Contributor Post Created with Sketch. 2016: The Poli-Sci View

 

The 2016 presidential election includes at least these three storylines:

1) Democratic Win. Based on four factors: (a) Republicans have carried the popular vote only once in the last six presidential contests (Bush 2004); (b) the GOP could be in for an unwieldy nominating process — and maybe a nominee who doesn’t excite the base; (c) Democrats start the contest with 332 electoral votes in hand — well, “only” 303 if you put razor-thin Florida back in the red column; (d) assuming that nominee is Hillary Clinton, it’s as simple as widening the same gap that saved Barack Obama’s hide in 2012 (a record 20-point divide — +12 for Obama among women; +8 for Romney among men).

2) Republican Win. This is based on the following three factors: (a) with the exceptions of 1988 and 1928, a retiring president results in a new party taking over the White House; (b) in order to win, the Democratic nominee has to cobble together an Obama coalition (professional women, millennials; minorities) that so far has worked for candidates only named . . . Obama; (c) again, if the nominee is Mrs. Clinton, how does someone with nearly a quarter of a century of over-familiarity on the national stage credibly rebrand herself as an agent of change?

3) Flip A Coin. Let’s go through recent open-seat presidential elections. Obama won, by a landslide, in 2008. Bush 43 lost the popular vote, yet eked out a narrow electoral win (271-266 — with one of D.C.’s three Gore electors abstaining). Bush 41 won by a landslide in 1988, as did Reagan in 1980. Nixon won by less than 1% in 1968 (the Electoral College was a less dramatic 301-191 (George Wallace getting the other 46)). You know how 1960 turned out. As you can see, no real discernible pattern. Call it in the air: heads or tails.

Meanwhile, there’s this handy article from The National Journal explaining a difference of opinion between the chattering class inside the Beltway (believers in the first scenario — Hillary wins) and political scientists beyond the beltway who think she might be in for a struggle.

How could that be?

1) At present, she’d lose if Alan Abromowitz’s “Time for Change” model holds true. He’s an Emory University political scientist who cooked up the following formula: the incumbent’s approval rating, economic growth in the second quarter of the election year; the number of terms the candidate’s party has held the White House. Using present-day data (that means second-quarter GDP of 2.4% a year from now), Hillary gets just 48.7% of the vote. Here’s more on 2016 from Dr. Abramowitz . . .

2) Helmut Norpoth of Stony Brook University bases his model entirely on White House incumbency. As such, he gives the GOP a 65% chance of winning (word of caution: as the forecast is done a year in advance, it doesn’t take into account election-year x-factors like market downturns or acts of terrorism).

3) The Obama Coalition Giveth . . . and Taketh. Some academicians point to a possible tradeoff in Mrs. Clinton’s vote-gathering. She could gain more support among women (at least one pro-Hillary group says she bumped the women’s vote in 2014). However, she’ll be hard-pressed to maintain the same enthusiasm among minorities that worked wonders for Democrats in 2008 and 2012 — a not-so-trivial matter if, as polls have suggested, she’s already struggling with white voters.

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  1. MarciN Member

    I think the 2016 election will be decided by foreign affairs.

    There is a myth out there in the Democratic Party alternative reality that everything is calm around the world, that we are no longer in a period of deconstruction due to war and are instead in a period of construction.

    If any of the small wars that are presently ongoing escalate and involve the United States more visibly than these wars are doing right now, it will affect the 2016 election.

    • #1
    • February 16, 2015, at 11:28 AM PST
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  2. Jager Coolidge
    Jager Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    MarciN:I think the 2016 election will be decided by foreign affairs.

    I hope this is the case. Republicans generally fair better on the question of who will keep us safe.

    Further from Benghazi to the “reset button” with Russia Ms. Clinton was a Secretary of State with very few successes under her belt.

    • #2
    • February 16, 2015, at 11:40 AM PST
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  3. MarciN Member

    Jager:

    MarciN:I think the 2016 election will be decided by foreign affairs.

    I hope this is the case. Republicans generally fair better on the question of who will keep us safe.

    Further from Benghazi to the “reset button” with Russia Ms. Clinton was a Secretary of State with very few successes under her belt.

    Looking at the psychology of the situation, Obama, Clinton, and Kerry are classic, textbook-case manipulative personalities. The wars are a result of their pathologies.

    We need a sane, normal person in the White House.

