The pumped-up Republicans continue in their “Obama is finished” delusion

In an editorial comment on an article posted at, Lucianne Goldberg says of Obamacare:

“Either this monstrosity is repealed before the end of Obama’s only term or it goes out when he does.”

Lucianne, like so many other Republicans and conservatives, considers it simply a done deal that Obama will not be re-elected. Such a confident claim to knowledge about a future event that no mortal can know is a sign of hubris, and hubris brings on nemesis. The Republicans are setting themselves up for crushing demoralization in the event that Obama is re-elected.

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

Last I heard, CNN was neither Republican nor pumped up.

LA replies:

The title of the article Jim sends is “poll numbers bad for Obama’s re-election prospects.”

It would be nice if Jim actually paid attention to what I said. What I have said, oh, 15 or 20 times, is NOT that there are not all kinds of bad indications for Obama’s re-election, but that conclusory statements and assured predictions that he is not going to be re-elected are incorrect and arrogant and are setting the Republicans up for a psychological calamity in November 2012 if Obama wins.

Matt writes:

Perhaps all the definite statements about Obama’s “inevitable” loss in 2012 reflect the apparent fact that many modern people don’t expect their own statements to be taken seriously. I don’t know how useful this sort of pop psychologizing is, but many seem to think of their own words more as a kind of “yay for us, down with them” sloganeering than as serious defensible statements of serious men.

Whatever the psychological source of this unseriousness happens to be, though, these folks might as well be holding up signs that say “don’t take my words seriously.”

LA replies:

Interesting theory.

Now what about this theory, which might be seen as a complement to yours?

They want Obama to lose. They want the experience of Obama losing. So they create that experience for themselves with their triumphalist predictions of his certain loss. So it’s as if Obama has lost! The joy, the relief, the ecstasy of the sack dance over their fallen foe, the fullness of their bliss, they feel—they feel it all. Then, if it so happens in the real world that Obama doesn’t lose, at least they’ve had the experience and feelings of Obama losing. If they had not indulged in those assured predictions, they would never have had the experience at all.

Matt replies:

Makes sense to me (again for what it is worth): slogan and emotion are what matter to unserious men. A high school pep rally cheerleader is the very model of a modern major journalist.

LA replies:

Wow—a paraphrase of Wordsworth and of Gilbert & Sullivan in a single exchange of comments. Blogging is fun (but not unserious).

Ed H. writes:

As I have said before, the most dangerous political opinion out there is the Republican belief that they are “taking back the country.” At best they might win the next election cycle. That is about where the “vision” of the average Republican ends. Has the average Republican made any statements about ending mass immigration from the Third World?

At best you hear, “Don’t get me wrong. I am only against illegal immigration, blah blah.” Have these Republicans said anything about ridding Multiculturalism from public schools, the same education system that churns out the anti-Americanism of the Occupy Wall Street herd? Have we heard anything about dismantling the Political Appointee/Lobbyist revolving door that has made the political elite multi-millionaires? How about term limits? How dismantling the fleece-America mentality of Corporate Globalism? Has the Republican country club mentality faced up to what has happened in America the past 20 years that brought on the Obama fiasco? Have any of them really faced up to the fact that is wasn’t them, but a spontaneous grass roots explosion a.k.a. the Tea Party that stopped the Obama regime, while they were scrambling to make peace with the left?

October 19

Matt replies to LA:

SCORN not the 43 Percent Poll; Critic, you have frown’d,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Lucianne unlock’d her heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Goldberg’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Limbaugh sound;
With it Malkin sooth’d an exile’s grief.
The Poll glitter’d a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which The Romney crown’d
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheer’d mild Cain, call’d from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and when a damp
Fell round the path of Perry, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!

LA replies:

Here is the poem, by William Wordsworth, that Matt has satirized, by injecting the names of Republicans in place of poets:

Scorn not the Sonnet

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camoens soothed an exile’s grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!

LA continues:

And now, with Mr. Zarkov’s comment, we switch from the left side of the brain to the right side (or is it from the right to the left?). It seems the two cultures that C.P. Snow said were hopelessly divided are both represented at VFR.

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Let’s try to bring some objective and quantitative reasoning into the discussion of Obama’s chances of winning in 2012. Using a political science model, calibrated on all the presidential elections since the end of WWII, Obama should receive about 46 percent of the popular vote in the 2012 election regardless (within reason) of who the Republicans nominate. Assuming the model is correct, and absent some extraordinary set of events, Obama can do little to head off his impending loss. He would need to increase economic growth dramatically over the next year, from the current one half of one percent to one percent, to something in excess of four percent. That does not seem possible. He put all his economic eggs in one basket, Stimulus I, launched in February 2009. It didn’t work. Now he’s trying to fix it with Stimulus II, but he’s too late. The voters have long memories on economic matters, and the poor growth in personal income over the last three years is much too heavy a weight to bear for next year’s election, even if by some miracle the economy should recover. The Republicans know this, and won’t cooperate in his last ditch attempt to fix the economy. The details behind these conclusions follow.

