Economics

U.S. News & World Report Calls the 2012 Election For the GOP

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….with a prediction of four dark years of economic troubles bringing down the Mighty Obama, derived from our historical expeience with the early '90s recession.

From their money and politics blogger James Pethokoukis:

The "O" in "Obama" may stand for "One Term." For starters, there's a strong chance that when voters head to the polls on Nov. 2, 2010, they likely will still think the economy is awful……

Here's the political and economic math: Let's assume the current downturn turns out to be as painful as the 1990-91 recession. It's an apt comparison….. an imploding real estate bubble, a construction bust, a banking crisis, and a credit crunch. Sound familiar? The nation's gross domestic product fell 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 1990 and 2.0 percent in the first quarter of 1991. But even after the economy started expanding again, the unemployment rate kept rising until it hit 7.8 percent in June of 1992 vs. a low of 5.2 percent in June 1990. Recall that in January of 1992, President Bush, running for reelection, told New Hampshire voters that the economy was in "free fall" even though the economy was later shown to have grown at a robust 4.2 percent during the first quarter of that year.

See, it takes a while for people to really perceive that an economy has turned around, especially if unemployment is high. Bill Clinton won the 1992 election on the economy ("it's the economy, stupid") even though GDP had been growing for six full quarters. According to Gallup, 88 percent of Americans thought the economy was "fair" or "poor" in October 1992 with some 60 percent saying the economy was "getting worse." Two years later, it was the Democrats turn to feel the brunt of widespread economic anxiety as the Republicans captured both the House and the Senate. Even though the economy had then been growing for 14 straight quarters and the unemployment rate was down to 5.8 percent, 72 percent of Americans still thought the economy was "fair" or "poor" and 66 percent though the nation was headed in the wrong direction.

That's right. 3 1/2 years after the 1990-91 recession ended, the economy was still weighing negatively on voters and hurting the incumbent political party. Is it so hard to imagine, then, that three or four years from now voters will also be unhappy about the state of the economy and blame the party in power, the Obamacrats?

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  1. Make it so.

  2. The 1994 election wasn’t about the economy, stupid or otherwise. It was about Hillarycare and the assault weapons ban.

    I especially like how he equates “economy getting worse” in 1992 with “headed in the wrong direction” in 1994. They’re not the same thing.

  3. It’s easy to see net republican gains in both houses of congress in 2010. The presidential election in 4 years is difficult to call. Reagan inherited a terrible economy and won in a landslide 4 years later. Clinton inherited an improving economy and barely eked out a victory against a re-animated dead guy 4 years later.

  4. Yeah, there is a pretty good chance of Obama being in office for one term. Unless of course the party does something stupid and pick Palin.

  5. Hold it. How come FDR got elected 4 times through nothing but Depression and war?

  6. I think anyone already talking about 2012 should be taken out back and shot in the ass.

  7. David E. Gallaher,

    Wartime Presidents have always been re-elected, so all you have to really consider is the election of 1936.

  8. there was a political cartoon yesterday or the day before:

    Only 1150 days until the next election!

  9. Seven days and these assclowns are in post-election season withdrawal already. God help us all.

  10. TAO, sorry, I’m a Cubs fan. I’m inherently predisposed to talking about next year’s spring training by July.

  11. The Bush economy will still be haunting the US in 2010.

  12. Judging from the Palin interview, the 2012 campaign has started. Not that this is anything new, McCain, Hillary, and Obama were already running in 2004.

  13. Time to start laying the ground work for ’16.

  14. It takes some powerful blinders to believe all elections are economic elections. And even if they are (they aren’t), it takes some argument to show that a bad economy would hurt Obama in 12. Might even help him. In most peoples’ eyes, the democrats are good for the economy and republicans are good for war. Fucking up the Iraq war didn’t affect “national security” voters from preferring Bush in 04. Why would either fucking up the economy, or even failing to help the economy hurt Obama in 12?

  15. Yes, if we can just keep the cycle of boom and bust going, eventually Fortuna will smile on Libertarians and give them a shot at running things. Donate now!

  16. Lefiti Cocksucker!

  17. You guys have no imagination.

    A true progressive hero like Obama will do what I did: enact socialist policies that make the economic problems much, much more painful and protracted, then claim the answer is: more socialism!

