miércoles, 25 de julio de 2012

Por qué 2012 no es como 2004

William Galston, del liberal The New Republic, pone en duda que esta sea una elección como la de 2004, como Team Obama pretende. La razón: que en aquella ocasión la elección giró en torno a los temas fuertes de Bush, y en esta el tema central es el talón de Aquiles del Presidente.

The emerging conventional wisdom among many Democrats takes the form of two equations: 2012 = 2004, and Bain = Swift Boats. There’s also a supporting narrative: The negative campaign against John Kerry fatally weakened his candidacy, securing the victory of an incumbent who could not have won based on his own record. And so, the idea goes, a president whose performance the public doesn’t much like can power his way to a narrow, less than pretty win by eviscerating his challenger.

But the evidence in favor of all of these propositions is remarkably thin. The basic structure of the 2004 campaign differed fundamentally from the one we’re now enduring. The available evidence suggests that even in the short-term, the attacks on Romney have been measurably less successful than were those on Kerry. And Obama’s supporters seem to have forgotten that the reason Bush prevailed was because enough Americans ended up approving of his record and leadership in the areas they cared about the most.

In 2012, there is a single dominant issue—the economy. The people are trying to decide whether Obama has managed our economic challenges well enough to deserve another four years and, if not, whether Romney’s economic experience and plans make him an acceptable alternative.

(...) The real story of the 2004 isn’t that attacks disqualified Kerry as a potential president—they didn’t—but rather that in the two months from Labor Day until the election, the incumbent persuaded just enough people that his record warranted reelection. (His unwavering support of the war in Iraq temporarily halted the erosion of public support for his decision, despite its unexpectedly difficult aftermath.) During that period, the right track/wrong track numbers moved up, and the public’s assessment of Bush’s record on foreign policy, the war in Iraq, and the economy all improved. On the eve of the election, his overall job approval averaged about 50 percent, up from less than 48 percent in mid-summer and closely predicting the 50.7 percent share of the popular vote that he received.

Obama now faces a similar task. In the fourteenth quarter of his presidency, which ended July 19, his job approval averaged 46.8 percent—a bit higher than Gerald Ford’s 46.0 percent in mid-1976, but more than a percentage point lower than Bush’s 47.9 percent. While inductive generalizations are not necessary truths, the fact remains that no incumbent has ever been reelected with a job approval below 50 percent. The most recent CBS/NYT survey illuminates the challenge Obama confronts. Not only is his job approval down to the levels of last fall and winter, before four months of good economic news pushed them up, but also other indicators—such as right track/wrong track and management of the economy--are moving in the wrong direction. The people have noticed the difference between 225 thousand new jobs per month and 75 thousand, and they’ve drawn the obvious inference: Only 24 percent of Americans think the economy is improving, down from 33 percent in April.

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