Vote Democratic. Or Republican

Nice piece from Hans Noel.  Captures the hopelessness of voting for a third party and explains why Political Scientists generally claim you should be voting for the party and not the person:

Second, vote for a major party candidate. Vote for the Democrat or vote for the Republican. Don’t vote for any third party candidate, or an independent.
We try to be nonpartisan at Mischiefs, but I have to take a stand here. The policies of the Green Party or the Libertarian Party might be great, but you’re not helping realize them by voting Jill Stein or Gary Johnson.

Why not? For one, even if they were elected, a third party candidate would have to deal with a Congress filled with Democrats and Republicans. The president doesn’t get to just repeal Obamacare or implement single-payer health care. That’s the job of the legislature. By definition, anyone running for president as a third-party candidate has decided that coordinating with members of the two major parties is too hard. If it’s too hard in the nomination stage, why would it suddenly become easy at the legislating stage?

And of course, no third party candidate is going to win. So your vote doesn’t help. Meanwhile, there are real differences between Obama and Romney. Very big ones, in fact. Voting for anyone else means you give up your chance to voice your opinion on the divisions that are actually at stake in this election.

Third, vote for your major party candidate. Don’t vote for the guy you like better, or for whom you would want to have a beer with. If you look deep down, you are probably closer to one of the two parties. Even if you are independent,research suggests you have your leanings. And the parties are clearly not hard to distinguish. One is probably better for people like you.

You are not just selecting a president. You are also selecting which party that president will draw his cabinet from, and which party he will find most amenable to his agenda. You are selecting the leader of a team. The rest of the team will matter a great deal over the next four years.


What to watch for tonight

Excellent post from Nate Cohn.  Very useful:

As most of the big eastern battleground states close at 7 and 7:30 p.m., be prepared for Obama to take an early lead in Ohio, Florida, and even North Carolina, where early votes will probably represent a disproportionate share of initial returns. As Election Day ballots are tabulated, Romney will begin to make inroads and perhaps ultimately overcome Obama’s advantage in early votes. Conversely, expect Romney to open up a big early lead in Virginia, where rural, Republican counties in western Virginia report quickly. Even if Obama ultimately wins Virginia by a modest margin, Romney will likely lead the state for most of the night. Obama won Virginia by 6 points in 2008, but it wasn’t called until more than 90 percent of precincts were reported because Democratic-leaning counties take so much longer to report. In 2008, Obama won the final 600,000 votes by a 170,000 vote margin. For that same reason, Senator Jim Webb didn’t take a lead until 98 percent of precincts reported in the closely contested 2006 midterm election.

An 11 p.m. verdict is possible if the state polls are accurate, but not likely unless Obama carries Ohio and Wisconsin by a clear margin and the count in Nevada or Iowa goes fast enough to permit a projection within 1 hour of their 10PM closings. Florida, Virginia, and Colorado are very unlikely to be resolved before 11PM. A decision might not come until after midnight, and the outcome of the popular vote might not be known for days if it’s as close as suggested by an average of national polls.

I’m hoping for an 11pm resolution.  Sarah’s been waking up awfully early after the change back to standard time.

Why the party that wins today is in for good times

Yglesias has a really nice column on why it is very likely good to be the Democratic party today (i.e., Obama cannot win re-election but he sets up his successor very well).  The economy is almost surely going to add a ton of jobs in the next four years and whomever the president is will get undue credit for it.  There’s a good chance that this election today is choosing the party that controls the executive branch for the next 8 years.  One of the reasons I’m especially glad all signs point to Obama.  Yglesias:

While anything’s possible, 2012 is shaping up to be the reverse kind of election: Whoever wins is poised to preside over a return to economic normalcy that’s bound to make any kind of basically competent governance look fantastic compared to the last decade of misery.

Consider Mitt Romney’s assertion that his policies would lead to 12 million new jobs. This has gotten him in trouble with fact checkers for an unusual reason. Many people think it’s too likely to happen.

Moody’s Analytics, for example, published an analysis of the economic outlook back in April that has 11.7 million jobs over the next four years as its baseline forecast. Macroeconomic Advisers has made a similar forecast, calling for 12.3 million jobs over the next four years…

But over the past 18 months, the economy has added an average of 162,000 jobs per month. Simply holding that current trend steady for four years without any improvement in underlying economic policy would give us 7.8 million jobs.

