My View From The Country

$2-Billion Election Essentially Changed Nothing

Ironically, the continued lack of economic growth that is likely as a result of a second Obama administration will be both a positive and a negative for the U.S. beef industry.

To the relief of many Americans, the election is now over. I find it ironic that the election turned out to be a lot like stimulus spending – despite record cash outlays, very little changed in the end.

 The nation remains deeply divided with the electorate split nearly 50/50 and the House and Senate remaining in the same hands as before the election. The election also ended with very little hope for an end to the gridlock in Congress, and no convincing mandate for the victors.

The pundits were almost universal in their analysis of the election. There was amazement and admiration that Obama was able to prevail after presiding over the poorest economic performance since the Great Depression. His first term’s hallmark achievement, the “Affordable Health Care Act,” remains hugely unpopular. And surveys show the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the country is on the wrong track.

Another Perspective: What Obama Win Means For Agriculture

The exit polls were surprising. With all the money and advertising spent in the run-up to Nov. 6, as many as 9% of the electorate said they didn’t decide on their presidential ballot choice until three days prior to the election. What’s more, 42% of voters said Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy was an important factor in their decision.

Exit polls indicated that 60% of voters considered the economy the most important issue and actually preferred Romney to deal with the majority of the issues they thought were important. Exit polls even indicated that voters thought government is too big.

Nonetheless, North Carolina is the only one of nine toss-up states that Obama lost. His victory has been attributed to two things – his likability and the efficiency of his campaign. More than 80% of voters viewed Obama favorably, while only 43% felt the same about Romney. Thus, with all the billions spent in this election, in the end it wasn’t decided on policy, but likability.

Finally, Obama did more than just raise more money than any candidate in history. He also left his 2008 campaign offices open in the key battleground states, effectively running one of the best campaigns ever, a campaign that began in 2008. The consensus is that Obama’s campaign was first rate and was run by a better team.

I have a hard time believing it, but many experts say Hurricane Sandy allowed Obama to look presidential and was the event that tipped the scales in his favor. What I find astounding is that, for the first time ever, exit polls showed that a sitting president was not held accountable for the country’s economic performance of his first term. Rather, 53% of voters polled blamed Bush for the past four years, and only 38% blamed Obama. 

The result of the 2012 election leaves a nation sharply divided among racial and ideological lines; that’s not a set of circumstances conducive to compromise. 

Now let’s look at what the election means for the cattle industry. The obvious answer is “more of the same,” except that there are tremendous issues that must be addressed.

  • The federal deficit, already at $16 trillion, continues to grow, and the federal borrowing limit is about to be hit once again.
  • The “fiscal cliff” compromise that Congress set in lieu of a real budget-cutting plan, is about to be reached. Some kind of deal will have to be struck before drastic across-the-board cuts go into effect.
  • The Bush-era tax credits are also due to expire.
  • These issues don’t even begin to broach the myriad of steps needed to address the most anemic economic climate in more than a half-century, or the impending showdown over Iran’s nuclear program. Then there’s entitlement reform.

These are all huge issues that are expected to dominate the agenda. Ag won’t be on the national agenda, but the environmental and regulatory fronts will continue to be active. Ironically, the continued lack of economic growth will be both a positive and negative for the industry. It will be a negative in terms of demand, which will limit price increases; and a positive in that we will continue to see a flight into commodities and away from equities. We’ll likely also see strong export growth, as the value of the U.S. dollar declines. I would add, however, that a decline in the value of the U.S. dollar isn’t guaranteed in the short term as it’s been propped up by the demise of the socialist European states. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 9, 2012

I disagree. Even though the number of Republicans and Democrats did not change, this election made an enormous change in the direction of the country. Those who want their government hand out out number those who have something to take. Individual liberty, free markets and property rights are significantly on the decline, and probably won't get better until the United State of America is dissolved and 2 separate nations are formed; one for those who want individual responsibility and limited government and one for those who want government to take care of them.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 9, 2012

Troy, The tone of your article suggests that perhaps the country would have been better served not to have a free, fair, open election - since the results did not turn out the way you wanted them. And, I see that another reader suggests that we would be better off dividing into two nations. It is interesting that we watch other countries dissolve into civil unrest - because they want the right to vote. But, since Tuesday night, we are hearing from the "right" that a revolution, even violence, is preferable to the results of a free election in a democracy. I respectfully disagree.

on Nov 10, 2012

The following comment was submitted by Neil Harl:

