By PETE DU PONT, Sept. 27, 2012
Things are changing in America, from economics to politics, to elections. The public sees a supposed economic recovery that seems quite short on job creation, as employment and underemployment remain high. They see higher taxes coming: ObamaCare’s new 3.8% tax on investment income, plus the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which will mean higher taxes on all income, including dividends and capital gains.On top of all that, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now says nearly six million Americans will face a tax penalty of about $1,200 under ObamaCare for not getting insurance, and that will take an additional $6.9 billion from the public to the government in 2016. The national debt exceeds $16 trillion and is expected to keep rising.
All this creates a sense of uneasiness and instability in the coming presidential election. The Republican rank and file preferred a strong conservative as their presidential candidate, but the Washington establishment always seemed to want a moderate—someone more like George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole or John McCain—as a “safe choice.” A 2012 candidate in the latter category probably would lead to electoral disaster. Fortunately, with Mitt Romney the Republicans have a candidate in the middle. The Democrats, of course, went with their incumbent even though he continues to score poorly on job approval and his signature first-term accomplishments are unpopular with the electorate.
In spite of what some of the pundits are saying, this election is not over, and it is very difficult now to be sure who will win the race on Nov. 6. To begin with, the polls seem to show a good bit of volatility. According to Rasmussen Reports, which unlike many other analysts has tracked likely voters instead of registered ones, has gone from Mr. Obama up by two in August, to up by five in early September to a tie in late September. Gallup was plus-one for Mr. Romney in mid-August, plus-seven for Mr. Obama in early September, and plus-three for Mr. Obama in mid-September. In short, each candidate is holding 45% to 47% of the votes with roughly 6% to 10% undecided.