Monday, April 30, 2012

Defining Marriage and Making Cream Sauce--Reprint

I co-wrote the piece below in April 2004, with Richard Wilkins. It was originally published at online Meridian Magazine, and is archived here. (Actually, it didn’t come up for me, but appears when you request to print it.) He was at that time a constitutional law professor and head te World Family Policy Center and Defend Marriage, a project of United Families International. For the past several years he lived in Qatar and headed the Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development. He very recently retired from that position, and I’m hoping before my travels are over this month to visit with him and find out what comes next.  

The purpose of the piece was to identify the ways in which the conversation about preserving traditional marriage has become so difficult. For those of us who love civilization, the truth has to be spoken nevertheless.


Defining Marriage and Making Cream Sauce
By Richard G. Wilkins and Linda Nuttall
________________________________________________________________________

We have both written recently on the need to preserve marriage as a sexual union of a man and a woman. One young reader commented that our points were "interesting."  She asserted, however, that we would be “creamed” in a debate.
We have engaged in many debates on marriage.   We also admit that it is hard to determine who gets “creamed.”  But, if we have been “creamed,” it is because the legal constructs surrounding marriage have been rendered unintelligible.  Numerous fundamental (and still compelling) arguments in favor of "tradition," "old rules" or "conventional morality" have been reworked, deconstructed and ridiculed to the point that many Americans – and particularly our young people – are embarrassed by the simple suggestion that a case for the classical definition of marriage even exists.  
Contempt for marriage abounds.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently asserted that the “everyday meaning” of marriage is irrational.[1]  Irrational, according to the dictionary, means “[m]arked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment” or “[a]ffected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.”[2]  If these eminent jurists are correct, human civilization has suffered a collective “loss of usual or normal mental clarity” for millennia.  The ancient and consistent practice of encouraging, protecting and fostering the union of a man and a woman for the purpose (among others) of bearing and rearing children is “not endowed with reason,” is “incoherent,” reflects societal “shock,” and is “marked by a lack of . . . sound judgment.”  

No wonder many Americans are fearful to acknowledge that they believe in marriage. 

