A recent Gallup Poll of “Likely Voters” taken after the FIRST debate showed a bounce for Governor Romney to give him a 2-Point Lead over President Obama. That’s to be expected. But after the SECOND debate, despite almost universal agreement that Obama won the second debate… a debate in which Romney was humiliated on the national stage over “when” exactly the president called the Benghazi attack “an act of terror”, showed total disrespect of both the moderator and The President, and his odd “binders full of women” remark where he never did get around to endorsing “pay equity for women”… President Obama enjoyed a strong rebound in the polls. Couple this with the drop in unemployment below 8-percent the week before, and many felt the president recovered everything he lost after the first debate. So the supposed CONTINUED gains by Governor Romney after the second & third debates among “likely voters” (by as much as a stunning SEVEN percent in one poll) is beyond logic. Fortunately, my faith in the American people was tempered slightly with Romney’s “bounce” now petering out in the waning days of the election. Despite this, Romney surrogates were all over the airwaves this weekend to ensure you that the “Romney comeback” is real and that the momentum in this election is his. But don’t you believe it. Most polls now show President Obama still leads among likely voters (49% to 46%), and Obama has never trailed in Ohio. But there are a number of other… let’s call them “factors”… to suggest the momentum still rides with Obama (some serious, others just curious coincidences):
1) Cellphones & “Caller ID” skewing polling:
Many polls still under-sample or otherwise avoid cellphone users, and a LOT of people use “Caller ID” to avoid pollsters. The older the voter, the less likely they are to use “Caller ID”. It’s no surprise that people with “Caller ID”… either in-home units and/or on their cell phones, will simply just not answer their phone when they see it’s a pollster bugging them for the 30th time that week to see if they’ve changed their vote since yesterday. It should also come as no surprise that the majority of these voters are young, who skew heavily for Obama, while voters that tend to shy away from such technology are typically older (Romney’s demographic). So when some polls show a “dead-heat” or even a Romney lead, be aware that they are hearing from a disproportionate number of older voters without “Caller ID” that also tend to vote Republican.
Pollster Gallup says they have upped the number of “cellphones” they poll to 50%, and Obama’s lead is stronger in polls that include cellphones. Republicans are already claiming the polls are “skewed towards Obama” because when they ask people if they are a ”Republican” or “Democrat”, more people say they are Democrats, therefore, Republicans claim this as evidence of “bias”, that polling companies are “unfairly polling more Democrats” (uh, guys? Just because more people call themselves Democrats, doesn’t mean pollsters are actively seeking them out). But I’d argue that simply sampling more cellphone users doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the voting public as a whole. Do cellphone users make up 50% the voting populace? If half your sample is cellphone users and half your sample is “land-line, no Caller ID” users, I’d argue your sample is unevenly weighted in Romney’s favor. That would be like walking into a women’s dress shop and polling on the popularity of mustache combs. If you manage to leave with your genitals intact, the responses you receive are probably not going to accurately reflect the popularity of “mustache combs” in general. Increasing the number of women you poll in that same environment isn’t going to do much good.
(UPDATE: MotherJones Magazine this week reports: “Pollster: Undercounted Cellphone Users Hide Obama’s Lead”.)
2) Early Voting is heavily in Obama’s favor
As Reuters pointed out Friday, President Obama leads Governor Romney 54% to 39% among early-voters. This is important for several reasons: First, it lays waste to the Republican claims of an “enthusiasm gap” that voters just aren’t excited about voting for Obama, while enthusiasm for Romney is supposedly growing. Second, if potential Romney voters are still debating whether or not to actually support him this late in the game, or are just not yet ready to check that box for him even in light of the very real possibility that the polls may be closed (or they otherwise can’t get to them) on Election Day because of Hurricane Sandy, then the fact that Early Votes weigh heavily in Obama’s favor matters a great deal.
Some lighter fare: 3) Halloween Mask Sales
Halloween mask sales has been an unusually good predictor of presidential elections. Think about it. Who wants to dress up as somebody no one likes for Halloween? People with enough enthusiasm to lay out $30-$50 for a custom rubber mask typically won’t waste their money buying the mask of the guy they don’t like. And this year, Obama masks are outselling Romney masks. BuyCostumes.com brags it has accurately predicted the winner of every presidential election since 2000, and this year, Obama/Biden mask sales lead Romney/Ryan mask sales by 4-percent.
Consider that for what it’s worth. Maybe nothing, but a fun fact none-the-less.
