As Election Day grows closer, some pundits seem almost breathless in their prediction that the Presidential election will be close. Well, of course it will be close. It has been obvious from the campaign's first day that it would be close. But there is overwhelming evidence that President Obama will win.
Why is the race so close?
1). First and foremost, the Republicans' trickledown, let-Wall-Street-run-wild policies sent the economy into a catastrophic recession just as Obama took office. This was not your run of the mill business cycle recession. It was caused by a financial collapse the likes of which America had not seen since the Great Depression.
The historic evidence is very clear that whenever there is a recession induced by a financial collapse, it take years for an economy to recover. American did not fully recover from the Great Depression itself until World War II -- almost twelve years after the stock market collapsed.
Had the Republicans remained in office and responded as Republican President Hoover did in 1929, the same fate could have awaited America once again. But instead, the Obama Administration moved immediately to stimulate the economy and shore up the financial system -- and especially to rescue the auto industry -- using policies that in most cases the GOP opposed.
Those policies have set the economy on a path toward sustained growth. But the Republicans have been hell-bent on stalling growth with the expressed purpose of defeating Obama this fall. They have sabotaged the economy by preventing even a vote on the Americans Jobs Act that most economists believe would create another 1.7 million jobs and would have prevented massive layoffs in state and local governments.
Mitt Romney is like an arsonist who complains that the fire department isn't putting out his fire fast enough, then tries to convince America to allow him to take over the effort armed with buckets of gasoline -- the same failed policies that caused the fire in the first place.
But the Republicans are right about one thing. It's hard to get re-elected in a tough economic environment -- even one that is improving. That is the main reason this election is close. If unemployment were at six percent, Obama would be re-elected by the same kind of electoral vote margins the Bill Clinton piled up in 1996.
2). The election is close because Wall Street -- and super-wealthy right-wing oil tycoons like the Koch Brothers -- have spent huge amounts of money to defeat Obama. This week alone, Romney and his outside group allies have booked $57 million in TV time.
Their financial advantage has been neutralized by the spectacular Obama fundraising operation -- particularly the incredible small donor program that has raised funds from over 10 million individual contributions.
And its effect has also been ameliorated by the fact that TV spots can be bought by both campaigns at the lowest possible rate, and super PACs or outside groups must spend much more per television viewer.
But the fact remains that all of those negative attack ads about Obama have kept the race close.
3). The American electorate is closely divided. In 2008 the economy had collapsed under Republican rule. The GOP candidate was not very popular. And the Republican incumbent President was downright radioactive. Regardless, the Republican candidate still got 47 percent of the popular vote.
Of course the race will be close.
But there are at least eight very good reasons why Obama will win. The first four have to do with extreme right wing policies Romney has advocated that have made it clear to key blocks of voters that he is simply not on their side.
1). Romney's advocacy of the "free market uber allies" view that we should have "let Detroit go bankrupt" may be his most costly single mistake. His position has crippled his campaign in the crucial industrial Midwest -- especially Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. There are 780,000 auto-related jobs in Ohio alone. The auto rescue is one of the key reasons why unemployment in Ohio is well below the national average. His opposition to the auto rescue alone may be enough to cost him Ohio -- and the election.
2). Romney's embrace of extremist positions that require the government to get involved in personal decisions about women's reproductive health -- especially contraception and abortion -- help drive a huge and continuing gender gap. A recent Gallup poll found that these questions were the most important electoral issue to nearly 40 percent of women -- more important than the economy. Bottom line for most women: "my body, my business." Romney has aligned himself with the most extreme anti-choice views -- represented by his running mate Paul Ryan. If elected, he could potentially select three justices to the Supreme Court that could ban access to abortion altogether. That's enough by itself to alienate a big block of women voters.
3). Romney's statements about "self deportation," vetoing the Dream Act, the Arizona "papers please" law, have made him toxic to many recent immigrants -- and especially to Hispanics -- the fastest growing voting block in America. That will cost him dearly in swing states of Nevada -- where Obama has a large lead -- as well as Colorado and Florida, where the race is very tight.
4). Romney has supported Paul Ryan's plan to eliminate Medicare and convert it to a voucher program that would raise out of pocket costs to seniors by $6,500 a year. That position is enough to decide the votes of many older Americans -- a fact that could be determinative in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and especially Florida.
5). Obama has articulated a far more compelling agenda than Romney. It will become even clearer during the last weeks of the campaign that Obama has a program that can build long-term prosperity for the middle class, while Romney's trickle down policies will benefit only the wealthy -- and will fail to create long-term growth.