    Come on, do you really think the media are going to blame Obama for anything that goes badly? It will all just be used as fuel for more Hope and Change.

  18. It depends on what the media is saying about economic conditions.

  19. I look forward to being the new 15th Justice of the Supreme Court.

  20. Wartime Presidents have always been re-elected

    Ahem. 1968.

  21. LBJ,

    LBJ quit rather than run for office. LBJ also failed to campaign for the office. I think he could have won if he had put some effort into it.

  22. Where am I?

  23. “The Angry Optimist | November 11, 2008, 4:21pm | #
    I think anyone already talking about 2012 should be taken out back and shot in the ass.”

    Thank you, TAO.

  24. MAX HATS,

    Well, then if things go sideways re: the various wars we are involved that could give the Republicans an opening.

  25. The current economic situation looks a lot more like 1980 than 1992. If Obama shows just the tiniest bit of fiscal restraint, he’ll be reelected in a landslide four years from now.

  26. Mark Sanford 08!

  27. New World Dan brings up a good point. Things don’t have to look like 1999 four years from now. Obama just has to prove that things are getting better to be re-elected. If they’re actually getting worse, he doesn’t stand a chance though.

  28. Given that we libertarians are much smarter than your average voter on economic issues, I think that this would be an excellent time to remind the population-at-large that the President does not have that much control over the current economy.

    We’re feeling the effects of the loosening of the rules that occurred under the Clinton Administration, for goodness sake. (NOTE: I acknowledge that it was both parties that dropped the ball on FNM and FMC. Leave me alone).

    Anyway, if anyone points to a raise in the capital-gains tax as directly responsible for something bad in the economy three months later, they are not worth engaging on economics.

  29. We’ll know how much of a leftist Obama really is when he picks his Treasury Secretary. If it is Sumners or Volcker he is less liberal and smarter than people give him credit for and wants to govern seriously. If it is Reich or someone more lefty, then be afraid because it means he is a real ideologue.

  30. Only one or two more cycles before we elect a president of the Americas.

  31. Note to President-Elect Obama: If you appoint Reich, who may actually be a real life Marxist, I’m not paying my taxes any more.

  32. “Gabe | November 11, 2008, 5:37pm | #
    Only one or two more cycles before we elect a president of the Americas.”

    Come again?

  33. Pro L if he appoints Reich to head up Treasury, I’ll come crying back to the GOP and apologize for voting for Barr. That’s how terrible a choice he would be.

  34. BDB,

    He’s on NPR a lot. If I close my eyes and listen to him, I swear he has a Russian–or should I say Soviet?–accent.

    Hit & Run trashed him as an ill-disguised socialist last year.

  35. A 2012 prediction (or three).
    The economy will be out of a serious recession but not long enough to help Obama.

    He’ll overreach on domestic policy somewhere that costs him a significant portion of his 2008 voters.

    His fanboys and fangirls will be disappointed and jaded because he won’t bring about enough “change” to suit them. Their expectations are unrealistic at best.

    The withdrawal from Iraq will be complete and nothing resembling a democratic republic will be seen in Mesopotamia. Unlike conventional wisdom, I believe the fall of Saigon cost Ford the ’76 election, not pardoning Nixon.

    When we leave Iraq, the elected government will last less than six months and we won’t go back to save it.

    That last prediction I first posted here years ago. Nothing has made me change my mind. But when an Islamic republic or thugocracy takes over, Obama will unfairly get a lot of the blame. Just like Ford did.

  36. J sub D, did you predict a Hillary vs. Rudy race for 2008 back in 2004?

  37. I do suspect that Obama will have a difficult time getting reelected. A recession of longer than a year will kill his chances, and I agree with J sub D that the inevitable disappointment will be a big problem for him. I also have a sneaking suspicion that no one can come out of Chicago with clean hands, so once the honeymoon is over, our friends in the media will start digging around in earnest (’cause he’s president and they’ll have years to investigate).

  38. Pro L, didn’t you say McCain would win?

  39. BDB,

    Sure did. First general election I’ve mis-predicted in many years. Oh, well, if I could predict everything, I’d be on my space yacht and not typing on some blog from work.

    A harder prediction is 2010. I imagine that one of the houses will go back to the GOP, just because we’ll almost certainly be in or just out of a recession then. However, lots of things can happen between now and then, affecting the degree to which things might swing away from Obama and the Democrats.