    • #3
    • February 16, 2015, at 11:55 AM PST
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  4. Z in MT Member

    The electoral college thing is a worry. Because of the West Coast and the Northeast with big States like CA and NY, the Dems start with a big lead in the electoral college. TX and the solid south makes up for some of it, but the problem is that Republican support is concentrated mostly in rural and small metropolitan areas. However, I think that the GOP can win back some of the gains made by Obama like CO, FL, and IA. However, VA and NV might be lost permanently to the Dems due to the new dominance of NoVA and Las Vegas metropolitan areas. Which means the that the GOP needs to pick up OH and one of the other Rust Belt states like WI, MI, or PA to win the presidency.

    • #4
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:08 PM PST
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  5. Profile Photo Member

    1) Democratic Win. Based on four factors: (a) Republicans have carried the popular vote only once in the last six presidential contests (Bush 2004); (b) the GOP could be in for an unwieldy nominating process — and maybe a nominee who doesn’t excite the base; (c) Democrats start the contest with 332 electoral votes in hand — well, “only” 303 if you put razor-thin Florida back in the red column; (d) assuming that nominee is Hillary Clinton, it’s as simple as widening the same gap that saved Barack Obama’s hide in 2012 (a record 20-point divide — +12 for Obama among women; +8 for Romney among men).

    I have to heavily discount a) considering the nominees (with the exception of W, who went 1 for 2) Bush the elder was involved in a serious three way race (anomaly) then weak candidate Dole lost to incumbent, then W lost popular vote, then McCain who ran a disastrous campaign, then Romney who ran a feeble campaign against an incumbent. So there is only one case in the last six years where a Strong GOP candidate lost the popular vote. Each of the others can be considered moderate Republicans, NOT ONE of whom had anything exciting or new to present to the public.

    So yes, if Republicans nominate a moderate of the same ilk as Romney McCain Dole, then this trend will probably continue.

    • #5
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:10 PM PST
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  6. Z in MT Member

    Update: Did the math and in my scenario above the GOP would only need to pick up OH and a small state like NH or NM. Doable but tough. In the end, the future of the Republican party will likely have to be in the Rust Belt.

    • #6
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:18 PM PST
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  7. Profile Photo Member

    2) Republican Win. This is based on the following three factors: (a) with the exceptions of 1988 and 1928, a retiring president results in a new party taking over the White House; (b) in order to win, the Democratic nominee has to cobble together an Obama coalition (professional women, millennials; minorities) that so far has worked for candidates only named . . . Obama; (c) again, if the nominee is Mrs. Clinton, how does someone with nearly a quarter of a century of over-familiarity on the national stage credibly rebrand herself as an agent of change?

    I believe the GOP has an unprecedented opportunity in 2016 because of this dynamic, which I have seen play out. People want a change, the incumbent party has not solved problems and their credibility takes a hit, while people forget how bad Carter, or Bush was, as well as some of their policies, in retrospect are vindicated (or can be spun to be).

    But if Hillary’s opponent is non-charismatic and/or a status quo Republican – especially if it is Jeb Bush, this advantage is gone, gone gone.

    • #7
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:23 PM PST
    • Like
  8. Profile Photo Member

    3) The Obama Coalition Giveth . . . and Taketh. Some academicians point to a possible tradeoff in Mrs. Clinton’s vote-gathering. She could gain more support among women (at least one pro-Hillary group says she bumped the women’s vote in 2014). However, she’ll be hard-pressed to maintain the same enthusiasm among minorities that worked wonders for Democrats in 2008 and 2012 — a not-so-trivial matter if, as polls have suggested, she’s already struggling with white voters.

    I agree Hillary has real problems and she is in somewhat of a bind. I’m half-convinced she is holed-up with her strategists for an intensive political workout session for this very reason. Since she practically has the nomination in the bag, she can focus on battlefield choice and sculpture. If I were working for her I’d suggest she use every resource available to influence the outcome of who would be her best opponent.

    I don’t think I have to say who her optimal opponent would be….

    • #8
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:32 PM PST
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  9. Barfly Member

    MarciN:We need a sane, normal person in the White House.

    Given the scarcity of those, I’d better deal with this right now: I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of any party for the upcoming term as your President.

    Who’s that laughing? What’s so funny?

    • #9
    • February 16, 2015, at 1:50 PM PST
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