Patterico's Pontifications


Five paths to victory, but only one Obama

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 12:34 pm

[Posted by Karl]

From Sam Stein at HuffPo:

At a briefing with reporters on Tuesday morning, top officials in the Obama campaign outlined five distinct paths that they can pursue to help the president win reelection.

Speaking at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, chief strategist David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina pledged to take the same numbers-based approach to the 2012 campaign that former campaign manager David Plouffe famously used in 2008. And in surveying the electoral map, they have gamed out several regional strategies to help them clear the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes.

The regional strategies are likely familiar to political junkies — the states Kerry won in 2004 plus Florida, or Ohio and Iowa, or North Carolina and Virginia, or Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, or some combination of these if Obama loses a state like Pennsylvania or Michigan.  Team Obama’s problem is that Gallup currently has Obama losing to either Romney or Gingrich in swing states like Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Granted, head-to-head polling is not predictive this far from Election Day, but Obama is at 43-45%, which says something about Obama’s weak position.

Moreover, Team Obama’s paths to victory are problematic.  To lapse into Newt-speak for a moment, these paths are not strategies, but projects in service of a strategy. 

You win the presidency by winning states, but as Jay Cost notes, the Obama campaign has a national strategy for winning them: (1) Do as well with the non-white vote as Obama did in 2008, with the expectation that it continues to increase as a share of the total electorate; (2) Hold steady with upscale white voters, who tend to be more focused on quality of life issues like environmentalism; and (3) Mitigate losses among the white working class. 

Jay — and Sean Trende and D.P. Kuhn — have identified the likely flaws in this plan.  First, the Hispanic vote may not grow commensurate with the increase in the Hispanic voting-age population, and has not maintained a level of support for Obama to the degree African-Americans have.  Second, Obama is faring badly with the white vote generally, including white professionals, particularly if a bad economy takes their minds off issues like the environment.  Third, Obama will have difficulty holding his losses among the white working class, which were a significant part of Obama’s 2008 coalition in the Midwest.  As Kuhn notes:

Obama’s gains with whites in 2008 were limited to men. Obama performed as well with white women as Al Gore did in 2000. He even won the same share of college-educated white women as Gore. Obama did surpass Kerry’s performance with these so-called “soccer moms” by a couple points, but he negated those gains by underperforming among the so-called “waitress moms.” And that was with historic winds at his back.

Critically, Obama’s gains with downscale and upscale white men occurred after the market crashed. Today, Obama’s approval rating with white men (31 percent) resembles his standing before Lehman Brothers brought Wall Street down and the American economy with it.

This means that Obama is not on track to emulate Kerry’s performance with whites. Obama is, instead, heading in the direction of Walter Mondale. And there’s no route to re-election if he even modestly out-performs Mondale with whites, partly due to the disproportionate influence of rural states in the Electoral College.

Fourth, as Trende notes (and Jay has on other occasions), it is just plain difficult to maintain a broad political coalition, e.g.,when Obama panders to upscale environmentalists, he alienates bitter clingers in the Rust Belt.  Fifth, as USA Today notes:

The demographic groups who provided his highest levels of support in 2008 are the same ones who have been hit hardest by the nation’s slow economic recovery.  

While the nation’s overall unemployment rate dropped to 8.6% in November, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that African-American unemployment actually rose from October to 15.5%. For those 20-24, it was up to 14.2%. The jobless rate for Hispanics was unchanged at 11.4%.

 Last, and related to some of the prior points, Barack Obama is no longer “a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views,” as it was put in The Audacity of Hope.  His advisers can dream up many paths to victory, but they have only one candidate now, one with a record.


62 Responses to “Five paths to victory, but only one Obama”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (f07e38)

  2. I think racial polls, tend to further segregate us. When they keep saying “(whatever)% of Hispanics agree,” you’re setting the stage for whatever percentage that doesn’t agree to be Alan Wested or Marco Rubioed.

    I would rather just see total numbers. It would destroy the progressive narrative.

    As long as I’m dreaming, I’d like a Porsche.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  3. Its the complete loss of the blank slate that dooms Obama. He can’t BS his way through questions/issues as he did in 2008 without a record. Especially since every one of his BS answers has been contradicted by his actual performance in office.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  4. Ghost,

    I have considered your points myself. However, campaigns would still continue to poll in this manner, because it’s ultimately useful to them.

    I don’t quite share your concern that publicly reporting such results enforces groupthink. Indeed, the declining Hispanic support for Obama suggests otherwise.

