Three Reasons Why I Think Romney Will Win in November

I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I think that Romney is the best thing to happen to America. He has not committed to seriously cut spending, he’s been pandering to his social conservative base so much we can’t expect improvements on that front, and I don’t expect him to end the wars. But, when I look at the data out there, I think that he will win the election in November. Not handily, not by a landslide, but it will be a win.

My reasoning comes down to three points:

  1. It’s the Economy, Stupid
  2. Majority of Americans Opposed to Big Government
  3. Obama’s Support Fading

It’s the Economy, Stupid: This one is fairly simple. The economy is in tatters. Roughly 13 million Americans are out of work. The unemployment numbers are just horrific for recent college graduates, one of the biggest support groups for Obama ‘08, half of whom can’t find work. Obama’s stimulus programs have been abject failures. But there’s one datapoint in particular that has only started getting attention recently.

That’s the “civilian labor force participation rate.” Essentially, the civilian LFPR is the percentage of Americans who are either working or are unemployed but are looking for work. That means that if you’re not sending out job applications and have given up, well, congratulations—you’re no longer unemployed! (At least in the minds of the analytical mentats of the Bureau for Labor Statistics.)

For many reasons, the LPFR (try saying that five time fast) is the magic number upon which all other unemployment figures rest. Everything is more or less predicated upon what happens with this number. If it stays low—meaning more people are giving up and not even trying to find work—the unemployment number stays low or even declines. Of course, the Obama Administration would then take these numbers and say “Oh, look, we’ve dealt with unemployment, the country is in recovery.” Yet, obviously, with people still not drawing paychecks, that would be no recovery at all.¬†Conversely, if the LPFR goes up, the unemployment rate rises, and Romney can use it to hammer Obama on the economy and lost jobs. So how is it looking?LPFR_May2012

As you can see, quite awful. It’s this reason—and this reason alone—that liberal rhetoric to the effect of “Oh, well Obama is doing so great with the economy and he’s overseeing a recovery because unemployment is down” worked for the first few years of this recession. People saw the unemployment rate go down and figured it was working out, because the everyday truth that was around them hadn’t settled in. Well, it’s been about four years now, and the truth has settled in.

With the slight uptick last month of 0.2%, it led to an increase in the unemployment rate. It might become a trend—then again, it may not—and if it does it would spell pretty much doom for the Obama campaign. Imagine going into the polls that Tuesday in November when the night before the news reported that the October unemployment rate was 9.5% (or maybe even higher).

Thus, the magic number of the LPFR is what this election may end up hinging upon. I hope that it really is not the only thing—we have many different and very imporant matters before us as American voters—but c’est la vie.

Majority of Americans Opposed to Big Government: Yes, yes, we constantly hear that although Americans are opposed to big government, they still want their handouts and their own pet programs. Fine. That much is true. But it still cannot be denied at this point that the majority of Americans—the vast majority—are fearful of Big Brother running their lives. Just check out this graph from Gallup, that one that Ezra Klein called “liberalism’s problem in one graph”:

In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future -- big business, big labor, or big government? 1965-2011 trend

For what it’s worth, Americans also seem to be—in general—fearful of such authoritarian laws such as the NDAA, SOPA, CISPA, the Patriot Act, and agencies like the TSA. (I am having trouble finding updated polling on those subjects, however.)

There’s also the 68% who want Obamacare overturned. That by itself could be an entire reason for why Obama’s campaign will fail—and I have no doubt that if the Supreme Court did so, even if it was just the individual mandate, it would spell disaster for the president’s reelection prospects.

Left-wing liberals, aka “social democrats,” aka “progressives,” have always claimed that they have the might of the people on their side, that they are the 99%. Well, no, actually, they’re not, and most Americans, if not outright conservative, are skeptical of having more government in their lives. That is going to work against Obama; if the economy was going swimmingly, it wouldn’t be that much, but since it’s in tatters, he’s going to be pushing against the current. And it’s going to be a very strong one at that.

Obama’s Support Fading: The president’s support was obviously never high among conservatives, and has plummeted among independents, but it appears to be going amongst the left and Democrats as well. Recently, Bill Clinton and Cory Booker have both broke from the administration’s rhetoric and actually have opposed its attack on the free market; although both have walked their stances back, they feel rather forced and unenthusiastic to me.

Then there’s the donor problem.

A great deal of Obama’s 2008 strength was that he had so many ordinary citizens donate to his campaign. Unfortunately, as Buzzfeed reported last week, that appears to be drying up. It’s so bad that 87% of his former donors have so far donated zip.

That’s not a joke, by the way. Almost nine in ten of his Obama’s supporters have been so demoralized they can’t even donate $200, which if you think about it, really isn’t a lot of money at all.

Heck, even the “Obama Girl” is saying she’s not as excited as she was last time, and has declined to endorse him a second time around. Ouch.

If Obama cannot generate even the enthusiasm among his base that he did four years ago, well, it’s not guaranteed that he’s toast, but it will be a lot harder to eke out a win. And with his sub-par approval numbers, he’s going to need every advantage and use every trick he has to win this one.

Put all three of these topics together—particularly the economy—and you have a situation that to me, looks like a win for Romney. Note I did not say a “guaranteed win,” an “easy win,” a “blowout,” a “landslide,” or anything like that. Make no mistake, this is going to be one helluva tight race and this atheist will be honest-to-God surprised if there isn’t some sort of recount or controversy a la Florida 2000. If the Romney team decides to take a break at any point, you can kiss the above analysis goodbye; it is only good as long as the Republicans keep at it full bore.

There are a couple of other things I have not mentioned yet, which I shall tackle briefly:

  • The Walker Effect: Many conservatives have crowed that Walker’s victory will mean victory in November. In short, this is bunk. The recall election in Wisconsin was basically a special election, and those have zero effect on the general election. (Remember those Democratic victories in those special elections some six months before the 2010 midterms? Yeah.) I don’t think anyone should be having the Wisconsin election as an indicator at all. There are many problems, not the least of which is that a huge chunk were not voting for Walker, but against the recall itself. Basically, you can ignore this.
  • The Johnson Effect: What effect Gary Johnson will have on the general election is completely unknown. However, if he can get into the debates, he will make a splash, and polls that include him are quite favorable. Will he win? Doubtful. But what he might be able to do—though I really have no idea—is pull enough disgruntled Democratic voters away from Obama to give Romney a victory in a few key states. Again, I’m not sure what will actually happen, which is why I’m leaving it off the main list. (That, and if it happened, it would lead to yet another aggravating round of “spoiler vote syndrome” crap and that would make me want to go out and stab someone. With a spoon. In the eye.)
In summary: I think Romney will win this year, for the combined reasons, but it is by no means guaranteed. We’re still six months out from the election and there are a ton of variables. And again, it’s not going to be a landslide—it will be close, no matter the final result. No one should be taking this race for granted.

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