Final Predictions

Under 30 hours until the first polls close so it’s time to lock in my predictions:

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As you can see, I’m expecting a slight Obama victory. However, I’m also of the mind that Obama will likely win. The states I’m most iffy on are Virginia and Colorado, both of which Obama currently leads in slightly according to Real Clear Politics, and I’m giving to Romney. Both have been historically slightly Republican leaning and I’m going with my gut here that they’ll both end up going Republican again. However, if I’m wrong, Obama’s victory will only be stronger.

I don’t see any way Romney takes Ohio based on the current polling, or PennsylvaniaWisconsin or Michigan for that matter. Iowa and Nevada are a bit closer and if Romney can snag both, we could end up in an electoral college tie. But that would require a large change from the current polling so the odds of that are very low.

On a separate note, I’ll be off the blog and probably Twitter tomorrow. Hopefully four years from now I’ll be a journalist somewhere frantically covering the election. That certainly sounds fun but for this election, I’m going to allow myself some breathing space to nervously enjoy watching it without quickly typing away on my phone and laptop.

The Obama Campaign is Trying to Scare Liberals into Voting

Kevin Drum is out with a post today refuting the idea that Democratic candidates want to scare liberals into voting. He quotes a friend of his who believes that Republicans vote no matter what, rain or shine, but that Democrats often stay home if they believe their candidate is going to win. It’s a widely held sentiment and one that I’m partial to but Drum doesn’t believe the campaigns themselves actually buy it:

But there’s an odd thing about this: professional politicians apparently don’t believe it. At all. Oh sure, they’ll keep sending out the scary emails all the way through November 6. “Folks, there are a bunch of races that are simply too close to call,” screams the latest plea in my inbox from Dick Durbin. “Contribute $7 now, before time runs out.” (Really? $7?) Publicly, though, presidential campaigns pretty much never do this. In fact, they usually go to absurd lengths to demonstrate that their campaign is a juggernaut that will sail to victory. They apparently believe—and so do I—that people are energized by being associated with a winner. Confidence in victory boosts turnout, it doesn’t suppress it.

Except, President Obama’s campaign has spent the past week trying to terrify liberals into voting and giving money. Just look at the recent emails I’ve received from the campaign (before Hurricane Sandy):


That’ certainly looks to me like the Obama campaign is trying to terrify Democrats into voting. I just went back a few days in these emails and, to be fair, the campaign emails before these were a bit more positive. But these are the more recent ones and they are extremely pessimistic! Ezra Klein also had a post on this a week ago. Drum’s friend is right – the campaign is worried that overconfident liberals won’t vote and is doing everything it can to lower their confidence levels.

Middle Income is Not $250,000!

The Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman points out the 10 biggest differences in President Obama and Mitt Romney’s tax plans in his newest piece. At the end, he points out a couple of ways that the candidates are similar:

And both apparently believe that households making up to $200,000 or $250,000 are middle-income.

It’s amazing that we just gloss over this like it’s okay. Gleckman is right here. Romney deems the high-end of middle-income Americans to be $250,000 while Obama has continually pushed to raise taxes on high-income Americans, starting at $250,000.

In what world is making $250,000 a year middle class? Or $230,000? Or $200,00?

Here’s the Census Bureau’s 2011 estimates for household income and where that falls across America:

United States
Estimate Margin of Error
Quintile Upper Limits:
Lowest Quintile 20,585 +/-48
Second Quintile 39,466 +/-89
Third Quintile 63,001 +/-119
Fourth Quintile 101,685 +/-108
Lower Limit of Top 5 Percent 187,087 +/-436

The 95th percentile of Americans makes $187,087 a year! And yet, we’re okay saying that earning $250,000 a year is the upper limit! Once you look at the numbers, it’s crazy but we’ve grown to accept it.

Why? I’d hypothesize that people making $250,000 really do believe that they’re in the middle class. They hear all about these millionaires and billionaires and don’t put themselves in the same category as them. And it’s true, they aren’t in the same category: those billionaires and millionaires are at the high level of upper class, but households making $250,000 a year are certainly still upper class.

But this also works in the opposite direction as well. People at the other end of the spectrum dream of making it to the middle class. They want to believe that making $250,000 a year is middle class because that sounds attainable for them. If we were to drop the upper limit of middle-class down to the 80th percentile – $101,685 – people in the lowest 20 percent would probably find themselves disheartened. Yes, low-income households dream of making $100,000 a year but they also dream of a lot more. If we lower the upper limit of the middle class, we may cut back their dreams.

Of course, that’s just a hypothesis. But it doesn’t make it okay for the media to let this lie permeate across every campaign, tax proposal and policy statement. It’s tough to make arguments about the tax code when we are so clueless about what income level constitutes the middle class.