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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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A lesson from history: Negative ads work

Of all the hundreds of TV advertisements that will run this fall it’s estimated that more than 80% of them will be negative. Of course, there is nothing new in negative campaigning. Each election cycle, we carry on as if it’s a new horror of the American political system, but it’s not. Negative campaigning has been around since the beginning of the republic. They didn’t have television or radio back then, but ask Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln about negative campaigns, then, in the form of fliers, and editorials, and they will know exactly what you’re talking about. 

Read more: A lesson from history: Negative ads work

What recovery? Where? When?

It’s an open question.  Namely, is the great recession really over?  Economists will tell you, yes it is.  The economy has been growing, albeit minimally for several years now.  They call that a recovery.  Unfortunately, the reality is that it sure doesn’t feel like one.  Whether you’re in the Northern Neck, Southern California, or Texas, businesses are still closing, and jobs remain scarce.

The number most economists cite in discussing the health of the economy is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  That’s the sum total of everything we buy, sell, and save in the United States.  And yes, it’s been growing at a rate of about 2%.  But, while technically a recovery, because it’s increasing, it’s still the weakest rebound in 60 years.  For there to be any real improvement in our economic conditions, in terms of business activity and jobs, the rate of GDP growth would have to at least double. 

Read more: What recovery? Where? When?

Can we please have a campaign about ideas?

“In a sense, Romney, not an idea man by nature, infused his campaign with a few big ideas, by picking a running mate who has lots of them.”  

Contrary to what many politicians of both parties think the American people can still get excited by a discussion of ideas. Of course, the sad part is that on a national level, the discussion of ideas; about the role of government, our role in the world, and yes, just our philosophy of governance in general, gets a minimum of air time.

 It’s far easier to hatch far-out conspiracy theories about the President’s place of birth, or, to dominate today’s 24 hour news cycle asking the probing question of whether or not Mitt Romney paid 13% in income taxes in 2010.  In this environment ideas get shunted off to the side.

Read more: Can we please have a campaign about ideas?

Romney: Take a lesson from Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton

Republicans have started to rally behind their nominee. It was a fractious series of primaries, the jabs, the ads, and the commentaries were harsh, but, of course, that’s politics. Now, with the exception of some of the most hardcore, and they’re likely to come around before too long, the GOP is ready to nominate Mitt Romney. He should, by all conventional wisdom, particularly given the poor state of the economy, be the odds on favorite in November. 

Read more: Romney: Take a lesson from Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton

Economics and the Race for the White House

A Statistical Model of Election 2012

Probably one of the most dangerous things to do when it comes to forecasting the outcome of an election is to rely too heavily on statistical models. They are, after all, only representations of human behavior, and humans, when they vote and make decisions, aren’t always consistent. I know I’m not.  A model may predict one outcome for an election, while the people doing the voting, may do something entirely different. It happens all the time.

However, one indicator that seems to have the most profound impact on the outcome of a national political campaign is the state of the economy. A good economy or a bad economy is often the deciding factor in who wins and who loses the race for the White House. Other issues can have a substantial impact on the result, but none seems to correlate so closely with the outcome as does the strength of the economy.

Read more: Economics and the Race for the White House

Getting the most out of our water supply

This summer offers a full range of topics to write about. There is politics, more politics, the Olympics, and the economy. They’re all the normal fare for columnists.  So, having said that you may wonder why, for this week’s column, my attention has focused, of all things on waste water recycling.  Municipal wastewater treatment, and I have visited several plants, isn’t necessarily an attractive business, and to some the whole topic may appear, at least on the surface, just a bit dull.  But, hang on, give me a chance and I think you’ll find it’s much more relevant and interesting than you might think.

Read more: Getting the most out of our water supply

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