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November 04, 2012


Tyler, your vote is a sacred trust. Maybe next time you can put a little, you know, thought into it.

So...I do think it will actually matter a lot who is elected. I just can't predict how.

But I agree it is a very close call. I actually felt similarly with Bush/Gore (that it wouldn't really matter) but then 9/11 pushed Bush into a direction that transformed the country.

Learning from that we should address two things that most voters seem to care about.

1) Leadership, and the projection thereof.

Does the president generally make you feel good about your country? ie. The Ronald Reagan effect?

Advantage: Obama

2) Character/likability.

Do you trust the President? Will other leaders, members of congress, trust him?

Advantage: Obama

I think these elements both play strongly in Obama's favor in foreign policy.

It doesn't seem to matter right now since we are (mostly) at peace. But I wouldn't dismiss them either.

Aboer, while I gave Obama the advantage on foreign policy because of familarity, I would have expected Romney to be pretty good in the end. Given his background in business, government and at the Olympics, we know he is smart, analytical, data-driven, (like Obama), and also descisive and strong at execution (probably better than Obama), he might even have been better than Obama in a true crisis. My knock on both would be that neither have very fixed principles when it comes to foreign policy, which can lead to unpredictability in times of high stress.

In terms of leadership and likeability in foreign policy, Romney is highly capable and sophisticated and would have gotten along well with foreign leaders, even though they are currently generally anti-Republican for obvious reasons.

With regard to the Bush-Gore analogy, we of course have no way of knowing how history would have played out under Gore but the big questions were still there: what to do in the aftermath of the dot-com crash, the culmination of the long bull market in housing, how to respond to 9-11 specifically and how to adjust our Middle East policy in general. The American people endorsed Bush's approach to all of these things at the time: the GOP gained in Congress in both the 2002 and 2004 elections and Bush was re-elected. Gore was kind of a weird guy, and I'm not sure how he would have reacted to 9-11. I could see him going overboard in his own way, maybe not by invading Iraq, but by making some other unpopular mistake. Remember, we were all pretty amped up at the time and an amped-up Gore would have been pretty unpredictable.

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