We will try to explain what has been happening by using the image invoked by our young critic – the culinary uses of "cream.”  In particular, we will ask whether one must use cream to make a cream sauce.  It was once simply accepted that, in order to make a cream sauce, one had to include some cream.  Traditional folk, like us, continue to believe that a cream sauce requires the use of cream.  But, if homosexual advocates (including an alarming number of judges) were creating the recipe, they would insist that the very notion of equating cream with cream sauce is absurd.  In their recipe milk, water or virtually anything else, even tomato paste, will do. 
We believe that, once Americans understand the new and unusual recipe now being promoted as the guide for public policy, they will resoundingly support maintaining an institution that reflects the collective wisdom of the ages – an institution that provides the best known environment for the physical, mental, emotional, economic and social development of women, men and children.  We believe that it is those who would abandon and drain marriage of all normative force and social meaning, not those who defend it, who now display a “loss of usual or normal mental clarity.”
I.          The Post-Modern Cookbook
As with other cooking philosophies, the anti-marriage post-modern recipe requires certain practices or rules.  To make post-modern cream sauce, you’re required to follow these three:
First, all ingredients are relative and “everything is equal.”  This first rule teaches cooks to value tolerance above all else.  In evaluating the utility of possible ingredients in making a cream sauce, no one can properly require cream, because any such insistence impermissibly taints the sauce with intolerance.  Any liquid will do. 
Second, cooks must accept “what happens.”  After all, not all sauces are made with cream.  And, since the first rule decrees that ingredients are relative and equal, the second rule renders sauces made with milk or water (or virtually anything) equivalent to cream sauce.  Sauces are interchangeable, whatever their intended purpose.  Any sauce can be cream sauce.
Finally, ignore differences.  It is impolite to notice (and perhaps criminal to discuss) distinctions between sauces made with cream and those made with milk or water or whatever.  Yes, even if the sauce is watery or bluish.  Such differences must no longer be noticed (at least by civilized society).  Reality is reconstructed.  A sauce is a cream sauce when (and if) the cookbook’s editorial staff says it is.
This recipe, of course, would hardly impress the vast majority of cooks, or indeed anyone who has tasted real cream sauce.  However, post-modern taste is gaining ground with judges and commentators (perhaps because they are principal staff writers for the new cookbook).  But this exotic cuisine is also gaining favor with otherwise common-sense Americans who now, oddly enough, wonder whether there is any need for cream in cream sauce.
We believe that cream sauce requires the use of cream.  We also believe that marriage requires a man and a woman.  Why?  Consider how the post-modern cooking rules apply to the traditional recipe for marriage.
Rule 1: Everything is Equal and Distinctions are Hateful
Again, the first rule of all post-modern cooking is simple:  ingredients are relative.  Cooks must acknowledge, along with cream, the culinary utility of water, milk and vinegar.  Insistence upon cream in cream sauce violates the prime directive:  tolerance.  All liquids are equal.
The same approach is now applied to marriage.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in announcing that all sexual unions qualify as "marriages," decreed that – because all consensual adult sexual relationships are equal – there is no rational distinction between hetero- and homo- sexuality (a conclusion that would have astonished our junior high biology teachers).  According to the court, the state may not link marriage and procreation because doing so “confers an official stamp of approval on the destructive stereotype that same-sex relationships are inherently . . . inferior to opposite-sex relationships.”[3]  Society, in short, cannot acknowledge that children are possible only through the union of a man and a woman because that very acknowledgment demonstrates that heterosexuality has more social utility than homosexuality.
Thus, the first post-modern rule –“equality and tolerance above all” – is exceptionally powerful.  Whether or not it turns water into cream, equality and tolerance have transformed the biological facts of reproduction into a modern taboo.  Advocating mass murder is less acceptable in civilized circles than arguing in favor of a “destructive stereotype,” but not by much. 
No wonder the new cookbook makes defense of marriage difficult and embarrassing.  Only the most benighted do it.
Rule 2: Accept and Celebrate Whatever Happens
