October 31, 2012

Election Thoughts

Polling around our extended family unsurprisingly reveals: the two employed in the public sector are voting Obama, everyone else voting Romney. Not surprising - pretty hard to vote against your self-interest. In general, nobody wants big government more than a government employee I suppose.

The pros of a Romney win include: better choices of SCOTUS judges, a repeal of the HHS mandate, greater respect for freedom of religion, better fiscal discipline (of course all of these have a low hurdle to exceed).

The cons of a Romney win include: potential ruination of the Republican "brand" due to having to make hard choices regarding spending on popular programs like Medicare & Soc Security, resulting in potentially a twenty-year Democrat reign (the latter already a possibility due to shifts in demographics).

While you can ruin your political brand by cutting spending, I don't think you can ruin it by running up huge deficits (exhibit A: Obama, who is still favored to win this election, as well as George Bush in '04). That, no doubt, is why Republican and Democrat alike run up large deficits, including Reagan who was far fonder of cutting taxes than cutting spending.

One proposition: once you go big government, you don't go back. The states, as laboratories, offer interesting experiments in whether voters "learn" from failed Democrat policies. It would seem the answer is "no". California used to be a moderately Republican state and yet now is a lock for Democrats despite a state managed about as poorly as one can manage it. Notwithstanding the state's flirtation with Schwarzeneggar (who pretty much had to govern as a centrist), you get the sense that CA (and the Northeast as well) are pretty much married to big government now. Perhaps it's less whether people learn, then in the effect of changes in demography. California Republicans arguably destroyed their brand by coming out hard against illegal immigration and not courting Hispanics and minorities in the early '90s.

In Ohio, we seem to have had about as stark a difference between governors as you could have: John Kasich versus the previous governor Strickland. Job growth has soared to fourth best in the nation since Kasich took over. You can't argue the numbers, both in terms of job creation and in deficit reduction. When Kasich took office, the Columbus Dispatch opined that he'd be a one-term governor given the draconian measures and tax-raising he would presumably have to do to balance the budget after Strickland's mess. And yet Kasich has an approval number above 50% and would be even higher except that he foolishly took on the firefighter and police officer unions early in his term.

And yet....Ohio is right on the cusp of re-electing the Democrat Obama. Go figure.

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