For all of the splash created by the two recent high-profile Supreme Court decisions (upholding of the Affordable Care Act & striking down much of the Arizona immigration law), this election is still about the economy.
I ran across an interesting blog post by Daniel Drezner, a political science professor and think-tanker who specializes in foreign policy. Based on his experiences with international business leaders, Drezner says that the rest of the world expects President Obama to win the election easily. Drezner thinks their expectations are built on four observations (from FP, it’s worth reading)
1) The U.S. economy is outperforming almost every other developed economy in the world;
2) They assume that in times of uncertainty, Americans will prefer the devil they know rather than the devil they don’t;
3) President Obama’s foreign policies seem pretty competent;
4) Mitt Romney’s policy proposals either seemed really super-vague (this will be an American Century) or, when specific (designating China as a currency manipulator) made him seem like an out-of-date clown.
It’s interesting to me how tone-deaf Americans are to the rest of the planet. How had I never had the thought that the U.S. economy was outperforming the rest of the world? Republicans seem confident that they will win on the economy. But if what Drezner says is true, D’s can win on that issue if they can expand the discussion to include the rest of the world. Continued slow growth in the U.S. economy over the summer plays into the administration’s narrative that current economic growth is based on real economic change. D’s are pounding the “real change takes time” narrative, and it seems to be working. As Europe continues to struggle, I think we will see the President Obama’s campaign putting the U.S. economy into an international context. They don’t call it a global financial crisis for nothing, and Americans can never resist the chance to feel superior to the rest of the world. It might work for them.
One thing is for sure. Gay Marriage, abortion, ACA, immigration, education – they don’t really matter. Even the deficit won’t matter because, for the most part it’s only the same 25-30% of hardened republicans who care about it. This election, as is always the case, is about the economy. As long as the economy continues to improve – even slowly – President Obama will win. If the U.S. economy experiences a set-back this summer – especially in comparison to the rest of the world – Romney has a real shot. (although Citizen’s United could be a game changer – we don’t know what impact it will have).
Here’s an interesting look at polling data from a ton of different sources ranking the issues which drive our voting:
I care most deeply about economic/social justice and the growing gap between the rich and poor. Then immigration, healthcare, the war in Afghanistan, the deficit, jobs, and energy.
What issues drive your voting?
Follow Me on Twitter: @Tim_Suttle