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This election is important for the cattle industry

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certherfbeef

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I plucked this from cow/calf weekly...


This Election Is Important For The Cattle Industry
Political analysts have made much ado about the selection of Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) as John Kerry's choice for vice president. They point positively to Edwards' ability to fill the charisma gap on the Kerry ticket, and his ability to deliver a populist-style message. On the negative side, his lack of experience and a liberal voting record almost as extreme as Kerry's fails to make this ticket more mainstream. In fact, Edwards' addition makes it more divisive than ever.

The reality is that vice presidential selections tend to have very little impact on presidential elections, with their biggest impact tending to be right after the announcement. Historically, there is about a 15% favorable change in the opinion polls immediately following the announcement of a vice presidential candidate.

It's fascinating to look at the historical swings in the opinion polls in presidential election years. History indicates we will see significant gyrations in the polls after each party's convention -- and that the opinion polls during the summer provide little more than talking points for commentators.

The bottom line is this promises to be one of the closest presidential elections in history. Similar to 2000, where the contest may be decided in one or two key swing states, the electoral landscape looks almost identical to 2000. The majority of states that voted for Bush once again solidly in the Bush column, and the majority of states that voted for Gore are solidly in favor of Kerry. Seventeen states are considered to be battleground states, meaning they could still go either way.

Of course, this election is largely being defined by the "war on terrorism." Both sides agree it must be won, but there are differences in how it should be waged. The economy, which usually plays a central role in such national races, has been relegated to the backburner in 2004, despite the efforts of both parties to make it a bigger factor.

That isn't to say the electorate has moved away from voting its pocketbook, but it's been difficult for the parties to create passion over the economy. Most everyone realizes the business cycle and Internet bust put the economy into recession before Bush took office, and the effects of the 9/11/01 terrorism pushed it over the edge. The President's tax cuts, however, have seemingly proved successful and the economic indicators have been very positive of late.

Thus far, the net result has made it difficult for the Bush administration to claim a major victory with the economy, while the Kerry campaign has been unable to label Bush's handling of the economy as a failure.

Certainly, both parties will continue to heartily beat the drums of the most divisive issues, such as abortion and taxes, which the parties traditionally use to solidify and motivate their bases. Yet, from a cattle industry issue standpoint, the two sides could not be more different on key issues from taxes (the death tax), the environment (water and air, use of public lands, etc.), and trade. It's impossible to understate the dramatic differences between the two tickets and the differences in perspective among of the people who would be asked to head up agencies like the Food and Drug A0dministration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior.

Just as with big national issues like the war on terror, and abortion, there will be sharp divisions within the industry on some of the issues that promise to shape our industry. What makes this election unique for cattle ranchers is that the election is expected to have far more measurable consequences for our industry than it will on broader-based issues.
-- Troy Marshall
 

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