Election 2012 Post-Mortem: When Predictions Go Wrong!

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi comments on the 2012 election results.

Hello readers! It has been a few months since I have
published a post and for those of you that are reading I want to thank you for your
continued readership of my material and those from all the great contributors
here at Menzies House.

My last
post of 2012 was my pre-election analysis and final predictions for the Presidential
contest, and several of the hotly contested Senate races.
I struggled with
whether or not to make a prediction because sometimes (many times) predictions
are incorrect, and incorrect is an understatement of how the calls in my
pre-election post turned out. That being said, there are a few brief points I
would like to make regarding my last post.


The first point is that these are predictions; I could make them out of thin
air and if I got every one of them correct I’d be a genius based purely on
guessing. Predictions are not statements of fact, they are statements made based
on whatever you choose to base them on at a given point. When I make
predictions (and I make many of them, not just on politics), I do my best to
make them with as much evidence to support it as possible. In each one of my
predictions for how the states would land electorally at the Presidential level,
I used evidence that was available to support the claim. This evidence was
backed up by source material. That doesn’t mean anything except to say I made a
guess, and there was evidence to support the guess, but it doesn’t guarantee an
outcome and never has there been a point during my time with Menzies House that
I have claimed I could make such guarantees, neither has anyone else on my
behalf.

The second point I would like to make is that for many of
the predictions that I got wrong on election night, my GOP Primary analysis and
State Primary predictions were near perfect in terms of predicting outcomes and
not just for winners, but also implications and analysis of the results I was
predicting before those contests took place. In terms of my VP brackets, all I
can say there is I had Paul Ryan in my final four, close but no cigar… as they
say. You can’t be right all the time, certainly if I was I would be in Las
Vegas as opposed to typing this and thanking those of you who are still
supportive enough to read even after I made a very bad prediction. I have
always enjoyed writing for Menzies House and hope to continue to do so for the
foreseeable future.

The final point I want to make is that contrary to what some
have said there are people who are better known, have more experience, and are
paid by those providing the venue for them to make the very same predictions…
who actually had worse 2012 pre-election analysis than I did. These are very
credible individuals who saw some of the same things I did and felt, as I did,
that this wouldn’t be a close election and that it would probably break one way
or another in the final weeks… and they got the break wrong too. This is not an
excuse, merely a point worth making considering the criticism I have gotten not
just from readers, but personal friends who were aware of my prediction as well.

I want to express my thanks again to everyone who still
enjoys reading my posts, and to the critics I say I welcome the commentary and
can admit I was wrong. I don’t mind being wrong, considering I do this for free
and have never asked for anything of anyone at Menzies House except to allow me
to post if they feel my take would be well received from you, the real drivers
of this great venue for thought provoking discussion. I hope to see continued
feedback from those who continue to read the posts and I thank you all so very
much and it is still a pleasure to be able to contribute!

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

OBAMA/ROMNEY: FINAL PREDICTION

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi gives his final analysis and predictions for the 2012 US Presidential election

We are two days away from the 2012 Presidential election in
the United States and I want to thank each and every one of you who have read
and/or commented on my posts regarding the GOP nomination, the
Vice-Presidential pick, the 2012 contest, and the debates. In the final post
before the election, I am going to discuss the important swing states and give
you all a final prediction for the outcome.

I want to start by focusing on what everyone thinks the
swing states are, and then go from there:

Starting with this baseline (below), from 270towin.com, the map
appears to show three things:
Picture 1
 
1- President Obama starts with 201 electoral votes
2- Governor Romney starts with 191 electoral votes
3- Eleven states are up for grabs and they're worth
146 electoral votes

Now, all due respect, this site takes into account some polling
that is either outdated or flawed or even just a blatant outlier. Many polling
firms have seen a narrower group of states up for grabs and for this reason as
well as steady trends in polling in certain states I will tell you of these 11,
there are 5 that (in my opinion) are not swing states at all and I will briefly
explain as well as place them where I think they are likely to end up.

Florida (29 electoral votes)-

Romney has led in every poll for a month sans one D+5 sample
PPP poll… my
home state will flip back to the GOP side
, the +5 model presumes a turnout for
democrats that was more than what they had in 2008, not happening.

Michigan (16 electoral votes)-

Governor Romney’s Father once led the state and having roots
in a swing state never hurts. That being said, one of the most important issues
for voters in MI was the auto bailout and while Governor
Romney’s position has been mischaracterized by the Obama campaign
, the fact
is President Obama oversaw the auto bailout that many Michigan voters
supported. I don’t see how Romney beats Obama here.

North Carolina (15 electoral votes)-

The state that saw Obama win by the thinnest of margins in
2008 will likely not go his way this time around. Regardless of whatever views
you have on the issue, the state passed a law banning gay marriage and just a
week later, President Obama came out in support of gay marriage. Obama
has consistently polled lower than Governor Romney for months and his approval
is underwater in the state.
It will go Red.

Virginia (13 electoral votes)-

This has been an interesting state over this past year in
terms of polling. During the early part of 2012 it had seemed that President
Obama had a sizeable lead and that there was no chance that he would lose it.
That being said, things have drastically changed in the last two months and it
now appears as if Governor Romney will flip the state of Virginia back to the
GOP column come Tuesday. The most important reason may be due to the Active Duty and
Veteran vote that make up a big part of the voting block there. Those in the
armed forces (active & retired) are going for Romney in a big way
and
they are likely to turn out as we see potential fallout from the Libya
situation as well as the planned Defense cuts that threaten thousands of jobs
in Virginia, hand it to Romney.

Nevada (6 electoral votes)-

There would almost something funny about the state
with the highest unemployment rate in the country voting to reelect President Obama

but that is exactly what’s going to happen. Governor Romney has never been able
to overtake the President here and even though there is a heavy Mormon vote as
well as Business-sector vote there are two demographics that will outweigh
those come election day: Unions and Hispanics, two groups Romney wont even come
close to doing well with in that state (and nationwide). They reelected Harry
Reid in 2010, they’ll vote to keep Obama in 2012.

