Keep-calm-and-carry-on Dep’t

Obama’s job performance rating in the Gallup tracking poll just it 54/42. He hasn’t been at that level since November of 2009.

Yes, that’s national adults, not likely voters, and yes, that’s pre-debate.

But no incumbent with that approval level is going to fail of re-election.

Or, to put the point slightly differently:


A source close to the campaign tells me Obama took a dive against Romney last night for two reasons:

1. He wanted to counteract what he saw as increasing overconfidence among the troops.

2. He felt a little sorry for the poor son-of-a-b!tch, who’s trying s-o-o-o-o-o hard and is s-o-o-o-o-o unlikeable.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

26 thoughts on “Keep-calm-and-carry-on Dep’t”

  1. I don’t buy either of the reasons mentioned in your footnote. Chait’s piece seems closer to the truth, that the President prepared to debate nominee Romney, not full-pivot moderate-appeal Romney. As far as not calling out the lies, he’s never been that way. He lost on optics, not on substance. Learn from the mistakes and move on to Rd 2.

  2. This has been one of my favorite blogs for quite some time. However, that is not because this is tremendously funny blog. I go to other blogs for that. But even I could tell that Kleiman is joking with the footnote.

    1. Yup. My snark detector is often on the fritz, especially when I’m emotionally involved, but this one I could spot.

  3. With the money I collected from Noodle-Nose on the bet I made, I can buy a new car and still kick 500 bucks back to the campaign.

  4. It’s still hard to believe and even tougher to remember that Romney was the best the Republicans could put up. Candidates all drawn from a carny sideshow. At best a patently obvious, bait and switch, con artist who learned early and well how to play successfully at the ethical margins. Like any good predatory salesman, skillful at getting his mark to overlook the inconsistent sales pitch because he knows how desperate we are to believe that his promises will come true. Keith Humphries should take note. Could Romney be a Harold Hill for our time? What’s a voter to do? On the used car lot you can walk away. But how do you do that when this gonef has managed to insert himself like a worm in an apple into the very heart of our political system?

    1. Alnval is correct. Romney greases his hair with snake oil.
      Even the so-called low-info voter knows that…
      I guess one could overlearn that fact. If so, last night’s debate did just that.
      We know even more so that Romney is twisty and sinuous. And that he has a tree of pretty apples to offer that will make us all prosperous.

      In short: I think the talking heads and the blogging heads are interpreting this debate in error:

      !) The talking heads because they’ll say anything to have a horse race…
      !!) The blogging heads because they know all the arguments and wanted some counterpunching.

      If you want a feel for how the middle class, middle of the road, middle-voiced watcher might have felt…
      Turn to Kevin Drum. Bless him. He is the middle sine qua non….
      Here was his liveblogging conclusion:

      Final score: I give Obama a B-, Romney a B.

      I’ll go with that.
      The debate changes absolutely nothing except for one thing no one has caught on to:
      Rove won’t be moving money to downticket candidates as readily.
      That’s a good thing….

  5. “But no incumbent with that approval level is going to fail of re-election.”

    Never say never. Obama’s not counting his chickens before they’re hatched, and neither am I.

  6. No incumbent with that approval level is going to fail of re-election. Hm, maybe, if he really does have that level of approval. I guess we’ll find out in early November how accurate those polls really are.

    1. Of course them thar lib’rulllllllll pollsters love them some Obama.

      Put up some money. How much is Rmoney going to win by?

    2. Brett,

      It’s one thing to argue that Romney can win anyway. You can make that case.

      But when you start suggesting that the polls are deliberately biased to favor Obama you really are in fever swamp territory.

      1. Yes, if you define that as fever swamp territory, I’m comfortable in fever swamp territory.

        Different pollsters follow different sampling and renorming procedures, which fairly predictably make one candidate or the other look better. I’d say they don’t pick these procedures by rolling dice, so yes, it’s deliberate. They know their customers, and want them happy. You really think it’s an accident that Republicans over-perform the election in polls conducted by pollsters who work for Republicans, and Democrats in polls conducted by pollsters who work for Democrats? At least this far in advance of the election?

        Remember, you’re not paying for these polls, somebody else is. And if you’re not paying for a product, what are you? YOU are the product! Polls you don’t pay for are meant to persuade you, not inform you. It’s just a question of who is trying to persuade you, and what they’re trying to make you think.

        As we get closer to the actual election, the polls will cluster more closely together, because they will start adjusting their procedures in ways they know will more accurately predict the outcome of the election. Such as, mentioned above, polling likely voters, instead of warm bodies. Because they have to retain *some* credibility, in the end, they can’t afford to have too heavy of a thumb on the scale right before the election. In short, start paying attention to Gallup *after* they adopt their accurate procedures, not while they’re feeding you the Democrat flavored soma.

        Aside from this, there are a number of reasons to treat polls with intense skepticism. Look poll response rates are down to, what? 9%? What makes you think polling can even work with such small response rates? Can we really assume that people who respond to polls are not systematically different from people who don’t, when so few people are responding? Then, of course, there’s the Bradley effect, and other kinds of preference falsification. People DO lie to pollsters, you’re aware of that, right?

