The Responsible Opposing View

Eric Fehrnstrom supplies the counter-point to the point made in my previous post. Writing in the Boston Globe:

Likewise, there are two statistical measurements that, more than anything else, will determine whether the White House changes parties in 2016: Obama’s job approval and the direction of the country, measured by whether voters think we’re on the right track or the wrong track.

In terms of job approval, Obama has been under 50 percent for most of his presidency. The most recent Real Clear Politics monthly polling average says just 45 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama has been doing, while 52 percent disapprove. If the president remains net negative, voters should expect to hear a lot from Republicans on how the Democratic nominee is really running for Obama’s third term.

The Real Clear Politics average also says 64 percent of all voters think the country is on the wrong track. Only 27 percent believe we are headed in the right direction. As with job approval, if this number stays inverted, it’s going to be difficult for a Democrat to win no matter what.

The only question is which Republican will reap the benefits.

Those are some of the “fundamentals” I mentioned in that earlier post. Another is just plain fatigue. Electing candidates of the same party to the White House three times in a row is the exception rather than the rule and I just don’t think that the economy is strong enough to buoy Democrats to a wave.

Intervening events matter. If we’re in recession in the third quarter of 2016 and there are terrorist attacks being carried out in Europe once a week (or, heavens forfend, here) the rhetoric that some of the Republican candidates are dishing out won’t seem quite so nutty.

3 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Query- Suppose we have a couple more big attacks in France or Germany soon. Obama agrees to support Europe and we go attack ISIS. What does a war bump do to the election?


  • It’s a good question and one that I thought of ruminating on in this post.

    I don’t honestly know. I don’t think that Americans care much what happens in France or Germany. And I think that Americans are tired of being at war, especially war without clearly enunciated objectives or in which there’s a mismatch among tactics, strategy, and strategic objectives.

    On the one hand we’ve frequently had a “rally ’round effect” in war. On the other we’ve never been at war this long before.

    Another question is what happens if France or Germany invokes Article 5 of the NATO charter?

  • mike shupp Link

    My suspicion is that some traditional measures of evaluating election outcomes — strength of the economy, “direction of the country”, and desire for change in the White House — may be losing significance. We seem to be in a period where pure factionalism decides matters. Democrats dislike Republicans and will vote for Democrats “just because” and vice versa. Trying to be more analytical looks about as useful as discerning the motives of Blues and Greens in Roman politics two millennia ago.

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