Taking away these five states that leaves us with an
electoral map that looks like this:
Picture 3
Governor Romney holds 248 EVs and
President Obama holding 223 EVs leaving 67 crucial electoral votes that will
decide the Presidency of United States.

Now for the six most important states that will decide the
election on Tuesday:

New Hampshire (4 electoral votes)- 

As they say in the Granite State, “Live Free, or Die!” The
state that is home to the “first in the nation” Primary every four years is
suddenly up for grabs after President Obama defeated Senator John McCain by 9%
in 2008. The
polls have shown firm movement toward the Governor in the month of October and
due to polling shown the states disapproval rating of the President recently at
41%
, it puts Romney on solid footing to flip the state and the crucial 4
EVs it holds.


Iowa (6 electoral votes)-


Iowa is the other “first” every four years as they hold the all-important
inaugural caucus vote every Primary election season. This state is an
interesting one and though these 6 EVs are “in-play” I believe the final result
will be one that everyone probably figured it would be months ago. President
Obama leads Romney in state polls including the final poll from the influential
De Moines Register (which endorsed Romney a few weeks ago making it the first
time in 40 years the paper endorsed the GOP Presidential Nominee).
Iowa is
the state that launched the Presidency of Senator Barack Obama when they
selected him in the 2008 Caucuses, over Hillary Clinton and he defeated McCain
by 10% in 2008. Iowa has always looked good for President Obama, and
considering the state has voted for a Democrat in five out of the last six
elections… it still looks good for him.


Colorado (9 electoral votes)-


This is the state where we saw the “two Obama’s” and the 9 EVs they hold are
extremely important in a race this close. In 2008, Senator Obama accepted the
Democratic Nomination for President in Denver as more than 70,000 people
watched in-person, and tens of millions of Americans watched across the
country. Fast-forward four years to October 3rd, 2012… when
President Obama first debated Governor Romney and Americans saw a different
individual. How much difference the debate made is still undetermined, but this
much is certain: Colorado
is in play and Romney has been doing very well in the early vote count in the
state throughout October, a major swing-state win for Governor Romney if those
gains holds up
through Tuesday night.


Wisconsin (10 electoral votes)-

The home of Scott Walker, the face of the Republican battle
against the Public Sector Unions is a state that Republicans have really never
done well in at the Presidential level but with the events that have occurred
in the state over the past election cycle and subsequent recall votes, the GOP
believes they have a real chance to make this state go red come Tuesday night.
Having the Chairman of Party and the VP nominee hail from the state gives some
credence to playing ball there as well. That being said, state polling has been
all over the place with Romney and Obama tied in the most recent poll released
a few days ago. The
ground game of the 2011 recall in which Republican Governor Walker successfully
defeated is still in place, but I don’t know if it will be enough to defeat the
President in the state.


Ohio (18 electoral votes)-

Ohio, Ohio, Ohio! This
has been ground zero for the 2012 Presidential campaign as the candidates on
both sides have been spending a great deal of time, money, and effort doing
their best to the case to the voters in the Buckeye State.
Many have long
thought that the
winner of Ohio wins the election, and since no GOP nominee has even been
elected without Ohio, it seems that this may very well be the case that whoever
win the all important 18 electoral votes here wins the White House.

President Obama has made the calculation that due to the improving Economy in
the state (with unemployment lower than the national level) in
part due to the Auto-Bailout, which was implemented by President Obama and
derided by Governor Romney.
Lets consider a few points of fact about what
has gone in Ohio in the past few cycles and what is happening now. In 2008
President Obama defeated John McCain by 262,000 votes in Ohio giving him a win
by 5% over the Arizona Senator. Fast Forward to today, the early voting shows
two very important stats: First, President Obama is performing at a pace of
less than 180,000 votes from where he was at this point four years ago in Ohio
early voting; Second, Governor Romney is outperforming McCain by more than
75,000 votes in early ballots cast. Do the math… Romney
has netted a more than 255,000-vote swing his way in a state that went for President
Obama by slightly more than 262,000 four years ago.
Given the fact that
Republicans historically win the “election-day” turnout cycle after cycle, this
makes Ohio a dead-even race… and one that could go either way depending on the
ground-game and turnout operation of the candidates and parties.

Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes)-

While
everyone has been screaming about Ohio…
I now feel, after reading and
watching some very interesting and important moves by both campaigns, that the
most important state in this election will be the Keystone State. Stunningly
enough this is a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican at the Presidential
level in more than twenty years and although President George W. Bush came
close in 2004 (losing by less than 4%), it is entirely possible the Romney
campaign has totally head-faked President Obama into over-committing in Ohio
while they go after a state that is worth more electoral votes and has been
trending Republican for the last two decades. Multiple
polls have shown that President Obama leads in Pennsylvania, but that Governor
Romney is within striking distance, including a poll out today that puts both
men at 47% even.
The question here is: Does
Mitt Romney have a legitimate path to victory in Pennsylvania, or is President
Obama on his way to win and the Romney Campaign is merely throwing everything
at the kitchen sink in a last ditch effort to win a campaign he has already
lost?
The latter was certainly true of McCain’s Pennsylvania play four
years ago, but I believe the former rings true today and I will tell you why.
Every national poll shows this race is in a dead heat, unlike 2008 when McCain
was losing in national polls outside the margins of error. What else is
different? President Obama is no longer the challenger, he is the incumbent and
as such he is playing defense and while it isn’t uncanny to be playing defense
in swing states of tradition like Florida and Ohio… it should be entirely
worrisome that they are playing defense on battlegrounds nobody could have
imagined would be in play no more than a year ago (MN & MI tied???). So how
can we determine the result in this state? Well, much like Ohio, turnout is going
to tell the tale of who ends up on top Tuesday night. Jay
Cost put together an excellent numerically based analysis of the real path the
Romney has to flipping Pennsylvania and in-turn winning the Presidency.
In
short: increase vote share everywhere outside of Philadelphia (where Democrats
rely on heavy turnout to blunt the margins of loss everywhere else in the
state) and watch to see if turnout in Philadelphia is lower than it was in
2008… the same way in which the Bush campaign maximized turnout in Ohio in 2004
in rural areas to blunt the gains Kerry made in Democrat strongholds in Cuyahoga
County (where Cleveland is located). I believe that the Romney campaign is
using the Bush 2004 strategy in Ohio… but NOT in Ohio, rather in Pennsylvania.
Why would they do this? Three reasons: First, the Pennsylvania
economy was NOT helped by the Auto Bailout and the state is still dealing with
less than ideal economic conditions and President Obama’s policies have not
been as successful there where unemployment is above the national average.

