Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election 2012: Thoughts on the Morning After

I have already noted my chagrin about my conclusions about how the election was to go last night, and have placed myself in line with so many others.  With a defeat such as this at a time like now, the Republicans' retrospective and recovery will have to be thorough and in some cases painful, in order to regain their position on the right side of our country’s heritage, holding against those whose only standards are the ones that 'evolve' to their benefit (thus no real standards at all, in the end).

Obama has gained a triumph, but not a mandate.  His campaign was successful precisely in the exact electoral spots where it needed to be, but the split in the voters is still right down to the wire, and Romney still has a theoretical chance of winning the popular vote – for what it's worth – as the totals continue to trickle in. 

Nothing has changed as far as the relationship with Congress.  The House is still comfortably in the hands of the Republicans, still at a 242-193 split.  The Senate is still controlled by the Democrats, and now at 55-45 after a couple of previously comfortable Republican challengers uttered inane comments about rape and pregnancy.  Unless something drastic happens, we are in for four more years of the same disastrous economic outlook, and I note that on the opening bell this morning, the Dow Jones immediately dropped 200 points and is currently down 350.

Obama’s victory speech had some nice words, but many made no sense when compared with reality.  He reprised his line about 'no blue states, no red states, just the United States', how we are 'all Americans together', but this is after an election which counted on dividing us more than ever along race, gender and now class lines.  Soaking the 'millionaires and billionaires', which will gain a very minor fraction of the money we are begging from China or printing out of thin air, will destroy the hopes and plans of the small businessmen and -women (the real targets) upon whom we depend to pull us out of this morass.  We will be more French than ever, with an economic plan that will be more Greek as time passes.

His opening words of his victory speech strike me in the same way as his call to "fundamentally transform" America four years ago – how the "task of perfecting our union moves forward".  He is already on record about how the Founding Fathers were inadequate in writing the Constitution, how they "designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”  This echoes his comments about how "the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties . . . but doesn’t say what the Federal government or the State government must do on your behalf . . . [in order to] bring about redistributive change."  The Republic ignores his words at our peril.

Returning to my observation of Obama's triumph – the Roman procession from which it derives its name (perhaps 'ovation' would be a better term) was a formal parade organized so as to display the captives of a returning victorious general and tumultuously celebrate his victory.  There was always a servant in the chariot with the victor, reminding him throughout the procession that all glory is fleeting.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Prediction: Romney Will Take It [and Dewey Defeats Truman]

I don’t have time for a nicely laid-out graphic map of the final red vs blue states in this election, and I am unfortunately ensconced away from the media in a 'secure location', but I wanted to pin down my expectations about the election results before the preliminary figures start rolling tonight.

My prediction is based on the substantial lead that Republicans have over Democrats in enthusiasm for their party and their likelihood of voting.  That is a difficult idea to apply to real results but that will be a major factor in the election.  Likewise, I continue to believe that the Bradley Factor in polling – a tendency for respondents to reply in favor of a minority candidate so as not to appear politically incorrect to a pollster, but voting otherwise at the ballot box – will play a part as well.  That surge of self-satisfaction for voting for Obama because of his symbolic nature has now passed, and people that had been attuned to that are now ready to move on to a more realistic assessment.  For that reason, the Bradley Factor will play an even more important role in this particular election.

The MSM has portrayed Obama’s ace in the hole in his foreign policy, centered around his incessant claim of having killed bin Laden.  Yes, bin Laden is dead but so is Ambassador Stevens, but we are seeing the unraveling of Libya, Syria self-immolating, Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon, Israel practically abandoned, an al Qaeda that is not only still very much alive but gaining in strength, and so on.  His claim to have ‘ended’ the war in Iraq is based entirely on the agreement from the Bush administration, and Obama managed to mess that up by abandoning any attempt to secure a status of forces agreement.  In Afghanistan, we are slowly bleeding support away from our troops still left there for another two years, with a resurgent Taliban moving back in.  Voters are seeing this.

The economy has never been Obama’s strong suit and he will suffer for that.

His campaign received a reprieve from his steady decline due to the intervention of Hurricane Sandy, which has received fairly neutral press in contrast to the howls about Katrina.  It has nevertheless distracted the press (many would think willfully) from having to address the news about the Libya debacle and the non-response by the White House to calls for help, and other news that was seeing momentum in favor of Romney, like the increase in the unemployment rate back up to 7.9%.

But that addresses the national figures.  More important is the Electoral College.

