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August 17, 2011 / Political Fluency

Undercover at a Democrat Meeting

The other night I joined some new friends at a Democrat get-together at a bar in New York City where a number of local Democrat politicians took the time to speak with their supporters. I thought to share two notable occurrences.

Anthony Weiner’s former seat (NY-9) is 3-1 registered Democrat to registered Republican and a D+5. Yet polls are showing a close race. It’s easy to understand why. The Democrat candidate, David Weprin,  is shaky. He spent most of his talk ranting about how his opponent is trying to tie him to President Obama and talk about national issues that have nothing to do with the district. Then he brings up an attack ad that of course took him out of context in his support for the Ground Zero Mosque. Rather than laughing at the ad and dismissing it as a year-old issue, he went on about how his quote was a comment on separation of church and state.

But that wasn’t the worst part of it. Imagine that content delivered by the Jerky Boys’ character Sol Rosenberg. It wouldn’t have been surprising for Weprin to end his speech with “At the next debate I’m going to bring the Constitution and, and my glasses so I have them.”

I met an economist – Ph.D. and all – and we got into an intellectual street fight about Obama’s reelection chances. These street fights are much more fun when in a group and drinking heavily.

Mutual Friend It’s gonna come down to whoever people believe will get the most jobs in 2013. That’s who’s gonna win.

Me It’s gonna be a close election.

Economist Nah, Obama’s gonna win big.

Me I think he’s got a good chance of winning, but it’s not gonna be big. It’ll be like 2004.

Economist Obama will win big!

Me Really? No one is saying that right now. What makes you think that he’s going to win running away?

Economist The black vote.

Me Well yes they didn’t come out as much in 2010, but it will be the same percentage in 2008 again in 2012. They weren’t the difference though except in maybe North Carolina which I think Obama’s going to lose this time along with Indiana.

Economist He won’t need those states. It’s the Hispanics too. He’ll win them.

Me Wait, Hispanics don’t vote lockstep the way blacks do. George W. Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004 and then they swung to Obama in 2008. What makes you think they won’t swing back to the Republican at all?

Economist Hispanics know Republicans hate them.

Me Yeah all of the immigration [stuff] happened in 2007, but Marco Rubio is going to be the VP candidate so that will help.

Economist They’re not going to care.

Me Hispanics aren’t going to care that there is the first Hispanic on a party’s presidential ticket?! And he’s from Florida. If that state flips Obama is in huge trouble for reelection.

Economist He’ll still win Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Me Wait, Ohio has John Kasich as governor, Virginia has Bob McDonnell, Wisconsin has Scott Walker, and Michigan has Rick Snyder – all Republicans which means the get out the vote operation is going to be much better in those states than in 2008 when they were all Democrats.

Now if we’re talking about a Romney-Rubio ticket we have Florida possibly flipping, along with Ohio and Virginia which went Republican in 2000 and 2004. Wisconsin and Michigan will be tough but with Michigan’s unemployment and Romney as a former governor’s son, it will be a place Obama has to spend time and resources to defend. Plus Mormons will help in Nevada and Colorado too. Obama is in big trouble.

Economist Unemployment will be at 7.2% and trending down so he’s gonna get reelected.

Me What trends are indicating that unemployment will go down so much?

Economist For every 5,000 houses purchased, unemployment goes down a tenth of a percent.*

Me Isn’t that correlation and not causation?

Economist They’re related more closely than that.

Me Well how many jobs need to be added per month to get to 7.2%?

Economist 275,000

Me Ok, hopefully. That would be great if that many people can get employed every month.

The conversation stopped there because it was time for another drink. I had the following ready to say so this wasn’t really a “Well, the Jerk Store called and they’re running out of you!” brain freeze. Because even with a political pretense, we’re still in a bar and it’s better to make a new friend for the next 15 months than to wait that long to win an argument. It’s also an opportunity to take the time to do the math.

The problem with the economist’s assumption is twofold. To begin with, in July 2011 there were 117,000 jobs added despite 75-90,000 forecast. He is predicting more than double that number beginning this month and that number to be sustained for 14 months because we will know the number of jobs added from August 2011 – October 2012 by Election Day 2012. That is a lot of jobs considering the most recent months of anemic job growth.

What will actually happen is the average number of jobs will need to be 275,000 per month which means they will gradually increase month to month and not suddenly double from July 2011 to August 2011. Multiply by 14 months and we get 3.85 million net jobs needed between now and October 2012 to end up with a still weak unemployment rate of 7.2%.

So being very optimistic let’s add 175,000 jobs in August 2011. That’s 100,000 off the average and subtracting the 175,000 from the ultimate 3.85 million we get 3.675 million needed over the next 13 months. That means the average over the remaining 13 months prior to the election is 283,000. And then if September 2011 jobs are less than 283,000, then the remaining 12 months need to have even higher job growth.

In order for the 3.85 million jobs to materialize we are going to have to have some 300,000 and maybe 350,000 net jobs added for some months next year. No one is forecasting such a thing.

Now is probably the time to mention that his answer to “What’s your recommendation to fixing the economy?” was “We need to spend a lot of money rebuilding the infrastructure of this country. We have an infrastructure from the 1950’s.”

I didn’t even follow up with “How do you suggest we pay for that when we are broke and already borrowing a tremendous amount of money to pay for our current daily liabilities? Not to mention the tolls on those 1950’s bridges from New Jersey to New York are going up 70-100%.”

Of course his Ph.D. is in Keynesian economics. If all you have is a hammer…

*Couldn’t find this stat and didn’t spend more than 5 minutes researching the validity of it based on my answer that followed.


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