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Posts Tagged ‘2012 Presidential Election’

On the surface, it appears why Obama won a second term is that he carried nearly all the ‘swing states’. But the deeper question is why did he carry those swing states? The consensus of press and pundits in the days immediately following the election is Obama carried the minority, youth (18-29), and to a lesser extent the women vote. But that still doesn’t answer the even more fundamental question why he carried these groups in those swing states? And Press and pundits stop at that point.

As the voting began on Nov. 6, I predicted Obama would win the electoral vote, in a range 280-291 to 248-257. (see my blog, jackrasmus.com, entry of early morning Nov. 6). That range of electoral votes was predicated on the assumptions that Obama-Romney would split Ohio and Florida, leaving the remaining key states being Virginia and Colorado. Obama needed to win one, I argued, and Romney both of these two states as well as several of the smaller states of New Hampshire and Iowa. As it turned out, Obama won both Virginia and Colorado, as well as all three of the smaller states. That put his total at 303 in fact,–i.e. just above the 291 high end range that I estimated he’d get had he lost Virginia and a couple of the smaller states. All the other states’ electoral votes turned out, however, much as I had predicted (Florida still pending). So it was a moderately close prediction.

So why did Obama win the swing states? Why did he carry the minority and youth vote so convincingly? And what can those groups, who clearly put him in office for a second term, expect in return with regard to policies and programs the next four years?

To begin, the Hispanic vote clearly made the overwhelming difference in Colorado, Nevada, and, together with the black vote, in Virginia (in retrospect it probably played an important role as well in Iowa). But describing it as ‘Hispanic’, African-American, and even the youth vote, leaves out a more fundamental dimension: this was a ‘working class vote’ even though the press refuses to define it as such. That point is important, given that throughout the election campaign the past two years Obama’s team of advisers and he himself repeatedly indicated the key voting bloc that would make the difference in the election was the ‘independent voter’ and the ‘middle class’, especially the upper income urban professionals.
The minority groups that made the big difference in the swing states of Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and Iowa—especially Hispanics—represent the major force that put Obama in the White House for a second term. They are not the much heralded ‘middle class’ households making $100,000 a year incomes that the Obama team said was their primary target during the election campaign. Nor are they the ‘independent urban professionals’, who almost all earn more than $100,000, that Obama’s advisers kept saying was the key to winning the White House the past two years.

71% of Hispanics voted for Obama and turned out in even greater numbers than in 2008. That bloc is solid working class, the vast majority of whom earn less than $50,000 a year. The same can be said for African-American voters who probably made the difference in Virginia, turning out big in the southeastern part of that state.

In start contrast, the ‘independents’ and ‘urban professionals’ earning $50-$100k a year stayed home or reduced their vote for Obama. Their Obama vote fell from 52% in 2008 to 45% in 2012. Some post-election polls estimate only 24% of this group bothered to vote. So it wasn’t the independents or middle class, it was the minority working class that had the biggest impact on Obama’s re-election.

The key point that it was workers who put Obama back in office also applies the equally important swing state of Ohio and the neighboring key states of Michigan and Wisconsin. In Ohio-Michigan-Wisconsin union workers made the difference in carrying those important states. Union labor certainly gave Obama Ohio, and just as probably prevented Michigan-Wisconsin from going Republican. In these states union workers are overwhelmingly manufacturing, construction, industrial and public employees and not ‘independents’ or ‘urban professionals’. Outside the Ohio to Wisconsin ‘arc’, however, union households’ vote for Obama fell somewhat, as the same households vote for Obama increased significantly in those Midwest swing states.

Yet what is heard repeatedly by the press and media pundits is that the ‘working class’ vote in general has gone Republican. That’s only true if one believes that the millions of Hispanics, blacks, and the majority of the 18-29 working class youth, who made the key difference in several of the key states, are somehow not in fact ‘working class’. Or that those voters in the key arc of Ohio-Michigan-Wisconsin, a majority of which were ‘white’ by the way, were also not working class.

So it was minority workers, young workers, and union workers in the northwest that carried the swing states that put Obama in office—and not the upper middle class, independents, and professionals. So why did they do it? And what can they expect in return from Obama during his second term?

First, despite deporting more undocumented workers than George Bush, Obama did an about face before the election and endorsed the ‘Dream Act’ for immigrant (hispanic) youth. In contrast, Romney talked about how they should ‘self-deport’ themselves to solve the so-called immigration problem. The student segment of the youth vote was captured by Obama by his shift to hold the line on the cost of student debt and Obamacare provisions to continue health insurance coverage. Romney’s position was students should borrow more from their parents and repeal all of Obamacare. And the Great Lakes region union vote no doubt was influenced by the bailout of the auto industry and the Obama teams’ successful spinning of the event, even though only 157,000 or the 340,000 lost auto jobs have been recovered and much of the latter at two-tier, low paid $14/hr. jobs. Romney argued the auto companies and jobs should ‘go bankrupt’ (and let the private equity vultures like his ‘Bain Capital’ pick their economic bones, no doubt).

So some minimalist concessions to their direct interests were made prior to the election. Nothing like the $13 trillion bail out of the banks, of course. But nevertheless something. In contrast, Romney made it clear to them their future would be ‘far less than something’.

