Swing State Pres

Friday, August 31, 2012

Election Week in Review....Crazy Like FOX (August 31, 2012)

Obameter2012 covered the costs of faux correspondent Steve to sit in his room at 10:00 PM EST on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and file his thoughts on the Republican Convention...he calls them "Crazy Like FOX"...
The balloons are now deflated on the floor of the Tampa Times convention center, and it’s time to assess. It’s clear that Mitt cleared the expectations bar, and that the GOP will emerge from Florida  energized for battle.
But there were very real hits and misses over these three days, and blame will be doled out to Mitt’s handlers for questionable casting (“go ahead, make my day incoherent!”) and prime-time moments way off message (e.g., Marco and Chris co-opting their air-time to kick off 2016).
But Mitt would be the first to tell you that he is the CEO of this show, and he knew exactly what he needed to do. If you thought some of this show was crazy, consider that he may be crazy like a fox. Fox News, that is.
Fox News had the brilliant insight that people prefer hearing a version of the news that reinforces their perspective rather than one that challenges it. (Don’t go self-righteous on me, lefty; your BFFs at MSNBC ripped it off). An audience that only listens to a source of news that reinforces its biases never hears inconvenient facts or coherent counter-arguments. This, in turn, emboldens the “news” organization to exaggerate, bend, and distort facts, knowing that hyperbole is crack to a news junkie and that the fully addled audience would neither be inclined to or capable of discerning fact from fiction.
Let’s start by giving Mitt Romney credit for recognizing that this idea is way too powerful to only use on a cable news channel.
Take Tuesday. The actual official theme of the day for the Republican Party convention on Tuesday was “We built it!” The “we built it” line is a reference to a “quote” from Barack Obama which was cropped precisely in mid-sentence to make it seem that Obama was saying that small business owners “did not build” their businesses, when in fact he was very clearly saying that they “did not build” the bridges and roads that small businesses rely on to succeed.
Editing a clip to intentionally distort its meaning is what Fox News does.  It had not – until Tuesday night – become the official policy of the Republican Party.  But Mitt’s RNC is crazy. Crazy like Fox. 
Indeed, the only interesting question is whether most of the people in the convention center were ignorant (they simply did not know that the edited clip totally changed and distorted Obama’s meaning), or that they were complicit liars -- rejoicing in the clever way they had manipulated the truth to make Obama look bad. Frankly, I am not sure which is worse… but I only know that every person chanting “We built it!” was squarely in one or the other camp, and had been led there through the official communications efforts of the RNC. Nixonian, to be sure; some would say downright CREEP-y.
Tuesday night was a mixed start to the Fox Convention. Ann Romney’s job was to “humanize” her husband, which she attempted to do by describing the early years of their marriage.  She spoke of the travails a young couple, just starting, making ends meet, living from trust fund payout to trust fund payout.
Ann tried to make the Mitt of those early years seem hardscrabble and lean – you know, just the average American whose father runs American Motors.  Let’s charitably call it disingenuous. Her sudden reach out to the sisterhood of women seemed a rather limp and transparent “Hail Mary” pass at Mitt’s 12 point deficit in the polls.
Make no mistake, Ann Romney is an appealing, likeable woman, but I must confess that I thought she was just one more Foxy lady. The emotional testimonies from Romney’s friends and associates from Massachusetts and from his Mormon faith – featured on a cable-only early slot on Thursday night -- did a vastly superior job of humanizing Romney than his wife.
One of the bumpiest moments of the Fox Convention was the handoff from Anne to Tuesday’s keynote from Governor Chris Christie, who weighed in heavily by thundering “We’re not here for love, we’re here for respect.” This put him in the position of appearing to violently disagree with the candidate’s wife, who – a mere half hour before -- had declared that “love” was the central theme of her talk.
Christie then offered his own perspective on what the key theme of the campaign should be (“a candidate who will tell you the truth, no matter what!”), which is not Romney’s key message and it is certainly not the Flip-Flopper-in-Chief’s long suit. The New Jersey Governor only got around to mentioning Romney’s name a good fifteen minutes into the speech, cementing the perception that he was in Tampa solely to make a land grab at 2016.  Note to Christie: elephants never forget.  Forgive me for this seeming cheap shot, but Chris Christie really was “The Biggest Loser.”
