The Obama administration is definitely in a funk. Polls of all stripes have shown a strong decline in his approval ratings. Indeed, Pollster.com shows that from Obama’s inauguration in late January to mid-December 2012 his approval ratings have dropped by about 11 points—51 to 42 (see below).
Articles by Clifford Young
The Brazilian presidential election is more than a year away. But already pundits and the odds-makers are assessing President Dilma’s chances of being reelected. For many, dark clouds are on her horizon. Why?
Some cite a very lethargic economy with inflation and unemployment ticking up. Others stress the recent widespread protests as a general sign of the public’s discontent with Dilma and the PT. Still others argue that the rise of the middle class has shifted voter priorities from the economy and jobs to quality of life issues like healthcare, crime, transportation, and education, with the Dilma government being ill-prepared to meet these new demands.
In 2010, Dilma Rouseff, Lula’s handpicked successor, won easily in the second round run-off election against Jose Serra, the opposition candidate (Dilma 56% of vote versus 44% Serra). At the time, many analysts thought Dilma would stumble—lacking both the charisma and political skills of her predecessor Lula and, as a result, would lean heavily on Lula’s skills and credibility. Contrary to this popular belief , Dilma has established herself as a strong leader, with little tolerance for corruption, and a strong streak of independence.
Today, Keynans will vote for a new president. The whole world is watching as well. Why? The last Kenyan presidential election in 2007 lead to widespread violence as supporters of Raila Odinga accused Mwai Kibaki and his supporters of stealing the election. Given that politics in Kenya is often strongly linked to tribal affiliation, much of the violence was directed by members of one tribe toward those of another. At its core, much of the violence found its origins in many long-standing economic grievances. Against this backdrop, the international community has kept a close eye on this election.
One constitutional change resulting from the violence in 2007 was that if no one candidate gets a majority of the votes, there will automatically be a second round run-off election between the top two vote getters within 30 days of the first round election-day.
On February 24th and 25th, Italy will hold a general election which will produce a new Prime Minister. This occurs against the backdrop of a dismal economy where over the last 10 years the GDP did not expand –a net 0% growth rate—and with an unemployment rate in the double digits. Mario Monti, the present Prime Minister who came to power in November 2011 after the fall of Berlusconi’s government, was the consensus choice among all parties to push needed economic and market reforms. In the wake of the Greece default, Italian politicians and policy makers wanted to staunch the credibility bleed by chosing Monti, a technocrat and university professor, as Prime Minister. It was thought that he would be the one to push the necessary but unpopular reforms—those most demanded by investors and other international stakeholders.
Today, February 12th 2013, President Obama will give the 227th State of the Union address and the 5th of his presidency. This specific speech will have special significance because it is the first of his second term as president. It is his opening volley and will help set the policy tone for the next four years. It, in other worlds, is an important speech.
But what should, and ultimately what will, Obama say?
Public Opinion Support for a ‘Mixed’ Deficit Reduction Solution
Washington is presently in crisis mode as time is running out before automatic tax increases and spending cuts go into effect in early 2013. Many analysts believe such measures—the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’—would have a strong negative effect on the economy, pushing the US back into recession.
On 7 October 2012, Venezuelans showed up to cast their vote for president on Election Day with an unprecedented sign of voter enthusiasm pushing final turnout up over 80%. This race pitted Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, the incumbent and long-sitting president, against the 40-year-old opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Just this on its own would provide sufficient suspense for most. This electoral campaign, however, was one of particular drama and uncertainty
The economic meltdown of late 2008 and early 2009, while global in nature, most squarely affected Europe, the United States, and more generally the industrialized world. In many of these places, consumer optimism fell between 30 and 40 points and has been very slow to recover since. Such dampened consumer enthusiasm, in turn, equated into serious household de-leveraging and reduced interest in spending on non-essentials goods and services. In contrast, this economic scenario only marginally affected consumers in emerging markets and, in particular, the BRIC countries. Indeed, at the same time the industrialized world was collapsing, consumer optimism and spending in emerging markets reached a fevered pitch. Many proclaimed a new world order with a new South-South economic axis. Within this context, most captains of multinationals had an emerging market strategy to help mitigate the uncertainties in Europe and the US.
That was then. What, though, is the state of global consumer sentiment today in 2012?
The US presidential election in November will be a close one. Many poll watchers, myself included, see this one as a nail bitter which will be won at the margins. I still strongly believe that Obama will be the victor (link) but details and not generalities will carry the day.
In elections of this type, success is typically defined by a percentage point here, another there. This puts a special premium on targeting and winning over those undecideds constituencies who have not chosen their champion. One such group is likely independent voters who will probably show up at the ballot box, but do not lean strongly towards Republicans or Democrats. Without a doubt, both the Romney and Obama camps will be giving this segment a very close look this electoral season.