Just working off of the swing states, my read at this point is that Florida (29 votes) and North Carolina (15) easily go to Romney.  In the ‘toss-up/too close to call’ category, I predict that, based on the early turn-out numbers in New Hampshire (4) which are enormous, that Romney will take that state too, though I admit that is pretty bold.  Virginia (13) will go to Romney because of the large military presence there, affected by Obama’s almost cheerful expectation that defense spending will take an additional enormous cut, particularly with his comments about the Navy in the last debate.  (I look to see the numbers in Connecticut (7), home of Electric Boat and ancillary companies, to sharply narrow as well.)  Iowa (6) will be in Romney’s column too, having seen the top five newspapers strongly endorse Romney.  Wisconsin’s (10) experience of the last two years in defeating the union counter-attack will carry it to support Romney, over and above the fact that it's Ryan's home state.  Colorado (9) is tight but will go with Romney in the end.

That gives Romney 277 Electoral College votes, and that is without the support of Pennsylvania (20), which I believe to be in play, and Ohio (18).  This is probably willful on my part, since I am sick to death of hearing about how nothing can happen without the concurrence of Ohio.  I would love to put that beast to rest.  Likewise Nevada (5) has seen a scathing editorial in the last few days against Obama; it looked pretty close when I was there a few weeks ago, and that might put it over the top.

Final answer, and that's a conservative estimate.  With New York and New Jersey in electoral turmoil, and the army of lawyers lining up for come what may, the dust won’t settle for while yet unless it’s a blow-out.  Don't rely on exit polls; if they were accurate, John Kerry would have won in 2004.  So I don’t expect to see the final conclusion tonight, but I’m committed.

Update:  Disregard.

Well, in the immortal words of Governor Rick Perry -- oops.  If it's any consolation (and a vanishingly small one at that), I find myself in good company but I take responsibility for my conclusions.  There will be a lot of dissection of how it all went wrong, and that is for later.  The model for us was wrong, and I refuse to believe that the Democrats knew for certain what the outcome would be, but they certainly had the better structure and picked the message that worked for this election.

Back to work.  Pick up, dust off, dig in.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hundreds of Retired Generals and Admirals: "We proudly support Governor Mitt Romney ..."

I have been otherwise occupied in this run-up to the election, including being occupied with the election itself, but this item draws me back to my web log to pass along.

The Obama campaign and the MSM (but I repeat myself) have greatly touted yesterday’s endorsement of Obama by retired General Colin Powell.  As far as official endorsements go, that makes for a grand total of five retired flag officers who have endorsed Obama.  That would include General Wesley Clark (no surprise there), Major General Paul Eaton (USA, former Deputy CoS for TRADOC and member of the ‘progressive’ VoteVets), VADM Donald Gutter (USN, former Judge Advocate General), and ADM John Nathman (USN, former Vice CNO, who appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention standing tall before an immense photo of the proud ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet). 

I should be fair and add the presumptive endorsement of General ‘Tony’ McPeak (USAF), who was very public about his endorsement of Obama in 2008.  (McPeak’s main accomplishment as Air Force Chief of Staff was to change the uniform.  It was promptly changed back by his successor.)  But no, it is said that his decision to back Obama has caused him “regret and mental anguish”.

So, how many retired flag officers have endorsed Mitt Romney for President?  As of today, based on the full-page ad in the Washington Times paid for by the signatories and organised by the Washington Free Beacon, that total would be 500.  That’s right – five hundred retired flag officers from all the services have publically endorsed Mitt Romney.  (The list is separate from and not affiliated with the Romney campaign.)  The list includes General Tommy Franks, (commander of CENTCOM during the Second Iraq War), and General Hugh Shelton (former Chairman JCS – same as Powell – under President Clinton and who previously endorsed Hillary Clinton).

I personally know of a few who would not endorse anyone because of a sense of professionalism (Teed, are you out there?), though I would respectfully disagree in the case of military retirees commenting on military subjects.  I have to expect that that would swing both ways, but the ratio likely indicates a similar preponderance of sentiment in favor of Romney through all the ranks. 

It’s nice that the New York Times went to bat for the idea that military endorsements “hold greater benefits” for the Democrats (the article mentions only ADM Nathman, without the embarrassing endorsement of a strong post-Soviet navy), but considering the staggering 100 to 1 ratio, it is hard to imagine how great a benefit that would be.

This list comes out after a Military Times poll that puts active military support for Governor Romney at a 2 to 1 advantage over Obama.