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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If A Face Could Sink A Thousand Ships

What I tweeted last night before the debate:

Just so you know, win the debate tho' Obama certainly did, I rather doubt he turned it around enough to give us a fighting chance of winning back the House (as he certainly would have had he won the first debate as handily as last night's), but the effort is not entirely quixotic anymore at any rate. To be honest, the outcome of the Presidential race wouldn't have been truly threatened even if he lost all the debates in my opinion, given the underlying fundamentals, and for me this has always been mostly a matter of the role of the Presidential campaign downticket, all the mainstream horse-racification to the contrary notwithstanding.


jimf said...

> I rather doubt he turned it around enough to give us a fighting
> chance of winning back the House (as he certainly would have
> had he won the first debate as handily as last night's). . .

I'm really astonished both at the (putative) existence of people
who actually pin their votes on the perception (either their own
of that of next morning's newspaper) of who "won" a TV debate,
or even a series of them, and also at the existence of people who think
the former people both exist and can tip elections.

I'm not saying I absolutely disbelieve in such things -- I may
well even more radically out of touch with the way the political
world works than I already imagine I am! -- it's just that I have
a hard time getting my head around it.

Leaning left or leaning right, much like sexual orientation, seems
to me to be such a fundamental component of one's personality,
that I have a hard time conceiving of voters as candles flickering
one way or the other in response to a slight breeze from the
TV loudspeaker. (I guess I have a hard time imagining bisexuality,
too. I've heard it exists, I just don't "bellyfeel" it. ;-> ).

jimf said...

I dunno, I suppose there might be some folks exquisitely poised
on a political knife edge because of painfully-conflicting
ideological allegiances.

"Obama's black. I'm black. I guess I should vote for Obama.
But wait! Romney's all for Christian Values[TM].
Obama's sold out to Teh Gays. If I wanna please God,
I've gotta vote for Romney!"
With less than three weeks to go before the Presidential election,
and polls showing a tightening of the race, some in the black
religious community are advocating that their congregants stick
with their Biblical beliefs and vote against President Obama.

“Our goal is not to campaign against President Obama or any individual
candidate. We seek rather to call people to vote above their emotions,
party affiliations, and even their personal opinions, and to vote
God’s values,” said Dr. Alveda King (pictured), niece of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Executive Committee member of nonprofit
group, God Said.

In the last election, it was reported that almost 95% of black
people voted for Obama in 2008’s historic race. But this year,
some are re-evaluating their position, given Obama’s declared
“evolution” on the matter of same-sex marriage.

Dale Carrico said...

Some basics, as I see them here: An incumbent has a natural advantage (the economy might have been a game-changing liability had the blame not remained so squarely on Bush and the confidence numbers not started to rise and had Romney not slotted so clearly into the 1% framed last year by Occupy) and the challenger has four shots to flip the script, nabbing the nomination, the veep pick, the convention, and the debates. Although Romney -- who had been running for something like nine years by then -- nabbed his party's nomination his numbers did in fact nudge up for the first time, but he still trailed more than not. The Ryan pick -- which was ahead of schedule precisely because Romney's numbers weren't getting better -- did not confer the expected advantage, then the convention was a dud compared to the Dem convention the following week and the 47% debacle. The reason Romney's win in debate mattered so much was because if he had failed it was feared the floor would have fallen out from under the Romney campaign, that money would seriously shift downticket in a big way to compensate for the death spiral. Substantively, last night's Obama victory might have "changed the minds" of those who were worried that Romney was the evil figure narratived by the Obama campaign over the summer but who seemed less threatening in debate one, or those who were iffy about Obama because of a little stealthy racism or fears of Big Gu'ment or whatever and debate one provided an alibi for that nonsense. That is to say, "changing minds" is a generous phrase to describe such emotionally manipulating rhetorical operations. The fundamentals have always been with Obama -- incumbency, multicultural demographics, Romney sub-basement likeability -- but with last night's debate victory (and Biden's shot in the arm for the Base in his debate last week) the campaign momentum has returned to Obama, "independents" are motivated both to vote and in the way they vote by momentum and the feeling they have a piece of it by conforming to their sense of it (because they are, face it, idiots). The foreign policy debate is unlikely to turn things back to Romney given his inexperience, his disastrous gaffes in this area up to now, and the fact that Obama plays Commander-in-Chief lethally (something he did last night, but has done so often it makes no sense that Republicans seemed so unprepared for it), but in any case voting is already underway, swing states are solidifying enough to give him an Electoral College firewall, it's now or never to shift money to make a difference downticket, and that's where the action is. The "race is tightening" narrative is a mirage largely produced by the fact that the South is solidifying for Romney in a way that has no impact on the Electoral College and little impact on Congressional expectations (four of the 25 seats targeted by Pelosi for pick up are in New York, ditto Cali, Blue State seats conservative enough to fall for the Teabagger scam), but which portends the ongoing catastrophic suicidal self-marginalization of the GOP from plausibly-national governing party to neo-Confederate rump.