A well-accepted theory in political science posits that U.S. presidential elections are a sequence of referendums on the White House party’s performance in office. For example, the 1984 presidential election was a referendum on Reagan’s first term, and the 1988 election was a referendum on Reagan’s second term even though candidate George H. W. Bush was the candidate. In other words, the candidate of the party that held the White House inherits the record of his predecessor. In 2012 Obama will be his own predecessor, so his performance in office will determine if he gets re-elected. There is also widespread acceptance among political scientists that the voters are primarily influenced by the state of the economy. There are some exceptions to this rule. We had a good economy from 1964 to 1968 yet Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon. Similarly Adlai Stevenson lost in 1952 despite the good economy from 1948 to 1952. Any theory of presidential elections that depends on the economy has to account for this anomaly. Thus we need a measure of how well the American economy performs during a president’s tenure, and correction factor to explain the exceptions.

Douglas Hibbs has proposed and calibrated what he calls a “Bread and Peace” model to explain and forecast the popular vote in presidential elections. It appears to work very well. He uses the average growth in real (adjusted for inflation) per capita personal disposable income for the “Bread” part, and the total number of soldiers killed in action for the “Peace” part. The incumbent party’s candidate gains votes when income grows and loses votes as the body count builds up. Thus Eisenhower won because the Korean War subtracted from Stevenson’s vote. Under this theory, Stevenson would have lost even if Robert Taft or Harold Stassen had been the Republican nominee. Similarly Humphrey was doomed to lose in 1968 because of the Vietnam War. Again any Democrat would have lost, even Robert Kennedy had he survived to get the nomination. Most people would dispute this because they believe in the Kennedy “magic.” They might also feel that Kennedy represented a rejection of LBJ and the Vietnam War.

To get the “Bread” value for an election Hibbs calculates a “weighted” average of income growth data (Bureau of Economic Analysis Table 2.1 lines 39 and 40) for the 16 quarters (4 years) that span a presidents term of office. If the voters had perfect memory, then the weights would all be unity and the average would be a simple arithmetic average. It makes sense that the voters would be influenced by the most recent growth in their income, so the growth in income from the 15th to the 16th quarter gets the largest weight. From past election data, the “half life” for voter memory is 13.5 quarters or about three and one third years. In other words, the early quarters come in at about half the latter quarters. This means a president can’t do a last minute “fix” to the economy and expect to get re-elected. It’s important to note that the voter memory “half life” is estimated from data; it’s not an assumption. Hibbs has given us a valuable insight as to how voters behave, or did behave. If America continues on its path to becoming a non-white nation, then all bets are off sometime in the future. The Hibbs model will most likely not apply to a country that was (say) 70 percent black and Hispanic. If that day comes, we will most likely have a one-party state resembling Mexico under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which held power for more than 70 years.

In May of this year, Hibbs ran a forecast for the 2012 election, calibrating his model on all the presidential elections from 1948 to 2008. He predicts that Obama will receive 46 percent of the popular vote, which means that almost for sure Obama will lose the electoral vote. He used a total of 849 soldier fatalities in Afghanistan and the growth (some of it negative) in real per capita personal disposable income over the nine quarters since Obama took office. In other words, it’s not a delusion. It does appear that Obama is “finished.” However, all this assumes that the Bread and Peace model applies to the next election. How might it not? If the Republicans nominate a truly far-out candidate such as Ron Paul or an air-head such as Palin they might lose. They have to nominate a candidate that is no more extreme than past Republican candidates, so we can confidently expect Bread and Peace to hold. That would seem to be Romney. Even Cain might be too “boutique.” A Romney-Obama face off would be right in line with post WWII presidential elections. I will repeat Hibbs calculations, and update them. Then I will try to turn the popular vote predictions into a win probability, and report the results on VFR.

Julia P. writes:

At 43 percent Obama is well within the traditional Democrat range of votes. His seemingly low number is not an anomaly. Here are some numbers from the past few elections:

Mondale 41 percent, Clinton 43 percent and 49 percent, Dukakis 46 percent, Carter 50 and 41 percent, Gore 48 percent.

Of that group Carter was the only one to achieve the 50 percent threshhold prior to Obama. Mondale’s was the worst showing (against Reagan) and he still pulled in 41 percent. Clinton won against Bush Sr. with only 43 percent (Perot was the wild card factor in that election).

So Obama at 43 percent seemingly has the default 40 percent Democrat base and is operating within the traditional Democrat range (some losing, some winning margins).

I doubt he will dip below the 42-43-44 percentile.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 18, 2011 12:22 PM | Send

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