The year of the campaign
July 27, 2012 Leave a comment
My man Seth is the first to crunch the latest economic numbers and put them in his presidential election model:
Well, if you average GDP growth over the first two quarters of election yearsgoing back to 1948 and use it to predict presidential vote shares, you get this:
Now, this isn’t the strongest correlate with presidential vote shares. Real disposable income does a bit better, as do measures that incorporate third quarter growth. But still, by itself, this measure explains 39% of the variation in vote shares.
You’ll notice that there’s a red dotted line projecting the 2012 presidential vote based on GDP growth this year (an average of 1.75%). It basically hits the trendline right at 50%, continuing to indicate a really, really close contest. Notably, we’re experiencing slower economic growth than George W. Bush had to contend with in 2004 or his father faced when he lost reelection in 1992.
Given the limits of the model and the tightness of the numbers, Masket is right: it’s still anyone’s race. This year, at least, it looks as if the economic fundamentals are so evenly balanced that all the other campaign stuff really is going to make the difference. Just the way the media likes it.
And the way political junkies like it, too. And, if you are a Democrat, I’d suggest that you should feel comforted by this fact. Of course, it would be much better to have strong economic growth, but if you’ve got to put money on Obama’s skills as a campaigner versus Mitt “look how I can so easily manage to offend an entire nation” Romney, I think Obama is the obvious choice. As Drum, also points out, Mitt’s most recent gaffe was an actual huge, completely unnecessary screw-up, as opposed to the opposition making hay by taking innocuous comments out of contect.