Tough Call in Ohio.

James Carville just called the election for the President because of pessimistic Democrats on the ground in Ohio. This may be a little premature. But even though, I think it is fair to say that President Bush did fare better – certainly in the popular vote – than expected by many who bet on a higher – Kerry voting – turnout among younger voters. Now it appears that the queues were a little too long for them, as Josh Marshall opines.

I think it is not unreasonable to call Florida for Bush even pending the lawsuits, provisional and absentee ballots. But I’m much less sure about Ohio, particularly given the legal challenges, and about 200,000 provisional ballots. Either way, it looks like the next president will be crowned in Ohio – and that may take some time.

In other news, Tom Daschle is not having a good time in South Dakota tonight, and the Republicans will retain the majority in both Congressional chambers. Should President Bush actually be reelected, this would be a decisive Conservative victory that would significantly boost their political and social agenda.

It’s difficult to predict to which extent the ideological cleavages within the Republican party would begin to show in such a situation. But Hillary 2008 would probably become even more of a clash of civilisations than the Kerry campaign has been.

21 thoughts on “Tough Call in Ohio.

  1. Ohio looks pretty clear to me, with Bush leading by 125,000 with 97% of the precincts in. It’s close, sure, but also basically set.

    Keep in mind that with all the legal maneuvering, recounts, and absentees in Florida in 2000, the final margin of victory was only shifted a few hundred votes.

  2. This is a clear Bush victory.
    It’s going to be interesting to see a “conservative” driving this country to its decline.
    Now the US are alone in the world. The GOP forgot that the dollar was the key of the US prosperity. Spend and do not reimburse your debt was the motto of the 90’s. Currently we are witnessing the end of this process. The dollar will lose a lot of purchasing power and by the same token wealth will evaporate.
    Kerry would have not been able to avoid this phenomana only to soften it.

  3. Now that all the precincts have reported, Bush still leads by 136,000 votes (I did the arithmetic using the official figures). For Kerry to pull out a surprise victory, he’d first have to make up the 136,000 votes he’s behind by, and then he’d have to gain more than half of the remainder. 250,000 – 136,000 = 114,000, giving us a figure of 193,000 votes, or 77.2%, for Kerry to win.

    How likely is such an outcome? Consider that many of those 250,000 are likely to be ruled invalid (anything up to 50 percent), and that a very large number are from military voters overseas, who are substantially more pro-Bush than the average voter, and I think it’s fair to say that Kerry has a negligible chance of winning at this point.

  4. “The dollar will lose a lot of purchasing power and by the same token wealth will evaporate.”

    Wishful thinking based on bad economics. The dollar’s decline would simply boost the competitiveness of American exports. Europeans expecting (hoping for?) an American “decline” should perhaps take another look at their own continent’s gloomy demographics before saying any more.

  5. “For Kerry to pull out a surprise victory, he’d first have to make up the 136,000 votes he’s behind by, and then he’d have to gain more than half of the remainder. 250,000 – 136,000 = 114,000, giving us a figure of 193,000 votes, or 77.2%, for Kerry to win.”

    It’s even worse than that for Kerry. According to the Secretary of State for Ohio, the provisional votes are closer to 150,000, and historically 80% of those get rejected.

    It’s over, Bush won Ohio.

  6. If you would read the latest news, the number of provisional ballots is 145,000. Not 200,000 wishful ballots.

    Bush is ahead by 136,221 votes. The provisional ballots would have to break at least 94% in favor of Kerry.

    According to Ohio officials, the majority of provisional ballots were cast by evangelical Christians gathered to vote against gay marriage at the last minute in Cuyahoga County. I find it EXTREMELY unlikely that evangelical Christians vehemently opposed to gay marriage would break 94 percent in favor of Kerry.

    Kerry lost. According to National Public Radio, a news source that is noted for not having any right-wing leanings, the deciding issue in the election was not Iraq, not the economy, but moral values. Right or wrong, since the Clinton years, the Democratic Party and their sponsors are completely clueless in this regard. People who saw moral values as their Number 1 issue broke 80 percent in favor of Bush.

    Several pointers: If Democrats want to win, they have to nominate someone with a long history of public demonstrations of faith. The nominee can’t be a womanizer. The nominee can’t have any Hollywood friends.

    Clinton really, really ruined the ground here in America. No one here has forgotten the stain on the dress, or the humiliation of the office.

  7. Remi: keep in mind that the deficit in the US is not financed by the US taxpayer, but by European and Asian banks, who, in the case of European and Japanese financiers, seem to have much more faith in US economic growth than in their own.

    Don’t you fret about the GOP forgetting things: they know exactly how to play the international markets.

  8. >How likely is such an outcome?

    Not very. Unless something surprising happens in some court, I think Bush has won.

    >Europeans expecting (hoping for?) an >American “decline” should perhaps take another >look at their own continent’s gloomy >demographics before saying any more.

    oh c’mon Abiola. No reasonable person would ever wish for American decline. As for demographics – wait and see. If the price for higher birthrates is social conservatism a la Americaine then I predict most Europeans will choose decline…

  9. “Several pointers: If Democrats want to win, they have to nominate someone with a long history of public demonstrations of faith. The nominee can’t be a womanizer. The nominee can’t have any Hollywood friends.

