Okay, there have been a few things I've been ruminating on and I've been thinking about updating this topic.
First, I'll start out with some dim light at the end of the tunnel for Obama '12.
, the first time since March '09 that it has been under 9%...a fatal number for an incumbent president's re-election bid. Furthermore, the Household Survey that is more inclusive because it includes farm labor and small business is also showing positive movement. This may mean the economy is becoming less sluggish. This is news that Obama needs in order to be re-elected.
a) The numbers also showed that an unusually high number of workers left the labor pool (gave up looking for a job): 300K. This can create a masking effect in the unemployment rate since those who gave up looking are no longer counted as "unemployed" by this statistic thereby reducing the sample population and making gains in jobs appear more significant than they are.
b) Remember, we're going into the Christmas shopping season when many places are hiring on a temporary basis. Thus when the January numbers come out...we could return to around 9% unemployment and stay there until November 2012. Obama needs this to be a trend...not a one or two month bump. If it is holiday jobs...then it will have no effect on the vote.
Here in STL the co-founder of the local Tea Party group, Dana Loesch and the group she helped create broke-up. From what I'm reading/hearing/seeing is the tensions between those Tea Partiers who want a president who is firmly conservative and those who think anyone will be better than Obama. This is good for Obama because some want to see the Tea Party, Constitutionalists and Libertarians to put up a strong third-party bid for the presidency (Ron Paul? Donald Trump?). If the right splits and there is a third-party conservative candidate...Obama wins. (I give it an 80-95% chance.)
Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin outline a strategy based on shifting demographics that could lead to an Electoral College victory for Obama. In this, Obama needs to increase his share of the latino vote, which they predict will increase in vote share, and keep up excitement in the youth and black votes. In terms of the white vote, he needs to realize he's going to loose these voters...so he has to keep these losses to a minimum.
There are a few things wrong with this strategy though, and I think it is a loser for the following reasons:
a) They base their Latino argument on the trend that over the last 30 or so years the Latino vote share has increased on average 2% per election. This is compared to a comparative drop in the White vote. The problem here is that this is an average. Some presidential years the increase was 4% for Latinos and other elections the numbers were 2%. In short: we don't know if '12 will see an increase or decline in the minority and youth vote. Economic stagnation could lead to a lack of enthusiasm for the incumbent president/party. It could also lead to naturalized Latinos returning to their countries of origin and therefore shrink one of their key demographics. In fact the Border Patrol has released figures showing that in FY 2011 they arrested 328K people trying to illegally cross the border. This is down from about 1.6 million eleven years ago. Furthermore, this is part of trend we've seen that correlates with both new emphasis on halting immigration and the recession.
b) Obama has the same problem McCain had in '08: he's on the loosing side of the enthusiasm gap. From where I sit Obama will start out with only 20% strongly approving of him (the easy sell) and 40% strongly disapprove (the very hard to impossible sell). So is it really wise for his campaign to just turn its back on over 80% of the electorate?
Is Obama Toast?, is a model statistician Nate Silver wrote for New York Times Magazine that caused a shit-ton of buzz on the left. Basically, if the economy remains sluggish Obama will probably loose, he pretty much handicaps Obama as having a slightly higher chance of joining the ranks of the one-term presidents than being re-elected.
I've got to admit I think Obama's campaign needs to look at Silver's post and ignore Texiereia's study.
I looked at Rassmussen's daily presidential strongly approve/disapprove of Obama's performance. Using this as a proxy/measure for Obama's excitement level and averaged out:
* Only 21.2% of Obama's support are hardcore enough that they will DEFINITELY be at the polls come election day.
* On the other hand, 40.6% of his opponent's base will DEFINITELY be at the polls come election day.
Thus Obama is going to have work very, very hard at turning out the other 22-25% that are less supportive of him. This only gets him to about 45%...THEN he'll have to win the 1% that don't know/care AND chip away another 5-6% of the Republican's weak supporters. At this point I think the Obama team is probably looking at doing all they can to ensure an Electoral College victory as a hedge against loosing the popular vote. (Ironic, don't you think?)