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The “Shrinking” Pie? The “Generated Crisis”? Explaining the Bizarre Polls

Wednesday, October 22, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Today’s AP poll showing a dead heat in the presidential campaign, like yesterday’s Battleground Poll with the same result, are so far outside the MSM’s narrative as to be instantly dismissed by even many McCain-Palin supporters as too good to be true.

And perhaps they are. Or perhaps the pollsters simply don’t know how to catch this year’s bouncing ball. Or they are catching many different balls depending where they are polling. Yes, the pros are supposed to know how to tweak distribution and turnout models, but if the pros know, how to account for a narrowing AP result opposite a widening Reuters/Zogby result, which is now at 10 having been below 3 just five days ago?

Here is one explanation: The volatility in the polls reflects the volatility among individuals who are riding their own roller coasters in response to sudden market declines and equally sudden appearances of new narratives in the campaign, whether it is Joe the Plumber, Joe Biden’s dire warning of the “test” coming at a rookie president, or the latest Bill Ayers video.

McCain, of course, is a known quantity. But Obama is an unknown figure and the public knows that he’s been given the soft focus treatment by an adoring MSM. Large numbers of voters, including many of the declared Obama supporters, are going into the last dozen days of campaigning deeply troubled by aspects of the Obama candidacy, and worried that they may be committing to a disastrous four years for the nation’s security and economy. They know what happens if you turn all of D.C. over to Democrats when it comes to the economy, and they know as well the Carter-Clinton approach to foreign affairs. Expect millions of Americans to struggle to the last moment with their vote and for the polls to reflect that volatility.

Expect as well that continued focus on the economy will not help Obama. People want their money back –they want the markets to rise and growth to return, and they know that doesn’t happen with soaring taxes and trade barriers.

It is also important that leadership genuinely understand what drives economic growth and communicate that knowledge. Obama has been been doing just the opposite by declaring at every stop that the Bush years have been years of a shrinking pie. The actual numbers on GDP are below, but except for the sharp trough following the attack on 9/11, and the current fall due to the financial crisis, the low tax rates of the last 28 years have worked to bring about a greatly expanding pie. When taxes were raised under Bill Clinton the burst in productivity brought about by the new economy compensated, as did the fiscal discipline imposed by GOP majorities in both houses after 1994, and even then the rates did not skyrocket as they will under Obama. (His promises of restraint should be measured not just against his promise to accept public funds but also the enthusiasm for punitive rates among his Democratic colleagues on the Hill.)

There is no record of economic growth through high taxes and trade protectionism –none. We are almost certainly in a recession now, one brought about by the business cycle and the financial crisis. It can be long or short, shallow or deep. Obama’s plans –which will be made even more extreme by large Democratic majorities in the Congress– will make it long and deep.

Voters know this, just as they know the truth of Biden’s prediction. Thus the volatility in the polls.

As for Obama’s “shrinking” pie:

YEAR GDP (in billions) GDP in 2000 Dollars

2000 9708.4 9708.4

2001 10040.7 9811.1

2002 10373.4 9966.8

2003 10828.3 10192.3

2004 11466.0 10597.0

2005 12042.4 10938.7

2006 12641.1 11190.8

2007 13279.1 11877.4

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