Misframing the Electoral Odds

I agree with Bruce Bartlett about the election: Bush is likely to be reelected, and by a large margin, as long as the economy remains strong. I add the caveat that the odds could change if Bush makes a major blunder on the war and the Democrats present a serious alternative to his war policies, but this combination of events seems unlikely.

Speculations about which Democratic candidate is best on defense miss the bigger point, which is that none of the electorally competitive Democrats is good on defense. The press has to pretend that they are, because otherwise the race is over and there’s nothing to write about, but the rest of us can call a spade a spade.

(I agree that Bush is vulnerable in many areas — Saudi Arabia, not restraining government spending, not dealing seriously with intelligence failures, etc. But Clinton had at least as many political weaknesses in 1996. As long as economic growth continues to expand, a mediocre Democratic candidate is no more likely to defeat the incumbent now than a mediocre Republican candidate was then.)

12 thoughts on “Misframing the Electoral Odds”

  1. Larry Kudlow agrees with you:

    Liberal Yale economist Ray Fair has perfected a model that predicts election outcomes. Recently his model has been re-estimated by the well-respected Macroeconomic Advisors of St. Louis. Both models came within a few tenths of a percent of accurately predicting the popular vote in 2000. Taking into account today’s strong economy, both predict a Bush victory with roughly 60 percent of the vote come November.
    In electoral terms, it’s the economy, not the budget deficit, that will decide November’s presidential election. Bush’s economy, and his reelection prospects, are in fine shape.

    I don’t know how good the model is, but the basic point is correct. If the underlying economy remains strong, Bush should win. Barring “events, dear boy, events” (which usually favor an incumbent, anyway), W is a good bet going into the election.

    Is that a good thing? Sure. After all, there are are only tradeoffs, as one of our Chicago Boyz never fails to remind us. Bush or Kerry? That’s easy.

  2. A caveat is that they do not have to be good on defense in an absolute sense. They only need to be perceived as better or not-as-bad in a relative sense. And that could still happen.

    One strength of the Republicans so far has been their relative cohesiveness, relative to the Democrats and their plethora of factions, candidates and endorsements. Should the Dem get over this once they have a nominee, the dynamics will be affected.

    I don’t think the Republicans can afford to feel comfortable or confident at this time.

  3. I am in the unusual if perhaps not entirely unique situation of hoping for a Bush victory while having no intention of voting for him. Like many others, I long for a serious Democrat but don’t see one; I identify with the Libertarian Party, but at the national level, it’s controlled by isolationists; and I find every other minor party I’m aware of to be repugnant.

    The question of this election will be: are you safer now than you were four years ago? The astonishing inability of prominent Administration critics to frame a response to it — or in some extreme cases, even to admit the danger — threatens to render the Democrats irrelevant to presidential politics for quite some time.

    My immediate fear is of an indecisive result, in the form of an even sharper red/blue divide, with the Northeast and the West Coast (and possibly Illinois) defiantly on one side and everybody else on the other, hardening into a kind of gerrymandered nation over the next couple of presidential elections. Browsing the maps at this site, there are, perhaps, hints of such a pattern for 1988 and 1996; it is much more evident, of course, in 2000 (189 kB *.pdf).

  4. Kerry already admitted terrorism’s no biggie and he’ll “hand” us over to the UN and 1 “ally.”

    The stories about him haven’t even begun to come out. What little I’ve read, gold digger seems about right.

    And, he facilitated a Chinagate meeting? Check out Curmudgeonly.

  5. Jonathan: That %*&%&% George Soros is threatening to “do something” to the USA economy before Nov. to hurt Bush’s posibilities. What do you think about it? Does he have any -if at all- posibility of pulling a trick of that sort, or is just a big bunch of steer manure? I think he should go and help HIS PEOPLE in Georgia that are in big need of help, instead of entangling himself with American politics.

  6. I agree with Sylvain, that Republicans should not rest until the fat lady sings in front of cheering crowds at midnight in Austin.

    But when America sees the “haughty”-ness of John Kerry in a debate, anyone with any sense will move to the W column. It’s the man, more than the policies, that sway the soccer/security moms and Nascar dads.

    Very good posts and comments lately. You guys must not be basketball fans. Go SEMINOLES!!

  7. Is he really worse than Gore in this respect ? As Ned Flanders would say, that guy put the pomp back in pomposity.

  8. Dude, not only are you a capitalist stooge and enemy of the Cuban Revolution, but you also reference Ann Coulter. Reeducation summer camp for you !

  9. Bush’s probability of re-election has bounced around from about .65 to .70 on Tradesports.com.

    You can even bet on the number of electoral votes he will get.

  10. Mark,

    Tradesports.com is a valuable resource. If the chatter is about Bush’s vulnerability while Tradesports shows him still with 2/3 odds, I go with Tradesports. I’d take the chatterers more seriously if Tradesports showed Bush in the 50s.

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