Post-election November 2012, the biggest question remains: will Obama deliver for these working class groups that put him in office a second time? Or will it be ‘concession time’ again, with those who put him in office a second time asked to pay the lion’s share of deficit cutting?

With the election over, the real economic program for the next four years is about to be revealed. It’s concealed behind the fascade called ‘fiscal cliff’. The economic promises of both candidates during the election was only talk, both candidates telling their constituencies what they thought they wanted to hear. Now the real thing—the real economic program—is about to appear. Will ‘fiscal cliff’ mean those who put him in office pay the biggest price, while the wealthy, corporations, defense companies, bankers, stock and bond traders, and all the rest of such get yet another mostly ‘free ride’, as has been the case the past four years? With only three days since the election, Obama has publicly invited House Speaker, Boehner, to restart negotiations on the so-called ‘grand bargain’ that was postponed in the summer of 2011. Signaling willingness to once again engage in major concessions, Obama publicly declared he was not wedded to his prior stated economic program or objectives. Stay tuned for the next few weeks, as the political fog called US national elections slowly burns off and the true outlines of real economic program being cooked behind the scenes the past several weeks by the powerful economic and political elites of both parties becomes increasingly clear.

Jack Rasmus, November 9, 2012
Jack is the author of the recent book, ‘Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few’, 2012, and host of the radio show, ‘Alternative Visions’ on the progressive radio network, PRN.FM. His blog is jackrasmus.com, website http://www.kyklosproductions.com, and his twitter account, #drjackrasmus.

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With less than a week to go to the November national elections, popular polls show Obama and Romney are either in a dead heat tie or Romney slightly ahead in the popular vote. What counts, of course, is not the popular vote but the archaic US system of electoral college votes—a legacy of one of the most undemocratic procedures borne from the US Constitution.

Much focus by the press in recent days has been on the so-called ‘swing states’ which will decide the election outcome. Apart from the swing states with their potential electoral votes, our this writer’s estimate is that Romney has 204 electoral votes firmly in hand while Obama has 224. Romney’s total includes states like Arizona (10) and Montana (3) that some pollsters erroneously indicate as swing but will go, as they always have, to the Republican candidate. Obama’s total includes Pennsylvania (21), Michigan (17), Minnesota (10) and Oregon (7), all leaning comfortably toward Obama.
That leaves the true swing states with electoral votes as follows:

Virginia 13, Colorado 10, Ohio 18, Florida 29, North Carolina 15, Wisconsin 10, Iowa 6, Nevada 6, and New Hampshire 4.
Pundits have identified Ohio and Florida as the key swing states. Whoever wins the two, easily wins the election. But Ohio and Florida are not the key. That’s because it appears increasingly that Romney and Obama will split these two largest states. Obama is ahead in Ohio, giving him 18 more votes and Romney in Florida, giving him 29 more.
The tally then is Obama with 242 and Romney with 233.

Of the remaining swing states, this writer predicts Nevada (6), Iowa (4) and even Wisconsin (10) will go to Obama—the latter the home state of Republican VP Ryan. That gives Obama another 20 electoral votes, for a total of 262. 270 are needed to win. Should Romney prevail in North Carolina (15) and New Hampshire (4),where he is ahead, he would have 252 total electoral votes.

That leaves Virginia (13) and Colorado (9) as the remaining key states. And they are in a statistical dead heat toss up. Both states polling show 47.8% popular support for both candidates in both states.

Obama has to win at least one of the two, Colorado or Virginia. Romney has to win both. That means a slight advantage to Obama, but with a dead heat in both and momentum in the final week going to Romney, Obama could easily lose both states.

The coming election promises to be the tightest not only in terms of popular vote but also electoral votes, with margins of less than 20 and even as little as 10 between the two candidates. This writer has noted since 2011 that the outcome will depend upon whether Obama can turn out the vote for those who supported him in 2008 but who have become deeply discouraged and disappointed in his pro-corporate policies and constant concessions to business and Republicans since the summer of 2010. If these erstwhile supporters vote with their backsides and stay home, Obama will lose. That raises the ironically strange outcome of the US electing a financial speculator-banker, Romney, four years after the same crowd of banker-speculators brought us the banking crash of 2007-08 and the chronic no-recovery economy (for us, not them) of the past four years. The choice for the US electorate in this strange national election year has been to vote either for a set of policies that have not brought general economic recovery (Obama) and that will likely not do so for another four years, or to vote for a set of policies (Romney) that will make conditions still worse and return the US to yet another reshuffled version of Bushonomics-Reaganomics that has contributed much to the current continuing economic crisis.

It’s all the more strange, given that a national Gallup poll recently showed that 61% of independents are in favor of another political party, neither Democrat or Republican, and even 60% of liberals and conservatives say the same.
What the current election debates and the past decade together have shown is that there isn’t a two party system in America. There’s a one-party system with two wings. Time to create a true alternative, is it not?

Dr. Jack Rasmus
October 31, 2012
Jack is the author of the 2012 book, ‘Obama’s Economy: Recovery for the Few’, and host of the radio show, ‘Alternative Visions’, on the Progressive Radio Network, PRN.FM. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and can be followed on twitter at #drjackrasmus. His website is http://www.kyklosproductions.com.

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