Dear Washington, Nothing Has Changed About the Election

For political junkies, it’s easy to think that campaign tussles make a difference in presidential elections. Washington was consumed with the story of Mitt Romney the high school bully, but voters could care less—in a recent poll from ABC News and The Washington Post, 90 percent said that it wouldn’t be a factor in their view of the GOP nominee. Likewise, the massive controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage has had zero effect on Massachusetts voters—69 percent say they simply don’t care.

I don’t mean to single out partisans; actual Beltway pundits are also too concerned with gaffes and faux controversies. Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei's assessment of the last month—which has the top spot at POLITICOdescribes the Obama campaign as “stumbling out of the gate” and “struggling” with message discipline. It’s everything you would expect from a micro-focus on the election:

Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across as baldly political. Obama, not Romney, is the one facing blowback from his own party on the central issue of the campaign so far — Romney’s history with Bain Capital. And most remarkably, Obama, not Romney, is the one falling behind in fundraising.

How much of this is remarkable, and how much of this is the usual sturm und drang of a presidential election? Campaigns always see blowback on their messaging, on account of the fact that political parties aren’t monolithic entities. Obama may have had a huge fundraising advantage in 2008, but in a polarized country where Democrats have taken steps to regulate Wall Street and raise taxes on rich people, it’s no surprise that Republicans have suddenly emerged with a fundraising advantage, and the support of interested billionaires. It would be unusual if that weren’t the case.

Buzzfeed has a similar piece—“Not Arrogant Any More”—with similar arguments and similar problems. Is there any actual surprise that Romney has caught up with Obama in the polls? Some Democrats may have shown undue confidence, but it’s been obvious that this would become a close election as soon as Romney clinched the Republican nomination. To wit, Santorum’s departure from the race was followed—almost immediately—by Romney’s complete consolidation of the Republican base. Ultimately, his tactical victories in the horse race are less important than the fact that he is a major party nominee in a closely divided country.

Buzzfeed plays up the Obama campaign’s mistakes, citing the Cory Booker-led backlash against the attacks on Bain Capital, but for all the controversy, the president himself is in the same position now as he was last month—his job approval stands at 47 percent, with a small lead over Romney. Between this and middling economic growth, Obama is a slight favorite for reelection, which is where he’s been for nearly six months.

It’s an election year, so it’s simply a fact that pundits will latch on to every gaffe as if voters were actually paying attention to the minutiae of presidential politics. But it’s always good to remember that they aren’t, at all.

Comments

Bouie's comment is brief, reflecting how shallow his thinking is. Symptoms of voters shifting toward Romney are plentiful and Bouie dismisses them as insignificant. I wouldn't want James as my doctor, as he would dismiss symptoms of cancer as readily, I suspect.

Obama's negative attacks and his alienation of so many voter blocks through his pandering to micro-demographic segments of his base and ideological dictates are coming home to roost. Many more traditional liberals, like Corey Booker, are dismayed by Obama's campaign, rightly fearing not just a looming loss of the White House this year, but the Senate, and damage to the democrat brand for years to come.

It isn't the usual sturm und drang. It is noting a potential disaster in the making. Obama is pro gay marriage and he alienates many who believe in traditional marriage. He attacks religious freedoms with contraceptive mandates and alienates Catholics and many others of faith who see what such actions and positions might mean. He attacks capitalism and alienates business generally.

I am generally happy, if those on the left ignore what's going on, since it makes it more likely they will not improve Obama's campaign and thus help ensure a Romney win. When James Carville warns the party they need to take heed and Kool-Aid aficianados like Bouie suggest everyone "move along... nothing to see here", it does put a smile on my face.

The majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage, and the number is going up all the time. In case you haven't noticed, everyone from former Solicitor General Ted Olson to Colin Powell to Dick Cheney and Laura Bush are in favor of gay marriage. The younger voters are even more pro-gay marriage, so they will support Obama over Romney. The black vote will overwhelmingly stay with Obama, particularly since the Birther Republicans like the Arizona Secretary of State and Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman keep questioning whether the President is American. And some of Mitt Romney's skeletons, like the fact he was a Vietnam Draft Dodger, haven't even been exposed to the majority of Americans yet. Are you really going to support a Vietnam Draft Dodger for President? I know I'm not.

Rosanna,

Most polls DO show the majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage, and the number is going up all the time. And I hope and pray the number continues to go up. And I hope that within my lifetime people will be wondering why there was all the fuss and feathers about same-sex marriage, and what it was all about. And at the same time, 32 states, including MY home state of California (hardly a bastion of conservatism) have voted to prohibit same-sex marriage. And you can make the argument that the "only poll" that matters is the one taken on election day. I haven't figured out how to reconcile the two. If anybody out there has any suggestions, I'm open to them.

