Paul Rahe’s Landslide vs. “Don’t get cocky”

Glenn Reynolds links to Paul Rahe’s prediction that we’re about to see a 1980-type electoral landslide for Romney.

I want Rahe to be right but the bookmakers’ odds give me pause. has Obama at 60% odds to be reelected. Other bookmakers are in the same ballpark.

It’s possible that these market odds are overly influenced by inaccurate polls. The odds certainly respond to polling data. However, the bookies have a very good record of predicting election results.

On Intrade, before November 2004, Bush’s odds only went as low as 50% a couple of times and always bounced from there. Obama’s odds are behaving like that now. If Obama’s numbers sink below 50% and stay there I’ll feel a lot better. As of now there is much reason to worry.

If the USA today were the USA of 1980 I would agree with Rahe. I remember the run up to the 1980 election and the conventional wisdom that Carter would win. At the time I was afraid that he would. I asked a wise older friend of mine, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, what he thought would happen. “Reagan will win in a landslide”, he said. My friend was reasoning as Rahe is. And of course Reagan did win. But much has changed since then. A larger proportion of the US voting population is poorly educated and a larger proportion is dependent on government. Rush Limbaugh has been arguing that increasing dependence on government insulates an ever larger fraction of the electorate from the consequences of Obama’s poor economic policies. Consequently, the argument goes, Romney cannot afford to run on Obama’s economic failures alone and may have difficulty winning in any case. This seems plausible.

“Don’t get cocky” is good advice. So is, “Be very afraid”. Let’s hope the market odds shift to support Rahe’s prediction.

21 thoughts on “Paul Rahe’s Landslide vs. “Don’t get cocky””

  1. Agreed absolutely. The betting shows Obama is winning this election now and I don’t see much prospect of Romney changing that.

    It is not 1980. A majority of Americans now rely on the government. Obama’s coalition of unions, government employees, single females, academia, minorities and the MSM probably can it be beaten.

    Romney’s failure to address the personal attacks, whIch are steadily increasing his negatives, shows he is no match for the Axelrod attack machine, which is just getting going.

    I will be very surprised if Romney wins.

    Rahe is indulging in wishful thinking.

  2. Lex,

    There is a regular pattern of lefties trying to bend the curve of the RCP poll of polls with biased media polls and any other indicators that Obama will lose, including gameing the BLS unemployment numbers via the “small business “Birth death model.”

    Intrade going the same way would not surprise me a bit.

  3. When one dissects the Intrade numbers more thoroughly you can understand why the futures market gives the incumbent a 59% chance of victory. Even while the national polls generally show a statistical dead heat.

    How do some of the 10 key “battleground” states feel?

    The futures markets give Ohio a 60% chance of going for Obama…..Pennsylvania appears a lock for Obama at an 80% chance…..Nevada a 74% chance for Obama….Michigan a 76% chance for Obama. Wisconsin 70% for Obama. Even Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico all appear a lock for Obama.

    And as Peggy Noonan noted in her most recent column about swing state voters “They’re making their decisions now. They’ve been making them for months.
    It’s showing in the polls. A NYT/CBS swing-state survey that came out this week reflects the dynamic: In the three states they polled, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, when respondents were asked who they were voting for, only 4% of them said they didn’t know. The number who said they might change their mind was in the low double digits”.

    I like Mr. Rahe’s observation about Romney needing to “tie his argument for paring back the administrative entitlements state back to first principles – back to the origins and purpose of government – and he needs to assert the necessity to return to limited government.”

    I was only 8 in 1980 and not born when he was Governor of California. When I go to YouTube and look at some of the Gipper’s speeches, it’s stunningly refreshing to see the clarity of language and force of intellectualized arguments that Ronald Reagan used. This is something I’ve seen little of in presidential politics in our post James Carville/Dick Morris America. And please spare me that Reagan was a “great communicator” BS. He wasn’t a great communicator but a communicator of great ideas. Romney is as telegenic and measured as Reagan ever was. Mr. Romney needs to view some speeches from Mr. Reagan and take some cues. Mr. Obama has given Romney a huge opening with his “you didn’t build that quip”.

    Mr. Reagan —

  4. Trent:

    Intrade is not a deep market. The British book makers are a deep market. They take either side of a bet from people around the world. They show Obama even stronger than Intrade.

    Bets are money. Polls are words.

    I give more weight to money than to words.

    If it turns out I am all wrong about this, I will be relieved.

