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Oct 31 2012

Axelrod Gets It Right

As a general rule, one should never believe anything said by a campaign insider about the state of an election. Even if it’s obvious that their candidate is going to lose, they will pretend that it’s going exactly how they want it to go. And no matter how obvious it is that they will win, they will pretend that it’s really a dogfight. But I think David Axelrod gets it spot on here:

“In my view we have got the lead and the ball and now it is a matter of executing the final 10 days of the campaign,” David Axelrod said in a telephone interview.

“Governor Romney profited from that first debate primarily by recouping those voters who he had lost in his dismal month of September when they had such an uninspired convention and when the 47 percent tape came out,” Axelrod continued. “But that is all that happened. We’ve had two debates since. I haven’t seen — in the things that I have looked at — I haven’t seen momentum since that time. I think the race has settled in, and it has settled in with us with a small but durable and discernable lead in these battleground states both in the aggregate and individually. The question is how does he change that dynamic now? There is no big intervening event.”

I think this is exactly right. The first debate was a very bad thing for Obama and it clearly tightened the race considerably. At the end of September, it was looking like a cakewalk for the incumbent. Now it’s a nail-biter. But with only a week to go, Obama still has a persistent small lead in the all-important state polls and his path to 270 is considerably easier than Romney’s. It all comes down to a handful of states: Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida (which I’m giving to Romney), Nevada (which I’m giving to Obama), Iowa (which I’m giving to Obama). This is what my map looks like right now:

But that’s assuming Ohio is still a tossup, when Obama has had a small but very persistent lead in that state. The real tossups to me are Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado. And if Obama wins Ohio, it’s over. Romney cannot win if he doesn’t win Ohio, but Obama can win without winning that state, though it will be harder.

24 comments

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  1. 1
    slc1

    I haven’t checked this out but it is my information that the GOP has never won a presidential election when it has lost Ohio. However, it should be noted that the number of electoral votes that Ohio brings to the table has fallen considerably in the last 50 years so it is probably less improbable that Rmoney could lose Ohio and and still win the election then it would have been 30 or more years ago.

  2. 2
    anandine

    slc1 said, the GOP has never won a presidential election when it has lost Ohio

    True, but see XKCD on the subject: http://xkcd.com/1122/

  3. 3
    Alverant

    Between the racism, voter suppression, misinformation, and plain old dirty tricks carried on by the GOP I am skeptical about an Obama win.

  4. 4
    Modusoperandi

    Alverant “Between the racism, voter suppression, misinformation, and plain old dirty tricks carried on by the GOP I am skeptical about an Obama win.”
    To be fair, he does have legions of non-existent bogeymen on his side.

  5. 5
    gshelley

    There is no big intervening event

    I’m assuming he said this before the storm struck

  6. 6
    eric

    gshelley, do you honestly think Sandy will change who people vote for? I’m in an affected state, and I frankly haven’t heard any comments (zero, zip, nada, zilch) either blaming the federal government for poor response or claiming Romney would do it better. Its not that everyone around me is pro-Obama, its more that no one connects the hurricane to the election at all. Have you heard otherwise? I’d be interested to know if people are blaming the feds in other states.

  7. 7
    Doug Little

    I’m still baffled by the response in the polls after the 1st debate. Mitt did substantially move to the middle on a lot of policy points, but really… that many people bought it hook line and sinker after his etch-a-sketch track record.

  8. 8
    kermit.

    eric: gshelley, do you honestly think Sandy will change who people vote for? I’m in an affected state, and I frankly haven’t heard any comments (zero, zip, nada, zilch) either blaming the federal government for poor response or claiming Romney would do it better.

    I’m not sure that it’s either of those so much as many people will not get the ballots out in time. It’s not even clear that many polls will be open in NYC and other places hard hit. This will likely hit both urban and poor voters harder, which will shift the balance more toward Romney.

    I do think that a handful of folks will reconsider Romney in light of what he said about FEMA and federal support and their obvious advantages in large disasters such as this, but not many. Fewer still will compare Shugate’s appointment and behavior compared to Brownie’s, and wonder what kind of folks Romney would appoint.

  9. 9
    Jordan Genso

    I think the only “event” left is the release of the new unemployment numbers this Friday. If the number goes back up to 8.3% or higher, then it could theoretically impact some swing voters as the last news they hear before casting their ballot. It’s pretty much certain though that regardless of what the number is, the Romney campaign is going to try their best to get their spin to be the media’s message.

    Headline on Friday: Unemployment Drops to 6.9%
    Romney Campaign Response: The Unemployment Rate is Clear Sign of Obama’s Failure
    Headline on Sunday: Romney Campaign Says Economic News is Evidence of Obama’s Failure

    Regardless of all of that though, I think that Romney will win Colorado, and the President will win Ohio, New Hampshire, and I think he’ll pull out a win in either Virginia or Florida.

