Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Remember the election...

...of 1988? George H. W. Bush, Reagan's vice president, clobbered Gov. Michael Dukakis. Poppy got over 53 percent of the popular vote and carried 40 states and 426 Electoral votes.

In a post last month I compared the 41st president to Hillary Clinton:

Mrs. Clinton and George H. W. Bush were both centrist, establishment figures who ran for their party's nominations but were defeated by charismatic outsiders. They then served faithfully in key roles in their opponents' administrations. After eight successful years, they each ran for their predecessors' "third term" and, despite scandals (remember Iran-Contra?) and lackluster finishes in the Iowa caucuses, won their party's nominations.

In the general election they both began as underdogs. Inarticulate and uninspiring candidates, especially when compared with their predecessors, they both benefited from economic recoveries and improved global standings. After initially trailing their opponents, who were from their party's ideological wings, they eventually won their general elections handily.

Okay, so Mrs. Clinton probably won't be an underdog in the fall and Donald Trump isn't from the Republican Party's ideological wing. (Although Ted Cruz is.) And I really don't expect the map to look anything like the one at the top of this post. It could look a little more like this:

...In Bloomberg today, Jonathan Bernstein notes that President Obama "has reached 53 percent approval from Gallup, a three-year high, and he’s been at or above 50 percent in that survey for four weeks." Also (my emphasis):

That should help Hillary Clinton’s chances in November. Current presidential approval, along with some measure of economic performance, both have strong effects on general election voting. They aren’t perfect predictors, but they seem to make a difference.

In the Gallup survey, Obama is now doing a little bit better than Ronald Reagan was in late March 1988.

(Wha-a-t??? President Blackenstein is outpolling the Gipper??? Say it ain't so!)

If the economy keeps humming along, and if there's no major terrorist attack* this fall, the election should be Hillary's to lose.

* I'm starting to think even this wouldn't matter. After all, the recent events in Brussels didn't seem to affect Obama's approval ratings. Maybe -- just like mass shootings -- we're morbidly getting used to them.

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