Friday, January 27, 2012

Obama and Republican Circular Firing Squad Are Nailing Down President's Victory

January is not yet over, but it has been a very good month for President Obama's political prospects.  It began with the meteoric rise of Senator Santorum and Governor Romney struggling in the Iowa caucus on January 3rd.  Few things lift Democratic hearts more than the sight of Republicans falling in love with Senator Santorum who brands the Republican party in a uniquely unattractive manner.

Then came January 6th and the news that the nation added another 200,000 jobs in December 2011, as the American economy grows.  America's growth stands in strong contrast to the United Kingdom, where austerity economics that is championed by the President's opponents pushes the UK into a deepening recession, with its GDP actually declining once again.  Five to 6 more jobs reports like that of December 2011 would nail down the election for President Obama.

But even if he does not get good jobs reports going forward, President Obama has the gift that keeps on giving:   The Republican Circular Firing Squad.  Republicans are in the process of spending probably $20 million or more on savaging each other in Florida.  Romney alone is reportedly unloading $13 million of negatives on Newt in the Sunshine state.

That sunny binge of mutually assured destruction follows $10 million or more flung destructively by Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul at each other in South Carolina.

Between South Carolina and Florida, the American people are learning that Romney had a notorious Swiss Bank account, as well as bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda and pays 13.9% in taxes, despite annual income over $20 million.  They are hearing endless stories about Romney buying companies and loading them with debt to leverage big returns for himself and his investors, while many jobs were lost. They are being told that Gingrich was sanctioned for ethics violations in the house, run out of the Speaker's chair, and that he is a mentally-unbalanced influence peddler.  That is not counting what his second wife has to say, and what she has to say will not help him in the general election with women.

The result of all this is that the favorability ratings of Romney and Gingrich have collapsed. By about 2-1, the American people disapprove of both of them.  Each of their disapproval ratings are above 50% and have spiked since December 2011.  Mutually Assured Destruction at work.

Meanwhile more and more data show Obama gaining strength.  He has slightly positive approval rating--48 to 46-- in this week's Wall Street Journal/NBC poll.  Yesterday, Terry Madonna's poll had the President beating Romney by 11 points in Pennsylvania, a growing margin from the October 2011 poll.

If President Obama's spring is like his January, the election will be over before Labor Day.  Of course, perhaps events will turn, and the spring will be cruel to the President.  But right now the trends and odds are mounting in his favor.


  1. John: If you really think this gushing post is not ideological, you need a serious examination of your objectivity. I almost thought I was standing at the checkout counter in my local grocery store as I read this.

    Your hubris is unseemly. To imply that something is wrong with Romney's low tax rate ignores the fact that he is much more generous in his charitable contributions than our President, who turns around and villifies the wealthy. Maybe you could show us that comparison?

    What I used to like about this blog was a non-partisan discussion about the facts around various forms of energy. This kind of stuff will make me stop visiting.

    1. Concerned ScientistJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      CB - I don't think that Romney paying low taxes is that big a deal to most people. The thing that will really hurt him is buying companies, loading them with debt and then selling them at a profit to himself while average people are laid off. It is those sort of shenanigans, while perfectly legal that have many Americans very upset. That does not sound like an honest days work for an honest day's pay. That sounds a lot like banks profiting from crashing the economy to me. The guys at the top make off with the dough while average people end up under water on their mortgages and out of work. Romney was kind of foolish to engage in this if he wanted to be president. It's called leading with the chin.

      John is probably right that Obama will get reelected and I don't think it will be close. John was saying not too long ago that Obama was in trouble so this is not just cheerleading.

      Personally I am most interested in the posts on shale gas on this blog.

  2. This posting rests on the political fact of life that January was a great month for the President for the reasons cited. Do you think January made it less likely that the President will win re-election? If so, why? If you do, you may be just about alone and need to explain why the polling data in the post are wrong. The blog will continue to do political analysis. It is also perfectly good point for you to defend Romne's low tax rate. Gingrich himself has suggested, however, the difference between his 31% tax rate and Romney's 13% indicates the need to reform tax rates. Also few think that Romney's tax rate helps him politically, right or wrong. That is the point. The blog has been suggesting Obama had a tough race ahead for reasons given. January may well mark a sea change in what will happen this year, though as the posting says, the next few months will tell. The blog will continue to do political analysis.

  3. I appreciate all comments and readers. The readership is diverse. The political analysis posts have a strong readership but usually are two or three each week. The posting on the tax rates of Obama, Biden, Romney, Gingrich was highly viewed.

    1. Concerned ScientistJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:36 AM


      What did you think of Obama's discussion of shale gas in his SOTU address?

      I thought he hit it just right and I was extremely pleased that he did not buy into Howarth et al at all. Chu must be a good advisor.

  4. Agreed. Obama and the gas industry need each other. Both benefit from each other. The President stops a big move in public opinion against the gas industry. The gas industry may have saved the Obama presidency by producing so much gas that a broad energy shock was avoided in 2011 that would have created a double dip recession . The President has missed the opportunity to push the Natural Gas Act that conservatives have stalled in Congress. He should be working harder to get alternative fuels and stations deployed around America.

    1. Concerned ScientistJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      The anti-shale gas crowd must have been beside themselves after that speech.

      He was in Nevada yesterday plugging natural gas powered trucks. That is a good move - to migrate long haul trucks over to natural gas. It would decrease oil imports and pollution.

  5. John, can you comment on the President's contention that we have 100 years of gas? The best estimates I've seen of proven plus probable reserves are closer to 20 years using EIA data; you'd have to add in possible and speculative reserves (as well as coal bed) to get to 100 years worth.

    I understand it also depends on the rates of extraction and consumption.

    Anyway, any light you can shed would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Concerned ScientistJanuary 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      This is an important point. They should probably say 100 years worth of gas at today's level of consumption. If we use gas to displace coal, it might only last 50-60 years. If we use it to displace coal and some oil it might last 30-40 years. The more coal and oil we displace, the more gas is being treated as a "bridge fuel" and the better it will be for the environment. That is my hope. So we still need to go full speed ahead with wind and solar. 30 years may sound like a long time but it will be here before you know it.

  6. Technology, innovation, and gas price all impact the amount of gas. Reserve estimates are indeed estimates. The President repeated the 100 year number that is often invoked, based upon recent developments. You can find estimates much lower and some higher.

    I look at production. Those numbers are real. They are now. US gas production in 2011 set a record. You don't get record production without a lot of gas to produce.

    The amount of gas in the ground is some version of "big" or "lots". 25 years, 50 years, 100 years. There is lots or production would not be rising, a new record would not have been set in 2011, and gas prices would not have crashed.