My 2012 Election Predictions at One Week Out

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The dynamics of this election have not changed very much since last week’s prediction, but I think some things are becoming clearer.

From 538 Blog

Does Romney have momentum?
The short answer is no. Obama’s support peaked on or around October 3rd – the day before the first presidential debate after which Romney experience a sharp jump in support. The Romney campaign rode a pretty good wave of momentum for a little over a week (about the time of the debate between Biden and Ryan). Romney’s support peaked on or around October 12th. Since that time Obama support has crept back up, perhaps as much as one point nationally and things returned to where they have been since early June. But none of this matters.

Probability goes with Obama. Voter turnout goes with Romney.


Ignore the national polls. They tell you nothing. National polling of likely voters doesn’t tell you anything either. All that matters is the Electoral College, which means the race comes down to Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada,  and Ohio. If the states break the way they are currently trending in state-wide polls, then the two biggest factors will be are Ohio and Virginia – probably in that order. Silver’s model looks not at poll numbers, but at probabilities, which is the only way to get some separation in a really tight race such as this one. The over/under in the diagram above looks to cut between Virginia and Florida.

Good News / Bad News

Good news for Romney: 1) things in Ohio look to be tightening, and 2) his base is much more enthused. This ensures a both a good voter turnout on Election Day and affords Romney the ability to keep running to the center.

Bad news for Romney: Romney failed to build on the momentum of the first debate and even at his peak date (Oct. 4th), his only path to victory goes through Ohio where he trails slightly.

Good news for Obama: The electoral math is much easier for the president. Even with Romney trending in Ohio, 538 Blog gives Obama a 73% chance there. If Romney can find a way to win Ohio, Obama is still doing well in Virginia (58%), and has several other paths to 270.

Bad news for Obama: Obama still lags in the enthusiasm category. His base is not even close to as fired up as they were in 2008. Women voters who vote in economic issues are leaning Romney, and the challenger seem most likely to win the turnout war.

The Prognosticators
Voter Turnout still looks to be the key. This pits pro-Romney/con-Obama enthusiasts against Obama’s potent get out the vote machine. Real Clear Politics has Romney ahead, based on their practice of averaging different polls (which can be dubious), and giving the turnout edge to Romney.

538 Blog is still the place to look to, in my opinion, because Nate Silver’s model is the best. He predicted all but one state correctly in 2008, and did very well in the 2010 mid-term elections as well. Although, Dylan Byers gave a pretty scathing attempt at a take-down this week at Politico, with some interesting facts, Byers failed to give a viable alternative to 538. As of today, Silver gives Obama the edge at 72.9% chance of winning, down today from 74.4% yesterday, and Romney a 27.1% chance of winning. Intrade calls the race at 63%/37%.

I think the most likely scenario continues to be:
Romney gets: Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Iowa // 263 Electoral Votes
Obama gets: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio // 275 Electoral Votes

2nd most likely scenario:
With the above scenario all you have to do is flip Ohio and Romney wins fairly big.
Romney gets: Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio // 281 Electoral Votes
Obama gets: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio // 257 Electoral Votes

If you go on 538’s straight up statistical probabilities the race goes:
Romney: Florida//248 Electoral Votes
Obama: Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Ohio// 290 Electoral Votes

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • scott stone

    My guess is that Obama wins by the narrowest of margins but I believe the electoral vote won’t reflect the popular vote. I think Romney may actually carry the popular vote but lose in the electoral college.
    What this will leave us with is a mess for four more years and beyond. This campaign, and the results of next Tuesday will confirm how polarized we truly are. I personally don’t think either of these two men have the ability to move us beyond our own insecurities and biases. Neither of them are true leaders. Like you said, we are voting for Pharaoh. It doesn’t matter if Pharaoh has a D or an R after his name.
    The one caveat to my prediction is that Romney actually wins big. If he carries Ohio I think he will carry many more of those battleground states. I’m not complaining, like so many R’s have been doing, but if you look at the internals of ALL of the polls you will see that they over sample democrats by 3-9%. It is there in black and white for you to look at.
    NPR Poll 45D 41R
    Pew 33D 28R
    ABC/Wash Post 35D 28R
    Politico 44D 41R
    AP 47D 38R
    Makes me wonder what the real results will look like.

    • Tim Suttle

      Hey Scott, Yeah I think that the nature of polling is biased. The reason I like 538 is because he corrects for any bias he can find. He also weights polling according to methodology. My gut tells me Obama gets a narrow win, but I would not be at all surprised if the polls are all off on the D’s side & Romney is actually 4-5% up in a majority of the swing states right now. I also think it’s absolutely possible that it will all come down to Ohio, and it could be too close to call – setting us up for a hanging chad recount fiasco with John Roberts picking the next president.

      • scott stone

        Since we are just having fun and talking weird scenarios, here’s my favorite.. 269/269. R maintain control of the house and they pick Romney. D maintain the senate and they pick Biden. Yeah…Romney/Biden all the way!

  • Claude

    I personally don’t think either of these two men have the ability to move us beyond our own insecurities and biases.