    Clinton really, really ruined the ground here in America….”

    Hmmm… I never thought of it that way. As I see it, Iraq was the deciding factor, and the ambivalence middle America has in changing horses in midstream.

    I’m just astounded by how badly the Democratic Party ran this campaign. This was an eminently defeatable incumbent. It says something about the state of the Democratic Party platform. They have a lot of homework to do.

    I tend to think that NPR’s focus on moral values is a bit bogus. Their main ammunition is always moral relativism, and they strive to become the final arbiters of that.

  10. Abiola
    What exports? Most of US GDP is services.
    Yes its not positive for Airbus or agriculural products. Keep in mind that import prices are going through the roof for a US producer.
    The succes of the 90’s was built on the expansion of free , open markets. The US was on a buying frenzy without having to pay back their debt because the dollar was used as exchange currency for internationall trade.
    As soon as you have a slow down in international trade and a lower level of confidence in the US these dollars will head back to the US for change. It will Result ( it ahs already started) in a sharp drop of the value of the dollar.
    the question is who is going to shoot first? China, japan??

    Think about it. No country in the world had such an advantage as the US. Print money and go. Any european country doing that would be already bankrupt. This worked in the past because there was some sort of mutual confidence. No more now.

    The whole US economy as it works now is like a house of cards.

    PS I live and work in the US.

  11. Abiola, come on! The US exports very little to except high tech manufactured goods where it had a dominant position anyway and stuff going to Canada or Mexico. Computers are way cheaper in Europe compared to when I moved here because they come from the US.

    Half of US manufacturing exports go to Canada and Mexico, and SITC classes 84-90 and “special class” 98 – all high tech stuff – account for half of all manufactured exports. Your senario might happen if the dollar keeps falling against the looney and the peso, but it has little to do with EU trade. The EU amounts to a fifth of all US exports in 2003, after the dollar started tanking. Canada and Mexico are not big enough economies to carry the dollar upwards on global markets. Their dependency implies that if the US dollar falls too far, they will simply lower interest rates and follow it down if the deficit gets out of control.

    It takes more than a currency shift to create exports. American companies don’t even understand the regulatory requirements in Europe and even less market demands. Those networks of shippers, distributors and related middlemen that you need to make serious export gains simply aren’t there. If the dollar falls enough and stays down long enough, they will eventually materialise, but they sure aren’t there now. In five or six years, the US might be a real exporter. Maybe.

    As for demographics, even I know that productivity increases more than offset demographic shift. This population apocalypse people keep seeing for Europe is wishful thinking.

    RSN, CBS MarketWatch certainly seems to disagree with you. Foriegn investment in the US is down 40% over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12. Central banks – mostly China – have been increasing their purchases of US assets, but with dollars so cheap, can you blame them? They are gambling that the US won’t let the dollar fall too far, or in China’s case possibly trying to prop it up. The US can have crap growth and still keep a high dollar if interest rates get hiked enough.

    Or are you telling me that the Chinese government is a better allocator of funds than the free market?

  12. Remi: keep in mind that the deficit in the US is not financed by the US taxpayer, but by European and Asian banks, who, in the case of European and Japanese financiers, seem to have much more faith in US economic growth than in their own.

    Just to be clear, we’re talking about the Budget Deficit,being floated with loan money from international sources. The U.S. taxpayer is very much on the hook for eventually paying for this loan money.

    With the anti-tax party in power consolidating its hold on power and likely to continue its four-year reckless spending and tax-cut binge…Loaning the U.S. Federal government is looking more and more like a risky proposition.

    With the extremely large trade deficit eroding the
    exchange value of the dollar, investing in U.S. bonds in even riskier for foreign investors.

    Once that risk is reflected in the interest rates, and it’s not a question of ‘if’ but of ‘when’; the over-leveraged U.S. economy is going to be in a world of hurt.

    Don’t you fret about the GOP forgetting things: they know exactly how to play the international markets.

    Many a gambler has claimed that, prior to their last roll.

  13. “Abiola, come on! The US exports very little to except high tech manufactured goods where it had a dominant position anyway and stuff going to Canada or Mexico.”

    Since when have “high technology manufacturing goods” become a marginal category? And I didn’t realize that the demand for such goods on the part of the rest of the world had already been so saturated that no buyers could ever be found for even cheaper versions of said goods. You don’t even seem to appreciate that the US also runs a surplus in unimportant fields like entertainment, agriculture, financial services, etc, let alone that the country could be a one-product Banana Republic and the economic theory would still hold true: as long as the currency is allowed to float, a trade deficit is eventually self-correcting, as it sets off a currency depreciation that makes imports dearer and exports cheaper.

