In early August, I wrote a blog giving the DNC a little advice. I told them that, come late September, they should consider moving their money out of the presidential race and into congressional races in order to pick up seats. I said that they needed to focus on the execution of getting out the vote, and abandon wasting millions on television ads. I said that it was ugly for Mitt Romney: that the math was automatically against him, that Paul Ryan wouldn’t help, and that the electoral map was not in his favor because polling (at the time) was frozen.
As far as I know, they didn’t listen to me. Which… is bizarre. I mean, why would they ignore my genius? I’m sure they got the message. There’s no way it got lost in the vast wilderness of Crazy on the internet. Certainly DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has my blog bookmarked on her home computer.
Anyways, I’m not one to say I told you so.
Having said that, I told you so.
It’s late September, and things have only gotten worse for Romney. Since I wrote that blog, we've had both conventions, with Obama’s (or: the empty chair’s) bounce following the DNC dwarfing Mitt’s after the RNC. Then Romney made his blunder attacking Obama for “apologizing” before the facts were known about the embassy attacks. Then he got smacked over the head when it came to the public’s reception of his 47% comments.
He’s losing in almost all of the battleground polls; and dropping. And it’s pretty much the consensus that he needs to perform a minor miracle in the debates to turn around his plummet and overtake Obama in these states.
And that’s probably not going to happen.
First of all, people’s minds are pretty much made up. We’re about a month from the election; and, if it were held today, Obama would almost certainly win. Secondly, Romney isn’t a particularly likable candidate, even to his own party, and his campaign strategy seems to be: 1) take quotes by the President out of context, 2) throw them at the wall and see what sticks, and 3) as soon as something starts to, put your foot in your mouth.
Surprisingly, that has not worked.
The focus of the debates is almost certainly going to be on Romney, and there are too many doors to close. He’s going to be on defense the whole time. It’s going to be like a Rocky montage of campaign failures.
There’s going to be questions about Romneycare; about foreign policy experience; about his taxes, his tax plans, and about Paul Ryan and Medicare. They’re going to ask about immigration and women's rights. There’s going to be questions about the 47% thing.
These are the questions a challenger has to answer against an incumbent, and his perspectives on all of these things are polling against him. He'll have answers ready, but Obama will be ready with rebuttals, too.
Then the media will probably do what the media does. It serves their interests to declare (especially the first debate) a tie, or a win for Romney. If the consensus is anything but “I think Romney held his own” in the first debate, everyone will change the channel to whatever station isn’t airing a political ad, because they’re sick of it already. A lot of people are simply not going to exhaust themselves by pretending to care about a second full debate. And that’s if they were even willing to give Romney a shot to begin with.
And, sure, Romney could actually win the first and make up some ground. He’s not a bad debater; and he is the challenger, which bodes well for him because his message (whatever it is) is "new." But he would have to overcome himself and win all three debates decisively to make up this much ground.
There’s also the small possibility that Romney will double down and try to pander to the far right. He could make more thinly veiled dog-whistles to the trashy “Dreams From My Real Father” DVD-mailing conspiracy-theory folk that think Obama is a communist, or a Kenyan, or the 21st century incarnation of Gozer from Ghostbusters.
And, as I said in the original piece, that’s a losing strategy as well. He cannot make up ground with radicals without losing moderates, and he needs moderates to win states like Ohio and Wisconsin.
Romney is in the worst Catch-22 in political memory. And the DNC should take my advice and spend more money down-ticket.
Having said all that, I now I have some advice for you.
Because right-wing pundits are not really very big on facts or science, they’ve already come out to say these polls are wrong. They say polls are skewed left (even though many don’t even include Libertarian/Romney vote-stealer Gary Johnson), and their methodology is corrupted by the liberal media in a conspiracy to re-elect Barack Obama, and yada. yada. yada.
Pay attention to who is saying this. Pay attention when Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove and Mitt Romney and every pundit and friend who insists that this overwhelming number of polls—almost unanimous in saying Romney is losing in all nine battleground states—is skewed.
Give them your attention, and write their names down somewhere. And--assuming there are no catastrophic shifts in those “left-wing” polls, unforeseen scandals, effective efforts of voter suppression, or extraordinarily lax turnout-- when Barack Obama wins in the not-so-nail-biting fashion currently predicted, you will have completed your own little experiment. You will know, when the dust settled, who was wrong. And the next time you hear those people talk about politics, remember that, in a measurable and defined sense, they have a reputation you have personally observed for being incorrect.
If only in one instance.
And then, the next time they say something, you can make predictions on your own as to whether or not that person’s bloviating amounts to anything credible.
Whether or not you end up capping those predictions with “I told you so” is up to you.
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