The Other McCain

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Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Ninety-Nine Days Until November 6

Posted on | July 30, 2012 | 19 Comments

The Republican National Convention begins Aug. 27, which is now just four weeks away. More importantly, we are now inside the final 100-day window of the 2012 presidential campaign. This is as good time as any to ask, “Where does the race stand?”

Today on Morning Joe — I watch MSNBC so you don’t have to — Chuck Todd got under my skin by asserting that Mitt Romney “lost” June and July by failing to establish his narrative or something. This assertion struck me as preposterous, so I checked the Real Clear Politics average of national polls to examine the trend:

On Feb. 18, while Romney was in the midst of the toughest part of the GOP primary fight, Obama stretched out to his biggest lead of the year, 6.1 points (49.3% to 43.2%). Obama continued to lead Romney by a sizeable margin through the spring campaign: 5.2 points (49.5-44.3) on March 7,  and 5.3 points (48.5-43.2) on April 10, the day Rick Santorum quit the race, effectively ceding the nomination to Romney.

In the aftermath of Santorum’s exit, as might be expected, the race quickly tightened, as GOP-leaning voters rallied to Romney. By May 8, the race was nearly tied: Obama 46.2, Romney 46.0.

Since May, the RCP margin has widened slightly: Obama is at 46.6 and Romney is at 45.0. That’s mainly because the Obama campaign unloaded tens of millions of dollars of negative ads against Romney, an early spending spree that has caused Democrats concern because (a) it is so clearly unsustainable and (b) June FEC numbers showed Romney and the GOP are now strongly out-fundraising Obama and the Democrats.

Thus, the minor gain for Obama in the past two months — moving the RCP average a net 1.4 points in his favor — was a good news/bad news scenario for him: Yes, the barrage of ads raised Romney’s negatives, rallied Democrats and established the predicate for future attacks. However, this success came at a steep cost, and a price that Obama simply can’t afford to keep paying. When the stretch run begins after Labor Day, Obama won’t be able to outspend Romney, certainly not at the 2-to-1 pace of June. Furthermore, once you start digging down in the internals of polls, you see that Obama’s attacks didn’t do much to move independent voters, who still have very negative views about Obama’s handling of the economy — the No. 1 issue, and one that seems to be going from bad to worse for the incumbent.

Everybody understands the basic strategies of each side: Republicans want the election to be a referendum on Obama’s first term, while Democrats want to make the election a choice between the incumbent and the (demonized) Romney.

This referendum-or-choice battle to shape the narrative is really what the 2012 campaign comes down to. So who is winning that battle?

Forget Romney for a minute and look at the president’s numbers in the RCP average: He has steadily drifted downward from nearly 50 percent in February-March to below 47 percent now. These are perilous numbers for an incumbent because (as everybody knows) late-deciding voters tend to break toward the challenger. Having checked the numbers, I sent a few Twitter messages to Chuck Todd:

Now, let me make clear: I like Chuck Todd. He is a solid political reporter and less biased toward Democrats than many other major-media journalists. But to say Romney “lost” June and July? Sorry, Chuck: Doing stenography for David Axelrod isn’t reporting.

The latest Gallup tracking poll has the race a tie, and the latest Rasmussen tracking poll has Romney up by 3 points. If Romney keeps “losing” at this rate, he’ll “lose” all the way to the White House.

UPDATE: Here’s Scott Rasmussen in his latest weekly column:

Regardless of what the economists say, most Americans believe we are in a recession and have been for more than four years. Despite that dismal starting point, just 40 percent think things will get better in five years.
This suggests that underlying perceptions of the economy have taken a darker turn. Back in 2009, most Americans thought the country was experiencing a normal business-cycle recession. It was harsher than most but expected to be a short-term matter. Throughout 2009, a plurality of Americans thought the economy would be better within a year.
Now, a plurality believes it will get worse over the next year, and many Americans are wondering if our nation will ever make it back. Only 14 percent now believe today’s children will be better off than their parents. That’s an all-time low.