  10. 10
    Doug Little

    I think the only “event” left is the release of the new unemployment numbers this Friday. If the number goes back up to 8.3% or higher, then it could theoretically impact some swing voters as the last news they hear before casting their ballot.

    I read somewhere that the number is going to drop around 1/2 a point. Can’t remember where, take it with an extreme grain of salt, but if it does drop it’s good news for the Obama camp.

  11. 11
    scienceavenger

    The unemployment numbers dropping will just provoke more headlines like this:

    New Unemployment numbers fall in spite of bad economy amidst accusations of cooking the books.

    I can’t wait to hear how Stuart all-news-is-bad-news Varney will spin that one. Over the past few months I’ve been watching the jobless figures drop steadily on Fox’s nifty little graph (which conveniently starts before the Great Recession, rather than when Obama took office), and marvelling at how Varney is able to declare it bad news every single day.

  12. 12
    gshelley

    gshelley, do you honestly think Sandy will change who people vote for? I’m in an affected state, and I frankly haven’t heard any comments (zero, zip, nada, zilch) either blaming the federal government for poor response or claiming Romney would do it better. Its not that everyone around me is pro-Obama, its more that no one connects the hurricane to the election at all. Have you heard otherwise? I’d be interested to know if people are blaming the feds in other states.

    I don’t know. I doubt people think Romney would do better, but it is certainly conceivable, that when people look at devastation around them and wonder how it is going to get fixed, they think on Romney’s words that he doesn’t want the Federal Government involved and decide it is more important to get Federal assistance than to get rid of Obama.
    It may have no effect, but I don’t think we will know that for the next few days. Virginia and New Hampshire seem to be the only affected states that are really up for grabs, so we will see if there is a swong away from Romney there.

  13. 13
    heddle

    Certainly take this with a grain of salt from someone who is not even voting, and someone who is mostly wrong when it comes to politics, but:

    I think Obama will lose and lose pretty big (at least the popular vote). I think the Bradley effect, which was not much of a factor in 2008 as I understand it, will be huge this time among what used to be called Reagan Democrats. I also think undecided independents, those fickle non-ideologues, will trend R. My prediction: R 53, O 46.

    I shall not, because I can not beyond what I just wrote, defend this prediction.

    You may now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    Doug Little writes:

    I’m still baffled by the response in the polls after the 1st debate. Mitt did substantially move to the middle on a lot of policy points, but really… that many people bought it hook line and sinker after his etch-a-sketch track record.

    I think there’s two factors in play. One is that there are a lot of low information voters out there and millions of them are just now engaging in the campaign, like watching the debate. So for them they’ve never even heard of etch-a-sketch and have no idea Romney’s flip-flopping. I observe this a lot in meat-world. The pundits were predicting this all along, including the ones with access to polling data validating this would and is working.

    Two, there are a lot a secular conservatives who are sick of the Republican party’s fealty to conservative Christians and how those Christians think. However they are also under tremendous communal pressures to hate the uppity black in the White House; largely by creating a false representation of the president’s performance on issues concerning business and the economy.

    This pressure is relentless and something I observe on a daily basis in meat-world. The racial lever is used to determine whether you’re on the team or a traitor to the team. I get such pressure regularly in meat-world though I’m informed enough to bite back if I care to, most people are not sufficiently informed enough to dissent. Romney’s debate performance in all the debates, where he predominately took on Obama’s positions, gives these secular conservatives the rationale they’re looking for to pull the lever for Romney.

  15. 15
    Michael Heath

    heddle, care to share why you won’t be voting for a presidential candidate? Don’t you live in a swing state?

  16. 16
    heddle

    Michael,

    I do live in a swing state (Va) but I simply don’t care who wins. I am aligned with a non-existent political entity–fiscally conservative yet socially liassez-faire libertarians a la, approximately, AuH20. They are extinct, which makes me a dinosaur.

    I have many friends who will be furious with me if either candidate loses by a handful of votes.

    ——–
    Side story. I always stop at 7-11 before church to get a troth of coffee. I took the Obama cup. In church someone came up to me and said: you are voting for Obama? (*) I said: Well he is a Christian and the other guy is LDS, shouldn’t I vote for him? My wife said: “you just like to push buttons, don’t you?”

    (*) A guess, just a guess, that our church will go something like 70-30 R. Our pastor has never, ever mentioned anything about politics in his sermon. Good man.

  17. 17
    Doug Little

    Well he is a Christian and the other guy is LDS, shouldn’t I vote for him?