We have had two great economic experiments in America during the last thirty years. The Clinton policies during the 1990's that grew the economy from the middle out, invested in education, infrastructure and long-term economic growth, and made the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes. That experiment ended with the most prosperous period in human history, budget surpluses as far as the eye could see, and 22 million new jobs.
The other experiment was conducted by George Bush and the Republicans. He cut taxes for the wealthy, tried to grow the economy from the top down, let Wall Street run wild, and conducted two wars without paying for them. The result was a massive increase in Federal deficits, zero net private sector job growth, and the worst economic collapse since the depression. You choose.
6). Democrats have largely defeated a systematic Republican voter suppression program. In Pennsylvania the attempt to suppress the vote by requiring state ID's that could not be provided in time for Election Day was stopped by the courts.
Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted's desperate attempts to block robust early voting -- especially the weekend before the election -- was ultimately snuffed out by the U.S. Supreme Court last week. Ninety three thousand people voted on the weekend before the 2008 election in Ohio, and they went heavily Democratic in large measure because of the Democratic "souls to the polls" program that got predominantly African American congregations to go vote immediately after their Sunday services. That, by itself, could decide the election.
7). The Obama ground game is utterly superior to its Republican counterpart. In many swing states the Obama ground operation never left after Election Day in 2008. Now it has vastly more volunteers, field offices, experienced organizers and sophisticated social media mechanisms. And in the run-up to the election it has outgunned the GOP in terms of voter contacts.
All you need to do is look at the early vote numbers. In Iowa a recent PPP poll found that 32 percent of voters have already cast their ballots and they are breaking for Obama 64 percent to 35 percent. You see the same trend throughout the key battlegrounds.
Remember, early votes are not simply cast by voters that would otherwise go to the polls on Election Day. Many are lower-propensity voters who get to the polls when it is convenient. And by banking huge numbers of votes before November 6th, Democrats are allowing themselves to concentrate their Get Out the Vote efforts on additional hard-to-get-out voters on Election Day.
8). Obama is just a better candidate than Romney.
There are nine qualities that, in my experience, are generally used by swing voters to evaluate candidates:
- Who is on my side?
- Does the candidate have strongly held values -- Is he committed to something other than himself?
- Is the candidate a strong, effective leader?
- Does the candidate respect me?
- Do I like or make an emotional connection with the candidate?
- Is the candidate self-confident?
- Does the candidate have integrity?
- Does the candidate have vision?
- Does the candidate inspire me?
When you evaluate Obama and Romney against those nine qualities, Obama wins in every category.
Romney is the embodiment of an out-of-touch plutocrat who will say anything to get elected. He is a guy who, throughout his career, was happy to close plants and outsource jobs, and destroy other people's lives, if it would make him and his investors more money. And if he is elected president, he will be beholden first and foremost to his new investors, the same way he was at Bain Capital, except in the case of this election, Romney's investors include mainly ultra-rightwing billionaires.
And can you imagine Mitt Romney representing America around the world? This is the guy who turned a "good will" trip, aimed at highlighting his foreign policy chops, into a "blooper reel." This was strong, effective leadership?
9). When given a choice between true progressive American values and the values of extreme individualism and greed, progressive values trump every time.
The fact is that most Americans believe that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. We believe that we're all in this together, that everyone should have a fair shot, pay their fair share and play by the same rules. We believe in the values of our soldiers who refuse to leave any of the comrades behind. Those are the values we were taught by our parents. Those are the values we learned in Sunday School.
"Greed is good" is not a family value. Americans don't believe that we succeed when everyone simply looks out for themselves, and ignores the common good.
Americans do not believe that we should have a society where the wealthiest one percent among us prospers, and the ninety nine percent does not.
We do not believe that 47 percent of our fellow Americans refuse to take responsibility for their lives. Mitt Romney does.
There hasn't been an election since World War II where the choice is clearer between a candidate who embodies mainstream progressive American values -- and one that that does not.
Those are the reasons I believe that Barack Obama will win re-election on November 6th. But that outcome rests squarely on the assumption that tens of thousands of ordinary Americans will do whatever is necessary -- personally -- to convince those last swing voters and turn our votes out to the polls.
If you want to make this prediction come true, it's up to you to get off the sidelines and stream out on to the field to join the army of volunteers who have devoted millions of hours to assure victory.
The right wing is still counting on progressives -- and on ordinary people of all sorts -- to stay home from the polls. They are counting on us to be dispirited and disengaged.
They will be wrong.
We will not allow them to destroy Medicare and Social Security.
We will not allow them to continue siphoning all of the increases in productivity and national income to the top 1 percent of the population.
We will not allow them to send women's rights back to the 1950's.
We will not allow them to demonize immigrants.
And we will not allow them to destroy the American middle class.
More than anything else, that is why we will win. Because we make it so.
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