Democratic National Primary Prediction

04Aug12

My prediction last December, before the Republican primaries began, was that Mitt Romney would win the nomination and would defeat Barack Obama in the general election in November 2012, due to Obama’s problems on the economic front.  Romney did win, and Obama is now in serious trouble according to certain economic predictors.  On that, I was correct.

And yet, according to Gallup polls, Obama is presently a couple points ahead.  Pew and NBC polls put him six to ten points ahead; Rasmussen puts him one point behind.  So far, then, the economy does not appear to be a solid predictor.  In addition, history suggests that the leader on August 1 will be the winner in November.  That same history also indicates that the percentages can shift substantially, however.  This particular predictor does not seem reliable.  November is a very different time from August.  On these matters, I continue to think the economy will be determinant.  My bet is that Romney will find a way to make it count against Obama.

I also speculated, last December, that Obama would be in such a poor position, by now, that he would choose not to run again, leaving Hillary Clinton as the leading candidate.  That was clearly wrong.  Some of it was due to my own wishful thinking where Hillary is concerned, but the main point was that I bet that, by August 2012, Romney would look vastly better than Obama, and that proved not to be the case.  Granted, August is not over yet, but Romney definitely has his work cut out for him.  (I suppose it is possible that Romney does have a lot more ammunition, but is saving it until Obama gets through the primary, so as not to have to hit a moving target.)

By the way, I don’t have unalloyed love for Hillary Clinton.  I think her time has come, and I think she is ready.  The rest of my opinion on her can wait.  It may be moot, and it can still be shaped.

This past March, I revisited the topic.  I suggested, at that point, that Romney would need a sharp rise in revolutionary sentiment if he was to upend Obama, and moreover that, as a Wall Street suit, he was not the ideal candidate for revolutionary times.  He continues to leave people cold in both parties.  Romney does not appear capable of getting beyond this kind of deficit.  Ironically, since the poor economy is not defeating Obama, it could even be possible that a suit like Romney would look more familiar — that we could party like it’s 1985 — if the economy did improve.

My March post still held onto the idea that Obama might bow out.  The rationale at that point was that he doesn’t actually seem very interested in politics, and there would be other opportunities he might find more appealing.  Perhaps getting closer to the roots of my Hillary prediction, I expressed bafflement that someone who seems so aloof from so much of his job would want to remain in it.  I realized, then and now, that ego would call for such a choice where personality might not.  But anyway, all signs are that Obama is in the race for sure, and so I was still wrong about that in March.

The other thing I predicted in March — the idea that I had been carrying since the Democratic primaries in spring 2008 — was that Obama and Hillary had a deal that would ultimately put her in high office.  The Secretary of State gig may have been as far as any such understanding went.  But, in perhaps another bout of wishful thinking, I speculated that Obama would at least make Hillary his vice president at September’s convention, and that this may have been a long time in coming.  I said that Obama would win with Hillary, and would lose without her.  Given my bet about the economy (above), that still seems accurate.

I have not previously paid much attention to the prediction market.  Wikipedia names several, including Betfair, Iowa Electronic Markets, and Intrade.  Without an attempt to understand precisely how they work, it appears that Iowa and Intrade are both favoring Obama at this time.  In addition, Intrade heavily favors Joe Biden over Hillary Clinton as vice presidential nominee.

I have to assume that Obama would not give Biden any inkling of any plan to the contrary, for fear of Biden’s famously loose lips.  Indeed, I doubt that Obama would mention any plan involving Hillary to any more than one or two close friends, up to the last minute.  So if he wants to make a big splash and/or to minimize Romney’s window for organization and attack, it seems that this Hillary plan would not materialize until the convention itself.

It would be risky for Obama to ignite the old Republican excitement about the Clintons.  The question seems to be whether she would bring more votes to the Republicans or to the Democrats.  My sense at this point is that female independents interested in a female vice president would outnumber rabid Clinton-hating Republicans who were not otherwise inclined to vote for Romney and/or against Obama.  So at this writing it still seems that Obama would be wise to invite Hillary.  It still seems to have the potential to make the difference.

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