The second post-modern rule provides that – in light of the wide variety of sauces, ingredients and ways to combine them – neither cooks nor consumers may insist upon particular ingredients (or a combination of ingredients) in any given sauce.  Cream sauce may be nice, but it is not the only sauce.  Ragout happens.  
It certainly does.  And so does homosexuality.  So what?  Are we to believe that simply because it happens, homosexuality is no different from heterosexuality? 
Monkeys in zoos and overpopulated rats exhibit homosexual behavior (more likely an act of aggression than sexual orientation, but we’ll grant that the behavior exists in the animal world).  Does this really support the argument that homosexuality must be encouraged and celebrated?  Other animals eat their young and kill their mates.  We still have laws against homicide. 
The second rule – accept and celebrate whatever sauce happens – ignores a vitally important question:  is there a reason (or reasons) for using cream in cream sauce?  In the context of marriage, are there reasons that a marital union requires (and throughout history has been defined as) the union of a man and a woman?  Homosexual advocates strenuously wish to avoid this question.  Rule two of the new cookbook, combined with rule one, makes avoidance possible.
Rather than focusing on the pragmatic social interests that justify an ancient institution designed (among other things) to restrain sexual impulses within a stable and reproductive sexual union, rule two (accept and celebrate reality) turns everyone’s attention to the unquestionable existence of alternative sexual appetites.  At this point, rule one (equality and tolerance) demands that these appetites be accorded full social recognition, acceptance and encouragement. 
Thus, under rules one and two, any talk of norms, ideals, social expectations or “what is best” for the rising generation is irrelevant or na├»ve.  Whatever the role of marriage throughout history, and however convincingly modern sociologists demonstrate that the welfare of children is linked to the presence (or absence) of a stable biological relationship with a father and a mother, rules one and two demand recognition of all sexual relationships as marriage.  Those who persist in the parochial belief that cream sauce differs from ketchup are either hopelessly intolerant or unconscionably ignorant of reality —they can simply be shouted down.
Or, better yet, they can be referred to rule three.
Rule 3: Disregard any Differences or Reconstruct Reality
In the event that not all are persuaded that “advanced palates” either can’t or shouldn’t  distinguish between cream sauce and ketchup, rule three settles the matter.  Any possible distinctions must be ignored – even if this requires reconstructing reality.
In Lawrence v. Texas[4] (the recent sodomy case which provided the basis for the Massachusetts high court's redefinition of marriage), the U.S. Supreme Court asserted that there is no “long-standing history” condemning homosexual sodomy.[5] This can only be true, of course, if—like the Court—we simply ignore the Old Testament (the very word, after all, is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah).
But more than the Old Testament must be reconstructed in the quest to disregard all traditional rules.  Every contrary recipe book has to be thrown out.  Taken out back and burned, if necessary. 
These traditional recipe books are discarded with cunning subtlety.  Modern cooks are reminded again and again that culinary artists throughout history have substituted milk for cream in an occasional sauce.  True enough.  But no generation of cooks or consumers in history has ever been asked to ignore the differences between sauces made with milk and cream, nor to disregard the consequences of using alternative ingredients in exceptionally important recipes. 
We are reminded again and again that Rome and Greece were tolerant of homosexuality.  However, these reminders avoid two disturbing facts.  First, neither Rome nor Greece ever went as far as we are being pressed to go.  Roman and Grecian law never equated homosexual relations with "marital" or "familial" unions.  Homosexuality was tolerated as a sensual experience; it wasn’t promoted.  It was hardly discussed.  Accusations of effeminate behavior in men remained steadfastly derogatory.  The idea of homosexuals publicly declaring to be a couple was absurd.  Homosexual relationships were never equated with the legal rules governing the bearing and rearing of offspring.[6]
Furthermore, decadence—emphasis on self-indulgence and sensual experience over and above duty—did not enrich the Roman Empire; it led to its steep and irreversible decline.  Until recent homosexual "deconstruction" of the history books, it was widely accepted that the decline of public and private morals—significantly related to eroticization and homosexualization of the empires—was a primary cause of the fall of Rome and Greece.  Look in some earlier cook—we mean, history books:  for example, the multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon, as well as first century satirist Juvenal.[7]

