Friday, May 09, 2008

Krugman on the general election for President

Paul Krugman describes what the political scientists think is going to happen between now and the general election.
...statistical analyses ... identify three main determinants of presidential voting.
  • First, votes are affected by the state of the economy — mainly economic performance in the year or so preceding the election.
  • Second, the approval rating of the current president strongly affects his party’s ability to hold power.
  • Third, the electorate seems to suffer from an eight-year itch: parties rarely manage to hold the White House for more than two terms in a row.
Based on this view, the campaigns of candidates don't change a lot of votes. But this is the historical view as shown in statistical political science studies. It doesn't account for the new situation. And that is?
the fight for the nomination has divided the party along class and race lines in a way that I believe is unprecedented, at least in modern times.
In spite of Obama's early efforts to rise above race, the exit polls from the most recent races show that it was the Black vote that gave him the edge over Hillary.

This ignores the similar reaction of older white women who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Hillary in those same contests. Krugman continues:
how and why Mr. Obama’s support narrowed over time have a Rashomon-like quality: different observers see very different truths. But at this point it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. What does matter is that Mr. Obama appears to have won the nomination with a deep but narrow base consisting of African-Americans and highly educated whites. And now he needs to bring Democrats who opposed him back into the fold.
Krugman then goes on to bring up horror stories from past divisions that became apparent within the party and which were not dealt with. Then he presents his view of how the Democrats will by unified. His analysis is interesting.

However, I think we are going to see both Barack and Hillary as moving towards unifying the party. Both have strong motivations to strongly work towards a Democratic victory in the November general election. Combine that with Bush's very low ratings and the already starting move to show that McCain offers four more years of Bush programs, Democrats are not going to vote for McCain. Add to that the clear movement of independents away from the Republicans.

Any discussion of the fissures in the Democratic Party are quite premature. If there is still any real indication of it by late June, that will be soon enough to consider it a threat to the election. We have just gone through a long primary season that emphasized the differences between Obama, Clinton, and Edwards. (Remember Edwards?) Also keep in mind that the media has a strong motivation to emphasize the conflict because it improves ratings and advertising revenue. a unified Democratic Party hurts their bottom line.

Unfortunately for the media and the Republicans, the Democratic conflict is now over. We just haven't seen the unifying effects of the Convention starting yet. But they will.

Plan on it.

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