    Could you explain what you mean by this?

    Also, there is a profound difference between Obama and Romney. It does matter which party agenda they represent!

    Finally, just an anecdotal observation: Obama supporters on the ground are plenty enthusiastic. Not sure where this enthusiastic gap meme is coming from.

    • scott stone

      Hello Claude,
      I was this weird kid that went and saw Jimmy Carter campaign when I was 12 years old when he was running against Ford. I’ve been somewhat of a political junky ever since (that or a political idiot.) My thought on both of these gentlemen is that neither of them has the skill set to get us beyond the position we currently find ourselves in.
      Let’s take a bite out of Romney first. I think he has some great managerial skills and probably could function as a great manager of the nation. The problem is we are not in a position just to be managed. We’ve got some serious issues to contend with and I don’t think he has the ability to lead us. We are all going to have to experience some pain in the future to get this ship righted but Romney isn’t the type to tell us what we need to hear. He also seems to have multiple positions on just about every issue. That’s not leadership.
      Obama on the other hand was never ready to be president. He’s not an empty suit but he doesn’t have what it takes to be an effective president. There is nothing in his background that would indicate that he had the necessary skills to pull us out of the gulf we find ourselves in. The myth of Obama is just that, a myth. He had very little experience and is shows. He has great oratory skills but words on a page can’t jump off and lead us to where we need to be.
      I could get specific and talk tax policy and such but that’s a bit boring. One only has use some critical thinking skills to see that neither of these guys can lead. We have a 50/50 nation and I think it’s been that way for decades. I’d say 25% on each side are dug in. A great president can move the center. Regardless of what your position is on Reagan, he carried 49 states in ’84. We’ll be a 50/50 nation after this election is over and that is an indictment of both candidates.
      One other quick note. Their agendas may be different but the impact is marginal. Neither of them have grand, bold visions.

  • Claude

    Thanks, I appreciate the reply. I disagree with you about Obama (not sure what the “myth” is, really). I do agree that he was a bit inexperienced when he first assumed office, but he’s been president for a full term, for heaven’s sake. Obama was able to accomplish a surprising amount considering the intransigence of Republicans in Congress, who abdicated their responsibility to govern in favor of waging political war on the president. It’s simply not true that he’s been ineffective or that his reforms will be “marginal.” Obamacare, restructuring the school loan system, Lily Ledbetter, finance industry reform, end of Iraq occupation, upcoming end of Afghanistan occupation, end of Osmaa bin Laden all have profound implications for the country. I will also note that the economy is slowly but surely improving, and that alone is an achievement considering the country was facing a possible second Depression when Obama assumed office.

    I don’t know if anyone could overcome an electorate polarized by decades of propaganda. Sentiments like he has great oratory skills but words on a page can’t jump off and lead us to where we need to be have little to with the record. I don’t expect the president to reconcile me with my ideological foes. I expect him to govern with good judgment, and that is what Obama has done.

    I was neutral about the Romney before this year, but his behavior has been appalling and unbefitting a head of state. Based on his pandering to the most retrograde and radicalized elements of the Republican party, I’d expect him to be a weak and potentially disastrous president like Bush 43. The country can’t afford that risk.

    • scott stone

      Claude,
      The myth is that he was different than anything we had ever seen in politics. He was “the one.” Evan Thomas of Newsweek stated that he was “God like.” We were electing a man that would usher in a post-racial, post-partisan era. Remember, the seas were going to recede. We were told that Obama was so much better than anyone who came before him. That’s the myth and unfortunately there are many who still believe it.
      I’m not a huge fan of Romney, I just think Obama is just another pol. Here is just a quick example. The central tenet of the Obama economic doctrine is tax policy. We need to raise taxes on the rich back to Clinton era rates. He and Biden speak about this one economic metric more than any other. Let me state for the record as I have before that I don’t have a problem with this. The problem is that this won’t amount to a hill of beans. According to Obama himself, and anyone else who is knowledgeable about economic policy, restoring rates to the pre-Bush position will generate approximately $780B over 10 years. That’s about $80B a year. FY2012 ended with a $1.1T deficit. This tax increase will reduce the deficit to $1.02T. That’s quite an economic plan.
      So there are only two positions you can take. Either Obama is really stupid and doesn’t realize that his plan won’t do much (I’m not a proponent of this position) or he is just another pol and using class warfare as so many do to drive a wedge between people.
      There are so many examples where Obama has proved to be no better than anyone else who has assumed the office. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy. I’m just saying he isn’t as special as we were told.
      Leaders lead. I’m tired of the excuses. It’s Bush’s fault. It’s Boehner’s fault. It’s McConnell’s fault. Come on, you have to admit that that isn’t very presidential.

