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Personal Update

I’ll be taking a bit of a break after the election. My pWP stat did great, it was over 94% accurate in predicting the races where I was keeping track, and that’s a higher percentage than the model itself would expect. The model only failed to be predictive in races where there wasn’t regular polling (North Dakota). I’m hoping to write a long and detailed analysis of the 2012 election and codify all the lessons I learned in using pWP to create a guide for future elections. But I’m going to start a new job here very soon, so I may not get to any of that at all. There will be a few posts on here, from time to time, but for now I have some other big projects to get to. I’m still working on the final draft of a novel, which should keep me plenty busy. Thanks everyone for your interest in my pWP stat, I hope my Republican friends learn to embrace polling as another tool in winning future elections.

Who’s Ahead?

Polls are being posted everyday, and the data is coming hard and fast. As my previous two posts have suggested, it’s not entirely clear who, between Romney and Obama, is going to win the popular vote. So let’s take a look at the data, first Obama’s:

The numbers are showing quite a bit of spread, but it’s getting better. Over the last week or so, Obama looks to be polling between 45% and 48%.

Here’s Romney’s graph:

As you can see, there is a much greater range when it comes to the GOP nominee. The graph shows a hammerhead-like formation as we enter the final week of the campaign. Pollsters are having a [more] difficult time finding the electorate’s propensity to support Governor Romney. Maybe it’s because of Romney’s chameleonesque political liturgy or just because he’s not the incumbent with four years of apocalypse-free stewardship.

Still, there’s a strong level of support at the 49% mark. If Obama is at the top of his range, the race is 49-48.

In terms of pWP, Obama has 32% chance of winning the popular vote, assuming undecideds break proportionally. But, this is not normally the case. There are a few general rules when it comes to predicting how a race plays out in terms of turnout: 1) Undecideds break away from the incumbent, unless the economy is really rocking; 2) Democrats do better in POTUS election years; 3) The base of the party out of power has a stronger turnout.In this election, the economy question is open, but most people are unhappy with Obama in this category. Point 2) favors the Dems, and point 3) favors the GOP. Things look pretty good for Romney again. Of course, Ohio is where all this really matters. And Obama is still in control in Ohio.

Preventing the GOP ’08 Slaughter

There is a huge problem this election for Republicans. Great Republican victories have historically had winning themes which allowed for a uniform national message which could be carried by Republican candidates all over. For Reagan it was Morning in America (or, are you better off now than you were four years ago). In 1994 it was the Contract with America. National security issues carried us in ’02 and ’04.

But 2008 will be one of those election years where there won’t be a national message Republicans will be able to rely on. And it’s not because there aren’t winning messages out there. Gas and energy prices are a huge issue, one the Republicans are right on and the Democrats are wrong on (Jimmy Carter, gas lines, anyone?). The Democrat’s answer to higher gas prices is to raise taxes and limit supply; an instance in history where this method has actually resulted in real prices being lowered for any product on a long term basis isn’t recorded (and if it is and I missed it, it should be advertised by left wingers better).

Unfortunately, the comprehensive energy package proposals being offered by Republicans (increase domestic drilling and refinery capacity, more nuclear power plants, among other ideas) won’t help the GOP avoid getting hammered this November.

The voters are suffering from two mental blocks. The first is easy enough to understand, incumbent party fatigue. The GOP was in power for a long time, did some good but had that offset by an unpopular war and the ongoing status quo was simply unbearable for most voters. The other reason the GOP won’t be able to have a unified message is because the voters have no reason to believe anything a Republican tells them.

Think about this for a second. One of the ongoing memes at the GOP state convention was that the GOP needed to prove themselves fiscally responsible to voters, to reclaim the honor of being fiscal conservatives. The only way this makes any sense is if the GOP wasn’t practicing what they preached when they were in power. Not even Republicans think Republicans made any effort to hold themselves to the values which brought them to office in the first place.

How are voters supposed to believe anything an incumbent Republican says now? How could they possibly be expected to give the benefit of the doubt to the Party of no soul? Manufactured, focus group tested political messages from the GOP directed to the voters themselves will be laughed at, if we’re lucky. More likely, they’ll be totally ignored.

This is not to say there is no hope in 2008. Outside of John McCain (the only GOP presidential candidate who had anything more than a slim chance of winning) we’ll have to remember all politics is local. Good candidates running good campaigns could turn a slaughter into a mere disaster. It’s very possible to win in bad years and in tough areas, it’s just a lot of work and even then you need to get lucky.

Even in this though, the GOP isn’t likely to have much luck. Republicans are generally businessmen, less true believers. For Democrats, their political philosophy is much more personally encompassing; their politics is their religion. They run hard campaigns in tough districts much more often than their party opposites.

The “business” of politics dictates you put resources only into select districts often at the sacrifice of huge numbers of tougher areas. The GOP does this as a matter of policy. Tougher areas are left to fend for themselves, often creating a cycle of defeat which emaciates esprit de corps among even the local diehards.

An army of charismatic candidates, true believers, who know how to conduct solid campaigns with good ground games and pointed media management could be the saving grace for the GOP in 2008. Too bad Republicans don’t actually believe in such things.

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