  5. I would add that it’s conceivable that people are systematically lying to pollsters in a way that inflates Obama’s apparent odds. Perhaps many of the people surveyed say they support Obama lest they be seen as racists, but will vote Republican. Many conservatives want to believe that this is what is happening. I want to believe that this is what is happening. But there’s no way of knowing before the elections if it is actually happening. My sober hunch is that the bookies are right. Like Lex, I will be relieved if I turn out to be wrong about this.

  6. Lex: I do not disagree with you even though it makes me sick to my stomach.

    However, I derive some optimism from a couple of econometric models. First, Doug Hibbs –

    “ … a July 27 2012 update of the implications of my Bread and Peace model of votes for president for the 2012 presidential election. … contrary to results of recent polling data and betting odds data the Bread and Peace model implies that Obama’s re-election chances remain doubtful: I am predicting the President will receive 47.5% of the two-party vote with an associated re-election chance of only around 10%.”

    And second Ray Fair

    “July 27, 2012, comment: The NIPA data have been revised back to 2009, and the current forecast incorporates these revisions. Only one more quarter of unknown economic data is left (the third quarter of 2012), and so most of the economic information is in. The latest economic forecast from [my] US model (dated July 27, 2012) has a (non per capita) growth rate in this quarter of 3.4 percent and an inflation rate of 2.1 percent. … Using these values and the known actual values leads to a value of G of 1.62 percent, a value of P of 1.51 percent, and a value of Z of 1. (The one good news quarter is the fourth quarter of 2011.) …

    “the predicted two-party vote share for the Democrats (VP) fell from 50.2 percent to 49.5 percent. The main message, however, is the same as it has been since October 30, 2011, namely that the election is too close to call. …”

    I note that Fairs 3rd quarter GDP prediction is higher than the others that I have seen, and higher than what I can see will support.

    Then there are events. I saw a speculation that if Assad really starts to lose his grip, the Iranians will launch missile attacks on Saudi Arabia. Would Americans rally round the flag, and support Hussein? or would they decide that he is an utter failure, and show him the door?

    Further, the Euro is capable of going into the crapper at a moments notice, and taking the American economy with it.

  7. I think it is going to be very, very close.

    There is going to be widespread electoral fraud.

    There is a good chance that Hillary Clinton will be picked as VP candidate, both increasing the Dem margin among women (I’ve seen surveys claiming to show she is, or at least was, “the most admired woman in the world”) and also neutralizing to some extent the unfavorable comparisons between Obama and Bill Clinton.

    Although there have been some good ads done…and done in a timely manner…the Romney campaign leaves much to be desired from a marketing standpoint. I think a proper segment analysis and consequent communications program could do much to demonstrate to various sets of people how much they have lost, and have yet to potentially lose, at Obama’s hands. I’m not sure this level of marketing is well-understood by the campaign, and I’m not impressed by the waste of funds in direct mail that I see—I’ve received at least 3 large photographs of Romney, and there have been days I’ve received 2 or more direct mail pieces from the campaign.

    Notwithstanding the imperfections in the campaign, I think this is the year to contribute as much as you can reasonably afford, both at the Presidential level and for other key races, because the stakes are so very high.

  8. This discussion has left me almost suicidally depressed. I am not sure if I can stand another four years of this.

    If he wins, I am selling all of my stocks the next day. I will hedge a portion of the proceeds into S&P futures. But, I will lock in all of my built in gains and realize my losses to balance against them on the assumption that tax increases are locked in.

    A Republican house could power play the President. He would need them to raise the debt ceiling. If they are willing to pull the pin from the grenade, and clasp it tightly to their collective chest, they could force him to do some things, such as rescind executive orders. However, I doubt that Boehner has the huevos to do it.

  9. “I am not sure if I can stand another four years of this.”

    It won’t be another four years of this. It will be a very different four years.

    He wil be facing a GOP congress, probably, certainly a GOP House.

    No president has ever had a good second term.

    Many brewing scandals will see the light of day.

    Obama will be a political cripple if he gets reelected. Or so I hope.

    Still, it will be horrible. But nothing to get suicidal about. Things looked worse at Valley Forge. Stay tough. The future is unwritten. We cannot say how this will all play out.

  10. LG…in that scenario, I think it’s very likely that Obama will try to simply ignore Congress, and do whatever he wants, with some flimsy pseudo-legal argument as a screen. In that case, it all comes down to the courts.

  11. “A larger proportion of the US voting population is poorly educated….”

    Let me add that a much larger proportion of K thru 12 (and college) students have been indoctrinated by their almost exclusively Leftist instructors.

    I don’t know how this is going to be countered and it speaks very badly for the future of freedom in this country.