I might also point out that according to a few costumers, there was a run on BigBird masks following the second debate. Wanna bet people are making fun of Romney with those masks? I’d be comfortable putting “Big Bird mask buyers” in the Obama column as well.
Some other “not-so-serious” yet surprisingly good presidential predictors:
- When the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent wins (every election since ’36), and their last pre-election home game is next Sunday against the 1-6 Panthers.
- 7-Eleven’s informal Red/Blue coffee cup poll with the names of the candidates on them has been an uncannily good predictor since it was introduced in 2000. The “poll” picked Bush over Gore by just 1% in 2000, Bush over Kerry 51% to 49% in 2004, and Obama over McCain 60% to 40%. This year, Obama leads Romney 59%-to-41%.
- The “14-Year Freshness Test”: The candidate with the fresher face (less time in your face) typically wins. Accurate since after LBJ won in 1964. But this year the “Freshness Test” may be a draw since both candidates have been running since 2007 and have been all over the TV ever since. Romney first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, while Obama first ran for state office in 1996. If anything, where Romney lost in ’94, won the governorship in ’02, then lost the GOP Presidential nomination in ’08, Obama won the state senate in ’96, the U.S. Senate in ’04 and the Presidency in ’08.
- Lakers Law: Whenever the Lakers win the NBA Championship in a presidential election year, the Republican candidate wins the presidency. This predictor is 100% accurate. Don’t be looking for rhyme or reason on this one. Just take solace in the fact The Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in just five games during the NBA Finals last June.
- Futures market: Wall Street is really just one big casino anyway, so it should come as no surprise that the “Futures” Market follows the presidential election to help “guide” investors on just who may be running the next administration. Intrade currently has Obama’s defeating Mitt Romney 63.3% to 36.8%.
- Children’s media: “The Weekly Reader”, “Scholastic” and “Nickelodeon” for years have polled children before every presidential election. And why not? Most people vote like children anyway, basing their final vote on “likability” as much on (or more than) who they think will actually make their lives better. “The Weekly Reader” was bought out by Scholastic last July, leaving just two polls this time around, but Scholastic’s latest poll shows Obama winning 51% to 45% (one wonders if “Big Bird” received the remaining 6%?). The Children’s network Nickelodeon hosted “Kid’s Pick the President” with Linda Ellerbee this past Oct. 8th. President Obama won handily, defeating Romney 65% to 35%. The fact Romney snubbed the event and declined to even meet with the kids might of had something to do with it. Nickelodeon has correctly picked the winner of every presidential election since it started in 1988.
- I checked to see if “Gas prices” on (and just before) Election Day were any predictor of who might win the presidential election, but gas price records only go back 8 years. And among those, President Bush recaptured (I refuse to say “won”) the presidency in 2004 despite soaring gas prices, and Party control flipped with the election of President Obama despite gasoline prices tanking as the economy collapsed in 2008. Gas prices are up from Election Day four years ago, but lower than they were
four years & 3-monthsago, so in the end, gas prices are not any predictor of presidential election outcomes.
- How about the Unemployment Rate? Amazingly, unemployment also is a terrible predictor of elections. I checked the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) numbers since 1948, and though the incumbent party does have a tiny advantage when unemployment falls in October
(2 out of 3 elections), the incumbents’ second best chance is when unemployment ticks UP slightly (4 out of 6 elections). The best chance of Party control flipping is when the rate goes unchanged from four years before (3 out of 5 elections). Unemployment is a full point higher today (late October) than it was on Election Day four years ago when the Wall Street crash was just stretching its legs.
The GOP has alienated just about every minority group there is. Obama leads big among women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, The Poor, Gay-Americans, and the youth vote. The only group Romney leads big in is “White Men”. Amazingly, the “Kill Medicare” Team has the edge when it comes to seniors. And just as astonishing, the same “get-rid of Planned Parenthood, and make The Pill Unconstitutional” ticket is closing the gap among women… supposedly. Does that make sense to you? Of course not. It defies logic. So don’t you believe it.
Question: In what world does a candidate with this kind of Baggage seem likely to win:
- Remember Rick Perry’s friend, Pastor Jeffress who called “Mormonism a cult”? It’s difficult to imagine a massive outpouring of support for Mitt Romney among Evangelicals that rivals Obama’s support among African-Americans, though we are talking about a group of people that think everything Jesus stood for (caring for the sick & the poor, shunning wealth, and paying your taxes) are all Socialism: the greatest evil perpetrated upon the Earth since Hitler! So it might come as no surprise that Jeffress would abandon his principles and endorse the Mormon Bishop he called a “conservative out of convenience” just one year ago, over the black guy.
