A traveler from a distant planet landing in the United States right now would, if observing the Presidential election, presume the election was about a war on women or teasing over a cookie or the leader of the free world eating dogs or something else inconsequential to the Presidential election.In fact, it is a concerted effort on the part of the Democrats to hide the economy from people’s attention. Like the Great Oz, the Democrats prefer no one pay attention to the economic disaster behind the curtains. I have run a great many campaigns. Each has a real narrative focus. The goal of the campaign is to try to stay on that narrative focus and not get distracted by the team worried about losing. The Democrats’ antics reveal they are deeply worried about losing. They cannot fight on the issue that is singularly at play in this election — Barack Obama’s bungling of the economy, so they must try to force Mitt Romney to play elsewhere.Mitt Romney is a deeply flawed candidate. His path to victory was smoothed based on familiarity by Republican voters, their habit of picking the guy who ran last time, and his money. He only shined in states where he massively outspent his opponents. That spending advantage covered up many, many flaws. Were the economy to improve, Mitt Romney would lose to Barack Obama. It is abundantly clear, however, from Democrat hyperbole about a host of ancillary issues and their hard spin on economic data that the economy is not improving and the metrics of victory are in Mitt Romney’s favor.
There are a variety of metrics political junkies can pay attention to.According to Investors Business Daily, if any one of the major market indexes goes up in January by at least 5.8%, counterintuitively the incumbent loses. The metric has been right since 1936. It is also somewhat selective given that it necessitates picking the Dow, Nasdaq, or S&P 500 as need be to make it fit.But there are more accurate metrics to forecast a Presidential election. The most significant is probably in your pocket right now. Pull out a dollar bill. In the past three years the purchasing power of that dollar bill has declined.Then there are your unemployed neighbors and family members. The Obama stimulus did nothing for them. About the only thing the Obama stimulus did was line the pockets of Obama donors. Moreso, the unemployment rate is over 8%. Factor in those who have dropped out of the workforce and unemployment is over 10%.When the purchasing power of a dollar declines and unemployment is over eight percent, voters fire the incumbent.Voters may not like Mitt Romney, but they’ll be hard pressed to be convinced he will bollix things up worse than Barack Obama. This is not to say Mitt Romney is assured a win. He has issues both with his base and with independent voters. Black voters will turn out decisively for Barack Obama. Romney will need to galvanize the GOP and right leaning independents to him. But if he can resolve those, the metrics are in favor.In fact, I’ll make a prediction. The Democrats are right to presume that if the economy improves, Barack Obama will probably get re-elected. I think so myself. Objectively though, the economy looks like it will drift back down. Trade numbers suggest trouble on the horizon, hiring is scaling back, and Americans are cutting back on credit card usage again. These are not good signs.My prediction is that the Democrats will start loudly claiming the Republicans are talking down the economy and cheering for economic disaster. They have tried hyperbole over the War on Women. They have tried hyperbole over mundane issues like the cookie story last week. Soon they will go full on outrage pimp accusing the GOP of bad mouthing Barack Obama’s recovery.It’s all they’ll have — that and a staggering silence about their own plans for both recovery and reform.When the economy again dips and Mitt Romney wins, I can already tell you the next Democratic talking point — Romney didn’t win so much as Barack Obama lost. On that one, however, they’ll have a bit, but only a bit, of a point.