Posted by | September 25, 2012 12:32 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Over a year ago, I posted on the problem of using analogies to past presidential elections to predict the next one.  In the wake of Nate Silver’s outstanding “state of the race” column, it is worth revisiting some of the elections most commonly cited as precedents for 2012.  Each side has one example it likes to trot out.

1980:  The GOP is putting all their hopes here.  A Democratic incumbent is trounced by a Republican challenger amidst troubling economic times.  With each passing day, this analogy loses power. Unlike this election Carter and Reagan seesawed in the polls and there were a high number of undecided voters who ended up breaking for Reagan.  Obama has led Romney throughout and there are few undecideds for Romney to sway (and he needs almost all of them).  Finally, I remember Ronald Reagan;, I worried about Ronald Reagan; Mitt Romney, you are no Ronald Reagan.

2004 This one, which the Democrats have modeled their campaign on, is closer to reality but still flawed.  An incumbent despised by the opposition is faced with a challenger from Massachusetts vulnerable to challenges of flip-flopping.  Like Bush, Obama is solidly ahead in the race at this point.  Romney could hope for a Kerry-like surge, but even that, of course, fell short.  And while I think Romney will perform better in the debates than people expect, Obama is a much stronger debater than Bush was. (The debates fueled Kerry’s last minute challenge.)

As I’ve said before, this race is not over.  But even Governor Christie knows who is in the better position right now.

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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.