The great thing about the presidential election season is that you have a good two years to make and potentially back-track from predictions. Everything from who wins the nomination to who wins the presidency is up for grabs after the mid-terms and usually analysts, political scientists and journalists will pick and choose whatever data is handy to justify their beliefs. Well, according to the newest Gallup poll released this morning, 50% of my predictions from the last year are still on track to be true. And in a presidential election you only need 50%+1 to win.
I have only made two predictions regarding the presidential election of 2012 in the last year and recent Gallup data reaffirms one of them, and weakens another.
Prediction #1: “If unemployment dips below 8.4%, and there is a steady decline till November Barack Obama is going to get re-elected.”
Prediction #2: “It is going to be a long election night and we’ll be up late before we know who won.” (Made in various outlets.)
So what do these predictions look like compared to newest campaign poll? Gallup’s most recent poll shows the top 10 most important economic issues to all Americans regardless of political leanings, and the results are pretty definitive. The cost of Healthcare, Unemployment and the Federal Budget deficit are the three most important economic issues to American voters each one being viewed as Extremely/Very Important amongst those surveyed.
Here’s where it gets interesting for the candidates and my predictions. When you look at who the public feels is best suited to handle these economic issues there is an even split on the top three. Ironically Obama is considered most likely to fix healthcare costs, even though his healthcare bill is still fairly unpopular; Mitt Romney is considered vastly more likely to do something about the federal deficit; and they are about equal when it comes to fixing unemployment. As you go down the list Obama has a slight edge on the number of issues that he is considered more qualified to handle, but not by an overwhelming number.
So what does that say about my predictions and the chances of both of these candidates this fall?
First, 8.4% is no longer the magic number I thought it would be during the 9% unemployment days of last summer. Now that the mainstream press magically decided last month to report unemployment numbers properly (meaning they only reflect people looking for work, not those who have given up or just can’t) dipping below 8.0% may not be enough for Obama to keep his job. And the survey gives some strength to this. People are still concerned about unemployment, despite months of increased job gains, and Obama is not seen as significantly better than Romney in solving this problem.
In some additional positive news for the Republicans, the budget deficit is a top 3 economic issue, which means that the GOP’s convenient new focus on the budget since taking over in 2010 has really seeped into the public consciousness and become an important issue. And by convenient I mean I wonder where all of these budget hawks were just a few years ago during the Bush administration when we were borrowing money to fight two wars and still cutting taxes at home.
Either way, this is a victory for Mitt Romney and the Republican party. In fact, when Romney leads Obama on economic issues, like Weak Economic Growth and The Financial performance of Americans savings and retirement investments he leads by big margins. So does this means the elections in the bag for the former Massachusetts governor? This leads to my second prediction last year.
This election is going to go late into the night because unfortunately for Mitt the Republicans will not be able to move the country purely on economic arguments and they don’t have enough advantage on enough of the top 3 issues to control the narrative. On the Democratic side this election is going to be fought late into the night because Obama’s only chance at getting re-elected is making sure that Democrats come out to vote and Republicans have been doing everything in their power to corrupt voting laws in Ohio and Florida to suppress turnout. So in the end, what Gallup tells us today does matter. This election is going to have a strong economic aftertaste. However, the economy is not enough of an advantage for either candidate, especially when turnout, culture issues and candidate personality start getting in the way.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.