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Did Bain Make A Difference?

by Stuart Shapiro

The past two weeks have been enjoyable for supporters of President Obama like myself.  Governor Romney has been on the defensive about his years at Bain and the Obama campaign has put out a series of effective ads.  The punditocracy declared the week a win for Obama.  But will it  make a difference in November?  Matthew Dickinson (a former professor of mine) is skeptical:

The bigger reason, however, is that most voters have already made up their mind regarding who they will support, and those that haven’t aren’t really paying close attention to Bain. According to the Times survey, 38% of those surveyed are paying “some” attention to the race, while another 14% are paying “not much” and 3% “none”.

Nate Silver’s model tends to agree:

National tracking polls moved toward President Obama, a set of state polls produced mixed but mostly unremarkable results, and the stock market was down on renewed investor concerns about Europe, lowering our economic index. Add it all up, and our model shows little change: Mr. Obama’s chances of winning the Electoral College are 67.2 percent, versus 66.7 percent on Thursday.

There are only a few moments in a campaign that make a big difference, the conventions (possibly) and the debates, and maybe a major news event or two.  If an election is razor close (meaning Bush-Gore close), then controversies like Bain may make a difference.  But usually the controversy of the week is just noise.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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