As political seasons grow tirelessly longer, it seems, with each political cycle, coming up with new ways to break down an election has become nearly impossible.
Does that mean a media company like GQ should make a habit of paying bloggers for hatchet jobs of anyone who tries? Probably not, but Mobutu Sese Seko (obviously a pen name) is an extremely talented, although verbose, writer and his points about the Beltway insider drivel is well-founded.
Most of the people who write about politics for the NY Times or talk about it for MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News, are just as guilty of perpetuating all of the political nonsense which obfuscates the reality and necessity of public discourse in our democracy.
With that said, there are some tried and true ways to look at elections, and often, those can be more helpful than trying to reinvent the wheel.
Gallup, for example, has had the Presidential winner 100 days out in every election since 1964 with the exception of George H.W. Bush in 1988.
Since 1976, the incumbent President has faced a slew of different challengers, but his voting block tends to increase from 100 days out.
In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry were in what looked like a dead heat with Bush leading carry 48% to 47% with just over three months to election day.
Bush ended up winning the popular vote 51% to 48%.
In 1996, Bill Clinton had a commanding 14 point lead heading into the fall and his vote share actually fell slightly to 49%, while Bob Dole’s share increased about 6 points to 41%.
The last time a president was unseated was 1992, a race that saw George H.W. Bush trailing Bill Clinton 36% to 56%. Clinton eventually won 43% to 37.5%, thanks mostly to Ross Perot taking nearly 20% of the popular vote.
Before that, Reagan increased his lead over Walter Mondale from 53-41 to 59-41 in 1984, and even the embattled Jimmy Carter, despite being way down in the polls, boosted his share from 29% to 41% in just 100 days.
Of course, he went on to lose to Ronald Reagan, but it appeared he would all along.
That’s what makes this election particularly interesting.
In 2008, Obama gained about 6 points from this point to November, while McCain picked up 5 points. In other words, the margins didn’t much change.
That can’t happen this year because the race is a dead heat.
So where will the needle move?
History tells us in favor of the incumbent, but does Obama have that sort of momentum? His job approval rating among independents is 41%, a full 4 points below the national average. He won independents in 2008 by a 52-44 margin.
The issues Obama has run on, like taxing the wealthy, don’t resonate with the American people, but creating jobs does.
U.S. business owners are now among the least supportive voting block of Obama, a dangerous sign for job creation and a sign that his “You didn’t build that,” remark has had a significantly broader impact than he had anticipated.
Gallup continues to insist Obama’s approval ratings are well below historical standards for re-election, yet voters in surveys say they’ll vote for him despite disapproval of his job as president.
Given the surrounding circumstances, it seems unlikely that Obama’s numbers will hold steady, much less increase. With about 8% of the electorate still undecided, there are plenty of votes out there for Mitt Romney to win and it appears people are just waiting for him to show them something, any reason to support him.
If he can, Romney can reverse recent history and make some of his own.