Saturday, June 14, 2008

COST and not CHANGE should be the Key Word for the 2008 US Presidential Election

A March 6, 2008 SurveyUSA survey of an Obama-McCain Presidential election match-up shows McCain winning 26 States and 258 electoral votes, with Obama winning a fewer 24 States but 280 electoral votes, enough for election. Since a number of States are very close calls, the race at the moment is surely a toss-up. Things have changed and may change even more between then, now and November.

What factors will determine the ultimate outcome of the election?

Economic and demographic statistics about the US States (see further below) pose several interesting questions as to prognostications of voter behaviour in the upcoming US Presidential Election 2008:

QUESTION 1. Will changes that have occurred in any US State's real GDP (here using statistics from 2003 to 2006) have any significant impact on the voting?

CALCULATIONS: The 26 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by McCain have an average rank of 25 in terms of the change in real GDP from 2003-2006.

The 24 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by Obama have an average rank of 26 in terms of the change in real GDP from 2003-2006.

ANSWER: To our great surprise, the real changes in a State's GDP in recent years appear not to have any visible correlation with the way that people will vote in this upcoming election. This may contradict what we wrote here. Can voter behaviour truly be this bizarre, that they are not even capable of voting their own pocketbooks, or do they simply not understand economics?

QUESTION 2. Will the percentage (%) of African-American population in a State have any significant impact on whether a State votes for Obama or McCain?

CALCULATIONS: The 26 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by McCain have an average rank of 23 in terms of the % of their African-American population.

The 24 States that SurveyUSA shows as being won by Obama have an average rank of 29 in terms of the % of their African-American population.

ANSWER: To our great surprise, States with a higher percentage of black population are somewhat more likely to vote for McCain than for Obama. Race, in any case, will not decide this election one way or the other.


So what factors and issues WILL decide this election. If "actual" economics are not determinative and if "race" is not a predominant factor, then what is? What motives are behind current voting behavior?

If we take a look at the candidates on the issues, the differences between them are not significant as regards most issues thus far polled as allegedly being significant for voter behavior.

The election will thus be decided by something else. But what?
What about other, more subtle human factors?

Fear of Change and Fear of the Unknown

Your average man is not someone who is gung-ho for change, and when push comes to shove, many voters will stick to a known commodity or "brand", good or bad. A major problem that Obama is facing is that he is the "new kid on the block", which makes him suspect to the majority of the more poorly educated classes in the population, whose voting behavior abides by the German saying that the common man does not eat what he does not know (was der Bauer nicht kennt, frisst er nicht). This is one reason that Hillary Clinton, a more or less known commodity in the primaries, could count on many of the uneducated blue-collar workers to vote for her, whereas the more highly-educated voters, who are more open to the world and who call upon a broader base of experience and independence, tended to favor the more unknown Obama. In the upcoming Presidential election, fear will remain a strong motivator, and fear favors McCain.

A Vision of Change

Let us take a look at Barack Obama's message of "change". How many voters want change, and if they want change, what kind of change do they want?

We posted previously about a poll which indicated that a staggering 81% of Americans were of the opinion that the country was on the wrong track. Accordingly, a need for change would appear to be a nearly universal desire in the country as whole, but the voting in the primary elections did not support that otherwise obvious conclusion at all, as millions of voters supported the "old guard", both in the Republican and Democratic primaries.

John McCain, continuing to use the fear of terrorism effectively, has pledged to continue what the current administration has been doing and that gives a feeling of security to a lot of people - and secures McCain a lot of votes.

Change is a Double-Edged Sword

"Change" is thus a double-edged sword. Fear of change counters the desire for change, often in the very same voter.

Perhaps not a single "suit of change" fits everyone, and perhaps the proclamations of change that Obama is trying to spread must be adapted to fit the various messages of change that the different voters want to hear.

Youth and Change

One potentially critical voting group is composed of the young voters, who in past elections have avoided the voting booths as not relevant to their lives. In this election, the importance of young voters is dramatically increasing, but what change do they want? Youth, as adults can verify by experience, has no fear of change, but youth is often equally inexperienced to know what change is needed.

Change for Unmarried Women

Another very significant segment of the voting population is composed of unmarried women, an increasingly growing group which now accounts for about 26% of the electorate. What change, if any, do they want? and who is talking about what is important to THEM?