Hope of a recovery under Obama is fading. All Romney needs to do is convince voters he would not be worse than Obama, and Mitt wins.

UPDATE II: OK, let’s suppose Chuck Todd wants to shrug off Rasmussen’s analysis. How about Jeff Jones of Gallup?

Creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest when Americans rate 12 issues as priorities for the next president to address. Americans assign much less importance to increasing taxes on wealthy Americans and dealing with environmental concerns.

Issues that favor Republicans easily outrank issues that favor Democrats. You cannot look at numbers like that and say Romney is losing.







19 Responses to “Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Ninety-Nine Days Until November 6”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    July 30th, 2012 @ 11:59 am

    Good post.  Yes, Obama has some big problems (#1 the Economy).   But Mitt is too cautious and needs to fight and show why he should be President.  Merely looking Presidential and being cautious is not enough.  

  2. Adobe_Walls
    July 30th, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    I don’t see how one picks Obamsky in either a choice or referendum election.

  3. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    July 30th, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    Off Topic, but I am still trying to get my head around this!

  4. Quartermaster
    July 30th, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

    I don’t either, but there are a lot of low info voters that Mittens needs to reach and I don’t see him making a big effort to do so. And, now is the time to do it. Not just after teh convention.

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  6. rosalie
    July 30th, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    Thank you for watching MSNBC so we don’t have to watch. 

  7. Evilbloggerlady
    July 30th, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

    That is because you are a rational person who would never vote for Barack Obama in the first place. Mitt needs to convince some of those voters who went with Obama last time.

  8. Finrod Felagund
    July 30th, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    Rasmussen has had the presidential race solidly in the +5 to -1 range for Romney for a couple months now.  The only time you’ll see liberals quoting Rasmussen is the one or two days a month where it’s down to -1.

  9. Evilbloggerlady
    July 30th, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

    Check out Rasmussen numbers for Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. Those numbers are close and I hope you are all correct that this breaks for Romney…but the electoral college has to be a factor in victory.

  10. Adjoran
    July 30th, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

     Right, because everyone pays attention in the summer.


    The majority of the swing voters decide in the last 30 days, and fully half of those within the last week.

  11. Adjoran
    July 30th, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Yeah,  Chuck Todd is one of the least objectionable major media political reporters.  Now, should we pick our favorite communist dictators?  Nazi camp commandants?

     He is just repeating the media meme that Romney “lost” June and July  . . . because of Bain attacks?  Going on vacation?  The Olympics?  Heck, this crap was probably started on Ezra Klein’s New Improved Journ-O-List (without leaks).  They are all repeating it like a New Age mantra.

  12. Evilbloggerlady
    July 30th, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    Still, Let’s not get cocky! As Insty would say!

  13. K-Bob
    July 30th, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    If by “within the last week,” you specifically mean “when they are in the voting booth,” then I have to agree with you.

    I think the reality is that the Obama diehards are simply dying harder, and everyone else has started leaving the tent looking for more beer and popcorn.  The act has gotten stale.  Not even Robin Williams, unleashed, could revive the Obama show.

  14. Charles
    July 30th, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    Let me explain to you what is going on in Democratic politics. There are two camps. Those who are saying the sky is falling want President Obama to dump Joe Biden and put Hillary Clinton on the ticket. Those who say everything is all right want to keep Joe Biden and put Hillary Clinton out to retirement.

    Also, I’ve run the numbers and it should be observed that Mitt Romney can lose the popular vote by 4 to 5 million and still win or tie in the electoral college, and a tie is as good as a win if it goes to the House for a tiebreaker.

  15. Spartacus
    July 30th, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

    99 days too many. Once this election is over and Obama has gone down like a 5 dollar crack whore I won’t be surprised to hear that states he won have suddenly discovered electoral college votes that were locked in the trunks of cars for decades thus catapulting him to slim but none the less decisive victory.

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  17. McGehee
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

    I’m thinking if Obama weren’t Obama we would already see more “Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain” bumper stickers than McCain actually got votes.

  18. McGehee
    July 30th, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

     Do you even know how the Electoral College voting is handled?

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