Paul Ryan made a very strong first impression as the featured speaker on Wednesday night, although his pious, earnest manner and youthful zeal  made me think of something, someone that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Then it hit me. The Republican ticket was BainMan and his sidekick Robbin’.
Ryan quickly proved that Romney had made a shrewd choice for VP. Besides the obvious signal to the base that the ticket would be ideologically beholden to the Tea Party, the choice of Ryan also hewed to the time-honored tradition of hiring a pit bull willing to lead a take-no-prisoners style attack on the opposition.  All of which made Ryan an eerie echo of two youthful GOP VPs: he has the brains and honesty of Nixon packaged in the hunk appeal of Quayle.
BainMan watched benignly as Robbin’ did his dirty work. The self-styled policy wonk played so fast and loose with facts that his disregard for reality provided a rare occasion for unity for pundits across the political spectrum.
Poor Ryan, though, would find that the only clip from his speech that actually made it onto the morning news shows was his riff on the contrast between his iPod and Mitt’s. Therefore, the only one of Ryan’s punches that really connected with its target was dissing his new boss for digging elevator music. Thanks for the help on the “humanizing” front, Paul.
Ah, but all of this was just so much side show for the big night: Thursday.
First, a programming note. We know from Fox that everyone is mad as hell is at Obama, but it turns out that they are apparently not so mad that they want to miss a single re-run of NCIS: L.A.  Not very much of this convention ever made it below channel 10. Which is a pity, because the conventions finest moments were early Thursday night, when people who actually knew Mitt Romney way back when told warm, loving, and deeply emotional stories about him.
But the programming gods who prevented most people from seeing these lovely, gentle testimonies may have saved BainMan from having too many of mainstream, family-oriented, wholesome, and religious Americans watch a crotchety and perhaps tipsy Clint Eastwood careen through a mean-spirited and occasionally obscene train wreck of a speech.
Marco Rubio forcibly dragged the proceedings back up to street level, but he – like Christie – gave a speech that would have been a resounding endorsement of Romney if only Romney happened to be Marco Rubio.
By 10:40, the carnival barkers had been silenced, and we reached the final act. And, Lefty, it’s time to wake up and realize that this guy is actually a formidable opponent.
For starters, Mitt Romney realized that there was only one guy in the building who could actually do what everyone had tried to do all week… humanize Mitt Romney. So he took that one on. Good for him. He did a good job at that on Thursday night. Lots of family and genuine emotion at the outset of his speech… a very good way to warm up the audience.  The story of his Mom, his Dad, and the rose was world class. And he made a powerful, rousing, emotional close. Romney roughed out his smooth edges last night. He went in as a robot, but he came out as R2D2.
The rest of his speech was remarkable largely in its restraint. Having artfully left it to his pit bulls to rip Obama, Mitt had the audacity to say that he “wished that Obama had succeeded, because I want America to succeed.” (This, just a bit too much from a party whose senate leader overtly stated that his primary objective was to make Obama a one term president.)  In a seeming attempt to argue that the entitlement of the one percenters should be experienced by all, he declared that everyone in America “deserved better” than what they have gotten from Obama. No sacrifice, no changes, no “ask not… “just vote for me because you deserve better. (One last note to Chris Christie: you should have read both the wife’s and the husband’s speech on the plane to Tampa).
And, of course, not a word of explanation of how he was actually going to accomplish what he promised without cutting the military, slashing Medicare, or raising taxes. But this was not the night to ask why or get specific; there is time for that later. (As Stephen Colbert noted, probably after the election).
Emboldened, Romney teed it all up for the dems next week.
The Flipper invoked the Gipper: “So I ask you, are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Many of us, remember four years ago:  a global financial meltdown, an unjustified, horrifically costly war, a unjustified and perhaps even costlier war on science, a turning back the clock on human rights, our global reputation in tatters, and Osama Bin Laden alive and kicking. We are very eager to hear President Obama take Romney up on that question. Yes, Mr. Romney, I actually do feel a whole lot better now than I did four years ago.
But, Lefty, make no mistake. The battle has been joined, and it is being fought by people who are crazy… crazy like Fox.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Breaking News: Texas Voter ID Law Overturned (August 30, 2012)