    Karl (f07e38)

  5. Honestly, I have to agree with an earlier post, about racial polls just dividing us a nation, as opposed to doing some actual good. With that said, I honestly can’t say who will be elected..obama gets alot of flack for the economy and such but people need to realize the WORLD GLOBAL economy is at a breaking point not just the US, and most of these problems were either already around when bush was president or were at least on the forseeable horizon.

    nathan (e2c7f6)

  6. The only problem I see with your theory is the potential GOP candidates.

    JEA (f28101)

  7. I think Urkel’s best bet is to convict about 40 million of felonies by EO.

    Resign, Dog Meat, and leave the silverware!

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  8. Good point, Karl. I didn’t mean for it to sound as though I believe they do it on purpose. I just mean, if the pollsters only released this number of Americans feel this way, then the lefts screams of looming Jim Crowe laws would finally resonate with people as the empty bs it is.

    Ghost (1eed76)

  9. EVERY candidate has multiple paths to victory. The question is whether any of them are feasible. This is nothing more than liberal navel-gazing and early attempts to introduce the ‘inevitable’ narrative. Nothing to see here …

    ombdz (2a81ef)

  10. Michigan is a state that could turn to the gop. A state hit extremely hard during the democrats control.

    sickofrinos (44de53)

  11. “Keep America American” means WHAT, exactly???

    JEA (f28101)

  12. Citi Bank is forecasting S&P 985, Dow 9300 by Q2. Just the latest firm to realize Europe has sold off most of its assets for dollars already while Bennie just said he’s got nuthin but good thoughts for the blighters.

    You are totally hosed Jug-eared Fool, quit now and Uncle Bob might give you a hovel from whence to rule the WORLD!!!

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  13. Moochelle is rumored to have an SS squeeze on the side. Maybe Urkel is playing the cuckold for sympathy.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  14. Second, Obama is faring badly with the white vote generally, including white professionals, particularly if a bad economy takes their minds off issues like the environment.

    I agree completely. When you are worried about filling your and your families empty bellies, insignificant piddling little snaildarters seem not to matter very much .

    Besides, with most of the environazis being avid evolutionists, why should they worry if something becomes extinct? After all, won’t something else magically evolve to take its place?

    peedoffamerican (ee1de0)

  15. I was watching Fox News earlier today, and they had the latest Iowa republican rankings. They had the pictures of the candidates in a row with the candidates names below. Newt was in the number 1 spot. Romney was in second place, but above his name, was a picture of Obammy. Guess whoever was posting the stats just couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

    peedoffamerican (ee1de0)

  16. he was not the one
    they were waiting for or change
    that they were seeking

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  17. it too bad, so sad
    the seas did not recede nor
    were they slowed.. ha! ha!

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  18. “difficult journey”
    his “profound humility”
    his “limitations”

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  19. Dennis Miller dropped Newton today and said that Romney is “looking infinitely better”.

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  20. Newton doesn’t have a Ghost of a chance and he doesn’t even smoke da weed.

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  21. There was a New York Times article today all about this – with diagrams.

    Sammy Finkelman (d3daeb)

  22. ____________________________________________

    obama gets alot of flack for the economy

    I know most people vote with their wallets, pocketbooks or purses, but I’d dislike Obama even if the economy were doing nicely. Unfortunately, too many other folks would not, merely illustrating their being driven by a form of financial self-centeredness—by money, money, money!

    IOW, they’re not that bothered by President “Goddamn America” being a typical leftist when it comes to social-cultural issues or matters like Supreme Court appointments. In effect, this society in such people’s eyes is AOK as long as unemployment rates are low. “Nothing else is as important, nothing else really matters,” they tell themselves. “The USA can live on bread and water alone.”

    Mark (411533)

  23. Colonel,
    Haven’t you seen the new bad lip reading? Anyway, I hope his chances are as good as mine. (the last three presidents have admitted to smoking weed. Clearly not a disqualifying factor these days).

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  24. There was supposed to be a “by the way,” before that last little tidbit, but alas, weed does have its negatives: I forgot to put it in there.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  25. They have an app for that;

    narciso (87e966)

  26. If you read the LA Times, you will see quite a few comments about Obamacare. Typical LA Times readers are lefties and are very happy with what they think will be free medical care. They don’t pay any income taxes anyway.

    Mike K (9ebddd)

  27. Mike K,

    Good comment today at the Instapundit.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  28. “unemployment rate dropped to 8.6%”

    First, everybody knows this number is totally bogus.
    Second, once a real recovery starts, most of those folks who fell off into temporary-only or semi-retirement will try to reenter the workforce, which is going to drive up the unemployment rate before it goes down.