    We libertarians will continue to suffer, either way.

  40. oh dear god, the man hasn’t even moved into the White House yet! Why don’t we just start predicting and calling the 2016 and 2020 elections while we’re at it?

    Here’s a point to keep in mind. It’s media yahoos like this that kept telling us 2-3 years ago that it would be a Clinton vs. Giuliani match-up.

  41. BDB, just saying that the dollar will be totally different after brettow woods 2(like the amero or something) and with the SPP and other big changes happening (biden, powell, albright, haas) all promising some huge new international crisis of some sorts it seems like it is assuming a lot just to say the USA will have elections in 2016. maybe the “union of the americas” will start having a president and the USA won’t be as big a deal.

  42. Sorry, Brian, but dumping 500 words of crappy, right-wing crap in our laps, without a shred of commentary, aye or nay, from you, is a lot like dumping 500 words of crappy, right-wing crap in our laps without a shred of commentary, aye or nay, from you. It’s “Hit & Run,” not “Crap & Run”! Next time, try harder!

  43. ALL OF YOU WINGNUTS CAN ONLY DREAM OF BEING AS RELEVANT AND INFLUENTIAL AS THE GREAT LEFITI! BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP ME YE LOWLY MASSES!

    Please, I’m just trying to impress my boyfriend.

  44. If it is Reich or someone more lefty, then be afraid because it means he is a real ideologue.

    Reich was SecLabor under Clinton, and Clinton was not exactly a moonbat.

  45. Treasury is a bigger deal than Labor, Elemenope. Especially post-bail out.

    Besides Reich had a falling out with Rubin and the rest of the Clintonites because they weren’t liberal enough for him.

  46. The Angry Optimist | November 11, 2008, 5:27pm | #
    Given that we libertarians are much smarter than your average voter on economic issues…

    If you’re looking for a circle-jerk, you might place an ad on Craigslist instead.

  47. J sub D, did you predict a Hillary vs. Rudy race for 2008 back in 2004?

    Nope. I predicted that in 2007. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong. I’m also a big enough asshole to crow when I’m right. Shall we discuss my bailout prediction (which came true even quicker than I expected) of 700 billion? It will be one terabuck at a minimum.

  48. Hillary vs. Rudy?
    Hmmm.
    Still voting for Barr.

  49. Or Paul.

  50. Can we put away the Ron Paul idea for 2012? I’m glad he got the ideas out there, but he’ll be 77 in the next presidential. That’s old. Older than Reagan in 1984 old. Old f’n old old.

  51. J_Bone,
    I was actually referring to the alternate reality scenario for 2008.

  52. I’ll be voting for Keaton/Shinghal 2012!

  53. Ron Paul’s Talking Brainjar 2044!

  54. A harder prediction is 2010. I imagine that one of the houses will go back to the GOP

    Wishful thinking in the extreme. The Democrats have something like a 7 to 9 point (depends on how the recounts, and run-offs play out) advantage in the senate. The 2010 map is NOT a good map for Republicans (the 2012 is where you see Democratic Senators elected in the 2006 wave, which have seats more prone to flipping back).

    The House is just as bad — even though the whole House is up every 2 years, you’re looking at what — 50 seats? Seriously? In one election? In today’s gerrymandered districts?

    Yeah, not going to happen. In 2010, the GOP has chances to narrow the House margin (there are a number of marginal Democrats holding heavily conservative House districts, but not fifty of them. 20, max — or about what Dems picked up THIS year). In the Senate, I’d be shocked if the GOP managed to net even one or two. It’s a good map for the Democrats.

    Even if 2010 is a “wave” election against the Democrats, the margin in both Houses is simply too large to make retaking either chamber of Congress anything more than a pipe-dream.

  55. Elemenope,

    Labor isn’t Treasury, and Congress isn’t in the control of the opposition.

    Look, I don’t mean to suggest that no one left-leaning can be appointed to the cabinet, but Reich is really close to being an actual socialist. I don’t use that term lightly.

    Morat20,

    Um, no. I’m not sure you appreciate how quickly the blame for the recession will shift to the Democrats. That’s the way Americans ride in the late-20th/early 21st century. What have you done for me lately? And the GOP makes an excellent opposition party and will likely seek–and get–alliances with many libertarians. ‘Cause we never learn, either.

