Why the 2012 Election ... Could Go Either Way

President Barack Obama
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Plugging the latest forecasts into a model developed by Yale University economist Ray Fair yields the projection that President Obama will receive 48.6 % of the two-party vote next year.
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The best of today's campaign 2012 coverage.

According to a mathematical model that links the economy and voting patterns ... nothing is certain when it comes to the upcoming election: "A gauge that links the economy and votes in presidential elections suggests President Barack Obama's chances of winning a second term will be at risk if the recovery proceeds as forecasters expect. Plugging the latest forecasts into a model developed by Yale University economist Ray Fair yields the projection that President Obama will receive 48.6 % of the two-party vote next year. 'It is close,' Mr. Fair said. 'It could go either way...' The model suggests that the economy's performance over the next several quarters relative to economists' lukewarm forecasts will decide who occupies the White House in 2013. If the economy leaves the rough patch it has been in this year and starts growing quickly, Mr. Obama could be a shoo-in. But if it continues to falter he'll be handing over the keys.'" [Wall Street Journal]

The Wall Street Journal takes stock of GOP candidates' responses to the debt deal: "Republican presidential candidates have mostly panned a debt ceiling deal negotiated by the White House and congressional leaders, opting to side with the GOP’s conservative wing over lawmakers and voters who said the U.S. needs to compromise to avoid default. Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.) came out hard against the deal Sunday night, declaring that, 'someone has to say no. I will.' By Monday morning, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty had followed her lead... So far, only former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has said he supports the proposal, which would raise the debt ceiling through the 2012 presidential election. 'A debt crisis like this is a time for leadership, not a time for waiting to see which way the political winds blow,' he said." [Wall Street Journal

Mitt Romney breaks his silence about the debt negotiations: "As Congress grapples with finding enough votes to pass the compromise on raising the debt ceiling, Mitt Romney, the front-runner in most polls on the GOP presidential nomination sweepstakes, came out forcefully against the plan Monday... Like many of his fellow candidates, Romney has been mainly silent during the ongoing debt ceiling debate, leaving it to congressional colleagues to negotiate with Democrats controlling the Senate and the White House. His conspicuous silence has drawn fire from Democrats who see him as one of the GOP’s most dangerous opponents against Obama because the former Massachusetts governor seems able to draw independent voters." [LA Times]

Competing Spanish-language ads released by the DNC and RNC in recent weeks hint at stepped-up fight for the Latino vote: "The opening shot [in the 2012 election] is the announcement of two critical ad buys, one by the Democratic National Committee and the other by the Republican National Committee – both in Spanish... This early battle over the Hispanic vote reveals strategic thinking about how tight the presidential contest looks to be in November 2012. Another telltale sign is that last week, in the middle of the intense debt-ceiling debate, President Obama kept his promise to speak at the annual convention of the Hispanic leadership group La Raza." [The Hill]

In a New York Magazine cover story, John Heilemann writes that the GOP race is really between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, two "rich, business-friendly, perfectly coiffed" candidates: "Despite the sway of various grassroots conservative movements, the GOP has reliably chosen its nominees from its Establishment wing, valuing electability over doctrinal purity. For Romney and Huntsman, this time-tested tendency should be a cause for comfort and for hope, respectively. The two men are, after all, the most Establishmentarian candidates in the field, and also the most likely to forge candidacies capable of winning in a general election. And though Huntsman is now routinely written off as a cipher, let’s not forget the last unconventional, slow-starting, non-table-pounding candidate of whom something similar was said: Barack Obama... Maybe after the abject and dangerous dysfunctionalism on display in Washington this summer, Republican voters will conclude that the moment has arrived to put away childish (and lunatic) things. That, hey, ya know, with Congress now a nuthouse, having a nominee in full possession of his faculties – an actual, sane adult – might not be the worst idea.' [New York Magazine]

The Houston Chronicle takes Rick Perry down a notch, with a list of ten reasons for the growth of the Texas economy... that have nothing to do with him: "Rick Perry may credit much of Texas’ recent economic success to the low-regulation, small-government philosophy he has espoused, but some economists say that the governor’s policies aren’t the only (or even the primary) reason for  Texas’ economic health .... Though economists say Perry’s low-tax, low-regulation policies have helped the state’s economy, there are many other reasons why the Texas economic is thriving while other states flail." [Houston Chronicle]

Longtime Jon Huntsman confidant David Fischer has been forced out of the former Ambassador's presidential campaign, RealClearPolitics reports: "Already on his second campaign manager in three months, Huntsman now has sidelined a longtime family friend whose presence in the campaign became a drag on morale for younger members of the staff. David Fischer, a onetime advance staffer to President Reagan and a former administrator at Jon Huntsman's father's chemical manufacturing company, Huntsman Corp., apparently caused such a disruption at the campaign's Orlando headquarters that the candidate tasked his chief political strategist, John Weaver, with removing Fischer from action. Internal strife is endemic to presidential political campaigns. And though it's by nature disruptive, how it is resolved can reveal a candidate's managerial skills – or lack thereof.' [RealClearPolitics]

The debt deal might have secured reelection for Obama, says Robert Hendin of CBS News: "Here you have a Democratic president, who's been painted a free-spending liberal, taking credit for what is the largest cut in federal spending in history. 'The first part of this agreement will cut about $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years... The result would be the lowest level of annual domestic spending since Dwight Eisenhower was president – but at a level that still allows us to make job-creating investments in things like education and research,' he said. In one fell swoop, Republicans may have handed Mr. Obama one of their top political issues to use against him on a silver platter, because not only does the president get to show his budget hawk-ness, in the process, the House Republicans have managed to drag their low approval ratings even lower with their actions through this standoff." [CBS News]

George E. Condon, Jr. of the National Journal has the opposite take: "The months-long melodrama leaves President Obama weakened politically and potentially constrained as a president. Obama put the best spin possible on the deal when he announced it in the White House briefing room. But there's little good news for him and his party in what's immediately known about the framework of the compromise... The bad news for Obama is that this deal – and his role in the deal-making – could make it more difficult for him to win a second term. To win reelection, he needs an improved economy with robust job growth. As the president mentioned in his remarks, the White House throughout this debate was acutely aware that massive spending cuts by the government would pose a severe challenge to a recovery already made more fragile by state and local government spending cuts. Critical to how much damage fresh cuts do to the economy will be – again – those details. How much of the cutting will be done in the next 12 months and how much is deferred to a later date? And how much will this detail constrain his ability to govern in the next 12 months?" [National Journal]

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