  • http://pop will

    why do we even worry about presidential elections when we keep the same ole politics in the office, some for 20 plus years. every one wants to get pissed off at the president every time something gets vetoed. theres nothing he can do if we keep the same ole politics in office year after year. i have a unique point of view on this. look at it this was. ok for example, if you want to keep you car running good your gonna get a oil change every so many miles right? so why not, when we vote for new presidents, change the oil- change out the politics that have been in their for years and years vetoing every good thing that a new president wants to pass. give a president a chance and get all them darn politician out of offices, its time for an oil change people. you want change thats where its truly gonna start. if not the president is as useless as the Queen of England, no offense. its true though. lets make a change this time people, open your eyes and help change the oil. feel free to copy and paste this every where.

  • Claude

    First, I forgot another important Obama achievement that will have a profound effect on the future of the country, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

    As for the “myth,” conservatives are far more engrossed by it than liberals: no actual Obama supporter I know ever has or now thinks of him in exalted terms. I’d never heard that idiotic remark by Evan Thomas. I do think there was hope that we could break partisan gridlock; not so much because Obama became president as because the country was in a terrible crisis, and it was inconceivable that Congress wouldn’t rally on behalf of all Americans. But the inconceivable happened. I will never forget how the Republicans were too obsessed with driving Obama out of office to concentrate on enabling the country to recover from a massive economic meltdown. It was criminal and a travesty; I will tell my grandchildren about it.

    Needless to say, Obama doesn’t think raising tax rates to Clinton-era levels will solve the deficit problem! He has said as much. It’s become a prominent feature of Obama’s campaign rhetoric because there is going to be a big showdown over the Bush tax cuts after the election. The majority of Americans believe that the rich should pay higher taxes, but they are also made uneasy by this culture war nonsense about “class warfare.” It’s one of those memes that right-wing propaganda has normalized in political rhetoric, but sorry, letting the budget-busting Bush tax cuts expire doesn’t cut it as “class warfare.” There has been a huge surge in wealth concentrated in a tiny economic elite, and increasingly dramatic income inequality in this country has created a host of problems that are ultimately deleterious for the wealthy themselves.

    Why does Obama have to be “special”? Isn’t it enough that he navigated the country out of disaster, that he’s respected abroad, that he’s enacted historic health care reform, that we are approaching the end of a decade of war, that he finally, finally succeeded in tracking down US Public Enemy #1. I’m interested by how casually you trivialize these accomplishments. It is you who are making excuses not to credit Obama where credit is due. Why is that?

    • scott stone

      Hello Claude,

      Please don’t get the impression that I’m bagging on Obama without any substance to my position. You seem to be taking this a bit to personally. I stated earlier that I think he is a good man and that I don’t have warm feeling regarding Romney. I firmly believe that we are better off with Obama in the White House than we would have been if McCain had won. I’m just pointing out that I don’t think he has been a very effective president because he lacks the skill set. That’s not a knock on him. 99.9999% of us don’t have the skill set to be president and that’s not an insult.
      I will take issue with some of your points however. I mentioned earlier that there is a policy difference between the two men but the impact would be marginal. I get the feeling you don’t see it that way. Here is where I think you are misguided. Your first statement reads, “First, I forgot another important Obama achievement that will have a profound effect on the future of the country, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” While applaud the president (see, I do give him credit where credit is due) for overturning the Clinton position, a position that I completely think was boneheaded, this will certainly not have a “profound effect on the future of the country.” According to NPR 0.65% of all Americans serve in the military. Best estimates by ABC and Gallup have the gay population at about 3.5%. You are looking at maybe .002% of the population being gay and serving in the military. Once again, I’m glad DADT was repealed but to say it will have a profound impact is just not reasonable.
      Back to the “myth” comments. I’m sorry but your are completely mistaken. All you need to do is spend some time reviewing the climate during the last election. It is there in black and white. People and the press were saying that Obama has “messianic” qualities. You’ve got people in the press still saying that his IQ may be close to 180. That’s not a knock on him I’m just saying we as Americans were sold a bill of goods. He is an average president, like most presidents are. This love affair many on the left have with Obama is a bit uncomfortable.
      I know that much has been made about McConnell stating that his mission was to make Obama a one term president and I’m repulsed at the statement. But if you think that Harry Reid won’t feel the same way if Romney wins your are naive. You had Reid telling a bunch of school kids that Bush was an idiot. That’s verbatim, when Bush still held the office.
      One more thing on the “Bush tax cuts.” they are actually the Obama tax cuts. He extended them so now he owns them. Of course most Americans want taxes to go up on the rich. Most people aren’t rich. People receive unhealthy joy out of seeing someone else have to pay a bit more than they do. I find the psychology behind it a bit perverse. Here is a little word association game for you. Be honest and admit how you feel when you hear these words or statements.
      “The rich” “Millionaires and billionaires” “Corporations” “CEO’s” “Wall Street bankers”
      These have all become pejoratives in our society. That is directly related to the class warfare that does exist in our country.
      Look, I’m not trying to get anyone to change their position, I’m just trying to have some intellectually honest in our politics. I said at the beginning I think they both are good men but flawed (aren’t we all.) I just don’t think Obama has been that good of a president. We have the lowest labor participation rate since the great depression and that number continues to grow. That is the best measure of the health of the economy and the direction we are headed. I do give credit to Obama for many things including getting Osama. But I have a serious issue with his stepped up drone attacks that Bush was hammered on and Obama seems to get a pass. I like some of the provisions of the ACA but think overall it is a horrible piece of legislation. I’m a proponent of single payer and I think the ACA set us back decades.
      If you want to continue the discussion I’m more than interested in learning.
      Best Regards,

      Scott

  • Claude

    Oh, and how could I forget the auto industry bailout! Especially since the auto companies are now slamming Romney’s campaign for brazenly lying in their latest Ohio ads. It seems there are so many moments when Obama displayed leadership I can’t even remember them all.