        The poll that really matters is scheduled for early November. Don’t put too much weight on any of the polls prior to that one, especially when you KNOW they’re not trying to be accurate. As Gallup wasn’t in this poll.

        So, yes, IF he has that approval level, he’s probably a shoe-in. We’ll know in a few weeks if he really does.

        1. Brett,

          How do you know Gallup was trying to deceive? That’s a pretty strong accusation. I take it you have good evidence, not what you read on some right-wing blog. What is it?

          The Gallup poll is not paid for by either party. Most of the other reported polls are conducted by news organizations, educational institutions, or the like. Yes, the campaigns pay for some polling as well, but these are not the widely publicized polls.

          So unless you believe that all these organizations have their thumb on the scale for reasons of their own (yes, yes, liberal media, blah, blah blah – more fever swampism) you have no case. The fact that they use different methods, along with ordinary sampling error, does mean that they are not perfect measures. Nobody says they are. But there is a difference between error and bias.

          1. Yeah, there’s a difference between error and bias, and I’m primarilly pointing out that there are so many possible sources of error that we don’t really know what the public thinks about Obama until the public votes. You’re just fooling yourselves if you think a poll of warm bodies with a miniscule response rate is a precision instrument reporting what voters are going to do.

            But, let’s be real: You can effect poll results by chosing your methodology. Different pollsters make different choices. Are they being dishonest? Not so long as they report their methodology, and really did follow it. Are their differences in methodology a result of bias? Yeah, I think probably so, because who’s objective? Not anybody involved in politics, that’s for sure.

          2. Brett, your attempts to say reasonable things now don’t fool us into forgetting what you said just a comment or two ago. Yes, methodology matters – but in the case of a pollster using consistent methodology, the movement in their results matters, even if you suspect their baseline number is massaged to uselessness. And the wingers denouncing all the pollsters were responding to Obama improving his numbers in just such consistently produced polls.

            Also, you still have to ask yourself why every pollster in the country, including such Republican-friendly pollsters as Rasmussen and the folks employed by the Republican Media Empire Fox News, saw the same thing.

          3. Yes, I’m sure the polls are telling us valid things about what warm bodies who don’t hang up on pollsters say to pollsters. I’m just not sure that this has any real relevance to how people who are going to actually vote will vote. But this will be established one way or the other in a few weeks.

            Honestly, I never would have thought “The only poll that matters is the one in November.” would have created such a vehement response. How desperate are you to, not just think Obama is going to win, but to be certain of it? Doubt is your friend, it’s part of mental health.

    3. Welcome back Brett!
      Long time no see.

      Can you ask Mitt Romney if the record Arctic ice minimum is worth worrying about?

  7. I don’t disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, but I believe Mitt Romney would do better.

    1. I’m sorry, this is just about impossible. Mitt Romney wants to repeal the ACA; wants to slash spending on all aspects of the social safety net; wants to spend more than 25% more on the military, money they don’t want; wants a huge tax cut on the wealthy; wants to replace Medicare with a coupon system already demonstrated not to work (see “Medicare Advantage”); and wants either a hefty tax hike on the non-wealthy or a spike in the deficit. And he wants war in Iran, and more war in Afghanistan – and possibly also in Iraq.

      You claim you don’t disapprove of Obama’s performance. But if that’s really the case, and you then claim to like Romney’s ideas, this only means that you fail to understand either what Obama has been doing or what Romney’s idea’s are – more likely the latter. Or, of course, you’re not telling the truth.

  8. I had the same thought about that picture/slogan from four years ago. The difference is, this is the first time that liberals are not chill out because of something Obama himself did.

  9. Mark, I’m with the President all the way. Just sent off an extra donation as a sympathy card for his recent, debilitating illness…. I know he’s got it under control – and – like any good tribalist, I want my team to play at the top of their game, always. So it’s disappointing, especially after Romney’s sweet slide into impending insignificance. But it’s a done deal. Didn’t get the knockout punch, didn’t get the decisive marginalization of the greasy frat boy, didn’t get the nitro boost to downticket races. Onward and forward.

    Just want to note Mr. Bellwether’s courageous discussion of our latest national scandal, those obviously Democrat skewed polls. What more proof is needed that red blooded Americans have to resort to different means, in order to save America? I mean, how else can you win when the whole world’s against you? Brett, I have a secret; not just any secret but THE secret, the answer, the real deal… I’m not sure if I should tell you…Ok, listen – come closer. Listen – it’s worse than you thought. Much worse. They’re everywhere. Yes, everywhere. It’s worse than you could ever imagine. You know it’s true because noone will talk about it. Why are they trying to suppress the truth? You know how they are – and they’re everywhere. But you can’t see them – that’s why they’re so dangerous. But we have to fight. Because if we give up…well, you know what that means. And that’s exactly what they want – for us to give up, to be silent. But real Americans can’t be silent – the truth must be told. We don’t care about ourselves – no, no – this is much bigger than us. This is about what’s right; it’s about telling the truth to the American people. Because if we just accept this, then…well, let’s just say we’ll get what we deserve. Pass this on to twenty friends, in the name of Freedom and Liberty.

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