaign as being indecisive and vague, said that a shock was a bad idea, and that he preferred a gradual "competitiveness trajectory."