Second, the state has trended republican in most areas for two decades and in
2010 they elected a Republican Governor and Senator and helped to flip the House
to GOP control. Finally, in the 2008 Democrat Primary, Hillary
Clinton defeated Barack Obama by 10% due to those “Reagan Democrat” voters

that Hillary went after who Obama described as “clinging to their guns and
religion”
; it is my belief that the Romney campaign sees an erosion of
support for the President among that group of voters and he feels if he can
flip enough of them, he may be able to flip the entire state. Obama
seems to have bet everything on Ohio… I believe Romney may be betting
everything on Pennsylvania.

Before I reveal my final map with an electoral vote and
popular vote prediction, here are a few predictions for some important senate
races.

Arizona- Jeff Flake (R) over Richard Carmona (D), R HOLD

Connecticut- Chris Murphy (D) over Linda McMahon (R), +D

Florida- Bill Nelson (D) over Connie Mack IV (R), D HOLD
Indiana- Joe Donnelly (D) over Richard Mourdock (R), +D 
Maine- Angus King (I) over R/D Nominees- I GAIN (R LOSS) 
Massachusetts- Elizabeth Warren (D) over Scott Brown (R), +D 
Missouri- Todd Akin (R) over Claire McCaskill (D), +R 
Montana- Denny Rehberg (R) over Jon Tester (D), +R 
Nebraska- Debra Fischer (R) over Bob Kerrey (D), +R 
Nevada- Dean Heller (R) over Shelley Berkley (D), R HOLD
New Mexico-  Martin
Heinrich (D) over Heather Wilson (R), D HOLD

North Dakota- Rick Berg (R) over Heidi Heitkamp (D), +R
Ohio- Josh Mandel (R) over Sherrod Brown (D), +R
Pennsylvania- Tom Smith (R) over Bob
Casey (D), +R

Virginia- Tim Kaine (D) over George Allen (R), D HOLD
Wisconsin- Tommy Thompson (R) over Tammy Baldwin (D), +R

Senate Control flips to GOP- 51 R/ 47 D/ 2 IND

Alright everyone, after writing for Menzies House for 2
years, and pouring in a great deal of effort into my posts dealing with the
2012 Presidential election, we come to this. My final prediction for Tuesday’s
results: 
Picture 5

Popular Vote:

Governor Mitt Romney – 51.2%

President Barack Obama- 48.3%
Third Party/Other- .5%


Electoral College:

Governor Mitt Romney- 309 Electoral Votes

President Barack Obama- 229 Electoral Votes

I am sure I will get flack for this, and it is only a
prediction (I may be spectacularly wrong, but there’s an argument to make
that I may be correct). I base this outcome on three metrics:

  • Finally, Mitt
    Romney’s favorability numbers now match Obama
    , as Mitt Romney has become
    more acceptable to voters, those same voters have soured on the President. If
    you pass the “Commander-in-Chief” test, you have an excellent shot at unseating
    an incumbent who is barely above water on job approval.

I want to once again thank everyone who has taken the time
to read and comment and I’m sure I will get more comments out of this post. In closing I will say this: looking at what is going on in the ground game and early voting, I firmly
believe that the GOP will turnout enough voters to give Governor Romney big
wins in the Midwest, thus electing him President of the United States.

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations and currently works in Communications for a Virginia-based Advocacy Group. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

2012 Presidential Debates: Round Three… Obama by default, but Romney Didn’t Lose.

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi gives his analysis of the final 2012 Presidential debate

The Final Presidential debate has concluded and after
watching all three I can safely tell you this: At no time did Obama have a
better performance than what Mitt Romney did in the first debate, period. That
being said, a few quick thoughts on this third and final debate of the 2012
election and what effect it could have as we reach the 14 days mark until the
votes are counted for this Presidential contest.

Obama Threw Plenty of Punches… But Had Nothing New to Show for
It.

This is why I give him the edge because he came out swinging
in a far more aggressive manner than Governor Romney did, but only because he
had to. Every single poll that has been conducted since the second debate has
shown that the momentum in this election is clearly with Governor Romney,
that’s just a fact. President Obama had no choice to but to get in there
tonight and throw some heat toward the Governor otherwise the race could be
declared over before any state even being called on election night. The last
two debates the President has done a great job of getting his base revved up,
and that’s clearly what he needs to do, but that being said he has offered nothing
with regards to a second term agenda and when looking to be reelected if you
are not running on your record (which he hasn’t been) you have to run on what
you will do. Instead, the entire Obama reelection campaign has been to attack
Governor Romney and make him unacceptable to voters. I’m not sure if it will
work, time will tell.