  • Claude

    Hi Scott,

    Thank you for your response. I should have qualified my statement about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in terms of the fight for equal rights. You’re right, of course, that the numbers are small, but so were the numbers of African-Americans servicemen before the military integrated, a development that one could argue did have a profound effect on the country.

    I didn’t dispute that there was a lot of giddiness about Obama in the media, only that actual people I know regarded Obama as a talented politician and an intelligent, level-headed individual, not some kind of messiah, which was a source a great amusement for us. Of course by comparison with his predecessor he was a gift.

    Any opposition party by default wants the other party out of power. The point is that the out of political expediency the GOP abdicated its responsibility to govern when the country was in crisis. The GOP put its desire to defeat Obama over the good of the country. That is indisputable and despicable.

    When did Harry Reid call Bush an idiot (or “loser”) in front of schoolkids? I’ve never seen the source for that story.

    Of course most Americans want taxes to go up on the rich. Most people aren’t rich. People receive unhealthy joy out of seeing someone else have to pay a bit more than they do. I find the psychology behind it a bit perverse.

    Actually I think most Americans think it would be more fair for the rich to pay more taxes. Americans admire rich people and aspire to be like them. I know plenty of rich people, and I like them categorically no less than anyone else . But why should the rich pay historically low tax rates when they have been the only economic beneficiaries for the past decade? Oh, it couldn’t have anything to do with fairness, it must be “class warfare.”

    I agree that there’s been a double standard for Bush and Obama on national security and civil liberties issues, with the distinction that the Bush administration authorized torture, and Obama has not. I am uneasy about drones, but how much worse are drones than conventional warfare? Which kills more civilians?

    I would also have preferred single-payer, but would Obama (or Nancy Pelosi, rather, who really deserves a lot of credit) been able to get that through Congress? Obama didn’t even try to get a public option. He was accused of being a socialist for promoting Republican health care reform, for God’s sake!

    No shocker that unemployment skyrocketed after the crash, just around the time Obama assumed office. Let’s put the matter this way. What did Obama do to try and create jobs? I can think of a few off the top of my head– auto bailout, stimulus, tax breaks for small business. What did Republicans in Congress do to create jobs? Help me out here.

    And no, it’s nothing personal. But I’m skeptical about memes like “leadership” and “class warfare”; they’re right out of the ads.

    Regards to you, as well!

  • Greg Kar

    You may well be correct in a pre-Hurricane Sandy world. But considering vast majority of important swing states is in or near the hurricane path, Sandy potentially changes EVERYTHING.

    I was predicting a narrow Obama victory pre-Sandy. But today? Not so much. Today, it could easily turn into an Obama landslide or go the opposite direction and become a Romney victory. And we cannot tell.

  • scott stone

    Claude,
    Thanks for the correction. Harry Reid called him a loser not an idiot. Here is the link to the CBS story regarding the incident. http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-250_162-693713.html
    We’ll probably continue to disagree regarding DADT and how important it will be. I think you are mistaken though in comparing the rights of African Americans to that of the gay population. I just finished up an ethics class at Fuller and one of the more spirited topics was around the concept of sexual identity. Individuals identifying themselves based on their sexual orientation is really a fairly new concept and one that is quite problematic. I don’t think we are comparing apples to apples. But remember, I’m really glad it was repealed.
    Two quick points. I want you to quantify, if you are willing, your position on taxation. Here’s my point. “Fairness” when it comes to taxation always means more. Why is that? If you believe, like you’ve stated that it would only be fair if the tax rates on the so called rich go up to Clinton era rates you are saying that a marginal rate of 35% isn’t fair but a marginal rate of 39% is fair. Quantify that because that in effect is your position.
    My position is that all taxes need to go up. None of us pay enough in taxes. The main revenue source for the federal government is still individual income taxes. Forty two cents of every dollar the fed collects is from individual income taxes. The top 10% of wage earners (the rich) in the country pay 71% of all income taxes collected. So quantify what is fair. Should they pay 80% or 90% or 100%? And if that is your position explain why this is “fair.”
    One last thing on your comment about employment numbers. Yes Obama inherited a mess. Lots of mistakes were made. Remember the house and the senate were controlled by democrats the last two years Bush was in office. There is a lot of blame to be handed out. Just pointing at Bush isn’t being intellectually honest.
    My point is that the labor participation rate is at historic lows and that number has actually been getting worse. The U6 number is still around 15%. That is horrible by any standard. Overall GDP for 2012 will probably come in lower than GDP for 2011. That is a huge indictment of Obama’s policies. If this year is worse than last, “it’s Bush’s fault” just won’t fly.
    The $780B did not prevent a great depression. Here is where a little common sense goes a long way. We have a $15.09T economy. The stimulus was rolled out in stages. Half of the money wasn’t even spent in the first two years. The impact of $390B on a $15T economy is so marginal. Yes the Republicans through up road blocks but that was because they fundamentally disagreed with the presidents position. Remember he said if the stimulus was past unemployment would not go above 8%. I think there were better alternatives than the presidents plan or at least some additional ideas that could have helped. Also, as an employer, tax breaks don’t cause me to ever hire someone. When there is more demand for my products and the work load is greater than my employees can handle, then I start thinking about it. I participate in a variety of roundtable discussions with many small business owners. None of them hired somebody because of a tax break. That’s something you learn in Business 101.