Under rule three, none of the above is relevant to the modern discussion of marriage.  All disturbing facts related to homosexuality (e.g., the incredibly high numbers of sexual partners among homosexual males,[8] their shockingly high incidence of physical and mental health problems,[9] and the undeniable linkage between male homosexuality and pedophilia[10]) are dismissed as hateful.  History is rewritten, and every other relevant fact is simply ignored.
II.        The Taste Test
This is the recipe now being used by courts to make a product infinitely more important than cream sauce.  The question is whether this recipe will produce palatable results.

Is marriage a unique and important institution?  Or is it nothing more than a consensual relationship between two adults; a name and social status properly applied to all kinds of sexual and emotional associations?  The answer, viewed from any historical, anthropological or sociological perspective, is quite clear:

Marriage is more than an emotional and sexual attachment.  Much more.  

Giambattista Vico, after completing an exhaustive study of ancient history, concluded in 1725 that marriage between a man and a woman is an essential characteristic of civilization. Without strong social norms that encourage a man to direct his sexual attentions to a single woman and thereafter care for their mutual offspring, Vico concluded that chaos ensued.  Marriage, he wrote, was the “seed-plot” of society.[11]

British anthropologist J. D. Unwin reached the same conclusion some 200 years later.  In his 1934 book, Sex and Culture, Unwin chronicled the historical decline of 86 different cultures.  His exhaustive survey revealed that “strict marital monogamy” was central to social energy and growth.  Indeed, no society flourished for more than three generations without it.  Unwin stated it this way:  "In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and postnuptial continence."[12]  

In the 21st century, the findings of Vico and Unwin are confirmed by hundreds of sociological studies which document the impact of marital forms and marital dissolution on men, women and children.  Those studies speak with a surprisingly uniform voice: enduring marriage between a man and a woman is the best environment for the social, physical, mental, emotional and economic development of men, women and children. Without stable marriage, women suffer, men suffer – and children suffer the most. Every deviation from the ideal model of enduring monogamous marriage between a man and a woman increases the suffering of men, women and children.[13] 

Marriage, therefore, is more than an intimate association between two people.  It civilizes men.  It protects children.  It generates social energy.  It fosters individual and collective growth.  It teaches norms.  It creates culture.

Marriage, in short, is not just another sauce.

One wonders how digestible the sauce we’re cooking up will prove in three generations from now.  No one should wonder, however, whether the marriage recipe we ultimately follow will affect them.

It will.

Profoundly.



[1] Goodridge v. Department of Health, SJC -08860 (Mass. Supreme Judicial Court November 18, 2003) (legislative “refusal to recognize same-sex marriages ‘works a deep and scarring hardship’ on same-sex families ‘for no rational reason’”) (Reporter’s Synopsis at page one).

[2] http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=irrational

[3] Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, note 1, above, slip opinion at page 15.

[4] No. 02-102 (United States Supreme Court, June 26, 2003).

[5] Id., slip opinion at 11; see generally slip opinion pages 6-12.  The Supreme Court has a point – but a highly technical one at best.  The materials cited and discussed by the Court merely establish that (for centuries) homosexuality was condemned generally along with a host of other sexual practices – including fornication and adultery.  Specific condemnation of homosexuality developed as social proscriptions on sexual conduct became more explicit and detailed.  This history, of course, hardly suggests that homosexuality was tolerated.

[6] Dupont, Florence, Daily Life in Ancient Rome, trans. By Christopher Woodall, 1989, Hatchette, pp. 117-118.
[7] Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1-6, published in sections in 1776, 1781 and 1788.  For Juvenal, see Peter Green, trans., Juvenal: The Sixteen Satires, Penguin Books, 1967, particularly the second satire.  For a discussion of Juvenal, see Leland D. Peterson, “Homosexuality & Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ (Ancient Roman Satirist Slams Gays),” New Oxford Review, January 2004.  See also Joseph Daniel Unwin, Ph.D., “Sexual Regulations and Cultural Behavior," an address given to the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society, p. 35:  “In some cases the modification of absolute monogamy was accompanied by an outburst of homosexuality.... The conclusion suggested by the historical evidence is that homosexuality is a habit that appears in a society, or in a group within the society, that has been absolutely monogamous, and is relaxing.  This is how I understand the Roman and Athenian data; and this view of the matter is supported by what has lately been happening among our middle-classes.”
[8]Meyer-Balburg, et. al., “Sexual Risk Behavior, Sexual Functioning and HIV-Disease Progression in Gay Men,” 28 Journal of Sex Research, 1, 3-27 (1991).   See also Xiridou, Maria, et al, “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” 1029-1038 AIDS, 17 (7) May 2, 2003.  “Those with a steady partner and those without reported having an average of 8 and 22 casual partners per year, respectively.”

