5 Things Republicans Need To Do To Get Back In The Game

It’s been a week since the election and I thought I’d give a little bit of closure to the whole thing by looking at what Republicans need to do to get back on the upswing over the next 2-4 years.

I will go in saying that I identify as Republican though I don’t push my ideology on people nor do I try to talk people who aren’t Republicans into changing their views.  All I ask is the same.

Even though the Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, I think last Tuesday was a very disappointing day for the Republican party.  They had hoped for Mitt Romney to win the presidency, of course, and had hoped to, at the very least, not lose ground in the Senate, where there is a Democratic majority.

Neither of these things happened.

Never a chance

I had felt all along that a Romney win was out of grasp.  Even after the debate and even when various polls leading up to the election were showing that a Romney win was possible, I wasn’t buying it.  I wasn’t as confident as Sam over at Financial Samurai who actually had some bets going (bets which he won, but later donated the proceeds to charity), but I stuck to my conviction that Romney didn’t have a prayer, and once the results started coming in, I knew early on that he would lose.  I figured that he would have to pull off at least one upset even before the battleground states came into play.  Once I started seeing that the states that were supposed to go to Obama were all going to Obama, and by a large margin, it seemed only a matter of time.  And it was.

Why Was I So Confident?

I was confident that Romney would lose based on a couple of different accounts, and they tie back to numbers.

Here are the things that I think doomed Romey and the Republicans that they need to take some serious looks at between now and 2014 (the next Senate and House elections) and 2016 (when the Presidency is back in play):

  1. Anger – Every candidate is going to anger people in some fashion.  The fact is that Romney angered a whole ton of people when the video came out about 47% of the people taking from the government.  Even taking that aside, Obama’s plan to tax the wealthy angered the wealthy, but that’s a smaller subset of the population than can angered by traditional Republican policies.  One example of this would be immigration.  Republicans have made a lot of statement about immigration reform, which angers a great deal of the Latino population.  Adding up the number of people that Romney/Republicans angered during the election cycle, and it was a very tough uphill battle right from the get-go. They need to stop being the party that polarizes and be the party that…
  2. Compromises – As much as many Republicans aren’t going to want to compromise about issues relating to taxes and other policy, the fact is that gridlock is good for nobody.  The gridlock we’ve seen over the last couple of years has made the most recent Senate and Congress among the most unproductive, ever.  Continuing to stand their ground and give nothing might make the party backers happy, but if that wasn’t enough to win the election, maybe that’s not such a great strategy.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to go into 2014 and 2016 able to deliver the message that it was the Republicans that allowed for gridlock to be broken, for the fiscal cliff to be avoided, and for other issues.  I actually think Romney had a good track record during his time as governor, and he would have been somewhat successful in ‘reaching across the aisle’, so hopefully his Republican counterparts take a lesson and actually follow through.
  3. Appeal to minorities – Republicans have, nearly without fail, been able to count on the white vote.  But, look at the census readings over the past few decades.  Minority population is growing at faster rates than that of whites, meaning that whites represent an ever smaller portion of the electorate.  Polls also show that most minorities vote overwhelmingly with the Democrats.  The study of these numbers could take an entire college course, so I won’t even attempt to touch more than to say that if the Republicans do not find away to capture some of the minority vote that they don’t have today, they are going to continue to fight an uphill battle.
  4. Groom someone now – Obama won’t be able to run again in 2016, so while he had it easy this year in not having to wage a primary battle, the Republican primary battle was a mess.  Many candidates that were expected to run didn’t, and it was pretty late in the game before they actually decided (reluctantly) that Romney was their guy. I think party leadership has been completely disorganized, and they need to find one or two people and start grooming them now (similar to how I think Obama was groomed the second after he nailed his speech at the 2004 convention).
  5. Don’t assume Obama will be Bush 2.0 – Obama’s first victory in 2008 was a no-brainer, and a good chunk of that was because the American people had soured so much on the Republican party largely because of the devastation of Bush’s second term.  John McCain (or anybody else) was simply not electable that year.  My fear is that the Republicans will simply count on the same thing happening in Obama’s second term, and will count on his failure that would provide a clear path to a 2016 victory.  Which could happen, but that’s a big risk to take if you ask me.  If it doesn’t, they’ll be left in no better position than they were this election.  And look where that got them.

At some point in time, another Republican will be elected to fill the Oval Office.  Though I’m sure many diehard Democrats would hope against it, the numbers make it a guarantee.  The above ideas are just some of the few things that I believe the Republican party must do if they want that to happen in the 2010’s (because they only have one shot left).

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Remember The Fiscal Cliff When Casting Your Vote Tomorrow

The fiscal cliff.  Have you heard of it?

It’s only this little thing that’s looming in less than 60 days that threatens to raise taxes, cut spending, and potentially throw us into recession.  It’s a set of provisions that would automatically kick in if Congress does nothing by the end of the year.  The net effect is that 4% of the GDP could be at risk.

That’s 1 out of every 25 dollars spend, transferred, or otherwise used in our country.

And it’s at risk.

You’d think that it would be a huge deal.  While it has gotten it’s share of media coverage, I don’t feel it’s gotten anywhere near enough.

And the coverage it should be getting should focus directly on those who are allowing this deadline to tick closer and closer: Congress.

