Posts filed under “Politics”

Manufacturing, Jobs and States “In Play”

The print edition of today’s NYTimes (we referred to the online version yesterday) contains an interesting chart:

click for larger chart

Source: NYT

Now here’s where things get interesting: We previously discussed the states considered to be “In Play” by Zogby International.Not coincidentally, many of these swing, key electoral college states are in the industrial heartland, which has borne the brunt of the recession and job losses over the past 3 years.

As of late, there has been an expansion of manufacturing activity, according to the Federal Reserve Beige Book. Employment has also been growing, albeit anemically. In at least 6 of the key states — Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin — there’s a mixed economic picture:

“Factories hummed and consumers kept cash registers busy in the first two months of this year, fresh evidence that the economic recovery is moving ahead, according to a Federal Reserve report released Wednesday.

“Economic activity continued to expand in January and February,” the Fed said in its latest survey of business conditions around the country. However, on the jobs front, “employment has been growing slowly in most Federal Reserve districts,” the report said.

So from the economic perspective, we continue to see the benefits from the massive stimulus combo of ultra-low interest rates, falling U.S. currency, increased money supplies, tax cuts and deficit spending.

Whether this stimulus nudges the economy into a self sustaining expansion is still unknown.

From a political perspective, the jobs creation issue remains crucial, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. It is fraught with peril for both George Bush and his challenger John Kerry. However, the President’s opponent may not be Kerry, as much as it is time. The White House is, in effect, racing the clock: He needs sufficient job generation before the November to blunt the “jobs” issue in swing states. Like his father before him, Bush is at risk for the economy appearing to improve too late to save his own job.

Chief Executives Expect to Increase Hiring, Survey Says
N.Y. Times, March 3, 2004

Three-in-Ten Voters Open to Persuasion
Swing Voters Criticize Bush on Economy, Support Him on Iraq
Released: March 3, 2004

Fed Says Economy Expanded in January and February
March 3, 2004

Category: Finance, Politics

Determining the Outcome of the 2004 Election

Category: Politics

Projected Electoral College Vote, 2004

Category: Politics

Oversimplifying the Complex

Category: Finance, Politics

What Will Determine the Outcome of the 2004 Election

Simple analysis: the 2004 Presidential election will turn on economic issues — notably, jobs.

Complex analysis: While a number of other issues will continue to get media play — the Iraq situation, the National Guard story, Gay Marriage — I’m not convinced that these are outcome determinative. They will very likely reinforce partisan views, perhaps moblilize one side or the other. They may impact some (but not many) swing voters. Perhaps the negative issues softens up the incumbent up a bit, and distracts his team from pursuing their own media agenda.

But none of these are unequivocably conclusive.

Tactical considerations aside, these are not the strategic issues (and I’m all about strategy) which will swing an election. More likely, these issues offset to some degree the awesome advantage incumbency gives a sitting President. But I remain unconvinced they will swing the election.

On the other hand: Two charts demonstrate where Presidential vulnerability lay. The first, from Thursday’s WSJ, shows the increasing job losses in rust belt state Ohio. As much as the Dems would like to blame this on W., its part of a longer term trend going back decades. The past few years do look particularly awful, however:

Source: WSJ

This is not the chart which will swing the election. Manufacturing jobs have been leaving the Mid-West for a long, long time. And while it probably is not a good election strategy to say, “Hey, that’s global trade for ya!” — just ask Greg Mankiw — this is by no means a new phenomena.


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Category: Finance, Politics

Tax Increases Ahead

Category: Finance, Politics

Tax me if you can!

Category: Finance, Politics

It’s not whether the Medals matter or not


Today’s New York Times has an OpEd titled “The Medals Don’t Matter.” It’s by Jake Tapper, who is a well regarded ABC News Correspondent (formerly of Salon). The article reaches the conclusion that voters do not care about the military service of their Presidential candidates.

To reach this feat of logical deduction, Jake focused primarily on the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections (and the 2000 GOP primary), and the Military Service of each candidate.

There are many, many analytical errors in his approach, sample size being the most obvious. But let’s focus instead on a very common logic error which seems to catch most people unaware:

Controlling for a single variable instead of many when analyzing complex systems.

I would be oversimplifying the situation were I to call this error, well, a mere oversimplification. But that’s what lay at the heart of this fallacy: Taking an extremely complex and dynamic issue — who won the Presidency and why — and then boiling it down to a single, and in this small sample, mostly minor issue. The author might as well have based it upon how many letters were in the men’s first and last names.

Presidential victories are the result of a far more nuanced and multi-faceted set of factors. This issue deserves to be examined in far greater depth . . .

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Category: Media, Politics, War/Defense

Why the president’s record matters

Category: Politics, War/Defense

More on Job Creation

Category: Finance, Politics