Monday, October 15, 2012

The State Of The Race, With Three Weeks To Go


With the November 6th election 3 weeks off, it is worth taking a look at where things stand now. What does it tell us about what's likely to happen in November?

The story to date is that after President Obama's disastrous performance in the first debate, Governor Mitt Romney has not only apparently caught up to him but seems to have a degree of momentum.The usual spin doctors are attempting to dampen this, especially since the race remains close, but that's essentially where things stand at the moment.

The second debate between the president and Governor Romney tomorrow is being looked at by most of the pundit class as a harbinger of whether President Obama retakes the lead with a strong performance or whether Governor Romney continues to surge.

Ignoring most of the polls (which are all over the place and as I've pointed out before, frequently cooked) let's look at the big picture and see what it tells us.

First off, disregard any polls that talk about who's leading nationwide head to head. What's going to happen on November 6th is going to be 50 separate elections, and it's 270 electoral votes to win.

President Obama starts out with a distinct advantage here from the jump.The very blue West Coast, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, the mid Atlantic states of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, DC, and the New England states except, possibly, for New Hampshire were always almost certainly going to vote Democratic except in a blow out election. That gives the president 194 electoral votes, better than two thirds of the total he needs. He also will likely take Minnesota and New Mexico, adding another 15 electoral votes for a total of 201.

Governor Romney has been steadily increasing his numbers.He can count on the Red states in the mountains except for the battle ground states of Colorado and Nevada, Utah and Arizona, Texas and the plains states of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, Alaska, the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia, all the southern states except Florida and Virginia, and Indiana. This gives him a total of 206 electoral votes.

As you'll notice, the two are almost tied.

One of the results of the first presidential debate is that Mitt Romney was able to be seen by a record number of viewers without the media filter the Obama campaign had spent so much time, money and influence with their media lackeys cultivating of a heartless plutocrat.Instead of that, they saw someone who was humane, likeable, involved and, well, presidential. Whereas President Obama definitely wasn't. And Americans now had something they had been looking for they didn't have before - a reason to not just vote against Barack Obama but for Mitt Romney.

Oddly enough, one of Mitt Romney's biggest problem this election has been successful Republican governors. In the crucial battle ground states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Virginia, GOP Governors have been markedly successful in balancing the budget, easing regulations, cutting spending and improving the economy to the point where that status quo looks a lot better than it does in a number of Blue states.Some of that seems to have been overcome by Governor Romney's debate performance.

Aside from raising Governor Romney's favorability levels, the debate had the effect of putting several battle ground states in play that weren't before, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Michigan.It translated into a lead for Romney in Colorado, Florida and Virginia, and caused him to surge in Ohio and basically tie that race up.If Governor Romney manages to take Florida, Virginia, Colorado and either Ohio, Pennsylvania or Michigan, or Wisconsin plus Nevada or Iowa, both of which are essentially tied, he's at the magic number and becomes the next president.

By contrast, assuming Romney takes Florida, President Obama would need to either win Virginia, both Ohio and Pennsylvania and either Wisconsin or Michigan.Or assuming Romney wins Virginia as well, both Ohio and Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and either Nevada or Iowa.

President Obama is going to try and arrest that momentum, and David Axelrod and his crew have promised us 'a much more aggressive President Obama' in the next debates.

How likely is that?

Anything's possible, but barring a major Romney gaffe, what's more likely at best is a draw where both sides claim victory. Romney has to know that no matter what, unless President Obama turns in the same sort of performance he did last time (highly unlikely) the compliant Obama Media is going to trumpet it an Obama victory.

The President will very likely try and borrow some tricks from Joe Biden's Joker act, but there's a limit to how far he can go, even though Candy Crowley is likely to give him plenty of license and concentrate on trying to undermine Romney

As Michelle Malkin reminds us, CNN has played this game before.

However, Mitt Romney is a much more seasoned debater than Paul Ryan, and he's unlikely to get rolled in this fashion.Barring a major gaffe or a deer in the headlights moment, the best spin the president can hope for is a draw, with each side's partisans claiming victory.

Will that be enough?

There are several factors that explain why it might not be.

VP Joe Biden's performance last week wasn't watched by that many people, but the media coverage, clips on the internet and GOP ads showing him acting out have had a definite effect on independents and 'soft' Obama support. Only True Believers saw this as a positive. The rest of America is increasingly concerned that this buffoon is a heartbeat away from the president.Particularly turned off were women, a major Obama demographic that is now split evenly between the two candidates. Women tend to not like bullies or buffoonery.

In addition, as I mentioned earlier, the White House backing up Joe Biden's nonsense about the White House not being informed by the State department about the intel on the Benghazi debacle essentially is an attempt to hang the blame for the sordid scandal around Hillary Clinton's neck. Not only have the continuous lies and misrepresentations about the Benghazi attack shocked a great many Americans, but the attempt to shift the blame to Mrs. Clinton looks to have alienated an important Obama campaign ally, the ex-president.

Another factor percolating under the wire is President Obama's declining support with Hispanics.A key factor was the president's interview with Spanish language station Univision, which was seen by a large audience and saw President Obama castigated for the Fast and Furious coverup that left hundreds of Mexican nationals dead at the hands of the weaponry the Administration shipped across the border.

While President Obama will still take a majority of the Hispanic vote, the latest polls show his support slipping. The Univision interview and the declining economy are the factors, with Romney getting support of 40% plus of this demographic in a number of battleground states.

To sum up, the debates, no matter how they turn out may not have the decisive effect the president is expecting them to unless Mitt romeny makes a major error. At present the momentum is going Romney's way, and it will tale something major to arrest it.

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