The House and the Senate are the ones that need to act to address the fiscal cliff.  Yet they haven’t.  They’ve done nothing.

While, it’s agreed that something will be done, the prevailing thought is that the current Congress will put in a stopgap measure and make the next Congress come up with the solution. And, they’ll likely do it at the very last minute, leaving uncertainty in every facet of the economy, from businesses to consumers to foreign nations.

If this sounds awful, it’s because it is.  To have let things come this far and to expect them to go further down the road before it’s dealt with is absolutely inexcusable.

But guess what?

Tomorrow is your chance to address this.  Because most of the people that are currently in office and have the power to do something about but are choosing not to: They’re up for re-election tomorrow.  All seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in the Senate are up for vote tomorrow.

They’ve been sitting back loving the fact that the Presidential election is taking the forefront, because they can sit back and do practically nothing, and get away with it.

But they shouldn’t.

These people are those that we elected to be leaders.  By avoiding something that could take away 4% of the economy in our country, they are not leading.

Before you go to the polls tomorrow and before you simply re-elect whoever is in office, take an extra few minutes and really think about leadership. The President is definitely a leader and should be given proper consideration as to whom you feel is best to lead the country.  But, take those extra few minutes and think about the other ‘leaders’ that are on the ballot.  In the long run, they have just as much to do with the operation and direction of the country as does the President.  Please don’t, for a single second, devalue the importance of voting for the members of Congress that will represent you for two or six years.

Once it becomes clear the impact that 4% of the economy could have (and that impact WILL become clear after the dust settles from the election, mark my words), it will also be clear the importance of having the right men and women in the Capitol building to address this.  It’s important to ensure that we have true leadership there.  Don’t realize this after it’s too late.

Are you voting?  Do you feel the incumbent members of Congress have been given a pass this year because of the focus on the Presidential election?

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Will The Stock Market Impact The Election?

The stock market hasn’t done very well at all, and is down roughly 5% from it’s highs just in the last month with another day in the red shaping up for today (the S&P is trading around 1400, having fallen from roughly 1470 earlier this month).

I think another 4-5% before the election could be devastating to President Obama, and given how quickly we’ve shed the amount we have, a drop of that amount (or close to it) could definitely happen, especially with the way that the market has been trending down.  It only takes a few tenths of a percentage points a day to add up to a pretty big drop.

Such a large drop would be roughly a double digit drop and would signify a pretty big warning sign about the economy.  Since the stock market is forward looking (meaning the movement is largely centered upon what investors believe is going to happen down the line), this would be a very bad sign.

Plus, people don’t like to lose money and if they’ve just witnessed 10% of their 401(k) and investment savings go down the drain, this could make people pretty cranky.  Generally, when people are cranky and go out to vote, they tend to take out some of their crankiness on the incumbents.

I’ll be curious to see what the stock market does between now and the election.  So far it hasn’t shown any encouraging signs, and if the bears continue to chip away, I believe it could have an impact on the election.  If the president has any aces up his sleeve regarding the economy, he would be wise to play them.

What are your thoughts?  Could a bad October translate to a bad November day at the polls for the president?

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Are We Asking The Right Question About Four Years When Looking At The Presidential Election?

One of the themes of the election has been around the question “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  If I’m correct, I believe that this was started by Ronald Reagan when he attempted (successfully) to oust then-President Jimmy Carter from office.  In the current election, Mitt Romney has used this for the same reason, trying to oust the incumbent president from office.

Regardless of what your answer is, it occurs to me that we’re asking the wrong question.  The question you really need to be asking yourself does not pertain to the past four years, but instead on what you think will happen over the next four years.

We aren’t electing a president to lead our country for the past four years, we’re electing a president to lead for the next four years, and those are the years people should be asking about.

I think you have to look at it just as you do a mutual fund or any other type of investment where there is always a warning along the lines of:  Past Performance Is Not Indicative of Future Results.

If I were to look at answering the question as to whether I’m better off, here are some of the things I’d look at, but also how it plays into whether it would tie into a presidential vote:

  • Making roughly the same income – Worse. I think we’ve gotten one raise over the past four years.  Would a stronger economy have helped push this along?  Perhaps.
  • Welcomed two beautiful children into our world – Better. Four years ago, we just found out we were going to be parents.  Now, we have two beautiful children.  Though this changes our lives, what does it have to do with the president? Nothing.
  • Net worth – Ah, this has to tell something, right?  Well, not so fast.  Our overall net worth is higher than what it was in 2008.  Most of this is from the stock market recovering most of its losses from the big crashes that took place that fall.  But, I doubt whether the outcome would have been different had McCain been elected.  Everything else is just as it would have been otherwise as they tie into saving, spending, etc. which would have taken place no matter what.

Personally, looking at what the areas where I might judge better or worse off tells me nothing as to who I should vote for in the upcoming election.  Instead, I will spend the next few weeks looking at what I believe from each candidates rhetoric and use that as my basis for whom I cast my vote.  Unfortunately, early returns aren’t looking good for either of the two big candidates as this is probably the first presidential election since I’ve turned 18 in which both candidates seem more unqualified for the job than they do qualified.

Do you think the question of whether you’re better off than four years ago applies on Election Day?

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