    Ha Ha, that is pretty funny Heddle, I have to give it to you. What was their reaction?

  18. 18
    heddle

    Ha Ha, that is pretty funny Heddle, I have to give it to you. What was their reaction?

    A good-natured “give me a break” eye-rolling.

  19. 19
    Michael Heath

    heddle writes:

    I do live in a swing state (Va) but I simply don’t care who wins. I am aligned with a non-existent political entity–fiscally conservative yet socially liassez-faire libertarians a la, approximately, AuH20. They are extinct, which makes me a dinosaur.

    I’m not trying to get you to vote heddle, or to vote for Mr. Obama. But a credible analysis of actual fiscal conservatism clearly reveals that Mr. Obama is far superior to Mr. Romney. Not even close.

    I point this out because my biggest frustration in politics is the following: I think most people are reasonable about most things, including conservative Christians. I think the vast majority of Americans agree on what the assumptions should be when making a conclusion. For example, the vast majority of Americans would agree we need a vibrant labor market coupled to federal fiscal policy which is both growth-oriented and optimizes the level of debt we’re carrying.

    So why are there such passionate disagreements? Predominately because of all the false premises used to go from an assumption to a conclusion. In this case that Mr. Obama is not a fiscal conservatism when in fact, I use that term deliberately, the Democrats have long proven to be very good at fiscal conservatism since the mid-1980s where Mr. Obama’s proposed policies are in fact consistent with fiscal conservatism, i.e., policies which would better manage the debt but not at the expense of economic growth.

  20. 20
    Michael Heath

    I should probably point out that while the Democrats are the social liberal / fiscal conservative party so I’m befuddled on why heddle isn’t voting for Democrats, I am not a fiscal conservative. instead strongly wedded to expansionary policies, like borrowing a lot more money now to promote much higher future growth rates (we should target 5% GDP growth rates). So neither party represents me when it comes to economic policy though I favor the Democrats far more than the Republicans on this matter given the latter follow falsified talking points which are not even supported by conservative economists.

  21. 21
    Dr X

    @Doug Little:

    I’m still baffled by the response in the polls after the 1st debate. Mitt did substantially move to the middle on a lot of policy points, but really… that many people bought it hook line and sinker after his etch-a-sketch track record.

    It could be that what was actually said in the debate has far less influence than the post-debate verdicts heard by people who didn’t watch the debates.

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/10/02/why-news-coverage-of-the-debate-may-matter-more-than-the-debate/

  22. 22
    Nick Gotts

    Hmm, so heddle chooses Goldwater as the representative of his political philosophy. Goldwater was a racist (yes, supporting “states’ rights” to maintain segregation and voting against measures to end is racist, as the overwhelming majority of black Americans clearly realized, and Goldwater also spoke in praise of Ian Smith, who declared independence in Rhodesia to maintain white minority rule), and an advocate of mass murder (the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam), as well as a supported of Joseph McCarthy, an enemy of the poor (aiming to dismantle the welfare state), and an opponent of the rights of working people to defend their interests through labour unions. These features of Goldwater’s politics are not accidental accretions on his “fiscally conservative yet socially liassez-faire libertarian[ism]“: whatever else one might say about him, Goldwater certainly had a coherent political stance.

    I can’t say I’m in the least surprised: since heddle worships a being he believes intends to torture people for ever, his moral compass clearly points him pretty reliably towards evil.

  23. 23
    heddle

    Nick Gotts (formerly KG) #22,

    It is like you to do that sort of trivial, Pharyngulaean analysis. Figures you’d take Goldwater’s earlier positions and conveniently ignore his later positions when he seriously mellowed. People change. Times change. Culture changes. Standards change. Figures that since you assume that I said I liked his fiscal conservatism and his social liberalism that you’d find his worst positions from any time and argue, logical fallacies be damned, that ergo heddle also supports those positions. Figures that somehow my religion was relevant, even though my admiration for Goldwater preceded by a couple decades my conversion to Christianity, from a time when I was an atheist. You represent your community well.

  24. 24
    Area Man

    “But that’s assuming Ohio is still a tossup, when Obama has had a small but very persistent lead in that state.”

    People have a tendency to declare Ohio too close to call when in fact Obama’s lead there has been strong and persistent. Obama’s lead in Ohio is greater than Romney’s lead in NC. Unless the polls systematically under-count Romney’s support by 3 points or so (which is possibile, but extremely unlikely), then Obama wins Ohio with relative ease.

    I suspect that OH has to be kept in the “toss-up” column because the race is uninteresting otherwise. The real nail-biters are going to be VA and FL. NC will be close but Romney’s lead there appears robust enough. Ditto with CO in the other direction. None of which is likely to matter if OH goes blue.

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