Governor Romney was Disadvantaged Tonight, but Played Mistake-Free

The advisers to Governor Mitt Romney clearly told him two things in preparation for tonight’s debate: First, do no harm, be
as safe as possible without seeming dethatched; second… pivot to the economy
every chance you get. Governor Romney did both, he was engaged and came
prepared to give his lines and discuss the ways in which he feels he would make
a better choice as President but what he also did was ensure that his best
issue against President Obama wasn’t left on the cutting room floor of
tonight’s discussion. He had a few moments when he shined and most of them
where when he moved from Foreign Policy to the economy and that is only natural
as the economy is his strong selling point with voters and President Obama’s
strength lies in his foreign policy record. Governor Romney chose NOT to invoke
the tragic death of US Ambassador Stevens in order to make his case and that
may have been a mistake, but we won't know for certain. That being said, he
made no major gaffes and also took no major risks and felt that he played the best
hand he could while having a slight lead in the polls.


Presidential-debate-obama-romney-e8b62abd8c64fd20
Romney (left) & Obama (right) face off one last time for votes

Moderate This… 

Coming into tonight’s debate there was the talk of all the
criticism from some of the performances of this years’ debate moderators. I
thought that Scheiffer (except for the binder and his couple of jokes meant to
mock Romney) was quite good tonight. He allowed a great deal of give and take
for the two candidates to discuss their views and how they may differ from each
other. Of the four moderators, he certainly was on par with Lehrer’s desire to
just “let them play” as opposed to the performances of Crowley and Radditz
constantly interrupting the gentlemen on the debate stage. Schieffer was also
not opposed to allowing the subjects of the question at hand to be expanded
upon and allowed both candidates to give a larger point of view of where they
come from and where they may go on several issues tonight.

This was the final debate and I believe that President Obama
may have curtailed the momentum that Governor Romney had coming in, both
nationally and in Swing State polls. I was wrong in my assessment last time at
how the polls would even out, so I may be wrong this time again. That being
said, I will be doing a few more posts in the upcoming weeks before the
election on he key Senate races and which states will play the largest role
come election night, but as always I will do my best to present a fair and
accurate picture of the climate of the election here in the United States!

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations and currently works in Communications for a Virginia-based Advocacy Group. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

Presidential Debate Post-Mortem (Part 2): Round Two goes to President Obama

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi gives his post-game analysis of tonight's second Presidential Debate!

Some quick thoughts on tonight’s second of three
Presidential Debates and what it means going forward in the campaign. 

President Obama
Showed Up… Finally

After his dismal performance in the first debate,
left-wingers were extremely nervous/upset/distraught/angry/bewildered as to
where their candidate was in Denver and why he decided not to participate in
the first Presidential debate with Governor Romney. Well, tonight was a completely
different story as President Obama was squarely on offense bringing much to the
debate stage that he left aside just a few weeks ago. This was a more engaged,
more prepared, and far more interested President and maybe that’s because he
knew the stakes were quite high this time around after his lousy showing in the
first debate. He definitely did what he needed to do in order to halt any
further momentum that Governor Romney was building over the last week or so.

Governor Romney Played it Safe 

Yes President Obama did win tonight, but not in the fashion
that Governor Romney did in the first debate. Whereas President Obama was not
engaged and very impatient and unappealing in the first debate… Governor Romney
was only not as strong. Governor Romney certainly brought with him some ammo
and played on certain terrain that the President ventured into, but he was far
more cautious and less aggressive with the President (and the moderator) than
he was in the first debate in Denver. Tonight in New York the Governor decided
to land punches where he could and take a few punches without really fighting
back at times. This may have been a mistake, but we won’t know for sure… yet. 


Ap_presidential_debate_romney_obama_pointing_thg_121016_wg
Romney (left) & Obama (right) square off in New York for Debate #2

We Are Tied… With One
Debate Left
 

This is it people, the election is only a few weeks away and
the candidates have been on the stage multiple times and we have seen them win
and lose… what else is left? We have a final debate on Monday night in a ‘one-on-one’
fashion as with the first debate where the focus will be Foreign Policy and
National Security and I suspect that depending on the polling that leads up to
that debate we will see certain strategies play out for each campaign. I expect
President Obama to stem the tide and get back to even with Governor Romney in
national polling and I suspect swing state polls may halt their forward momentum
toward Governor Romney, setting up a final showdown in the swing state of Florida
Monday night. The ball will be in the court of both men seeking the Presidency
and the final debate could be the deciding factor for who wins this election.

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations and currently works in Communications for a Virginia-based Advocacy Group. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

Presidential Debate Wrap-Up: Round One Goes to Romney

Amir-IljaziMenzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi discusses the first Presidential Debate between Obama/Romney.

Some quick thoughts on tonight’s first of three Presidential
Debates and what it means going forward in the campaign.
 

Romney Brought His
A-Game

Governor Romney was well prepared for tonight’s debate
bringing three things that were essential to coming out on top in the first
debate between the Presidential contenders. The first thing he brought was a
rebuttal to the attacks on his policy views and proposals on issues ranging
from Taxes to Medicare, to even Education. He did something extremely important
in the first part of the debate not allowing President Obama to define him on
the issue of taxes, unlike McCain in 2008. Second, he brought with him an
authenticity much like Obama has when he discussed real stories of real
American voters he has encountered on the campaign trail. Finally, he exuded a
certain confidence to be a part of the debate stage, something that voters do
respond to in kind.

121004010959-obama-romney-debate-portrait
Romney & Obama Meet in First Debate

Where was Obama? 

This wasn’t an Intel-briefing so I am surprised he appeared
to skip the event. In all seriousness it did seem as if the President just
didn’t want to be there and he did stumble at times when trying to formulate a
response to either Mr. Lehrer or Governor Romney. It was akin to the famous
“watch-check” by former President GHW Bush in 1992 when he famously glanced at
his wristwatch during a debate with then Governor Bill Clinton and third party
Candidate Ross Perot. President Obama needs to step up his effort, and I
suspect he will, as my thought is he was either downplaying his expectations
for next time, or felt he had the lead decided to not take any chances thinking
Romney would not come out swinging as he did. Expect a better performance from
the President in the second debate, I highly doubt he will be subdued in Debate
number two.

