Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Do You Lose Against Jimmy Carter II? Nominate Romney

Given Obama's track record, defeating him should be a cakewalk. He's presided over the weakest economic growth of any President since Herbert Hoover, the national debt more than any period since World War II and his foreign policy has been a disastrous failure, with Islamists strengthening their position in the Middle East more than any time since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979,significantly partly due to his policies.

But despite having the worst overall track record since Jimmy Carter (and in some aspects being even worse than Carter), it now seems increasingly likely that Obama will be re-elected after all.  The reason for that is that the Republicans chose a really incompetent candidate in the form of Mitt Romney

Making a statement writing off and in effect denouncing and insulting nearly half the population  because they don't pay federal income taxes is really the dumbest thing a candidate can do. Now, this statement was made at a private fund ra√≠sing gathering for rich people, so Romney clearly didn't think that the statement would be publicly known. But he should have realized that there is always a high risk that people sympathizing with the other side will be present and that they will secretly record his remarks.

And what's more. not only is the statements bad politically, they're actually inaccurate. America is in fact one of the most idealistic (in the sense that they aren't guided by whether or not they personally benefit from policies) countries in terms of voting preferences.

A lot of rich people who pays millions of dollars in taxes support Obama and his proposals to raise their taxes. America's richest man, Warren Buffett, is the most outspoken example of this with other examples including most Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley executives . And Jewish Americans, despite having a far higher average income than non-Jewish Americans, and therefore likely a far higher average federal income tax bill,.supported Obama with a 78 to 21 margin in 2008 and are likely to overwhelmingly support him again. The same basically goes for Asian Americans as well, though their average income isn't quite as high as the Jewish average income and the winning margin there for Obama among them was only 62 to 35.

Similarly, among low income Whites especially in rural areas and in the South, both "working poor" and retirees living off Social Security and Medicare, there is strong support for the Republican party, despite the fact that they are part of that 47% that Romney denounced.

The fact that so many Americans vote in a different way than Romney's analysis would have you believe reflects in part philosophical differences regarding government redistribution. Many of those low income Whites don't want hand-outs from the government, though in some cases they are unaware of the fact that for example Medicare and Medicaid are government programs, as was illustrated by Art Laffer's hilarious warning that Obama's health care program would entail "government taking over Medicare and Medicaid"

Similarly, many rich people like Warren Buffett and Paul Krugman are ideologically committed to bigger government despite the fact that this would mean that they personally would have to pay a lot more in taxes.

The other reason is that many voters base their vote on non-economic issue. Most Jews for example strongly support gay marriage and legal abortion, while most low income Whites strongly oppose gay marriage and legal abortion, causing the former group to support the Democrats and many in the latter group to support the Republicans.

Because of these factors, Romney's analysis that the 47% can never be won is wrong, and if he only can win votes among the 53% he will lose in a landslide because such a large proportion of that 53% have a philosophical preference for bigger government or care more about issues like abortion and gay marriage.

It remains to be seen just how great damage this gaffe will cause Romney. Given the fact that many Republican voters are unaware of the fact that Medicare and Medicaid are government programs, many Republicans in that 47% will probably just assume that Romney wasn't talking about them, and assume that he only talked about low income Blacks and other low income Democrats. And  many of those who do realize that he was talking about them will turn the other cheek and still vote for him because they oppose Obama. However, considering that Obama started with a narrow lead, losing even only one or two percentage points of the electorate could doom his campaign and ensure Obama's re-election.