    • Claude

      HARRY REID

      I’ve forgotten why this came up initially, but yes, it was highly inappropriate for Harry Reid to call Bush 43 a “loser” to a bunch of high school. Even if “loser” is a rather charitable description.

      DADT

      We disagree about DADT. Of course there have been different cultural constructions of homosexuality throughout history, but here I will resort to anecdote. I’ve known many gay people. They themselves insist they were born that way and that their sexual orientation is not a choice. (Why on earth would one choose to be gay and a second-class citizen?) DADT was an important step in the direction of equal rights for this persecuted minority.

      QUANTIFYING MY POSITION ON TAXING THE RICH

      Why should I have to do this? I don’t know what the optimum rate would be. I do know that the rich are effectively paying at a lower tax rate that middle- and lower-class people. I refer skeptics to Kevin Drum’s post “Mind-Blowing Charts from the Senate’s Income Inequality Hearing”: “Though America’s wealthy are supposed to pay a higher tax rate than the poor (what’s known as a “progressive tax code”), they now benefit from so many loopholes that the tax code has, in practice, become increasingly regressive. I agree with you that all taxes should go up eventually, but do you really think middle and lower-income people should pay higher taxes while the economy is still recovering?

      JUST POINTING AT BUSH

      Just pointing at Bush isn’t being intellectually honest. Pointing out that Obama inherited a catastrophe is not “just pointing at Bush.” It is pointing out that Obama inherited a catastrophe. Some time back you insisted that Obama must “own” the Bush tax cuts because they were renewed during his term. Let us recall the circumstances under which this occurred. Republicans in Congress would not play ball unless they could keep their precious tax cuts for the rich. Obama conceded so that they would agree to extend unemployment benefits, which were due to expire. IIRC DADT and the START treaty were also a part of that deal.

      This argument that Obama had a majority in Congress is very familiar, but the fact is that because of Republican abuse of the filibuster (the highest number in American history) Obama needed a filibuster-proof majority. But a significant number of these Democrats were conservative Blue Dogs. Plus there was the delay in Al Franken’s assuming his seat and the dreaded Joe Lieberman to contend with.

      THE U6 NUMBER IS STILL AROUND 15%., ETC.

      Wow. Republicans blocked Obama’s American Jobs Act, remember? Incredibly, they were willing to hurt the economy if it increased their chances of getting back into power. The first stimulus was, in fact, successful, but it was too small. Obama calculated that Republicans were against stimulus and would not have passed a larger package. (He may have been wrong, but I doubt it.) The notorious 8% unemployment figure was bases on analyses that had significantly underestimated the scope of the recession. It’s been demagogued to death. I think you’re underestimating just how uncooperative the GOP has been. And what was their alternative? The Ryan Plan! Which has been roundly panned as voodoo economics. I’d be interested to hear your better alternatives.

      SUPPLY AND DEMAND

      Yes, I get the supply and demand thing. Sluggish demand has been a major factor in a sluggish economy. The president’s approach assumes that unless the middle class had enough disposable income to drive consumption then the economy will sputter. And, really, small business doesn’t want or need tax breaks on new equipment and new hires? I’m skeptical.

      Despite the GOP’s determination to deny Obama (and, you know, us, the Americans) an improved economy, indicators are up. The housing market is up. Construction is up. Unemployment has declined (a bit). Again, if you have better solutions, I’m all ears. Because Romney/Ryan don’t.

