I don't like to mince words. Mitt Romney is getting slapped around worse than Cory Booker after a Meet the Press appearance. There are redheaded stepchildren and rented mules who are having an easier time of it than the Mittster. In Nate Silver's model, if the election were held today, Romney would have a 2.2% chance of winning. His chances on November 6th are down to 18.1%, and they are only that high because Silver is still assuming a bit of a convention bounce and some economic headwinds that will keep Obama's numbers down. In any case, things are bad enough that Silver decided to try to figure out if Obama could possibly do as well or better in November as he did in 2008. Things are bad enough that Chris Cillizza decided to tell us all that they won't get much worse. Mr. Cillizza assures us that Mitt Romney won't get blown out, and Mr. Silver basically agrees, although he allows that it's at least as likely as Romney coming back to win.
Let's start with Cillizza's argument. He says that 2008 was a historically good year for the Democrats, which is true. It's always hard to break your own record for excellence. Cillizza also says this:
"Not only did then-candidate Obama galvanize a national movement behind his campaign, he also benefited from the fact that opponent Sen. John McCain could never get out from under George W. Bush’s shadow or convince the American public that he was well-versed on the economy."
Obama's national movement still exists. He's going to shatter his record for attracting small donor donations, and his sixty-plus field offices in Iowa just started taking people to the polls today. As for John McCain, he was a flawed candidate, but he was revered by tens of millions of Americans, including the vast majority of the press corp. He served his country and he paid a very high personal price, and that counts for something. Mitt Romney appeals to no one. There are no people who revere him. There are no people who think he's paid his dues. If John McCain had a rematch and took more care with selecting his running mate, he'd do a lot better than Mitt Romney is going to do because he is a much better politician with a lot more innate appeal than Mitt Romney. Which is why Cillizza's next point is overstated.
...the spending edge that Obama had over McCain not only won’t be replicated but should be reversed. Romney and the Republican party have $40 million more to spend than Obama and the Democratic party in the final weeks of the campaign — a not-insignificant sum split over just six weeks. And that doesn’t include outside groups, where Republicans continue to dominate.
I don't think Cillizza's numbers are right. It's Obama who has $40 million more than Romney. The problem is that the RNC has almost $70 million more than the DNC.
President Obama ended August with nearly $40 million more cash in the bank than Republican challenger Mitt Romney, campaign financial reports indicated...
FEC filings indicate the RNC ended August with $76.6 million cash on hand to the DNC's $7.1 million.
Obama and the DNC together started September with $95.9 million, The Hill said. The Romney campaign and the RNC had $112 million available.
That's not chump change, but a $16 million differential isn't too big of a deal when you spread it out across the whole battleground. It's the outside money that is worrisome. But the outside money can't do anything other than advertisements and mailers. The main thing that this money parity is doing is preventing Obama from trying to organize new states like Missouri and Arizona. So, in that sense, it is narrowing the president's potential upside. But I can guarantee you that Obama would be expanding the map if he had the same money advantage he enjoyed four years ago.
The last part of Cillizza's argument I want to address is this:
No one — not even the most loyal Obama allies — would argue that the political environment in 40 days will be anywhere close to as favorable as it was in November 2008.
I don't agree. The president is running against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. They are a much weaker pair than John McCain and Sarah Palin. Romney is the worst retail politician I have even seen on this level, and that includes Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle. And Paul Ryan's Medicare ideas are the most poisonous and ridiculous ideas I have ever seen a major party run with in a national election.
And there's something else to consider. President Obama has proved himself. We don't have to wonder about a 3 am phone call anymore. If you look at Nate Silver's chart, Obama has improved his position the most in states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. That's because he isn't so exotic and untested anymore. It may also be because Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Obama isn't going to win in those deep red states, but he has improved his position simply by going to work every day and doing a competent job.
Something else to look at are Nate Silver's charts on the projected popular vote and the projected likelihood of victory. Both charts show a basically uninterrupted upward trajectory for Obama from June until today. The only downward slope in the charts is from an adjustment Silver imposed to counteract a possibly temporary post-convention bounce. Every day the campaign goes on, Obama's projected share of the vote goes up. We all know there must be a ceiling, but it's anybody's guess when Obama will hit it.
What's limiting the size of Obama's potential victory are two factors. The first is that Romney and outside groups have enough money to keep Obama pinned in the battleground states. The second is that there are only a few states out there that Obama narrowly lost in 2008. To win more than one or two extra states, he needs get his share of the popular vote up to the very high 50's, which is not easy to do. Romney will give him a shot at it though. I have seen nothing from him to indicate that he will stop bleeding before Election Day. Early voting might even be a curse.
What models and conventional wisdom can't measure is a disaster of the magnitude of the Romney/Ryan campaign.
Fri, 09/28/2012 - 05:26