  12. I present the following not as a prophecy, as I do not have that power, but as a warning that events can change suddenly. Please remember that it is a wild rumor from a couple of days ago, and is put up here, simply FWIW::

    “Source: Iran readies attacks against Saudi Arabia, Qatar” By Reza Kahlili on 08/01/2012

    “Iran is preparing for a direct attack on Saudi Arabia should Syria’s Bashar Assad be in danger of falling to rebel forces that the Islamic regime believes are being supported by the Arab kingdom, according to a source within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Iran also blames the Saudis for unrest in two of its provinces.

    ““Dozens of Iranian ballistic missiles have been preprogrammed to hit Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia,” the source said. “Qatar will also be hit at the same time as it is directly involved with the events in Syria.””


    That would upset a lot of apple carts.

  13. If Americans accept this picture – and it is true, Romney has to work harder at describing an opposing vision – I will be disappointed. Obama’s entire argument is based on envy and blame-shifting, he appeals to the worst in us. And he’s been trying for four years to get those OWS types out with pitchforks and it really hasn’t worked. I think we are better than that – if we have to sacrifice now for our children’s future, we’ll do it; if we have to take a hit and come back tomorrow, we’ll do it. We’ve started businesses on shoe strings and farmed in droughts. We can do it again. And we’d rather do that than have someone tell our churches what to say and our kids what to eat. Sure, we shouldn’t get cocky. But I’ll be disappointed if next November we are what these jerks think we are – dependent, stupid, nihilistic; I’ll be damned if America is over.

  14. @Lexington Green:

    If you drill down to the “full results” of the poll(, you will come across some… _surprising_ numbers:

    9. Regardless of how you would vote, how comfortable would you be with Barack Obama
    as president for another four years?
    Extremely comfortable
    5-7 Aug 12: 21%
    19-20 Aug 08: 15%

    Really? Relative to 2008, the “Lightworker” has convinced an _additional_ six percent of the American people to be _extremely_ comfortable with four years of him as President? _Really?_

    11.-21. Regardless of how you might vote, which presidential candidate do you trust to do a
    better job on each of the following issues — Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?
    Handling same-sex marriage
    5-7 Aug 12 [Obama] 52% [Romney] 32%

    On net, one fifth of Americans prefer Obama’s position on gay marriage to Romney’s? That would explain why the “Chick-Fil-A buy-cott” was such a resounding failure… What? Oh… never mind.

    Later, they give a party breakdown of Democratic 44%, Republican 35%, Independent/Other/Whatever 20%. If we compare this with the Gallup poll on party identification ( we can see that if the Fox poll’s party breakdowns are correct, there has been a 14% swing to the Democrats in less than a month (to put this in context, a 14% swing would mean that over 40 million Americans changed their political stance… over the course of less than four weeks.)

    I think it possible that this particular poll is not entirely accurate.

  15. This poll is consistent with the betting.

    Further, a shift of that size is plausible. Obama’s attack ads are working. He is successfully defining Romney.

    Time will tell. I hope I am wrong.

  16. >>>>> “Don’t get cocky” is good advice. So is, “Be very afraid”. Let’s hope the market odds shift to support Rahe’s prediction.

    Not to imply that I disagree with your thesis in any way, there are two recent events that do strike me a indicative of the national mood much more so than polls, etc.

    1) Aurora: Historically, something like this leads to a lot of whining and caterwauling about gun control. There seemed to be markedly less interest in this this time around. While certainly there were anti-gun idiots parroting the usual, there was a hell of a lot of people commenting in various places who just seemed to Get It. Most were blaming the psycho, and a heck of a lot were acking exactly why the second amendment was there… to curb the excess of government power. This didn’t seem to me like observational bias on my part. I think there clearly WAS far less support, and the fact that The One backed down on support for the UN Arms Control Treaty seems to me as though he knew openly supporting it would hurt him badly.

    2) Chik-Fil-A: There’s a story, probably apocryphal, about someone suggesting in the Roman Senate that they should require slaves to wear a recognizable sign that they were slaves, say, an armband or a specific color. Then someone pointed out that letting the slaves know how badly they outnumbered citizens was a ridiculously stupid idea.

