Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I'm off to the bookies to bet on Obama in 2012

Many commentators will take the result of the US mid-term elections and gamely step up to start putting the nails into President Obama's political coffin.

Things are looking pretty bleak only two years into his presidency. The last CNN poll before yesterday's voting had Obama's approval rating at below 50 per cent. While 56 per cent thought he didn't have the right priorities for the country. The same poll showed that nearly half those questioned thought Obama's administration to be too liberal. 53 per cent thought his government was trying to do too much.

Now let's consider what the Republican Party in Congress will do now they hold the majority in the House of Representatives. They will try and get Obama to change course, to pull back on big government led projects and act as a barrier to any future totemic pieces of legislation. If handled in the right way, if the White House get their messages right, this will help President Obama in his bid for reelection.

By altering course, just slightly, Obama will be able to say he has listened to the people. On big government, much of the stimulus package hated by many on the right is enshrined in law and trickling through. This means that, however much the Republicans want to reduce the size of the state, it will take time to do. In the meantime, particularly the big infrastructure projects will - if Obama's economics are correct - finally start to make a difference to real people on the ground.

Then there is the politics 'on the hill'. A clear majority want to see their political leaders working together for the good of the country. This is particularly true for soft Republic/Democrats and Independents. These are the voters who will decide the next President of the United States. If Obama demonstrates that he is trying to work with both Houses of Congress while, at the same time, the Republicans follow through on their campaign promise of halting future Presidential Bills, he will be able to position himself right in the centre where modern elections are won.

It will be a bumpy ride set in the context of simply unrealistic expectations of what Obama would be able to achieve. However, the majority of moderate Americans are only just outside Obama's grasp. With a slight adjustment from White House strategists,  and a helping hand from Republicans, expect Obama to be victorious in 2012.    


  1. Hi Ed

    I came to your blog via a link from Iain Dale's. I was intrigued by your conclusion and your article.

    I have no political axe to grind as my blog is on economics. However there were developments in this area yesterday with the move by the US Federal Reserve which is their central bank to pump even more money into the US economy.

    My view on this is that this latest move carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. Accordingly my blogpost today is entitled "Does the latest Federal Reserve stimulus or QE2 carry the seeds of its own failure?"

    I think that it does and so we come to my point that in 2012 the economic situation is likely to be as bad as now or maybe worse. In such a situation the incumbent often gets the blame.

    So the economic situation is likely to remain difficult,which has implications for the politics too.I write the notayesmanseconomics blog for those interested in what I had to say.

  2. The economic situation is often a driver of performance in elections. However, George Bush senior lost an election despite a healthy economy. Bill Clinton simply outsmarted Bush and his team and asked the question 'if the economy is doing so well, why are you doing so badly?'. It was cute politics and worked.

    A lot will happen before 2012 but I just feel the Republicans may well help President Obama in his positioning making his run for a second term easier.

  3. Good article as usual. My view is that Obama is somewhat snookered. If he doesn't tack to the right, how can he win over the independents who just voted Republican two to one, but it seems unlikely that Obama nor his party will countenance a shift in the areas that matter to the Republicans.

    And as for the Republicans, it looks to me like they can add energy, clarity and momentum to the discipline they have displayed in the last 2 years. Pretty formidable I would venture.

  4. What kind of odds are you getting? I've just had a quick look and the midterms don't seem to have altered his odds at all - he's still even-money, which seems about right, but not the kind of odds I want to invest a lot of money on. What concerns me is that Obama isn't doing enough to enthuse all the new voters from last time, so that even though those voters gave the Dems a natural majority for the first time in many a year, they might just go back to staying at home. If the GOP sees sense and goes for someone like Romney, Obama will have his work cut out. Of course, the GOP may get Obama out of jail by selecting a Tea Party candidate like Palin...


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