You're right that the black vote will overwhelmingly stay with Obama (is it "racist" to say that?). I suspect the hispanic vote will also overwhelmingly stay with Obama. Younger voters are always thought to be safely in the Democrats' camp. And yet, when the voting age was lowered to 18, I don't think the percentages of people who voted really bear that out. I could be wrong.

I believe that at the end of the day, the Presidential election will boil down to one issue. As James Carville said, "It's the economy, stupid." The candidate who earns my vote has to do one simple thing. Tell me what he is going to do to improve the economy. I don't want to hear Romney tell me that President Obama's policies have failed. I don't want to hear President Obama tell me that Mitt Romney's policies will fail. I'm sick and tired of hearing both sides tell me why I should fear or loathe "the other guy."

Ok, so you've regurgitated every right wing talking point. So, why do you, specifically, want Romney to win?

Keep drinking the cool aid. Romney leads by 2 to 1 in polls of people experiencing economic hardship. No president with Obamarx's current numbers has ever been re-elected. Other polls and even Obama's public appearances all show his base is not going to turn out for him on election day. The people are sick of this marxist tyrant spending like a drunken sailor on failed "green" companies owned by his friends.

When you use terms like 'Marxist' you reveal your bias and lack of intelligent analysis. Obama leads Romney in the large majority of polls, and in the Electoral College. Most insiders in Washington, including Republicans, expect Obama to win. Incidentally, while it may come as a shock to the far-right, Obama is actually more Conservative than most of the leaders in Europe, including the Conservative leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Lopez, Obama is clearly a Marxist/Socialist. Get real. Obama is no where near Conservative. What did he say to the Europeans? "Can't you dial down the austerity?" You blind libtards and your Messiah

Zalzan: you forgot fascist, socialist, nazi-ist and whateverfuckall-ist you silly toddler-like rightwing nut jobs like to call our President. You certainly don't speak for the people I know so you can drop the bs heroism bit.

When I logged in to post this comment, I was deluged with desperate requests for donations to save The Prospect. You want to save The Prospect? Stop publishing inane junk written by Jamielle Bouie. The man (or woman?) has every right to think and talk like an idiot, but why in the world do you publish it? Had he been a weatherman just before Katrina devasted New Orleans, he would have said there is no chance of Katrina hitting that unfortunate city. Obama is about to be hit by the political equivalent of Katrina, and all this guy sees are blue skys and sunshine. Good grief!

AMEN! BurkeVA..... deluged by ads to give money to this liberal website. I thought the libs hated money and the rich? LOL

I don't understand why other commenters are so hostile towards this columnist…

What he's saying isn't controversial… When you look at most current electoral college maps, Obama does have quite a head start over Romney is what are going to be the most crucial states (Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire). That, plus the inherent advantages of incumbency, mean that Obama is - currently - enjoying a small edge over Romney.

Of course that could change, and probably will several times before November.

I think the columnist here was just trying to make the point (which I agree with), that people who get really micro-focused on elections tend to think every little campaign event is more important than it actually is. November is a long way off, and anyone who claims that they can truly predict this election based small events & minor gaffes this far out is being the real moron

I understand what you are saying, and the electorial college looks like it favors Obama. I just think Obama is slipping up really bad right now by having a War on Capitalism.... Not a good place to put all your marbles Mr. O...

Mitt has a chance, especially since it all comes down to the ECONOMY....

The author is wrong because he's buying into the liberal idea of bogus polls. They use registered voters, not likely voters. This election should be a landslide.

oft . I truly hope you are right and that Barry will be sent packing, taking his wife with him.

Jamelle, aren't you a black man? Then of course you want us all to believe Obama is God. He isn't.
He is losing many of his supporters, because finally he is being vetted.

Of course he may still win in NOv.... We don't have a crystal ball, but if so , then I think it would be what we deserve, because of our sin, America will go downhill and never be a super power again...... All this if obama is re-elected.

We get what we deserve, and America has become a horribly sinful place, killing millions of our innocent unborn, and trying to steal money from the rich to give to those who don't work......

so rarely do you see so much fear, ignorance, hate, propaganda, superstition, and lack of anything resembling facts or evidence, so densely packed into such a concise paragraph! Congratulations on that feat buster!

Also, before you go on about how sinful wealth redistribution is, I suggest you study your scripture closer:

Mark 10:21-22 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Ah, but you misunderstand. The young man went away grieving, but a key point is that he went away. Jesus didn't send the tax collectors after him to seize his property by force. Jesus did not try to force him to do what he was unwilling to do voluntarily.

There is no virtue in "doing good" (especially someone else's idea of good, with which you disagree) because you are forced to. There is no virtue in forcing someone else to "do good" (especially your idea of good, with which they disagree) when they don't want to.

So perhaps it is you who should study your scripture closer. Without free will, "doing good" is worthless.

