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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

US General Election 2012

I've been something of a supporter of the American President ever since he wasn't George Bush. And I'm still something of a supporter since he isn't Mitt Romney - and despite the razor-thin margins in opinion polling in the key swing states my hunch is that it will stay that way after today's election. These are not positives for Mr. Obama, rather, weak negatives against Romney's strong negatives.

There doesn't seem nearly the enthusiasm for him that existed four years ago.  There is no novelty aspect or the unsullied horizon of hope to sway voters this time. It is coming down to his record and the unknown quantity of the millionaire Mormon Republican and in that contest Obama ought to be re-elected. Not that US foreign policy would radically alter either way - as a part of the 96% of the world's population that is not American that's all I'm really interested in.

I remember Bush the Younger's re-election in 2004 and thinking as long as the key indicators remain below the psychological panic levels he will manage to slide home - which he did. The unemployment rate, the price of petrol and the Dow Jones Index were the ones I had in mind. If Bush ran with the Dow over 10,000 and petrol under $2 a gallon he could get back in - they were and he squeaked in again.

In 2004 the unemployment rate was 5.5%, it began rising rapidly from mid 2008 as the boom wobbled and went from 6.5% in November 2008 (the election) to 7.3% when Obama was sworn in a couple of months later and peaking at 10% at the end of that year. So the current rate of 7.9% is poor, but is still barely worse than what it was when Obama took over the mess created by the previous administration.

In 2004 the gas price was just below $2 a gallon and in 2008 it was actually falling as the crash hit - down to $2.50. It peaked at $4/g and is now back to $3.56/g. With the US dollar dropping oil imports will become more expensive so this is an inevitable consequence of the currency rather than reflecting increased demand.

In 2004 the Dow Jones had recovered to just a smidge over 10,000. The peak pre-crash at the end of Bush was 14,164 and then it plunged to 6,547 at its low in Obama's first year - so the recovery to 13,245 today is probably very good in the circumstances.

Based on those stats Obama has done a fair to good job. Then again I'm not looking at the multi-trillion debt or deficits. Then again I'm not looking at the health care reforms and social policy either. Then again I'm not considering what what the Republicans would have done in contrast...

With so many states, such a massive population and the intricate system used to elect the President (plus all the congressional and local seats) the American general election is always fascinating - even more so with the opinion polling showing such a close race. Billions have been spent on this epic moment.

Vote-rigging allegations regarding the electronic voting machines are flying already.

Whatever happens, we'll start to get some indicators shortly after the first wave of poll closings, at 7 p.m. ET. Battleground states in that group include Virginia, with Ohio following at 7:30 p.m.
Florida and many Midwestern states follow at 8 p.m. ET. West Coast states and Hawaii stop voting at 11 p.m. ET, and the last Americans will cast their ballots, in Alaska, by 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
"One of the first things I'll look at are the margins in the northern Virginia suburbs closest to Washington, D.C., especially Prince William County," said CNN chief national correspondent John King.
"If Gov. Romney is ahead or at least in play there, it means Virginia is in play, and we could have a long competitive night," King said. "If he's not in play, it could be over before we even get to the Central time zone."
CNN political reporter Peter Hamby said results from early and absentee balloting in Pasco County, Florida, could also offer a tantalizing glimpse of what the night may hold.
Barack Obama won the early and absentee vote in the slightly Republican-leaning county in 2008. If Obama comes up trailing when those early votes are posted soon after polls close, it could indicate the president might have trouble carrying Florida and its critical electoral votes, according to Hamby.
If the margin separating Romney and Obama is particularly thin, the election in that key battleground state could ride on absentee and provisional ballots. And that could keep the nation in suspense for a whopping 10 days.

That's how long Ohio law gives poll workers to check the eligibility of provisional voters.
Ohio has one of the nation's highest rates of provisional voting, with an estimated 200,000 cast in 2008. About 40,000 were later thrown out.

UPDATE 1:30pm

First results coming in. Exit polls showing some very tight races esp. in Virginia.

UPDATE: 2:20pm

Things are still furious and furiously close. Obama is tweeting his supporters to get out - and to stay in line if the time for polling has closed.

UPDATE 2:45pm

The power of twitter: over 11,000 retweets from Obama in under 10 minutes. FURIOUS!
UPDATE 5:20pm. Networks project Ohio to Obama, no way for Romney to win. No line call dramas this time round. Obama tweets: 'Four more years'.

UPDATE 5:55pm

Obama will make victory speech. Waiting. Must be waiting for the polls in Hawaii and. Alaska? Maybe a courtesy thing .


Mitt has just given a dignified concession speech. I see Romney got 72% in Utah! That's solid. Mormon love. Popular vote running very close: 52.0m Obama to 51.7m Romney. So close - no wonder there was apprehension on both sides. Electoral vote 100 clear majority for Obama.

Bibi will be pissed off. No chance to kill another thousand or so Palestinians or bomb Iran over the. Inter-regnum like back in 2008/9. Obama will have more of a say in dealing with the Israelis now. He isn't dependent on them (or anyone) for re-election.

UPDATE. 7:35pm

President Obama giving a workman-like, well-reheazrsed speech. The crowd are going nuts. He makes. A pointed remark about the long. Queues at polling booths. Good ' thneUS ambassador in Wellington said it went perfectly. That's not what your boss just said.

OK, maybe it was a better speech than that, esp the end. So slick, so Hollywood, in style. Read a few things in there about confronting congress ? Oh, and AFTER the election is over he mentions global warming.


At 7/11/12 12:05 pm, Blogger Nitrium said...

Intrade (the same as iPredict here), doesn't give Romney much chance (~30%). www.intrade.com.

IMO both US candidates are pretty much cut from the exact same cloth. Both are making promises they can't possibly keep, both are pretending they care about the people (i.e. voters) they pretend to represent - all the while making back room deals with the various moneyed interests and lobby groups (especially banksters, defence contractors and the health industry) in order to fill the campaign coffers they need to get elected. It is, as usual, a sham election, with neither candidate offering anything remotely resembling "change".
Neither Obama or Romney hold a genuine position. They simply parrot what their advisors say they need to in order to win. They say whatever they think will bring in more votes.
This is not caused solely by their lack of morals, but also by the voters themselves, that are primarily composed of people who look only at what a candidate can bring to them PERSONALLY as opposed what they bring to the nation as a WHOLE.
When voters become that selfish I don't hold much hope for the elections in the US to bring the reforms that are so badly needed to produce anything remotely resembling a sustainable economy.
The same, unfortunately, is equally true here.

At 7/11/12 4:12 pm, Blogger Nitrium said...

"Things are still furious and furiously close."

I beg to differ. The market says this race is OVER. www.intrade.com : The Romney punters have totally BAILED. Obama now has 94% chance of winning (4 pm).


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