    When the CEO of Chik-Fil-A made openly non-supportive statements regarding gays, the gay community went into immediate Dalek mode, calling for all manner of boycott and negative publicity. Historically, this has been enough to scare any business into contrite surrender. This time, though, it cued the Streisand effect, and Chik-Fil-A had several days of record sales, as all the people who’ve gotten sick of the “gay is wonderful” meme sort of decided that they’d had enough. So instead of showing how powerful the Gay lobby is, it instead showed the slaves how many more of them there were than there were “citizens”. It makes it clear that the forces for conservativism in this country are hardly getting adequately recognized…


    I’m not certain those say what I think they do, or if they’re as relevant as I think they are, but they strike me as far more important than a lot of pundits seem to have figured out. Maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect there’s going to be a lot of lefties wailing and gnashing their teeth come the first Wed. in November, when it turns out that their Thousand Year Reich lasted less time than the last one.

  17. There are major caveats for polling. Keep in mind that polls are weapons in addition to being intel.

    Never pay attention to a poll until you have looked at the “internals”

    First look at the R-D-I breakdown. If it is not somewhere reasonably close to the 2010 election exit polls, it is crap. There can be variations, by both location and the pollster’s estimation of changes in the electorate; but in the absence of some really hard evidence of a shift, it should be somewhere between the 2008 and 2010 exit polls and probably closer to 2010.

    Second look at who was surveyed.

    Historically, “All Adults” or “Adults” skew Democrat around 10% over reality at election time.

    “Registered Voters” skew Democrat around 5% over reality.

    “Likely Voters” is the most accurate. Only Rasmussen is using “Likely Voters” at this point, others may follow later in the cycle. There is still a margin of error, but it is a lot closer to election results.

    And don’t let them distract you with arguments about cell phones -v- landlines. ALL major polling organizations use a mix now to account for the changes in communications.

    And there is another skew. For the last couple of elections, Conservatives have been reticent to respond or have deliberately lied about who they support. Not all “polls” are from polling organizations. Telling your true preferences may make you a target for Leftist thugs who have the backing of the Democrats. Not all states have a “make my day” law.

    Has there been a shift of that size to Obama after you correct for party identification and polling pool? I tend not to think so, but I could be wrong. After all, I thought the rule of law and the Constitution were unshakeable. Look where we are now.

    Another item about polls as weapons. The Journo-List 2.0 media like to look at the REAL CLEAR POLITICS [RCP-Average] average of polls. I have noted that every week or so, a new poll comes out of nowhere with severe party identification skew that keeps the average barely pro-Obama. I suspect that this is far from accidental. Whether the source is Obama for America or RCP itself is unclear; but I would not expect the RCP-Average to show Obama losing until sometime in January if Romney should win.

    For the sake of full disclosure:

    I am technically a Republican, whose primary political loyalty after the Constitution is to the TEA Party. I will vote for Romney with about the same enthusiasm as Churchill supporting Stalin after June 22,1941; and for similar reasons. But I will vote for him. I will vote for Patriot Movement supported candidates for other offices.

    I do not expect that a President Romney and the Institutional Republicans will push back against what Obama has done, in which case we will need a separate TEA Party. If Obama, by fair means or foul, remains in office after January 20; I do not expect electoral politics to be valid again for the rest of my lifetime. YMMV

    Subotai Bahadur

  18. Lex says:

    This poll [the Fox Poll] is consistent with the betting.

    Further, a shift of that size is plausible. [The shift being one of 14% in party indentification toward the Democrats in one month.] Obama’s attack ads are working. He is successfully defining Romney.

    When in comes to the Fox Poll’s being consistent with the betting, you’ve got a chicken or egg situation (and don’t tell me the betters are not affected by polling).

    As far as the party affliation shift, even if the attack adds are working and BO is defining Romney, with all due respect, a 14% shift in PARTY INDENTIFICATION in one month is NOT plausible.

    The only two polls that IMHO are worth a damn are Gallup and Rassmussen. The former has the race even; the latter has Romney up by four. Both have the race VERY static. In this article, Dick Morris explains the number cooking going on with most of the polls.

    Finally, a word about Intrade. Gamblers are notoriously conservative. Nine times out of ten, they will go with the “proven winner” because, in the long run, that’s the best way to win more than you lose. The “proven winner,” however, does not actually win nine times out of ten. Given BO’s victory in 2008, gamblers consider him a “proven winner” in a way they didn’t consider GWB one, given his razor thin win in 2000. Another point, right before the Republican Convention in 2008 BO was up over McCain in Intrade 60/40, the same as he is up over Romney today. Two days after The Republican Convention, the race was 50/50. This indicates two things. First, the Intrade numbers can change in flash. Second, how different things might have gone in 2008 had Lehman Brothers not blown up. Finally, before Iowa in 2008 Hillary was up over BO even bigger than BO is now up over Romeny, and we all know how that turned out.

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