Obama Might Lose (And He Might Win)

Today it's apparently big news that many Democrats now fear that the president won't get reelected.


I'm staying with my prediction based on common-sense political science that the election will be close. So the Democrats (and Republicans) should be full of fear, but not despair.  Luckily, it's that exact mood, the philosopher Hobbes tell us, that makes us most effective in inventing change and mobilizing power, money, and people.

2008 represented the extreme of the president's electoral popularity.  People really bought that charismatic hope and change stuff,  that Obama's excellent speechifying and campaigning would translate into highly competent, transformational governing. Obama way, way outspent McCain, and McCain's campaign was flat, confused, and generally incompetent.  Not only that, people were ticked off at the Republicans'—and especially President Bush's—record of serial screw-ups.  

2010 represented the extreme of the Republicans' electoral popularity these days—what with the Tea Party enthusiasm and a high level of indignation directed against ObamaCare. 

The Democrats are concerned—and even crying foul—because they won't be able to outspend Romney and his allies.  They're whining that money buys elections, forgetting that it contributed big-time, at least, to their victory in 2008.  The truth is that the two candidates will be pretty equal when it comes to funding.  They'll both be able to spend A LOT, just about as much as they want.

Democrats are also concerned because the damage done to Romney by the primary in-fighting has largely worn off.  (It almost always does.)  And they've figured out that Romney has much more self-discipline and (despite his lack of military service and his religious devotion) a much more animated killer instinct that McCain.

Another sign of Obama's weakness is that about nobody is saying that he should campaign on his record of success.

The economy, Democrats admit, remains in bad shape.  And people are pretty anxious about their precarious situations and the 40% or so of their personal and family wealth that's disappeared over the last five years or so.

So, as the article says, the advice being given the president is to make real clear that our economic woes remain the Republicans' fault.  

Students of The Federalist know that one reason our Framers created a UNITARY executive is to focus responsibility on the president.  Because he's bound to be held responsible, he's incentivized to take responsibility.  He knows his chances for reelection will largely depend on answers to the searching personal question:  "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Hoover, after all, could say with great plausibility that the Depression wasn't his fault, and he was doing everything he could to bring it to an end.  The voters in 1932 didn't really care whether or not it was his fault.  It happened on his watch, and there was little evidence anyone could feel that things were getting turned around.

It's interesting, as I've said before, that the president and his supporters aren't even trumpeting their responsibility for the beneficial changes they really believe ObamaCare will bring us.

Why does Obama even have a chance—a good chance—of getting reelected?

He remains personally somewhat popular. People still want him to do well. Romney doesn't inspire love and so far only so much confidence, and his record of getting real, real rich at Bain is viewed with suspicion and incomprehension by most Americans.  And our country, after all, is pretty evenly divided on the issues that really do divide our two parties.  We can't tell how the Mormon thing will play out yet.

I've said before that we're lucky to have two decent guys with wonderful families running. They both speak well and are very smart.

But at this point:  Most Americans aren't thrilled with having either of them as president.  That might be the main reason the outcome of the election is so difficult to handicap.

All we can say is that the polls show a tie, and that the battleground states really are battlegrounds.

3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Keep reading Show less

Why Elon Musk doesn't like Jeff Bezos's space colonies

Elon Musk took issue with recent ideas for space exploration from Jeff Bezos.

Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have sparred over space exploration previously.
  • Musk wants to focus on Mars while Bezos has the moon and space colonies as goals.
  • In a recent tweet, Musk called out Bezos's plans for space colonies as unrealistic.
Keep reading Show less

10 new things we’ve learned about death

If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.

Culture & Religion
  • For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
  • Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
  • Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.