If a re-elected Obama can manage even that mediocre growth, he could easily paint a picture in which the awful numbers of his first term are just Bush recession hangover and he saved the day. President Romney, facing the same numbers, could claim he saved the economy from years of stagnation under Obama’s big government policies. But all he’d really be doing is continuing the mildly disappointing pace of recovery we’ve seen over the past year…

There’s no reason to think 2013-2016 will see the kind of super-fast growth we saw in the late-1930s or mid-1980s, but it’s overwhelmingly likely that the next four or five yearswill look a lot better than the past four or five. That means whoever wins the election is likely to get a similar halo, and our understanding of Obama’s legacy will hang in the balance. At a telling moment on the infamous 47 percent tape, Romney told donors that “if we win on Nov. 6, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country,” meaning that “we’ll see capital come back, and we’ll see—without actually doing anything—we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.”

This do-nothing approach to economic recovery was roundly mocked. But Romney is probably right: He won’t have to do anything to preside over a recovery. And neither will Obama. And that, paradoxically, is part of what makes the stakes in this election so high.

If you want to know more about the underlying economics, the stuff I elided is about monetary policy and interest rates.  Anyway, perhaps I should revisit this post in about four years and see how write Yglesias and I are on the matter.


Four years ago in your voting precinct

Love this site from Stanford that can tell you the voting breakdown for your voting precinct (or any in America) from four years ago.  My precinct went for Obama 57-43.

An NC voting law that is definitely behind the times

Now, famously among my friends, I don’t even own a smartphone.  But if I did, I would probably want to use it to look up who to vote for (or take a note of it) at the last minute.  Alas, that’s actually against the law in NC.  A great example of a law that is greatly lagging technology:

If you’re headed for the polls, don’t count on using your cellphone to help you remember which candidates to vote for.

Wake County voter Brad Bell found that out the hard way.

Before he went to the polls this week, Bell says, he spent quite a bit of time researching the candidates for council of state and judicial races.

“This being the 21st century and me having a notoriously short memory, I wrote my choices down on my smartphone,” Bell told WRAL via email.

When he got into the voting booth, he took out his iPhone to consult his list. But before he even opened his notes, he says, a poll worker was at his side, insisting he would have to put the phone away before he would be allowed to complete his ballot.

And why is this the law?

The ban on cell phones at polling sites is a matter of state law, according to Don Wright, general counsel for the State Board of Elections. And if it’s a phone with a camera, it’s illegal on two fronts.

First, NC Statute 163-165.1 bans voters from receiving assistance at the ballot box except from a close family member or a few other exceptions that require prior arrangement with precinct officials.

Wright says a voter on the phone could be talking or texting with someone working for a campaign. “There’s a presumption that operation of a cell phone in a voting booth is unlawful assistance.”  [emphasis mine]

Now that presumption may have made sense before smartphones, but in this day and age it is far more likely that are going to the NC Dem or NC Rep website to see who you should be voting for in “non-partisan” (right) offices.  How that’s any worse than carrying in a piece of paper printed out from Wake Democrats (what I did) is beyond me.  And you know what, what if you were actually at the polls and texted someone “now who was that County Commissioner you told me to vote for?” What would be so wrong with that?

Photo of the day

Well, we’ll let this be the only non-political post of the day.  From the Big Picture set of Animals and their people:

Researchers wait for giant panda Taotao to get into a cage in Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province in China on October 7, 2012. Taotao and its mother Caocao were transferred down from a 2,100-meter high mountain to Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center for a health examination and to be prepared for reintroduction to the wild. Researchers wore panda costumes to ensure that the cub’s environment was devoid of human influence. (China Daily/Reuters)


I’m going with a fairly conservative prediction.  Basically, I think this is minimally as well as Obama will do, but here goes:

Obama 294 Electoral Votes to 244 for Romney.  Map below:

I’m going to predict a final popular vote of 49.8 for Obama to 49.0 for Romney.

That said, I would not be at all surprised to see Obama also win Florida to take him up to 323.  I don’t think it’s totally crazy to think he runs the swing-state table with NC and Colorado and ends up with 347.  I find that substantially more likely than Romney going over 270.

Recent polls have moved quite clearly towards Obama.  It would be one thing if it were just one pollster or two, but there’s clearly something systematic afoot.  A couple weeks ago my official line is that I thought Obama was more likely to win but I would not be the least bit surprised if Romney won.  Now, if Romney wins, I would be truly surprised.  And, of course, this would completely send back to the drawing board what we know and don’t know about election polling.


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