      • scott stone

        Claude,
        Thanks for comments. Regarding DADT I think we have a distinction without a difference. We both agree that repealing it was certainly the right thing to so. My original comment was in response to your position that it will “have a profound effect on the future of the country…” I just don’t see that as the case.
        TAXES
        Why should you have to quantify your answer?! Really? So you can say it’s not fair but not have a substantive reason for your position. C’mon you can do better than that. If not you’ve made my case for it being all about class warfare. Here’s the thing. If marginal rates were at 39% instead of the current 35% and Obama wanted to raise them to 43% out of fairness, you’d probably be all for it. See, this is what I mean when I say when it comes to taxation the lefts definition of “fair” only means one thing: More. I’m looking for someone to actually challenge me on this so that I’m not living in my own little bubble as it appears the Obamanites do. Also your statement that “rich are effectively paying at a lower tax rate than middle- and lower-class people” is ridiculous. There are certainly anomalies where this occurs but the vast majority of upper income earners pay far more than middle class Americans. Here is a little proof for you. Take a standard 1040 form. Assume a husband and wife with 2 kids and an income of $60,000/year. Take the standard deductions. Don’t include anything such as mortgage interest deduction, medical expenses, education, etc. Just using the standard IRS deductions the effective tax rate on this family is 6.92%. It’s amazing what people think they pay in taxes and what they actually pay.
        My point is if you aren’t willing to say what is fair and quantify it, your position that things aren’t fair now really isn’t valid. It’s as if someone asked you “why” and your response was “because.”

        THE U6 NUMBER IS STILL AROUND 15%., ETC.
        I could counter with Obama blocking the Keystone pipeline thereby preventing an increase in many private sector jobs. Most economists think that the presidents jobs act would do very little if anything to spur the kind of economic growth we need (remember all of those shovel ready jobs he talked about that don’t exist?)
        This whole discussion is a bit futile. My original position was that Obama isn’t that good of a president. He’s average at best, like most presidents. Constantly complaining about the republicans being at fault, as you have, only reinforces my position that he isn’t a very effective leader. Good leaders move the ball regardless of the obstacles in front of them. And passing a handful of legislation, some of which is poorly crafted i.e ACA, does not make a great president. I’m not a big fan of Romney or Obama. I just don’t understand the love affair with the guy in the White House. There is very little critical analysis of Obama except from the right and I’m not comfortable with their opinion being the only one out there.
        One last thing, and I have to get this shot in. “And what was their alternative? The Ryan Plan! Which has been roundly panned as voodoo economics. I’d be interested to hear your better alternatives.” At least he has a plan. We haven’t had a budget in almost 4 years (another act of poor leadership.) The one Obama submitted to the senate was voted down 97-0. Not one democrat voted for it.

        • Claude

          I’ve got to think you’re skipping over my comments if you keep accusing me (and the majority of Americans who think the 1 or 2% should pay higher taxes) of “class warfare,” or that the reason is “just because.” I’ve given reasons–the last decade has seen a dramatic concentration of wealth in the the upper classes; deepening income inequality has caused serious and persistent problems in society; Obama proposes that rates be returned to Clinton-era levels, the known quantity you demand that existed during flush economic times. Remember Clinton left a SURPLUS. (A surplus! Oh what might have been.) The government needs revenue to pay down the deficit, after all. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire is but one source of additional revenue, but it isn’t insignificant. The ballooning deficit started with those cuts.

          As for fairness, it’s funny that you seem to think the concern for fairness is some partisan reflex. If you must blame something, blame Jesus. I developed my sense of justice from Christianity, many years ago.

          • scott stone

            Ah the Jesus card. So Jesus is in favor of a 39% marginal rate. I guess I missed that bible passage. I’m sorry but your reasons just aren’t logical. I’ve already shown that increasing the rates to Clinton era numbers brings our $1.1T deficit to $1.02T. And that’s if you view it from a static model. Add any type of dynamic analysis to the equation, which is much more realistic, accounting for even a minimal multiplier effect, and that number probably is more in line with $1.04T. I’m sorry but that really is nothing more than an accounting error.
            The truth is Americans want taxes to go up on the rich because it makes them feel better. The economic impact is immeasurable.
            You said current tax policy isn’t fair. I asked you to define what’s fair and you aren’t able to. You said the rich pay a lower effective rate than middle class and I refuted that claim. Yes there is a growing gap between rich and poor. The problem is how Obama and the left want to address the issue. Tax the rich more so they have less. That will narrow the gap. The rich will still be rich but just a little bit less, The poor will still be as poor. But it sure will make you guys feel a whole heck of a lot better knowing Richy Rich is paying more in taxes. I’m sorry but your economic theories are rather archaic. If you think all that is needed is a tweaked tax code to restore some fairness to our economy you are sadly mistaken.
            Also, poverty rates did decline during some of Clinton’s administration but started on an upward trend two years before he left office, well before those nasty Bush tax cuts.
            Taxes need to go up on everyone. Spending needs to come under control. An environment needs to be created where guys like me, business owner, aren’t viewed as the bad guy. That is how you create fairness in an economy. Raising taxes on a very small segment of the population has no positive economic affect. That’s why it is class warfare.

  • Claude

    Wow. Sometimes you’ve got to hand it to the pros. I just finished Jonathan Chait’s paean to Obama in New York magazine. Had I read it earlier I would have pointed to it directly instead of writing what ended up as a feeble attempt to defend the president.

    Scott–I can’t ponder your post now but will try to do so later. Don’t let the zombies get you!

    • scott stone

      Something about seeing all those kids running around with their little costumes always makes me smile. I know it’s Halloween but there really seems to be something innocent about it.