[9]Concerning physical health, see, e.g., Hogg, R. S., S. A. Strathdee, K. J. Craib, M. V. O’Shaughnessy, J. S. Montaner, and M. T. Schechter, “Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 26, 657-662, 1997.  “In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.  If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday.”   Concerning mental health, see, e.g., Theo B. M. Sandfort, De Graaqf, Bilj, and Schable, “Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders:  Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study,” 85 (Archives of General Psychiatry 85 (January 2001) (“The findings support the assumption that people with same-sex behavior are at greater risk for psychiatric disorders”); Richard Herrell, et al., “Sexual Orientation and Suicidality,” Archives of General Psychiatry 867 (October 1999) (“Same-gender sexual orientation is significantly associated with each of the suicidality measures” and “is unlikely to be due solely to substance abuse or other psychiatric co-morbidity”); David M. Fergusson, et al., “Is Sexual Orientation Related to Mental Health Problems and Suicidality in Young People?” Archives of General Psychiatry 876 (October 1999) (“Findings support recent evidence suggesting that gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people are at increased risk of mental health problems, with these associates being particularly evident for measures of suicidal behavior and multiple disorder.”)  While some may argue that these findings are “caused by society oppression” (J. Michael Bailey, “Homosexuality and Mental Illness,” Archives of General Psychiatry 883 and 884 October 1999), this is not the only possible explanation.  The survey of findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study found a significant greater risk for psychiatric disorders among homosexuals, even though “the Dutch social climate toward homosexuality has long been and remains considerably more tolerant” than most of the world.  Sandfort, et al, above, at 89.  Other possible explanations include hypotheses that “homosexuality represents a deviation from normal development and is associated with other such deviations that may lead to mental illness,” and that “increased psychopathology among homosexual people is a consequence of lifestyle differences associated with sexual orientation.”  J. Michael Bailey, above, at 884.  Also, Sandfort et al., above, at 85-91.   (Youth are four times more likely to suffer major depression, also three times as likely to suffer generalized anxiety disorder, nearly four times as likely to experience conduct disorder, four times as likely to commit suicide, five times as likely to have nicotine dependence, six times as likely to suffer multiple disorders, and over six times as likely to have attempted suicide.  Additionally, this research originates in the Netherlands where homosexuality is much more mainstream and accepted.)  Substance abuse is an additional health concern of those in the homosexual lifestyle:  Timothy J. Dailey, “The Negative Health Effects of Homosexuality” and associated notes, Family Research Council “The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychologists reports that lesbian women consume alcohol more frequently, and in larger amounts, than heterosexual women.  Lesbians were at significantly greater risk than heterosexual women for both binge drinking (19.4 percent compared to 11.7 percent), and for heavy drinking (7 percent compared to 2.7 percent)….Among men, by far the most important risk group consisted of homosexual and bisexual men, who were more than nine times as likely as heterosexual men to have a history of problem drinking.”

[10]See Baldwin, Steve, “Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement” and associated notes, 14 Regent University Law Review 267-282 (2001-2002).  Baldwin summarizes the research as follows (at 281, footnotes omitted):

Family Research Institute founder and psychologist Paul Cameron, reviewing more than nineteen different academic reports and peer reviewed studies in a 1985 Psychological Reports article, found that homosexuals account for between 25% and 40% of all child molestation. Sex researchers Freund, Heasman, Racansky, and Glancy, for example, in an 1984 Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy article, put the number at 36%. Erickson, Walbek, Sely, in a 1988 Archives of Sexual Behavior article, places it at 86% when the children being molested are male.

However, it should be noted that homosexuals account for only 2% of the population which statistically means that a child molester is ten to twenty times more likely to be homosexual than heterosexual. In other words, heterosexual molestations proportionally are a fraction compared to homosexual molestations. More recent studies confirm this statistic. In 2000, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published an article by seven sex researchers concluding that ‘‘around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys. Thus the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles."