 

What Media Bias?

Debate Moderator Jim Lehrer was very leveled in the debate
and I was surprised. I am the biggest critic of media bias that I know and yet
not one single question about “47%” tonight (that almost cost me btw). So, why
the kid gloves for Romney from his toughest opponent, the Obama-loving press? I
have two theories: One, they wanted Romney to win the first debate so they
could have a story to talk about, everyone loves a comeback! Or, they thought
(as many others), that this wouldn’t be close and President Obama would come
out and eviscerate Romney. I will be particularly interested in the
expectations game now as many were predicting an Obama win in the first debate.
I suspect they will raise the bar for Romney in New York (site of debate #2),
and then the moderator (Candy Crowley) will likely try to help the President to
ensure that he gets his groove back, even if he doesn’t need the help!

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations and currently works in Communications for a Virginia-based Advocacy Group. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

2012 Election Post-Convention Preview: A Stubborn Contest

Amir-IljaziMenzies House U.S. Politics Editor Michi Iljazi discusses the state of the 2012 US Presidential Election now that the conventions have wrapped up.

The 2012 Election is less than 60 days away and both sides
have now had their respective conventions and though the two sides have
striking differences (as well as glaring similarities) the
contours of this race have been somewhat stubborn
ever since GOP Nominee
Mitt Romney secured his party’s nomination in May of 2012. The respective
candidates have not been able to have a defining moment yet in the campaign
that has generated any kind of “breakaway” from the other,
nor has either
candidate done anything that would jeopardize the steady ground they are
standing on to possibly separate themselves from the other and create the
needed distance in order to close out the contest in what is now the final
stretch of a now multi-year campaign for the White House. 

Obama romney new bt
Romney (left); Obama (right) make the final pitch to voters

Why It’s Close:

This is a Base
Election, Think 2004

The two sides in this election are now firmly behind their
respective nominee, and there can be no
doubt that this election is strikingly similar to the contest that took place
eight years ago between President Bush and Senator John Kerry.
The most
important similarity is that the incumbent knows that he cannot run as some
sort of outsider looking to bring something “new” to the table so the strategy
is two fold: fire
up your base & go hard after your opponent early and often.
In 2004,
the Bush reelection team used the issue of gay marriage to turn out their base,
while making sure to paint Senator Kerry as an unacceptable alternative in a
“war on terror” environment. The strategy worked for President Bush and though
the race was close, it was clear that Kerry’s image among the electorate when
it came to National Security was a major factor in getting undecided voters to
go against him; and the issue of gay marriage turned out the conservative base
to vote for President Bush in several important swing states (including Ohio,
which decided that election). In this election, the Obama reelection team is
using issues such as abortion and taxes that appeal to their bases in order gin
up the excitement that is needed from the base in order to have a chance to
win. There is one glaring difference
in 2012… the economy is in bad shape and President Obama will need to
neutralize that in some way
in order to follow through on a base-election
strategy.

Undecided Voters
Remain Undecided

The closeness of the 2012 race can also be attributed to the
fact that those limited amount of voters that have yet to make up there mind
have seemed to be unmoved going all the way back as far as May of 2012.
The
reason why this 6-8% remain at a standstill could be attributed to a number of
factors, all of which make it nearly impossible to gauge when and how they will
ultimately decided. The
fate of the undecided voter could spell trouble for either side depending on
the events that take place between now and the election (debates, jobs reports,
overseas issues).
The key for President Obama is to get the undecided
percentage as low as possible seeing as historically in any election, undecided
voters tend to break for the challenger (in this case, Governor Romney). The
key for Governor Romney is to close the deal on the “acceptability” question
with as many undecided voters as possible before the election, so he may have a
better chance of them breaking his way come November.

Swing-State-Map-2012-1024x598
An updated look at the electoral map shows how close the race really is

The Attention Span
Gap

The last reason, in my opinion, to explain the closeness of
this race is that in all honesty many voters are just not tuned into the
election at this point. A
number of potential voters don’t even know who Mr. Romney is,
even after
the conventions. People, for the most part, are concerned with their own
lives right now and in these down economic times there is a potential to just
brush politics aside for the most part going well into the summer without
really even wondering about the larger questions that make up a campaign.

This is not the fault of anyone, and when the media and campaigns are focused
on miniscule issues, you can’t really blame your average American for putting
it aside until well into the Fall. With
the coming debates, this will change, it may not alter the closeness of the
race, but more voters will be focused and opinions may start be to shaped or
even solidify
as the day to choose approaches.

Why It Will Stay Close

Economy vs.
Personality

The most
important asset President Obama has in his bid for reelection is himself.

The inspiring story he brought with in the 2008 campaign and the personal
likeability he enjoys with voters from all party affiliations has helped to
keep him either tied or slightly ahead in an environment that nearly any other
incumbent would be sinking in. The US
economy just had another disastrous jobs report
and though some media
allies attempted to spin the numbers in the report to seem as if good news was
abound, even the Obama White House knew how bad this most recent report was.
There are two more
jobs reports coming
, including one the Friday before the election, and
though President Obama will use the same charisma and charm in order to keep
pace with Governor Romney’s clear advantage on many Economic issues… it may not
be enough.

Risk Averse
Candidates

The other reason why this race will likely remain close up
until the final days is because neither
President Obama nor Governor Romney are risky when it comes to political
strategy.
In 2008 you had the “No Drama Obama” team who did everything
possible to campaign exactly the way any other candidate in the Democrats’
position in 2008 would have; while John McCain’s risky campaign could be summed
up in one or two instances over a two-year period… most notably the selection
of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running-mate less than 24 hours after
President Obama’s acceptance speech at the DNC in Denver. This time around, both
men are playing it safe,
and though I wrote about the “boldness” of the
Ryan pick for VP, the truth is the pick isn’t risky, there’s a clear difference
and Ryan is exactly
what Romney needed without taking a major gamble (i.e. Rubio).
The last
chance for risk will come in the debates, and I would guess that both
candidates will be as “script-driven” as they were in their acceptance speeches
these past two weeks.