  • Jorge

    I’m in Florida and support Romney. Yet this electoral college system might help Obama and this is an irony since he dislikes the Original legal system so much. Our electoral system leads to concentrated campaigning in a few key states. The rest are largely ignored, so many issues get ignored. That’s the way the game is played. I hope that if Obama wins, he will either begin to respect our Original systemsay that it needs to be scraped out.

    • Jorge

      another problem is that there is so much color, slant and bias that we can’t tell what’s what in polls and policy positions.
      One thing that’s certain is that Obama has come up woefully short on promises he made.
      We would have to wait and see on Romney’s promises.

  • Claude

    Ah the Jesus card. So Jesus is in favor of a 39% marginal rate. Cheap.

    The truth is Americans want taxes to go up on the rich because it makes them feel better. It pleases you to think you, but you don’t know this because you can’t.

    You said current tax policy isn’t fair. I asked you to define what’s fair and you aren’t able to.

    I explained why I thought it was fair. You ignored it.

    You said the rich pay a lower effective rate than middle class and I refuted that claim.

    I take it you didn’t check out the overwhelming evidence to the contrary presented to the Senate Budget Committee.

    Of course I never said “all that is needed is a tweaked tax code to restore some fairness.”

    You seem to be getting agitated. Why? I thought you thought everyone’s taxes should go up, so why would you feel so strongly about tax rates for the highest earners? And why would you feel so indignant over criticism of the Bush tax cuts?

    The economic impact is immeasurable.Both the Economic Policy Institute and the Congressional Budget Office uphold the benefits of letting the Bush tax cuts on the rich expire. I thought conservatives were so concerned about the deficit. So you love tax cuts on the rich so much you just can’t let them go. What would you cut?

    I’m sorry but your economic theories are rather archaic. That is funny. Romney/Ryan want to serve up rehashed supply-side, and you’re getting prim about archaic economics.

    No one is calling businessmen “bad guys.” You’ve served up quite enough boilerplate already, you could at least have spared us the “Democrats hate business” bs.

  • scott stone

    See this is why I usually try and avoid these types of conversations. I can present hard data and it is just ignored.
    Point 1: I’m sorry but your economic theories are rather archaic. That is funny. Romney/Ryan want to serve up rehashed supply-side, and you’re getting prim about archaic economics.
    I never said I was for the Romney/Ryan plan. I was pointing out that they had a plan and that the only budget Obama introduced to congress was voted down 97-0, which you never responded to.
    Point 2: You seem to be getting agitated. Why? I thought you thought everyone’s taxes should go up, so why would you feel so strongly about tax rates for the highest earners? And why would you feel so indignant over criticism of the Bush tax cuts? Agitated because I’ve had this conversation with others and there is no getting through to a certain voting block. People aren’t interested in being intellectually honest and admit their biases cloud their judgement. Here is my black and white position. $15.09T economy. $1.1T deficit. Revenue generated by increasing marginal rates $70B. How can you not see that it is an insignificant number.
    Point 3: You said the rich pay a lower effective rate than middle class and I refuted that claim.
    I take it you didn’t check out the overwhelming evidence to the contrary presented to the Senate Budget Committee. Presented by who? Show me the data. Claude, If the top 10% pay 71% of all income tax revenue, and 47% of all Americans pay no federal income taxes at all, how the heck can you come up with your position? The average family pays less than 12% in federal income taxes. That is a hard fact. You aren’t being honest with yourself. The facts and the figures are on my side of the argument.
    Point 4: The truth is Americans want taxes to go up on the rich because it makes them feel better. It pleases you to think you, but you don’t know this because you can’t. Oh yes I do know this. All ones needs is to use a little thought and intellect instead of feelings and emotions. We live in a society where individuals think they aren’t getting their fair share and it has to be the other guys fault, who just happens to have more. We live in a bumper sticker culture here in the states, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” It permeates all of society. “I want free health care and I want the guy down the street to pay for it.”
    Point 5: No one is calling businessmen “bad guys.” You’ve served up quite enough boilerplate already, you could at least have spared us the “Democrats hate business” bs. You are so mistaken. Remember my little word association game? The one you didn’t respond to. I own two companies and sit on a variety of roundtables with other small business owners. I never said the animosity towards business owners was exclusively a democrat position. But don’t kid yourself, I am looked at by many as the bad guy because I’m the employer.
    Point 6: You said current tax policy isn’t fair. I asked you to define what’s fair and you aren’t able to.
    I explained why I thought it was fair. You ignored it. I didn’t ignore it, it’s just nonsensical. Your said that income gap disparity is to large, which I agree with. But I clearly and thoughtfully explained how lowering the income of upper earners to close that gap doesn’t improve the live of those at the bottom. You also said that we needed the revenue because of the deficit. I’ve showed you the numbers multiple times and the impact it would have. How can you say I ignored your reasons?
    “So you love tax cuts on the rich so much you just can’t let them go.” When did I ever say this? NEVER! I’ve stated that all taxes need to go up. The president knows this but he is only using the “rich” to score political points. This goes back to the original premise that I don’t think he is that good of a president.
    What this is all boiling down is the obsession the left has with other peoples money. The president talks about “tax cuts for the rich” and “millionaires and billionaires” in a pejorative sense and I find it repulsive. It is a reflection of his character.