See also K. Jay et al, The Gay Report:  Lesbians and Gays Speak Out About Sexual Experiences and Lifestyles 275 (1979) (This study by homosexual activists and researchers revealed that 73% of homosexuals surveyed had sex with boys sixteen to nineteen years of age or younger); Eugene Abel et al., “Self-Reported Sex Crimes of Nonincarcerated Pedophiliacs, 2 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 3, 5 (1987) (“Child molestation, by comparison, was a relatively infrequent crime occurring from an average of 23.2 times by a pedophile (nonincest) with female targets to an average of 281.7 times by a pedophile (nonincest) whose targets were males”); R. Blanchard et al, “Fraternal Order and Sexual Orientation in Pedophiles,” 29 Archives Sexual Behav. 464 (2000); K. Freund & R I. Watson, “The Proportions of Heterosexual and Homosexual Pedophiles Among Sex Offenders Against Children:  An Exploratory Study,” 18 Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy 34, 34-43 (1992).

[11] Vico, Giambattista, The New Science, 3rd Edition, trans. by Max Harold Fisch and Thomas Goddard Bergin, paragraphs 10-11:  “The first of these [human institutions] was marriageFor marriage, as all statesmen agree, is the seed-plot of the family, as the family is the seed-plot of the commonwealth…”

[12] Unwin, as cited above.  In 1935, renowned anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin tried to prove that marriage was an irrelevant and even harmful cultural institution.  He was forced by the evidence to conclude that only marriage with fidelity, what he called absolute monogamy, would lead to the cultural prosperity of a society.  Anything else, such as domestic partnerships,” would degrade society.  The quote in larger context says this:
   The evidence was such as to demand a complete revision of my personal philosophy; for the relationship between the factors seemed to be so close, that, if we know what sexual regulations a society has adopted, we can prophesy accurately the pattern of its cultural behavior... (p.5).
   “Now it is an extraordinary fact that in the past sexual opportunity has only been reduced to a minimum by the fortuitous adoption of an institution I call absolute monogamy. This type of marriage has been adopted by different societies, in different places, and at different times. Thousands of years and thousands of miles separate the events; and there is no apparent connection between them. In human records, there is no case of an absolutely monogamous society failing to display great [cultural] energy. I do not know of a case on which great energy has been displayed by a society that has not been absolutely monogamous…(pp.31-32).
  “If, during or just after a period of [cultural] expansion, a society modifies its sexual regulations, and a new generation is born into a less rigorous [monogamous] tradition, its energy decreases... If it comes into contact with a more vigorous society, it is deprived of its sovereignty, and possibly conquered in its turn (p.21).
   “It seems to follow that we can make a society behave in any manner we like if we are permitted to give it such sexual regulations as will produce the behavior we desire. The results should begin to emerge in the third generation ( p.45).

[13] The assertions in this paragraph concerning the benefits of marriage can be found, along with additional details and references to specific studies, in “Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-One Conclusions from the Social Sciences,” 2002, Institute for American Values, available at www.americanvalues.org .

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Political Sphere Guest Post-Obama may be in serious trouble


This is Political Sphere, doing a guest blog today while my mother Mrs. Spherical Model is out of town. As she has previously mentioned I do a lot of reading while I am at work. My favorite thing to read is political analysts’ observations of the political scene. Most recently I enjoyed this piece by Sean Trende, which gave some very good insight into what re-election campaigns are decided by and what poll numbers to pay attention to if you would like to get an idea of the outcome.

Trende explains that in a re-election, especially of a President, two questions are asked by the voter to determine who they will vote for. First, does the voter approve of the incumbent candidate and the job that they are doing? Second, is the challenger an acceptable alternative? Reading further he explains the correlation that brings him to the conclusion that the challenger faces a low threshold to be an acceptable alternative as actual results, at least in recent presidential elections, have been within a point or two of the job approval rating.

With this in mind I decided to take a look at an estimate of Electoral College outcomes based on Gallup’s state-by-state 2011 average presidential job approval ratings. It may not be perfect, but it provides us with a starting point to understanding the 2012 presidential election. So let’s look at the numbers.