  56. Zero promised a win in Afghanistan.

    We are starting to lose badly there and the violence is predicted to erupt in April 2009.

    He will be known as the man who lost Afghanistan.

    If the Iranians nuke a city he will get impeached.

    And why are we losing? Opium.

  57. Harry Browne.

    Because we are better than any Chicago pol. They get the dead to vote. We get the dead to run.

    Besides we could re-use the old signs and save money.

  58. Libertarians always suffer. It is their lot in life.

  59. Gary Johnson 2012!!

  60. Haven’t Libertarians/Conservatives learned that they’re terrible at making predictions? If it’s not Ronald Bailey’s back and forth conviction about Global Warming, or the general Libertarian/Conservative fear of a Liberal Apocalypse, it’s some other cynical, grim assumption about the course of life on Earth.

    Certainly, many of you would love for there to be some kind of catastrophe on Obama’s watch because it would re-energize your hopes that somehow the country will get either a Republican back in office, or some kind of Libertarian offshoot that will promise you a Libertarian Utopia.

    It’s not happening. Get laid, get drunk, and go out and do something you horde of lazy twats.

    This place is not good for your mental health. I think each of you would secretly acknowledge that.

  61. Pro Libertate:

    “Note to President-Elect Obama: If you appoint Reich, who may actually be a real life Marxist, I’m not paying my taxes any more.”

    Well, that may not be a bad strategy. If you stop paying your mortgage, the pols say you deserve a loan modification…

    Maybe stop paying your taxes for a few months, and see if they decide to cut your interest tax rate in half like they say the banks should do for your mortgage?

  62. Entirely possible, but four years out is a little long to start making serious predictions about either the weather or the economy.

  63. “Given that we libertarians are much smarter than your average voter on economic issues […]”

    oooh. Lt Dru… ooh. that hurts. um. argh!

    *head tries to explode, but cannot afford the sales tax on the “extra special sauce”*

  64. Don’t know how much these two observations can tell us about anything, statistically speaking. Wasn’t there also a giant congressional scandal with check cashing or something, mostly affecting Democrats, and the Keating 5 (which was also mostly a democratic scandal), and some sort of giant health-care fiasco?

    Lets see, thats about 4 explanations, with two observations (1992 and 1994 elections) can we parse out the causation?

    Answer: no.

  65. “Given that libertarians are smarter than your average voter on economic issues”
    Given that your average voter assumes the president sits in the oval office pulling levers that determine the fate of the economy, libertarians are ahead of the curve by default.

  66. Famous Mortimer,
    I do, in fact, get drunk, and get laid. I’ve even done both at the same time (they might’ve been related to each other, in one case). I also have a job, a condominium, and a life that’s not so sad that I feel the need to go on political threads periodically with the sole intent of insulting anonymous people. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a nice side benefit, if said anonymous individuals are asswipes, but your life must be truly pathetic if that’s your only reason. Which seems to be the case with you.

  67. Nehemiah Scudder in ’12!

  68. Um, no. I’m not sure you appreciate how quickly the blame for the recession will shift to the Democrats. That’s the way Americans ride in the late-20th/early 21st century. What have you done for me lately? And the GOP makes an excellent opposition party and will likely seek–and get–alliances with many libertarians. ‘Cause we never learn, either.

    To win back the House would require a 70 seat swing. I don’t doubt the GOP will win back some marginal seats in 2010, but 70 is a pipe dream.

    To win back the Senate requires winning 7 to 9 seats on the same map as 2004 — you remember 2004, right, the one where every close race when Republican? (There were several).

    It’s not going to happen, even if Democrats kill puppies on the Senate floor in an attempt to raise Satan.

    As for “blaming them for the economy”. Given that the meltdown occured before the election, it will not be hard to continue to blame Bush and the GOP in 2010. And the public will quite easily believe it (in fact, that will be their default belief — attempting to convince them otherwise will be swimming upstream) because the meltdown was OBVIOUS well before the 2008 election (thus linking it with the current President), and public belief in the ability of Republicans to do anything constructive with government has utterly collapsed.

    The default “Republicans can handle the economy better than Democrats” edge doesn’t exist anymore.

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