    • Claude

      While you’re congratulating yourself on your own intellectual honesty, thoughtfulness, and superior understanding of the American mind, I (again) invite you to consider the following:

      http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/mind-blowing-charts-senates-income-inequity-hearing

      But don’t kid yourself, I am looked at by many as the bad guy because I’m the employer. Really? Show me who is calling employers “bad guys.” All I hear from both sides is a lot of love for small business owners.

      Oh, now the president’s innocuous rhetoric is a reflection of his character! This is right out of the playbook (along with WHAT PRECISE TAX RATE DO YOU PROPOSE!!) The president himself is a millionaire by virtue of his book sales. Are you suggesting he’s consumed by class-hatred? He simply thinks the very wealthy should pay more taxes, or at least not be able to use their accountants to avoid paying at their existing (historically low) tax rates. He also thinks that raising taxes on the middle class would stifle demand, which we agree would be a bad thing. I fail to see what is so “repulsive” about this.

      “I want free health care and I want the guy down the street to pay for it.” Huh? There’s a mandate. What’s your alternative for reigning in health care costs that have crippled small business and the public sector alike.

      • Jorge

        Claude, raising the wealthy folks taxes will only bring in about 20 or 30 billion per year.
        The real problem is people in the lower income who skim on the taxes. This accounts for about 750 billion under reporting per year. If we raise their taxes, we will get even more skimming.
        So there is no easy fix. 10 years ago there was alot less skimming. The most sound idea is to get the economy growing so that revenues increase and spending cuts become politcally more likely.

        • Jorge

          I’m lower income.

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  • scott stone

    This is a pointless conversation. You stated that the rich pay a lower effective tax rate than the middle class. I expressed, with statistics, that you are basically making things up. So to rebut my assertion you point to a Mother Jones article with pretty graphs and charts which don’t show what tax rates are per quintile, which is how the government categorizes tax rates paid per income demographic.
    You’re living in a bubble Claude. You said the rich pay an effective tax rate less than the middle class, which is categorically wrong, and you can’t provide any data to support your position. You need to have the courage to believe the truth. That or enjoy the false bubble you live in.

  • Claude

    You didn’t even read that article, or my post quoting it:

    Though America’s wealthy are supposed to pay a higher tax rate than the poor (what’s known as a “progressive tax code”), they now benefit from so many loopholes that the tax code has, in practice, become increasingly regressive.

    You must never heard of the Buffett Rule:

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/economy/buffett-rule

    And you have the brass to prattle about truth and intellectual honesty! Too funny.

  • scott stone

    Are you really that obtuse? Just because someone subjectively says that the tax code is becoming regressive doesn’t mean that middle income earners pay a higher effective tax rate than the wealthy. Once again, nowhere in the article does it state that the middle class pay a higher effective tax rate, because they don’t.
    Here is the link to the CBO numbers. http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/effective_rates_0.pdf. Slam dunk. Game over. Find a new bubble, yours just burst.
    By the way, loopholes are actually laws in the tax code. The largest “loophole”, the one that decreases the amount of revenue to the treasury the greatest is the mortgage interest rate deduction, which benefits the middle class more than any other.

  • Claude

    Seriously? Let me spell it out for you, from the site you studiously avoided:

    ABOUT 55,000 MILLIONAIRES PAY A LOWER EFFECTIVE TAX RATE THAN MILLIONS OF MIDDLE-INCOME AMERICANS.

    A full 22,000 households that made more than $1 million in 2009 paid less than 15 percent of their income in income taxes — and 1,470 managed to pay no federal income taxes on their million-plus-dollar incomes, according to the IRS.

    And, the very wealthiest American households are paying nearly the lowest tax rate in 50 years— some are paying just half of the federal income tax that top income earners paid in 1960. But the average tax rate for middle class families has barely budged. The middle 20 percent of households paid 14 percent of their incomes in 1960, and 16 percent in 2010.

    And here’s America’s march to becoming a banana republic in yet more pretty charts:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

    But by all means resort to macho bluster. Always a winner.

  • scott stone

    So let’s come full circle. This whole discussion is based on this statement from you. ” I do know that the rich are effectively paying at a lower tax rate that middle- and lower-class people.”
    So now, instead of talking about this broad all encompassing statement, you want the point of demarcation to be these 55,000 millionaires. So we aren’t talking about how Obama defines rich, anything over $250,000?
    Like most liberals I debate with. Losing the argument, move the goal posts.

    • Claude

      Um, no. When I said the rich paying at an effectively lower tax rate I meant the rich paying at an effectively lower tax rate. And this debate started over your embrace of the “class warfare” meme.

      We will never agree on this. Fine. I see you voted for Stein. I respect that and wish you well.

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  • Jorge

    My prediction is Romney 277 elec votes, Obama 261.
    Popular vote: Romney 50%, Obama 49%.


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