I have no plans to turn this blog into a forum for the weekly political winds, but the latest release from Public Policy Polling — “Obama in decent shape in Georgia” — struck me as interesting for a variety of reasons.
I’ve read a couple of conservative sites that have expressed indignation to varying degrees that anyone would dare think that Obama could have a chance of winning Georgia in 2012.
And I don’t think Obama will win Georgia either.
I did however think that he had a strong chance in 2008; Larry Peterson in the Savannah Morning News even cited some of my data projections in a column before the general election. Obama ultimately lost to McCain 52.2% to 47%, and one is left only to speculate if things might have been different if the Obama campaign had worked harder to win the state. My guess is, that for all the current rhetoric, the 2012 Obama campaign will back off from Georgia again, mainly because they will see a clear path to victory without Georgia.
I have many conservative friends who I’m sure find such talk absurd, but the numbers are pretty clear — Obama will likely get at least 45% of the vote, no matter the field. Threatened with a potential reversal of health care legislation, even some jaded Obama voters will return to vote for him. I think some economic moderates and conservatives might even be more likely to vote for Obama in 2012 than in 2008, if he lays out — as I suspect he will — a viable blueprint for reining in entitlement spending. When Obama took office, I foresaw nothing but doom and gloom for the economy and felt certain of a double dip recession no matter what policy makers did, but the Obama economic team and the Fed have done a better job — a much better one as far as I’m concerned — than the general population has given them credit for. Things were terrible when Obama took office, and getting worse; now things are just bad, and getting better. We’ll see if those trends continue. I’ll have a lot more to say about some of these issues, especially entitlement spending, in an upcoming post.
Most importantly in terms of electoral politics — and this is a key factor to remember — Georgia’s black and Latino populations are increasing faster than the white population. That’s a demographic shift that seems likely to bring any number of states into play for Democrats in upcoming national elections — in 2016 and 2020 if not in 2012. If the Republican Party does not make a more effective case to minority voters, they could be looking at declining power at just about every level. Also, it’s worth adding that Obama’s approval rating is pretty good (52%) with voters under 65 in Georgia, while it’s terrible (27%) with those over 65.
For more discussion of the PPP poll, take a look at Jim Galloway here and Peach Pundit here. Btw, much of the press regarding the poll has been focused on the bad signs in the data for Georgia native Newt Gingrich, whose popularity in the state is just below 40%.