A Romney Loss Will Crush the Republicans
By Nayyer Ali MD

 

Now that both parties have had their nominating conventions and the summer is over the Presidential campaign swings into its intense final phase.  What has been a very stable but steady and narrow Obama lead through the summer has opened up a bit after the Democratic Convention.  Obama clearly had a small bounce with polls now showing a 5-6% lead in the popular vote, enough to guarantee an easy win in the Electoral College. 

This has been rather perplexing to political observers.  Obama has not presided over a strong recovery, the unemployment rate remains over 8%, and there are fewer people working today than when the recession started back in late 2007.  Many Republicans thought this should be an easy win against Obama and yet Romney is clearly struggling.  If he does not manage to undo Obama’s bounce in the next two weeks, then it will look like the voters have made up their minds and barring an Obama meltdown during the debates, he will win.

So why is Obama doing so well?  There are four major factors.  First, the economy, while underperforming, has been slowly improving for the last three years.  The stock market has doubled, which helps all of our 401k and IRA’s, unemployment has dropped and about four million private sector jobs have been added.  When unemployment is rising, everyone is worried about losing work; when it is falling, even if it is high, the anxiety starts to go away.

Second, Obama has a favorable set of demographics.  He will get 95% of African-American voters, he wins 65% of Latinos, he is popular with younger voters, and he gets more support from women than from men.  The Republicans are relying too heavily on white votes, particularly older white males.  For Romney to win this election he has to get over 60% of the White vote, and that’s hard to do, at least 40% of White voters are liberal.  This demographic advantage keeps Obama in the game even with unfavorable economics.

Third, outside of the economy, Obama has been a successful President by any measure.  He has done well in foreign policy, he has had no major failure or defeat, he got Bin Laden, his administration has had no major scandal, and he has taken several domestic initiatives which play well to his supporters.

Fourth, he is fundamentally a more likable person than Mitt Romney.  Romney comes off as a stiff wooden figure who has a hard time relating to the problems of average people.  He makes dumb mistakes like not mentioning the soldiers at war during his acceptance speech at the convention.  And he has studiously avoided providing any specific answers about what he would do as President with regards to the economy, taxes, foreign policy, wars, health care or immigration.  He wants voters to go for him out of disgust over Obama rather than preference for Romney, and that is probably not going to work.

The problem for the Republicans is that if Romney loses now, the party is going to have a very hard time getting back into the White House for another decade.  The economy is slowly healing.  Once household deleveraging completes in the next two years and the housing market starts to rebound (signs are there of this starting to happen), we will have several strong years of economic growth.  Obama and the Democrats will be credited with that.  Hilary Clinton is such a strong and popular figure she should easily win election in 2016 in that scenario and will be reelected in 2020.  Republicans will spend 16 years out of the White House and will likely see the Supreme Court flip to liberal control.

Those same demographic factors holding up Obama are going to get stronger in the next ten years.  There will no longer be any path to victory for a Republican nominee who only gets the support of Whites.  The Republican Party will either have to shake itself free of the grip of the evangelicals, tea party element, and anti-immigrant extremists, and broaden its appeal to Latinos and African-Americans, or it will consign itself to permanent defeat. 

Between 1932 and 1968 the US was dominated by the Democratic Party.  From 1968 to 1988 the Republicans held the advantage.  It has now transitioned back to Democratic edge.  If Romney loses it will mean that the Republicans will have won the popular vote in only one election since 1988.  In the end we will have a viable conservative party in the US, but if the Republicans don’t win now, they are facing a very painful period of change.  

 

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