Women Voters and the Key Word COST vs. Change

Liz Halloran writes at the U.S. News & World Report about a poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

"The poll showed that married and unmarried women were united on a number of issues. Seventy-seven percent believe the country is on the wrong track; and more than three quarters of both groups said they want to "make sure every American has healthcare insurance." A majority of all women surveyed also said that candidates of both parties have failed to address their top concern of economic security. They are feeling the financial squeeze, Greenberg says, and are "overwhelmingly focused on cost—cost, cost, cost."" [emphasis added]

Economic security is the domestic side of national security.

Perhaps the key word for the upcoming election should not be CHANGE but rather COST.

__________

Below are the results of the SurveyUSA surveys and New York Times primary election results which we have put into a new unique table. We discuss these in our discussion above.

State
of the United States
State Rank by per capita change in the
Real GDP 2003-2006
BEA
Rank by % of African-
American
population
Projected
Presidential Vote Winner according to SurveyUSA
March 6, 2008

% of Projected Vote won according to SurveyUSA, March 6, 2008
Democratic and Republican Primary
Election
Winners
New York Times
Alabama
23
7
McCain
54%
Obama McCain
Alaska
48
35
McCain
48%
Obama Romney
Arizona
3
38
McCain
51%
Clinton
McCain
Arkansas
34
13
McCain
53%
Clinton Huckabee
California
13
27
Obama
51%
Clinton McCain
Colorado
8
33
Obama
50%
Obama
Romney
Connecticut
33
22
Obama
55%
Obama McCain
Delaware
21
10
Obama
50%
Obama
McCain
Florida
12
15
McCain
47%
Illegal Democratic primary vote
Georgia
20
5
McCain
54%
Obama Huckabee
Hawaii
11
41
Obama
61%Obama
Idaho
1
50
McCain
52%
Obama
Illinois
26
14
Obama
60%
Obama McCain
Indiana
40
23
McCain
50%
Clinton
McCain
Iowa
32
39
Obama
50%
Obama Huckabee
Kansas
19
28
McCain
50%
Obama Huckabee
Kentucky
36
25
McCain
54%
Clinton McCain
Louisiana
45
3
McCain
54%
Obama Huckabee
Maine
41
48
Obama
53%
Obama Romney
Maryland
29
6
Obama
53%
Obama
McCain
Massachusetts
27
30
Obama
49%
Clinton
Romney
Michigan
50
16
Obama
46%
Illegal Democratic primary vote
Minnesota
30
34
Obama
49%
Obama Romney
Mississippi
35
2
McCain
54%
Obama McCain
Missouri
39
20
McCain
48%
Obama
McCain
Montana
9
51
McCain
47%
Romney
Nebraska
37
32
McCain
45%
Obama
Nevada
15
26
Obama
46%
Clinton Romney
New Hampshire
46
45
Obama
46&
Clinton McCain
New Jersey
28
17
McCain
43%
Clinton McCain
New Mexico
5
40
Obama
50%
Clinton
New York
18
12
Obama
52%
McCain
North Carolina
14
8
McCain
47%
Obama
McCain
North Dakota
24
46
Obama
46%
Obama Romney
Ohio
47
18
Obama
50%
Clinton
McCain
Oklahoma
4
24
McCain
57%
Clinton McCain
Oregon
7
42
Obama
49%
Oregon McCain
Pennsylvania
44
21
McCain
47%
Clinton McCain
Rhode Island
43
31
Obama
53%
Clinton McCain
South Carolina
17
4
McCain
48%
Obama McCain
South Dakota
16
47
McCain
47%

Tennessee
25
11
McCain
54%
Clinton Huckabee
Texas
10
19
McCain
47%
Clinton won vote, Obama the caucus
McCain
Utah
2
43
McCain
50%
Obama
Romney
Vermont
31
49
Obama
63%
Obama McCain
Virginia
22
9
Obama
47%
Obama
McCain
Washington
6
36
Obama
52%
Obama McCain
West Virginia
49
37
McCain
53%
Clinton Huckabee
Wisconsin
42
29
Obama
51%
Obama McCain
Wyoming
38
44
McCain
54%
Obama Romney
District of Columbia
56
1
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Obama McCain

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