    Neo (d1c681)

  29. five path victory?
    One Blazing Path to Defeat
    November the Sixth

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  30. Mediocracy for the win.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  31. Romney will win this
    will it play in Bemidji?
    yumpin’ yiminy!

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  32. 31. Bemidji, birthplace of Bobby D., is a college town, Colin Peterson, DFL, their Rep. Don’t have any contacts but suppose Obama strongish locally. The Iron Range is as liberal as Vermont.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  33. Gary A-Busey
    support is now up for grabs
    smartest man in room?

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  34. Romney will win this

    Better than Obama, if that’s the case.

    Personally, I don’t think Romney has a clue how to win an election. He won a single election, and it was a fluke, and the degree of lying Romney had to do to win that one haunts him to this day, and makes him sound like the President of Planned Parenthood.

    Romney is now deploying the Sonunu strategy, combined with the ‘ignore the Tea Party’ strategy, and playing the O’Donnell card.

    It’s like Rick Perry has telepathic control over Romney’s strategy. What’s next, insults about Newt’s wife?

    Dustin (cb3719)

  35. I only see, Dave Casper and Jane Russell among favorite sons and daughters there, gary;

    narciso (87e966)

  36. Gary Busey is a meathead.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  37. There are multiple paths to victory that Team BHO can woodshed, unfortunately it looks like all of them will be whittled into kindling by an electorate that is just done with his a$$.

    AD-RtR/OS! (f706df)

  38. No need to worry I heard from my dog we will all die on december 21st 2012.


    Dohbiden (ef98f0)


    Sorry for yelling.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  40. The Mexicans have a saying un piedra en la camina<

    That’s another way of saying there’s a stone in the road. I hope there’s a stone in every one of The Bamsters “five paths to victory”. Ah, don’t be stingy. I hope there are TWO stones in every one of those paths.

    Comanche Voter (0e06a9)

  41. stronger enemies
    America is hurting
    Barry ain’t the cure

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  42. We will all die in 2012
    from melting ice caps which aren’t even melting
    which will result in massive flooding

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  43. colonel has saying
    for Obama fleeing scene
    “culo en llamas”

    Colonel Haiku (2add70)

  44. Obama is an ass
    Moohelle Is crass
    Valerie Jarrett is an evil lass

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  45. Haiku, this is one of the reasons I happily admit I admire Rick Perry.

    The man thinks on his feet, is sincere, and is presidential in the way that counts to me. Your mileage differs, right?

    Dustin (cb3719)

  46. Perry is not gonna always agree with conservatives but yeah your right.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  47. @36 doh,
    You spelled “methhead” wrong.

    Ghost (aabe47)

  48. 35. Sorry narciso, and anyone else, Dylan was born in Duluth and raised in Hibbing. Lessee, Judy was Grand Rapids, GreatGrandDad was TheifRiverFalls, Bemidji,..

    Yeah, that was me, former doper, now merely dope.

    gary gulrud (d88477)

  49. Meathead


    Same thing.

    Obama has a plan to get rid of obesity forever it is called economic collapse.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  50. Just like north Korea.

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  51. By the way Coal doesn’t cause smog does it?

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  52. Michael Moore doesn’t pay his fair share when he has to he screeches about thieves like the hypocrite he is.

    Dohbiden (ef98f0)

  53. “Keep America American” means WHAT, exactly???
    Comment by JEA — 12/14/2011 @ 3:04 pm

    — Forget it. It’s above your pay grade.

    Icy (38a225)

  54. Your trolling shows your claimed confidence to be nothing more than false bravado.

    JD (8edcef)

  55. He does display the utter confidence of being completely wrong, and proud of it.

    narciso (87e966)

  56. Rasmussen warns that the race remains volatile, with only 40 percent of likely caucus-goers sure of how they will vote.

    2 out of 5 are sure of their candidate so these polls are soo much [hogwash]

    EricPWJohnson (719277)

  57. I’ll agree with the several above that racial polls are stupid and counter-productive, but especially for ‘Hispanics’.
    Hispanics are NOT a monolithic block. All the Latinos I know have a very clearly defined ethnic/cultural identity and it’s NOT ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’.
    In fact, pretty much every Latino person I’ve ever met are pretty ‘racist’, against other Latinos. The Puetro Ricans

    Keapon Laffin (c7c6bc)

  58. here are my five paths,
    (1) fix the economy
    (2) create jobs
    (3) Reduce the deficit
    (4) shun racism
    (5) shut down patterico! :)

    The Emperor (656cd4)

  59. Hasn’t your visa expired yet?

    Icy (5f90f2)

  60. No, but her birth-certificate has.

    AD-RtR/OS! (e08334)

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