Last week, Wendy made a post on the unfairness of the new Pennsylvania voter ID law...

http://www.obameter2012.com/2012/08/if-your-vote-doesnt-matter-why-are-they.html

Well, perhaps the tide is turning.  A federal appeals court today overturned Texas's new voter ID, which required photo ID's for voters, much like the Pennsylvania law.  The Voting Rights Act requires all Texas (and various other southern states) laws affecting voting rights to be reviewed by the Justice Department before going into effect, a vestige of the civil rights era.  Pennsylvania does not have such a constraint.

The appeals court said that the law will basically have "the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race."

Rick Perry was bummed, to say the least.

A different appeals court will render judgment on a similar South Carolina law soon.

A Georgia law was recently upheld, however, because the state will provide a free photo ID to anyone who asks for one.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Help Me Ryan...Help Help Me Ryan (August 29, 2012)

So Rick Santorum forgot to mention Mitt Romney until the very last sentence.  Ann Romney "humanized" Mitt by telling us, uh, what a capable President he would be.  And Chris Christie described our need for blunt, crusading truth tellers (like, say, Chris Christie) as leaders, while Mitt grimaced.  Republican Convention Night One is in the books!

Paul Ryan is the featured speaker tonight...and here's a little ditty to set him up...to the tune of the Beach Boys' classic, "Help Me Rhonda" (with thanks to Eric for the idea...).

Well since my polls were down
I was cranking data in my head
Thinkin’ ‘bout which Veep just might
Get me up and out ahead

Well, Ryan you look so fine (look so fine!)
You got a plan which makes the right all mine
You gotta help me Ryan
Help me give my race a jump start

Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, yeah, give my race a jump start

I thought about Christie
But he’s a giant spotlight hog (wa wa-ooo)
And Pawlenty and Portman
Have the wattage of a sleepin’ dog (wa wa-ooo)

Well, Ryan you caught my eye (caught my eye!)
And I can give you lotsa reasons why
You gotta help me Ryan
Help me give my race a jump start

Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan yeah, give my race a jump start

Well since you joined the show
Your face is showing up everywhere (wa wa-ooo)
But I guess I shoulda known
That all we’d talk about is Medicare (wa wa-ooo)

Oh Ryan we might get trounced (might get trounced!)
You ain’t been given me much of a bounce
You gotta help me Ryan
Help me give my race a jump start

Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan, help, help me Ryan
Help me Ryan yeah, give my race a jump start


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

David Brooks on "The Real Romney" (August 28, 2012)

This article is such a "must read" I decided to give it it's own post.  Brooks is the New York Times' resident conservative columnist but he seems to be channeling his inner Gail Collins.  Enjoy!

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/28/opinion/brooks-the-real-romney.html?_r=1

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dashboard Update....Still Blue But Ever Tighter (August 27, 2012)

On the eve of the conventions the race couldn’t be much closer.  Obama has the advantage, consistently, across many polls and measures – but it is slight.  The conventions, while unnervingly scripted and lacking real news, nevertheless represent a potential momentum shifter for a campaign that has been remarkably consistent for months, perhaps a testament to the cautious nature of the two candidates.

I just watched the documentary “The Making of the President: 1960” based on the book of the same name (a MUST READ), and it is amazing how consequential the Democratic convention was back then.  Of the five major candidates, only Kennedy and Humphrey entered the primaries, and only a few of them at that.  The three other major candidates, Johnson, Symington and Stevenson, chose to forego them on the assumption that they had nothing to prove to the party bosses (governors, mayors and the like) who controlled the state delegations.  Thus all the candidates (except Humphrey, who had dropped out) met with many state delegations at the convention itself to woo votes.  It was an incredibly different time.  (Kennedy won on the first ballot, and it took all the way until Wyoming in the roll call to put him over the top.)

At this point, here in 2012, the Republicans must be asking themselves, “exactly why did we pick Tampa as our site at the peak of the hurricane season?”  They have already delayed the proceedings by one day….and it appears to have been for naught, as the storm has largely bypassed Tampa.

There is the even more uncomfortable possibility that Isaac may hit New Orleans hard on Wednesday, which is coincidentally the seventh anniversary of Katrina.  Footage of Katrina, and the association with a notable Bush failure -- or worse, a new real time devastation -- is hardly the backdrop the Republicans want that night.  At the very least, the storm coverage is competing for attention with the convention.  But let’s hope, of course, that the storm dies down in the Gulf before reaching land. 

