Posted by | August 25, 2012 12:40 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Well I go away for a week and not much changes in the presidential race (well except for the Akin-created Obama surge in Missouri).  In light of the rarely moving polls, Chalie Cook wonders why, given the economy, Romney isn’t doing better.

…it is puzzling, to say the least, why polls show President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck. Incumbents generally don’t get reelected with numbers like we are seeing today.

Matt Dickinson responds that Cook is looking at the wrong economic numbers but that the race is very close.

As I noted in an earlier post, based on second quarter GDP growth numbers alone, history suggests Obama will win a smidgen more than 50% of the two-party popular vote.  True, this doesn’t indicate a landslide victory for Obama, but neither does it suggest Romney should be winning this race, despite Cook’s assertion to the contrary.  Of course, 2nd quarter GDP growth alone doesn’t explain everything about an election outcome.  But if even you include other factors, such as Obama’s current approval rating and the fact that he’s an incumbent, history still gives Obama a slight advantage in the popular vote

I think that is mostly right.  However I think the other factor that is the weak position Romney has put himself in to take advantage of the economy’s weakness.  He spent four years changing every position he’d taken to win the Republican primary.  Now that he has solidified his base with the choice of Rep. Ryan, he finds it hard to woo moderates he needs to win in November.  The big question on the eve of the convention is will he flip-flop again, or will he lose one of his best chances to make up ground with the center of the electorate?

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: 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.