The election will be here in just less than two months, and
as both
campaigns flood the airwaves, barnstorm the swing states, and send out the
surrogates
in order to deliver the message they feel will best give them a
winning formula… the one
thing they need to remember is that in a race this close,
nobody knows for
sure what will be the deciding factor so playing to your strengths and avoiding
even the slightest mistake will be key to keeping it close enough to have a
chance one November 6th arrives.

Michi Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University and currently resides in Washington, D.C. He has specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking, voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organizations and currently works in Communications for a Virginia-based Advocacy Group. You may follow him on Twitter at @Michi83

Romney Goes Bold: Paul Ryan selected for VP

Amir-IljaziMenzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi on Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as VP

Multiple sources (not including the Mitt VP App) have now confirmed that Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan will be selected as Mitt Romney’s running-mate in a formal appearance in Norfolk, VA at 9am EST this morning. I will be the first to admit that while I had Congressman Ryan in my Final Four Veepstakes Bracket, he was the fourth most likely of those I wrote about in that post. The reason he was ranked lowest of the four… he is by far the riskiest of choices, but risky may be exactly what Mitt Romney has been looking for all along. 

In selecting Congressman Ryan Mitt Romney has now made the 2012 election not just a referendum on President Obama… but a referendum on the policies of liberal progressives that have been a staple of the Democratic Party for more than fifty years. Paul Ryan is a bold thinker who has championed two very gutsy reforms: Entitlement Reform and Tax Reform. Congressman Ryan’s Budget has been a source of great controversy as it faced a barrage of attacks from the left, but also some on the right. The 2012 election will be squarely fought on battle-lines not just about the unemployment outlook and the deficit, but also the future of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security and also the best way forward on meaningful tax reform. Keep in mind, when I say tax reform, I mean actual reform and not just a debate about the tax rates.

T1larg.ryan.romney.mar30
Here you have the GOP 2012 ticket: Romney/Ryan 2012

Mr. Romney has wanted this election… in fact… he NEEDS this election to be about policy, and NOT personality. If he has in fact picked Paul Ryan, he may have assured just that.

Amir Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida. Before relocating back to Florida, he specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking and voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for a Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organisation. You may follow him on Twitter@Michi83

Romney VP announcement in Norfolk, VA tomorrow at 9am EST

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi with all the news on the 2012 US Election

Fox News' Carl Cameron has confirmed that Mitt Romney will announce his VP pick tomorrow at 9am EST in Norfolk, VA.

The Weekly Standard is reporting that the campaign is making preparations for a Paul Ryan selection, but also one or two other candidates (my guess is Portman and Christie are the other two)

Could be a huge headfake here, but all signs are pointing to Paul Ryan… but we'll know for sure tomorrow and I will be sure to update!

UPDATE (12:11am)- NBC News reporting that Paul Ryan will be the VP choice

UPDATE (12:18am)- Multiple sources now confirming that Paul Ryan will be the VP choice

2012 GOP Veepstakes Finals: Rubio vs. Portman… “Exciting” vs. “Safe”

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi makes the penultimate prediction in his multiple-posting series on the GOP's likely Vice-Presidential contenders.

A little more than a year ago, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced what many already knew, that he was running for the GOP nomination for President in the 2012 election against President Barack Obama. Slightly more than a month ago, Mr. Romney did what many also already knew he would do… secure that nomination. The last few months have provided certain clues, names, and rationales for the individuals who may be asked to join Mr. Romney on the ticket for the general election campaign this fall and there has been no shortage of people willing to give an opinion, myself included. We have now reached the point in the campaign where the VP pick will be made (privately, not yet publicly revealed) and I say this because the mistakes of the McCain campaign were unique to that campaign. There is no doubt that President Obama, President Bush, Senator Kerry and President Clinton all knew who they were going to choose several weeks before the public was made aware of the pick, and I am certain the Romney campaign will be no different. 
  Picture 6
The orignal 32 contendors for VP (above) are now narrowed down to two

The choice for Vice President, in my opinion, has always been between two dynamics and this time around that still holds true. One dynamic is the “exciting pick” that tends to be more about style and generating buzz about a ticket, certainly that is what won out for the McCain team in 2008, and in all honesty they had no choice but to go for that excitement factor considering what they were up against (stylistically speaking). The second dynamic in the Vice-Presidential paradox is the “safe pick” which is much more about the substance of the campaign and the credentials of the individual. This type of pick can be seen in many recent selections including the current Vice-President, Mr. Biden who was not only seen as a “safe” pick, but he was also someone who “balanced” the ticket for then-Senator Obama in many ways including age, experience, policy expertise, and middle-class appeal. Mr. Romney is now in the position where he must decide what type of dynamic will work best for his candidacy?
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Romney's (center) VP choice near: Rubio (left) & Portman (right) are in the mix

Within the two dynamics, there are a number of individuals who fit the criteria in more ways than one, and that is where we started when I began the Veepstakes Brackets months ago. The 32 initial contenders were a mix of many but in the end I could classify them all as being part of one of the two dynamics. “Exciting” choices like Condoleezza Rice and Gov. Chris Christie were eliminated just as were “Safe” choices like Sen. Jon Kyl and Gov. Mitch Daniels. That being said, the final two contenders undoubtedly represent the truest forms of the “exciting” vs. “safe” dynamic.