I was surprised (and appalled) at the title and lead paragraph of your article, “$2-Billion Election Essentially Changed Nothing.” I have lived through 20 Presidential elections, starting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s run for a second four-year term in 1936. I was just over three years of age at the time but I remember it well – my family were conservative Republicans. In all of those election cycles, I have never seen a Presidential election that has had the kind of political earthquake effect as occurred with the 2012 Presidential election. As the Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal mouthpiece, stated in a front page article in the November 8, 2012 issue, in the very first paragraph of the story, “President Barack Obama’s election victory exposed tectonic shifts in American society that are reordering the U.S. political landscape.”
By the end of the third day after the election, it was clear that the steady drumbeat from the right that job one was to deny President Obama a second term had been effectively silenced. That steady stream of invective had fueled the conviction of the right that the House of Representatives at least (with the same message coming from notable leaders in the United States Senate) should not compromise on anything. That threatened to bring the country to the brink of disaster. Also, the repeated demand for repeal of the health care act had been shelved for years to come, and probably for all time. The harsh and unbending stance on immigration policy had given way to a more reasonable and economically desirable policy. The fact that the battle over same-sex marriage had accomplished a first for that effort – legalization by popular vote in Maine and Maryland occurred in this election cycle. The legalization of marijuana in two states had jolted some of us who, two decades ago, would not have thought that would ever happen. The interests of women in important issues were confirmed in a high profile manner, headlined by a pair of ill-considered statements by candidates for seats in the United States Senate, both of whom lost their election bids. These all represent huge shifts in political discussion.
Finally, the statement in the article that the electorate is “sharply divided among social and ideological lines” is particularly jarring for those who recognize the enormous changes occurring in the body politic. The electorate in this country is indeed diverse. I just noted that well over half of the Democratic Caucus in the United States House of representatives in the 113th Congress will be women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and those who align with LGBT. Some might prefer that we could somehow roll back the political system to the time when adult white males dominated the United States Congress – and the Presidency. That is not likely to occur under any reasonable scenario. Every citizen of this country is a member of the electorate and has an equal voice in voting. To speak in pejorative terms of “social and ideological lines” is deeply offensive as though those so classified should not be allowed to vote. That is despicable in modern day society, if that indeed was what was intended in the article.
Neil E. Harl

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 12, 2012

I think your analysis is quite correct. The Republicans have given numerous reasons for their loss in the 2012 election. It is noted the conservative & tea party candidates all suffered losses not only in the Presidential election, but also in Congress and Govenor races. As a conservative (but not extremist) I think it is important that we recognize that the conservatives lost primarily due to a party ideology that is not acceptable to the majority of Americans.
Any hope for conservative political victories in the future will require the party to change their ideology to a more moderate view, one that does not alienate every demographic except the white male and their wives.

Keith Evans (not verified)
on Nov 12, 2012

To claim that Obama won the presidential election because he is better liked that Romney is to ignore Romney's position on the issues, and the platform of the Republican Party. Here are just three things that helped shape the outcome of the election.

1. Romney stuck with the Republican position that raising taxes on anyone, particularly the rich is unacceptable. This despite the fact that his personal tax rate of some 13 percent, is less that the percentage of social security taxes that minimum wage workers and their employers pay on their income.

2. Despite the fact that it wasn't discussed much by the candidates or the media, there was great fear on the part of many about what the appointment of another right wing, conservative Supreme Court justice would do to the country. The right wing gave us the ruling that money is free speech, corporations are people, and huge amounts of money can be donated secretly by individuals or corporations to support candidates they like, and tear down candidates that they don't like. There is evidence that the conservatives want to revisit established Supreme Court rulings that would result in less individual freedoms.

3. Finally there was Romney's attempt to repudiate positions that he had taken while governor of Massachusetts. The most obvious was his position on Affordable Health Care, not to mention birth control and abortion. It was easy for many to see that he switched dramatically to the right in order to conform to the the right wing of the party. No one should want the presidency so badly that they are willing to compromise their ideals in order to get elected.

Keith Evans

on Nov 12, 2012

And Obama accomplished what in four years? I voted for the change from this loser president, not because I thought Romney was a swell guy.

1. Romney was a successful businessman who doesn't earn his living on payroll wages like the rest of us; his income is capital gains. It's an option open to all of us who want to take the financial and professional risk to step away from a guaranteed paycheck. How about comparing apples and oranges?
What's more that greedy evil businessman Romney gives millions to charity. How much did your boys in the White House contribute to charity?

2. You would actually prefer a couple of lightweights like Sotomayor and Kagin to jurists of actual reknown like John Roberts and Sam Alito?

3. Obama didn't change any of his prior positions in 2008 did he? He was one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate when he ran for president as a centrist. Anyone familiar with his record knew he was bogus, but the mainstream media wasn't about to examine his record. Where was your concern then?

You're an idealogue. Anyone with a D behind their name can do no wrong in your book, so don't try to portray yourself as someone who "weighed" the candidates' merits.

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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