State
Presidential Job Aprroval
Delegates
Washington D.C.
81.1%
3
Hawaii
56.1%
4
Maryland
55.5%
10
Massachusetts
55.1%
11
Connecticut
55.0%
7
New York
54.7%
29
Vermont
51.3%
3
Delaware
50.9%
3
New Jersey
50.8%
14
Illinois
50.4%
20
California
50.1%
55
Rhode Island
49.2%
4
Michigan
48.1%
16
Minnesota
47.7%
10
Washington
47.6%
12
Wisconsin
47.4%
10
Maine
47.2%
4
Iowa
45.6%
6
Pennsylvania
45.0%
20
Georgia
44.6%
16
Oregon
44.5%
7
Virginia
44.5%
13
North Carolina
43.7%
15
Florida
43.6%
29
Ohio
42.1%
18
Mississippi
42.0%
6
New Mexico
41.7%
5
Nevada
41.3%
6
South Carolina
40.9%
9
Colorado
40.4%
9
Indiana
40.1%
11
Arizona
39.7%
11
Louisiana
39.0%
8
Texas
39.0%
38
New Hampshire
38.7%
4
Missouri
38.6%
10
Nebraska
37.8%
5
Tennessee
37.6%
11
Alabama
36.9%
9
Kansas
36.8%
6
Kentucky
36.5%
8
North Dakota
36.3%
3
Alaska
35.7%
3
South Dakota
35.3%
3
Arkansas
34.3%
6
Montana
33.8%
3
West Virginia
32.7%
5
Wyoming
30.6%
3
Oklahoma
30.3%
7
Idaho
29.3%
4
Utah
28.6%
6

Recent elections have not required the winning candidate to receive 50% of the vote, but if they did then Obama would be in serious trouble winning the same number of states as Michael Dukakis in 1988 (10 states plus Washington D.C.). He would walk away with a total of only 159 delegates (please note that for ease of calculation I am not splitting the Nebraska or Maine delegates.) I think instead we could look a little lower allowing for the one to two point margin. I noticed there was a reasonable break between Maine (47.2%) and Iowa (45.6%) and decided in this scenario to have Maine and everything above go to Obama with all else going to Romney. With this scenario Obama is still in significant trouble with Romney getting 323 delegates to Obama’s 215. This may seem like a larger shift than would be expected, but the truth is we had similar results in 2004. The only difference between this scenario and 2004 is that Pennsylvania, Oregon, and New Hampshire have flipped to the Republican candidate.

If we were to look at another scenario, believing Obama would be unlikely to lose either Pennsylvania, a solid blue state in almost all of the last thirteen presidential elections, or Oregon, a solid blue state since they voted Dukakis in 1988, (New Hampshire is at a 38.7% approval rating and has flipped many times in the last thirteen presidential elections as you can see here) Obama would still lose. In this scenario I had Oregon and everything above it on the chart go to Obama, including Georgia which seems unlikely, while everything below, including Virginia, went to Romney. In this scenario Romney still commands 274 delegates with Obama at 264. (If we switch Georgia to Romney and Virginia to Obama we get a similar score of Romney 277 to 261 for Obama.)

Just to show how far Obama’s approval has fallen, let me offer one final scenario comparable to the 2008 results. In 2008 Obama won a landslide against John McCain 359 to 179. To get a result like this again (356 to 182) Obama would need to get every state that has greater than 41% approval of his job as President. In other words he would need to either get a drastic improvement in his approval numbers or hope that the Americans Elect group siphons off a significant number of voters who disapprove of his job as President.

Of course these numbers are subject to change as they are averages of 2011, and they include all adults 18 and over rather than just the voting populace (which is generally more Republican). But many of the polls in 2012 seem to be mirroring the trends of 2011. This is likely because the economy to this point is mirroring the trends of 2011, with unexpected job gains early on providing hope that the recovery might finally be catching on despite government policies, followed by a slight dip in the spring, and possibly leading into another (non)-recovery summer. If the trends do continue to mirror 2011 closely, look for Obama to lose in a landslide this November.