    The fact is that we aren’t really arguing over something controversial here: as even a committed Democrat like Brad DeLong will tell you, the trade deficit is an eventually self-correcting issue, and not really worth bothering about. Instead of wasting energy engaging in an economic version of the argument for intelligent design, try reading the last two issue of The Economists’ Voice and you’ll see for yourself that your argument has no real standing amongst those who are in a position to know. Better yet, try looking at a macroeconomics text on the subject, by an author like, say, Paul Krugman …

    American decline is not going to happen, full stop, not by comparison with Japan or Europe at any rate. Not only is the USA in much better demographic shape than these two, but its public finances are also in rather better condition as well: the US debt to GDP ratio is currently lower than it is for Canada, Japan or most of Europe, especially for countries like Belgium, France, Italy and Germany, and the budget deficit is certainly no worse, while the unfunded obligations of all other developed countries to their future retirees (bar the UK) make America’s social security problem look like child’s play. If trade surpluses were all it took to prosper, Japan would be in far better shape than it currently is, and it would have been impossible for Australia to have prospered so greatly, seeing as that country’s had a current account deficit for decades.

    Let’s face facts, people, Europeans are in no position whatsoever to be going on about American “decline.”

  14. Provisional ballots from 2000 were approved at a rate of approximately 90%. Given the tactics that we know going in, it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of the challenges came from the R side. That is, a Kerry yield of well over 70% from the ballots is entirely likely.

    The Bush people are trying to work the refs, and that’s that.

    The K/E rhetoric of fighting is nice, but they need to start the transition. That’ll counter the R spin more than any number of lawyers. Announce Holbrooke for Sec of State, Clarke for Homeland Security, Nunn for Defense, and let’s do this for real.

  15. Yes, Abiola, the trade deficit is self-correcting when the cost of imports exceeds what people are willing to pay for them. In short, it gets corrected by losing purchasing power. Says so in every international trade text. Unless, of course, you are the net recipient of investment from abroad. The US has been for some years, but now private foreign investment in the US is declining, only governments are increasing their US assets. No, trade surpluses do not create prosperity, but trade deficits can destroy it if they aren’t being financed by investment.

    Exporting doesn’t just happen. Outside of high tech, American firms are not big exporters, and the high tech market is not infinitely expandable. The American surplus in intellectual property like entertainment, licenses and royalties is a bit better since it’s largely unaffected by currency movements, but all of services still comes to only about a third of US exports. The US surplus in services comes to 60 billion dollars for 2003 on a net trade deficit of 500 billion for the same year. Royalties and licenses account for under a fifth of US service exports.

    The US does have the benefit of setting its debts in dollars, and other countries may not. However, the relevant question is not whether or not US debt to GDP ratios are sustainable. It is whether or not the people who buy that debt have confidence that the US can pay it back. That has a great deal to do with the confidence people have in the value of the dollar and the euro.

    “Self-correcting” does not mean easy, happy or desirable. It will have costs in buying power.

    Furthermore, if you’re going to take the position that trade deficits are self-correcting, I should think the same argument would apply to social security benefits. As long as productivity rises to compensate for it, the state can print money to meet its obligations without anyone losinf purchasing power.

    Abiola, the decline of Europe has been predicted on those very grounds for so long that it no longer seems likely to actually happen. While what is going on in the US – an unfunded mandate in Iraq that has very little value as an economic stimulus, the precipitous decline in the dollar and the loss of foreign confidence in US assets, and a US trade deficit that has continued unabated through all this – that is new. If France was experiencing the same thing, you would be the first to claim it was a sign of impending doom.

  16. >If France was experiencing the same thing, you >would be the first to claim it was a sign of >impending doom.

    That’s a fair point.

    As for the effects of aging, there’s apparently a little less reason for concern than the public discourse, certainly in Europe, is indicating right now. Apart frin predicting a rising birth rate for Europe, esp. in Germany – where the microcensus isn’t very good at predicting fertility developments -, in line with the further deregulation of labour markets I’m quoting Axel B?rsch-Supan, director of the Mannheim University’s Institute for the Economics of Aging:

    “Global aging will affect labor, product and capital markets in fundamental ways which will change the growth path of GDP and the wealth of nations. We understand the basic mechanisms behind these changes, are able to trace some of the complex feedback effects in general equilibrium, and have some rough ideas of the magnitudes involved. There is, however, as this paper has shown, still ample room to improve our current knowledge about feedback effects and to generate more precise quantifications.”

    more here – http://mea.uni-mannheim.de/mea_neu/pages/files/nopage_pubs/1i2ingsuenc0skcz_dp55.pdf

  17. Ye Gods! Since when is it common wisdom that any provisional ballots are by default in favor of Democrats, and by default challenged by Republicans?

    Listen to the administrator who was in charge of the Ohio elections – 90 percent of those provisional ballots were cast by evangelical Christians who were angry enough to show up to cast a vote against gay marriage – much less John Kerry.

    If those evangelical Christian votes were Democratic-leaning, I’ll eat my own underwear.

  18. JTK, look at the counties the provisionals came from. No way 90 percent of them are white Bush-leaning evangelicals. Not in a reality-based analysis, anyway. Since you didn’t give a link, I don’t know what Ohio official you’re trying to quote. Without evidence it’s tough to make an assessment. Or should I just take it on faith?

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