The case for Marco Rubio falls into line with those who feel Mr. Romney needs to make an “exciting” choice in order to increase his chances at winning the election. Senator Rubio would add an instant jolt into the Presidential campaign and many in the conservative base would be absolutely ecstatic with his selection to be on the ticket. Senator Rubio would provide an initial boost in polling for the Romney campaign both nationally and in specific swing states including NV, CO, and his home state (and mine) of FL and no state may be more important to Romney than the “Sunshine State.” Those who are endorsing Rubio for the VP nod are also looking at it from a demographic standpoint with the belief that placing Rubio on the ticket may provide Mr. Romney the opportunity to chip away at President Obama’s heavy advantage with Hispanic voters, an advantage of more than 40% as it stands now. Mr. Rubio, 41, is also seen as someone who could reach out to younger voters, another demographic where Mr. Romney is well behind the President. Certainly the fact that he is Catholic has to be seen as something of an advantage when weighing him for VP, considering the recent infringements upon the Catholic Church that Obama Administration has engaged in related to ObamaCare. Finally, the optimism that Senator Rubio exudes when discussing his life story on the trail is an asset that many believe can help the Romney campaign in their efforts to identify with voters from states all across the country. Nobody can deny the uplifting story that Senator Rubio brings to the table, and it is something that can appeal to voters from all backgrounds.

The case for Rob Portman rings true with those going for the “safe” choice. Senator Portman of Ohio is safe in almost every way, his bland and boring background practically screams conventional. Picking Portman would be all about the credentials, with just a hint of electoral map strategy. Senator Portman is one of the most qualified individuals in consideration for the VP, and he has been since the start. He was a former congressman and now a first term Senator hailing from the crucial swing state of Ohio… no Republican has ever won the Presidency without winning Ohio. In between his time representing Ohio, he was a member of the Bush Administration in two different roles, and for both he was confirmed by the U. S. Senate. He was United States Trade Representative overseeing economic issues, which directly impacted how the United States does business both domestically and internationally. He was also confirmed to the OMB (Office of Management & Budget) Director for the Bush White House, where he was able to burnish his credentials on fiscal policy even further. Senator Portman’s credentials bring to light the first rule that many see as essential when choosing a Vice President, that rule is to pick someone who will be ready to be President on Day One. The pick for VP is the first major decision a nominee makes and when choosing someone for the number two spot, it will convey a message to voters on what you want from a Vice President. Senator Portman also brings almost no liability in the fact that he has been vetted already… twice. The Senate confirmed him for cabinet positions less than ten years ago, and had there been something in his past the Democrats in the Senate would have made sure to make it public. Finally, Portman reinforces exactly what the Romney candidacy is about… the economy.
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Rubio (left) auditions for VP on a campaign stop in PA with Romney (right) 

The two Senators both have compelling cases as to why they should have the edge in the Veepstakes, but in the end Romney can’t pick them both and there is no candidate who is the “perfect mix” of the two… otherwise that’s who I’d be writing about now. How does one decide between the two? Well in all honesty any individual can make the argument in any fashion they choose, but the way that I have come to my decision is to lay out exactly what one brings to the table over the other… and the risk that one carries over the other. In nearly all aspects, the advantage lies with the same Senator.

Experience Factor

Senator Portman has experience at the federal level that spans more than a decade and carries in both the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Senator Rubio is in his first statewide held office and has zero experience in a White-House capacity.

Senator Portman is experienced in issues on the economy and jobs that go back to his days as a congressman from Ohio all the way through his years in the Bush Administration as Trade Rep and OMB Director. Senator Rubio’s experience and actions in the U. S. Senate thus far seem to suggest an emphasis for other important issues such as Foreign Policy and Immigration policy.

Risk Factor

Senator Portman has been vetted twice before by the U.S. Senate, and there is nothing in his background that nobody knows about at this point in his life. Senator Rubio has not been vetted at this point and there are things in his political past that may give pause to the Romney campaign as we near a decision for VP.

Senator Portman can face not a single question about his preparedness to be President of the United States should something unforeseen take place if Mr. Romney is elected. Senator Rubio has not yet made the case that he is prepared to assume the Presidency if such a need occurred.

Senator Portman’s real risk lies in his ties with the Bush Administration and while many have said this may be what will doom his chances, I take an entirely different approach to this argument. No matter whom Mr. Romney chooses, the Obama campaign is going to try (as they have been) to tie the Romney ticket to Bush. So Portman or no Portman, the “Romney is Bush” message will be a part of the Obama strategy and it is highly likely that voters who would buy such an argument… have already made their decision anyway.
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Portman (left) has been a 'fundraising machine' for Romney (right) so far

Electoral Strategy

Senator Rubio doesn’t guarantee Florida, but he certainly increases the chances that Mr. Romney will be able to flip the state back to the GOP column after President Obama won there in 2008. Senator Rubio also may help to put other states in play just enough to flip them to the GOP as well; those being Nevada and Colorado.

Senator Portman may certainly help Mr. Romney in flipping the state of Ohio considering in his 2010 Senate victory he carried 82 of the 88 counties in the Buckeye State. He also helps in that he can have an appeal to neighboring Midwest states that will be in play including Iowa, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania… which all went for President Obama in 2008.

The Message

Senator Rubio would send the message that Mr. Romney feels the most important aspect to winning would be to excite the base while making a slight demographic play.

Senator Portman would serve to reinforce Romney’s economic message and make nearly the entire focus of the 2012 election campaign about the economy. 
Picture 7
My analysis of how the electoral map looks today (H/T 270ToWin.com)

The Choice 

The 2012 election has been waged for nearly three years now, as potential candidates spent months raising money, raising their profiles, debating each other, and then ultimately competing in Primaries. There have been two constants through this entire process: One, Mitt Romney and how he methodically was able to capture the GOP nomination with very limited mistakes. Two, the Economy continuing to be the most important issue on the minds of voters… on all sides. Mr. Romney has succeeded because he has been able to convince enough voters (and donors) that he is the candidate who has the ability, experience, and competence to run an aggressive campaign against President Obama, and one that would have the best chance to win.

