Saturday, July 17, 2010

Free Advice, and Summer's Nice!

Got another note from Kevin Lewis. He's on a roll. I reproduce the email, with emendation or comment.

As I write this, President Obama is lodged several hundred yards away from the house where I spent much of the summer during my childhood. No, my family isn't rich; several families got together to buy the house at a rock-bottom price in the 1970s. Over the years, many people visited, including the infamous legal minds of Robert Bork and Jeffrey Rosen. The house is now owned -- and has been massively upgraded -- by Bill Ruger (as in Ruger firearms).

I'd also like to use this opportunity to give the GOP some free advice. First, as I've said before, you do NOT want to do so well in the mid-term elections that you gain clear majorities in both houses of Congress. There is a strong negative feedback loop built into the current political environment, such that a solidly Republican Congress before the 2012 elections will probably make it easier for Obama to get re-elected, effectively securing his policies. The GOP should target a slim majority in one house and a slim minority in the other -- in other words, enough to block but not enough to be seen as dominant. Second, with Obama currently at 40-50% approval, the GOP seems to think they have a good chance of beating him in 2012, but this is still wishful thinking. Instead, it's likely the GOP will re-enact the 2004 election in reverse -- nominating a less-than-compelling candidate to go up against a crisis-tested president.

Obviously, anything can happen between now and November 2012, and Republicans could nominate someone with broad appeal. But will they? IMHO, here are the probabilities (first number is for winning nomination, second number is for beating Obama):

Romney: 40% * 30%
Palin: 20% * 20%
Pawlenty: 10% * 40%
Huckabee: 10% * 40%
Daniels: 10% * 40%
Gingrich: 10% * 30%