Monitoring the Battleground States: Advantage Republicans

Conclusion: Given the tightness of national polls it is likely that the 2012 Presidential race occurs in a wider list of battleground states, similar to the 2004 election between Bush and Kerry.  Based on the economic performance of those states, the Republicans currently have a battleground advantage.

 

As the Presidential election accelerates in 2012, we are going to start closely monitoring the battleground states from an economic perspective to provide insights into the battle for the Presidency.  Battleground, or swing states, are those states in which no candidate, or party, has overwhelming support and thus the states are realistically up for grabs. 

 

In the electoral-college system, all but two states, Nebraska and Maine, are winner-take-all states.  In Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes go to the candidate that wins a plurality in the state and then a candidate is allotted one additional electoral vote for each Congressional District in which they receive a plurality.   Maine is considered a Democratic state and has 4 electoral votes and Nebraska is considered a Republican state with 5 electoral votes.

 

Typically, candidates will limit allocating resources in the states in which they have a limited chance of winning or a very likely chance of winning.  Incremental spending in those states will not help the candidate’s chances of becoming President simply because of the winter-take-all system.  Beyond a simple majority, incremental votes do not help a Presidential candidate.

 

Professor Joel Bloom, a political scientist from the University of Oregon, has identified three key factors in identifying swing states: the results of previous elections, political party registration numbers, and statewide opinion polls.  For purposes of this analysis, we are going to focus exclusively on the results of previous elections as a gauge for the battleground states in 2012.  As well, given our expectation that the race for Presidency will be close, which is supported by InTrade (Obama is at 51.7%) and most national polls (the generic Republican candidate currently beats Obama), we will use 2004 as the best proxy for battleground states.  In 2004, the Republican candidate won 50.7% of the popular vote versus 48.4% of the popular vote for the Democrat and the states that were decided by margins of 5% are outlined in the table below:

 

Monitoring the Battleground States: Advantage Republicans - 1

 

In the table below, we’ve looked at the change in unemployment in these battleground states and also added in Florida, which wasn’t a battleground state in 2004 or 2008, but is likely to emerge as one again in 2012.

 

Monitoring the Battleground States: Advantage Republicans - 2

 

As outlined above, based on these key battleground states, unemployment has worsened in seven of them, improved in four of them, and stayed flat in one.  Traditionally, the incumbent gets blamed for the current state of the economy, a point we will touch on in bit more detail, so in this scenario the Republicans have an advantage in seven battleground states.  From an electoral vote perspective, the Democrats have the advantage in states with 54 electoral votes versus 84 for the Republicans.  In a tight national race, 30 electoral votes can obviously be critical when a candidate needs 270 to win.

 

Professor Bruno Jerome from the University of Paris presented a paper at the American Political Science Association annual meeting in September of 2011 in which he analyzed the impact of state unemployment on state level voting.  Based on his math, which looks at every Presidential election going back to 1952, he concluded the following:

 

“On average, a 1 point rise in the unemployment rate generates an electoral cost to the incumbent of 0.56% of the votes in a given state.”

 

Given the tightness of both national and local polls, even a 0.56% shift in the vote based on state level economic factors can be critical in determining the outcome of the election.  In our analysis, this suggests that Wisconsin could go Republican and Pennsylvania narrows to within a percent, so is solidly in play.

 

Clearly, the economic situation in the battleground states is only one factor in analyzing eventual outcomes for the election, but history suggests a very important factor.  Currently, it is advantage Republicans on this score.

 

Daryl G. Jones

Director of Research


Did the US Economy Just “Collapse”? "Worst Personal Spending Since 2009"?

This is a brief note written by Hedgeye U.S. Macro analyst Christian Drake on 4/28 dispelling media reporting that “US GDP collapses to 0.7%, the lowest number in three years with the worst personal spending since 2009.”

read more

7 Tweets Summing Up What You Need to Know About Today's GDP Report

"There's a tremendous opportunity to educate people in our profession on how GDP is stated and projected," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote today. Here's everything you need to know about today's GDP report.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Crash Test Bear

In the past six months, U.S. stock indices are up between +12% and +18%.

read more

GOLD: A Deep Dive on What’s Next with a Top Commodities Strategist

“If you saved in gold over the past 20 to 25 years rather than any currency anywhere in the world, gold has outperformed all these currencies,” says Stefan Wieler, Vice President of Goldmoney in this edition of Real Conversations.

read more

Exact Sciences Up +24% This Week... What's Next? | $EXAS

We remain long Exact Sciences in the Hedgeye Healthcare Position Monitor.

read more

Inside the Atlanta Fed's Flawed GDP Tracker

"The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNowcast model, while useful at amalgamating investor consensus on one singular GDP estimate for any given quarter, is certainly not the end-all-be-all of forecasting U.S. GDP," writes Hedgeye Senior Macro analyst Darius Dale.

read more

Cartoon of the Day: Acrophobia

"Most people who are making a ton of money right now are focused on growth companies seeing accelerations," Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough wrote in today's Early Look. "That’s what happens in Quad 1."

read more

People's Bank of China Spins China’s Bad-Loan Data

PBoC Deputy Governor Yi says China's non-performing loan problem has “pretty much stabilized." "Yi is spinning. China’s bad-debt problem remains serious," write Benn Steil and Emma Smith, Council on Foreign Relations.

read more

UnderArmour: 'I Am Much More Bearish Than I Was 3 Hours Ago'

“The consumer has a short memory.” Yes, Plank actually said this," writes Hedgeye Retail analyst Brian McGough. "Last time I heard such arrogance was Ron Johnson."

read more

Buffalo Wild Wings: Complacency & Lack of Leadership (by Howard Penney)

"Buffalo Wild Wings has been plagued by complacency and a continued lack of adequate leadership," writes Hedgeye Restaurants analyst Howard Penney.

read more

Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands Earnings

"The quarter actually beat lowered expectations. Overall, the mass segment performed well although base mass lagging is a concern," writes Hedgeye Gaming, Lodging & Leisure analyst Todd Jordan on Las Vegas Sands.

read more

An Update on Defense Spending by Lt. Gen Emo Gardner

"Congress' FY17 omnibus appropriation will fully fund the Pentagon's original budget request plus $15B of its $30B supplemental request," writes Hedgeye Potomac Defense Policy analyst Lt. Gen Emerson "Emo" Gardner USMC Ret.

read more