Monday, September 10, 2012

The Obama Bounce ...

The wonderful thing about tiggers is that tiggers are wonderful things--and just as tiggers bounce around I am sure there are quite a few Republicans who feel that circular logic is the best bet to explain Obama's uptick in the polls since the DNC. What uptick? This one:
Graph of electoral votes over time
Yeah ... Well ... That One.

What Is Going On?
What's going on is that Obama got a convention bounce and Romney didn't. This leaves Republicans feeling a bit like that kid who rushes downstairs on Christmas morning and finds out that they got nothing and their brother got that shiny new bike he wanted. It's frustrating--sure--but convention bounces come and go. If four weeks from now that chasm doesn't close it'll be panic central. For now, let's look a the narratives around the bounce.

Remember: a "narrative" on The Omnivore is a story that is being told (or that we tell ourselves) to make sense of some collection of facts.

The Bounce Is A Lie
In this narrative science and mathematics lie. There simply is no bounce and Obama is losing. How can that be? Well, it goes like this:
  1. The Eric Holder Lawsuit: There are two "reliable" Republican pollsters: Rasmussen and Gallup. Where everyone else is telling a story of Obama being up a few points, these have him even or down--that was, until David Axelrod and Obama's Department of Justice got their hands on them! Here's the lawsuit! That's right, after Axe complained the DOJ pulled up an old lawsuit about Gallup overcharging the government and they're back in line now showing Obama winning--following 'the plan.' What plan? The plan is ...
  2. Operation Demoralize: A plan by the press and the media to demoralize Republicans using polls and other methods to depress their turn-out. This is done by oversampling Democrats and outright lying. ... As other pollsters do:
 Plan is showing the amount of voter fraud SEIU, the Unions & you plan on perpetrating during the election.
 Retweeted by 
(Public Policy Polling has been re-tweeting their accusational tweets!)

The Problem: Who got to Rasmussen?

Do NOT Panic
In this story, hey--there IS a bounce--but so what--bounces come and go. This is a rational long-game perspective to have, especially now before the bounce rights itself. Mitt Romney put out this memo:
Don't get too worked up about the latest polling. While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly. The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.
PJ Media sees the "fear and despondency" and says BUCK UP!
Do you feel scared at times? Do you wonder if we’ve gone too far? Do you wonder if we can’t win? Everyone does. Do you not want to delude yourselves? No one does.
But we already have a disadvantage in not having a dedicated media. MUST you amplify the media? What is the point of fear and despondency but to make our side give up?
The signs are against the polls. The very success of the 2016 documentary is against the polls. The registration momentum is against the polls.
Is America going to go back after Obama because he gave a speech? Oh, for heaven’s sake, even the MSM admitted it wasn’t a good speech. That’s why they played on Clinton extensively.
Problem: If there is no need to panic, sending out a do-not-panic memo may have the opposite effect.

Okay, Maybe Panic A Little
 And then there are people who are, okay, not ... happy:
I said at the time of watching Clinton that his speech, while dishonest, was powerful.
In one speech he rebutted 90% of Romney/Ryan's work until now. Now, they have to counter-rebut it in order to get that work back.
Otherwise, we're in a lot of trouble.
And here:
The danger for the Romney campaign right now is the congealing conventional wisdom that the Republican emerged from Tampa and Charlotte meaningfully behind and is now facing some tough Electoral College reality.
Romney still has the debates, millions and millions of dollars in TV ads and weeks of campaigning to try to turn things around. But he faces the immediate threat of both quiet and loud we-told-you-so’s from Republicans who last year had the very worries they fear are being manifested now. Romney is an awkward, unlikable candidate. The author of Romneycare is ill positioned to attack Obamacare. And Romney’s shifting positions make him an easy mark for an aggressive White House.
Problem:  Panic won't do anything--if the bounce persists ... it's a problem. If it doesn't, panic might make a bad situation worse ...

What Do I Think?
I think that (a) the polls are legitimate. The idea that Obama would use actual legal muscle to change Gallup flies in the face of Risk-Analysis. Are Republicans being demoralized? Probably some--but Rasmussen has a lot more to do with that than Gallup and if Republicans can't handle a post-convention bump they're just, frankly, not made of stern enough stuff to win the election. I find that unlikely.

I think that (b) The Romney campaign needs to ... well ... to get it's messaging together. Romney saying he likes "parts" of ObamaCare is pretty confusing. But I think I understand what he's talking about. On the other hand? His 15-ad carpet-bombing campaign looks like an electoral Mad-Lib:
Above is a screenshot of the 15 new ads the Romney campaign is now airing in the eight core battleground states, each following an almost identical formula that hits Obama on economic issues tailored to each state. Every ad begins with a cut from Romney's convention speech:
This president can ask us to be patient. This president can tell us it was someone else's fault. But this president cannot tell us that you're better off today than when he took office.
Then the ads pivot into state-specific claims:
Here in [state], we're not better off under President Obama. [list of problems Obama is implied to be responsible for].
Romney's plan? [list of generic GOP solutions], create [number] new jobs for [state].
This is the death-star open-fire we've been waiting for? You can view the ad below (and if you've seen one, apparently, you've seen them all) but it gets my vote for most-generic attack-ad ever. What are you thinking, Romney?

I get that it's a "targeted message" and it should hit an "issue voter" but ... really? This is the same sort of thing that destroyed Gingrich and Perry? No--no, it is not. I am not, shall we say, a fan of dirty politics but the idea that this is the feisty Mitt Romney that was promised seems like the ultimate bait and switch. If I were worried about anything it would be that his out-of-the-gate ad-buy seems a lot more like homework done the hour before it's due and streamlined in order to save money.

From a campaign that has had months to put this together, what should be an almost unlimited budget (including the best minds money can buy), and knows that "it lacks teeth" is an unacceptable critique of their game-plan this is just ... baffling.

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