No matter what you may think of Mr. Romney in terms of his views, his political skills and that of his campaign have been extremely impressive thus far. Though some mistakes have been made, they have pounced at nearly every opportunity when it has come to taking on President Obama on his major weakness, the state of economy. Mr. Romney has also been an adept fundraiser and ensured that the coordination between his campaign and the institutional counterpart (the RNC) will be close, match, or excel in terms of money raised against President Obama. Finally, the campaign has been very disciplined to stay focused on the most important issue in this election, which is the overall state of the US Economy and President Obama’s leadership as it relates to the it and the decisions he has made in his first term. This despite the attempts by the Obama Administration and their allies to try and change the subject and shift the focus to choose your issue of the week (gay marriage, immigration, war on women, contraception, Bain Capital, Osama Bin Laden, etc.).

In the final analysis, it would be almost shocking to think that Mr. Romney would do anything to change the focus of this election, and that goes not only for issues… but also for individuals. In 2008 Senator McCain needed to change the dynamic so that then-Senator Obama wasn’t the sole focus of media and voters in the final months of that campaign, and on that battle the Senator succeeded with his selection of Gov. Palin. Fast-forward to 2012 and this election… Mr. Romney wants, and really needs the focus to be on President Obama as a referendum on his first term. A pick that runs the risk of possibly overshadowing the President may be exactly what the Obama campaign wants.

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Based on experience, preparedness, electoral strategy, risk factor, and messaging… Mr. Romney will, and should choose Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to be his Vice Presidential running mate on the 2012 GOP ticket.

Amir Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida. Before relocating back to Florida, he specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking and voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for a Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organisation. You may follow him on Twitter@Michi83

THE SUPREME COURT SPEAKS: ‘OBAMACARE’ CONSTITUTIONAL

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi discusses the historic ruling on the Affordable Care Act and who the winners and losers were.

The US Supreme Court finally rendered their opinion on President Obama’s historic Health Care Reform legislation. The outcome was a surprise, and the immediate effects seem to be a positive for several of those who had much at stake. Here are the winners and losers from the monumental decision. 

WINNERS

President Obama

Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen; this ruling was a major victory for President Obama on multiple fronts. The Affordable Care Act was his signature domestic legislative achievement and the biggest issue for him and his party aside from the economy. The fact that the highest court in the land affirmed the law means that the one year President Obama and Democrats spent getting the law passed and the two years they have spent defending it did not go to waste as we head toward another election. Had the law fallen, it would have been devastating for an incumbent President struggling to find a salient strategy on how to run for reelection.

Romney-obama
President Obama (left), Mitt Romney (right) will battle on Health Care this Fall 

Mitt Romney

Yes, Mr. Romney was also a winner in the decision to uphold “ObamaCare” today. How you ask? Several ways and the first being financially; Mr. Romney’s Presidential campaign raised more than $1 million dollars in online donations in the hours after the decision was announced. This is also a victory for Mr. Romney in terms of getting the base energized to go out and vote; there can be no debate now about whether or not the most conservative voters will turn out to vote for an otherwise “moderate” GOP nominee… the base has been shored up. Finally, Mr. Romney can now discuss the issue not as a Health Care bill, but a “tax increase” and judging by historical standards, tax increases don’t play well with voters.

Chief Justice John Roberts

In a surprising move, the conservative George W. Bush-nominated Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court sided with the liberal justices to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act… but the way in which he did it was truly the most important aspect of how he was a winner today. Mr. Roberts did three things in this ruling: First, he silenced those on the left who have tried to paint the “Roberts’ Court” as political in nature, that argument is now null and void. Second, he upheld the limited-government principle that sought to argue the role of the Commerce Clause as applied by law. Third, he put the ultimate fate of the law in the hands of the voters while doing what no Democrat would do… tell the truth that it was a tax.

LOSERS

Conventional Wisdom

So much for insight and analysis! Nobody got this one right, not even the left-wingers who said it would be upheld could have envisioned the rationale being quite possibly a new front on the battle for the 2012 campaign. I called it wrong as did many other observers and really everyone did, from the beginning. The genesis from most “experts” was that it would be upheld by a wide majority; then it seemed as if it was headed for disaster; and all along many thought Kennedy would be the swing vote, he wasn’t. The observers were way off on this one and that isn’t limited to any media venue, or side of the political aisle.
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Chief Justice Roberts (above) went where nobody, left or right thought he would 

Senate Democrats

The most vulnerable group of politicians are those elected officials who voted for ObamaCare and the 2010 midterm elections proved that. Now, the Democrats in the Senate will be tasked with going to their constituents and explaining why they voted for an effective tax increase to the tune of more than $500 billion dollars. This issue will not be helpful to many Senate Democrats in close races and with control of the Senate in total play for the 2012 election, it has just been made that much more difficult by being burdened with a vote to increase taxes on their recent record.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

The moment that the Affordable Care Act was out on a track to be heard in front of the US Supreme Court, all attention was focused and had been focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy. He has been seen as the “swing” vote on the court over the last several years and many believed that whichever way he went would in fact be the way of the majority. It is clear now that the real swing vote is not Kennedy, but Mr. Roberts as he is both a conservative mind, but also the “steward” of the institution he presides over. 
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Justice Kennedy (above) is a "swing" vote in the court, no-more

Anthony Kennedy has been more of “reliable” conservative in the last few terms of the court as opposed to the “swing” vote that he used to be during his days serving with Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. I would venture to guess that the attention he was accustomed to receiving in the run-up to major decisions will likely dissipate, considering the vehement dissent he authored today.

Amir Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida. Before relocating back to Florida, he specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking and voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for a Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organisation. You may follow him on Twitter@Michi83