Conventions normally provide a bounce, but given the proximity of the two conventions (the Dems are the next week) it’s hard to say what the effect might be.  My bet is both sides do well and then the real game – the post-Labor Day campaign – is on.

The Obameter.  The Obameter dropped to +3.3, largely on my judgment that the Ryan pick qualifies as an “event,” that is, something that changes the conversation and the polling in one candidate’s favor.  This is only the second “event” of the campaign, the other being the string of successes Obama enjoyed in June, when the trifecta of his public support of gay marriage, his new non-deportation immigration executive order, and, most importantly, the Supreme Court positive verdict on the Affordable Health Care Act gave him a heady upsurge which he has held since.

While the Ryan bounce was small by historical standards, in a close race it registered nonetheless and polling since that announcement has simply been tighter, both nationally and in swing states.


OBAMETER
Baseline




1-Jan
11-Aug
18-Aug
25-Aug
Unemployment Rate
8.7
8.3
8.3
8.3
Consumer Confidence
65.0
65.9
65.9
65.9
Price of Gas (avg. for week)
3.32
3.78
3.78
3.80
Dow-Jones (avg. for week)
    12,076
       13,167
       13,206
       13,173
Romney Favorability (average)
38.0
44.8
45.5
45.8
"Events"
0
5
5
0





Unemployment Rate
8.7
4
4
4
Consumer Confidence
65
1
1
1
Price of Gas (avg. for week)
3.32
-5
-5
-5
Dow-Jones (average for week)
    12,076
11
11
11
Romney Favorability (average)
38
-7
-8
-8
"Events"
0
5
5
0





OBAMETER
0.0
9.4
9.1
3.3
Obama versus Romney
1.1
4.7
3.4
1.3




The Charisma Factor.   Romney broke into positive net favorability territory for the first time in a while.  He still trails Obama by a solid margin, as reflected in Obama’s +4.6 Charisma Factor.  But it is progress nonetheless for Romney.  If there is one area where the convention could really help Romney, it is in “humanizing” him – telling his story, using Ann Romney to maximum effect.  Is there a warmer, cuddly Mitt to be found?  Let’s check the Charisma Factor in two weeks.


Fav
Unfav
Net
Obama
50.8
45.0
5.8
Romney
45.8
44.6
1.2
Net


4.6


Latest Polling.  There have been a plethora of polls (I should probably say a “veritable plethora” in fact – is there any other kind of plethora than a veritable one?) since the Ryan announcement, and they continue to reflect the modest bounce.   Obama’s national polling lead is +1.3 points on average….his narrowest in a while.  You have to chalk this up to the intense focus on Ryan, who has brought life and energy to a campaign devoid of both, regardless of his policies (which are still in the nascent stages of being articulated and challenged).


Nat'l Polls
Obama
46.8%
Romney
45.5%
Diff
1.3%




Swing States.   Face it, much as I love the Obameter, the Charisma Factor, and national polls, nothing is more important than the swing state polls.  Here Obama gained ground in the last week.  Florida is now a dead heat (and ties goes to Obama in my book, due to the Charisma Factor), and Virginia slipped back into Obama’s camp, albeit narrowly.  But aside from Pennsylvania and New Hampshire (for Obama) and Missouri (for Romney), all the other races are within the MOE (margin of error).  Directionally, Obama maintains his stubborn, narrow lead in most, and on average his swing state lead is 1.5 points.

26-Aug
Electoral
Polling
Since
1-Aug

Votes
Obama
Romney
Obama +/-
Pennsylvania
20
50.0
41.0
9.0
New Hampshire
4
51.0
45.0
6.0
Colorado
9
48.5
45.5
3.0
Nevada
6
47.0
45.0
2.0
Michigan
16
46.7
44.7
2.0
Ohio
18
47.0
45.3
1.7
Wisconsin
10
48.2
46.8
1.4
Virginia
13
47.3
46.7
0.6
Florida
29
46.3
46.3
0.0
North Carolina
15
46.5
47.5
-1.0
Iowa
6
44.0
46.0
-2.0
Missouri
10
44.0
49.3
-5.3

156


1.5


Electoral College Projection.   And those leads translate into an impressive margin in the projected Electoral College, by over 100.  Romney simply must make a swing state move at some point, as millions of dollars of negative SuperPAC ads have not been able to dent Obama’s lead.


Solid
Swing
Total
Obama
201
125
326
Romney
181
31
212