- Newt Gingrich… a paragon of virtue himself… who flat out called Mitt “a liar” during the GOP debates last year, and produced a 30 minute infomercial trashing Romney’s “Vulture Capitalism” in “King of Bain” (no longer online), is now one of Romney’s biggest supporters. On ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, Gingrich claimed Obama would “LOVE to have Romney’s job creation record [as governor]” (MA was 47th in the nation in job creation under Romney, #1 in public debt), with a ”bi-partisan record” of working with a legislature that was 85% Democratic (Romney vetoed over 800 bills, 700 of which were overturned by the legislature). Give President Obama an 85% Democratic Congress and let’s see how he does.
- Which would YOU choose? The man who ended the war in Iraq, got Qadaffy & bin Laden (both for less than the cost of one-week in Iraq), vs the guy that said “we left Iraq too soon”, says he wants to add $2-TRILLION to the Defense Budget, and is threatening war with Syria & Iran?
- A MASSIVE flip-flopper that changes positions with the crowd he faces (which, as former McCain co-chair Nicole Wallace explained is why “we liked him [in that first debate]!”)
- A candidate that proposes a tax plan that NO non-partisan authority has yet said will work (and even PARTISAN sources supporting Romney’s tax plan can’t make it work without taxing the Middle Class). All the while that same candidate steadfastly refuses to release his own tax returns prior to when he decided to run for president to reveal how his tax policies might benefit him personally (and from the two we HAVE seen, we find he has tax shelters all over the world in which he’s hid millions of dollars to avoid taxation… possibly even illegally… and now reports that Romney may be hiding his tax returns because he may have directly profited off the auto-bailout he so scorns by as much as $115 Million dollars).
- Owner of a “Dressage horse”? Really folks-who-trashed-John-Kerry as an “elitist” for Wind Surfing?
- If you loved Bush’s foreign policy, you’ll love Mitt! Despite the fact he claimed to agree with President Obama on just about every issue where President Obama spoke first during Debate #3,
17 of Romney’s 24 Foreign Policy Advisorsare from the Bush Administration. Most recently, Romney added General Tommy Franks, the man behind the Iraq debacle, as his military advisor.
- Romney courts the “Birther” crowd and sought the all-important Donald Trump endorsement.
- Romney protested in SUPPORT of the Vietnam War, then obtained a deferment available only to Mormons in order to dodge the draft to be a missionary in France.
- Keep in mind that while Romney “won” the first debate basically by lying through his teeth and disavowing every position he had campaigned on for the past 20 months, Team Obama won the remaining three Presidential debates.
And seriously, when did the GOP become our Fallback position? How does a Party screw up THAT bad, openly announce that their “#1 priority” is to obstruct every thing the President does for the next four years, and when Democrats don’t fix the Republicans’ mess “fast enough”, people are racing to REWARD that obstruction and put the Party that created this mess back in power just four short years later? Sorry, I refuse to believe this country is so easily duped (or has the memory of a goldfish).
Two weeks before the election, the Romney campaign is STILL sending Ryan to red states for fundraising less than two weeks before the election? You don’t do that when you’re winning.
And what about this? The Romney Campaign doctored a photo (badly) of a Nevada campaign event last week to make the crowd look twice as large as it actually was. You don’t do that when you’re winning either.
The fact that some people are arguing “what is the role of government” as the basis for how they’ll vote this November, THAT’S A WIN! Why? Because we’re not talking about “war” or “losing 800,000 jobs a month”. If your focus this election is on esoteric things like “the proper role of government”, then the president is doing a damn good job. Remember, the last guy failed to prevent the most devastating terrorist attack in American history, quadrupled the price of oil, tripled the price of gas, launched America’s first unprovoked war against what turned out to be an unarmed country in a war based on lies, and crashed the global economy.
So when you hear all the pundits citing polls claiming this race is “neck & neck”, or Conservative pundits predicting a “huge” win for Mitt Romney, don’t you believe it. There’s not an ounce of evidence to support it… not even anecdotal.
PS: Just to let everyone know, I was recently tapped to be the newest contributing editor for “Crooks & Liars”. Despite this, Mugsy’s Rap Sheet will remain my primary focus, providing me with more editorial freedom and the ability to go into issues in much greater detail than I ever could under C&L’s rapid-fire high-turnover format. But I do encourage you to drop by C&L frequently for breaking updates. Look for posts “by Mugsy”, that’s me.
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