I think you both are missing the context of the verse. Jesus knew the condition of the man's heart and He knew the man first love was to his wealth. Similiar to the man who want to follow Jesus but wait until his father was dead,

Libertas- I agree with your comment about doing good and being forced to do good. It reminded me of something I heard at tax time when Romney, Obama and Biden released their taxes. Romney gave considerably more in terms of amount and percentage of income compared to Obama and Romney combined. How is this possible considering how much more the democrats care about the poor than the republicans.

Rosie O'Donnell says it's because liberals see helping the "poor" it as a "collective" responsibility. That means they use the power of the state force other people to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.

And sadly, when the state is involved, it's not about "helping" anyone. It's about power and control. Nothing else. Just power and control.

Thank you, great comments.

Give freely ThreeAeroplanes... Jesus never said for someone to force me to give by robbing me. Robbing is a sin. As a Christian, I do give, more than even Biden or most liberals give. We give....
You really think Obama/Biden is who Jesus would choose to run this wonderful country? Think again...
MITT 2012

It's maddening to see how scripture is twisted in whichever way to make people feel better about themselves. You are shortchanging Jesus if you think his whole life and word was about trying to get people to "give" in such a limited understanding. You think God was made man to simply make them people give each other money or do charity? No, he sought to revolutionize the world through the power of love, namely loving the least of your brothers and sisters. While I don't mean to belittle charity and giving money to the poor, you have to differentiate between charity and social justice. Sometimes charity is not enough to ensure that all of God's people are treated with dignity and given equal opportunity to fulfill their human potential; sometimes systematic change and restructuring the world to make it more socially just is necessary. Long story short, don't automatically assume you're doing God's work just because you make some donations every year.

Obama is not losing 'many of his supporters', although it's inevitable for any leader that they will always lose some of along the way. The point is, why would anyone want to vote for a party like the Republicans who have destroyed the middle class and crashed the economy in 2008? And they are also a party that is racist, misogynistic & homophobic. There is nothing good about the modern Republican Party. Incidentally, how are Americans going to feel when they find out Mitt Romney was a pro-Vietnam draft dodger who hid out in France for 3 years during the War? Should a man like that be Commander in Chief?

Jamelle,
you said "Obama may have had a huge fundraising advantage in 2008, but in a polarized country where Democrats have taken steps to regulate Wall Street and raise taxes on rich people, it’s no surprise that Republicans have suddenly emerged with a fundraising advantage, and the support of interested billionaires. "

You did not bother to mention that Obama has received more campaign donations from Wall Streeters that ALL of the Republican candidates combined.

So, if you are saying that the Romney is getting more donations from "the rich" because of his and the Democrats promises to "tax the rich" and their so-called regulation of Wall Street, then why are they still donating to Obama? On the very same night that the Bain ad began running, Obama was in Manhattan, collecting $35,800 a head from a roomful of venture capitalists. Hosting the event was Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group — the nation’s largest private-equity firm.

BTW - More than half of Obama’s 47 biggest fundraisers, those who collected at least $500,000 for his campaign, have been given administration jobs. Nine more have been appointed to presidential boards and committees. At least 24 Obama bundlers were given posts as foreign ambassadors, including in Finland, Australia, Portugal and Luxembourg. Among them is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor who serves as ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Nothing has changed. We are in W's third term and BO thinks there should be a fourth W term. Disgraceful

Wake up Steve. I sometimes forget I am on a progressive (liberal) website. This is definitely in Obamas court. All 4 YEARS OF HIS TERM... W is gone, W is not even standing up for himself, because W is a classy gentleman. Its Clinton and Carter , two peas in a pod that go around and think their opinion matters now..
W is gone... OBAMA IS TO BLAME FOR ALL HIS TERM STEVE... Put down the Kool-aid.

Yes, W is classy to stay out of the way after a terrible presidency. I suspect he understands how badly he let the country down and very nearly destroyed the GOP. I do not question that BO is responsible for his four years, and I do not want another four. That would be 16 years in a row of incompetence in the WH.

Those darn pundits, Jamelle! they wake up every morning and peruse the news from all outlets. then they decide what they will talk about. then they start to write......and what do they say, Jamelle? well - it seems that BHObama and the Chicago 'high-risers' can't get a good narrative going. from race to same sex marriage to follies with the Catholic church - all of these topics seem to bore the voters. sprinkle in a little Keystone oil and black politicians and the NAACP and you have a perfect mix of 'blah' politics that BHObama is running on - INSTEAD OF HIS RECORD. in all my years of studying presidential politics [well except for Jimmy C] this is the biggest conundrum of 'blah' that a campaign has ever put out so early in the season. But wait! Biden! we forgot about Biden! ;-) now we are really talking about a juggernaut cruising toward that inevitable re-election, right Jamelle? Deep sigh.

JB: "......the massive controversy over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American heritage has had zero effect on Massachusetts voters—69 percent say they simply don’t care."

Say, Jamelle, what's 100% minus 69%? Did your primary education taught you that it's "zero" or did you learn that from the Zero president?

BTW, MA is a heavily Blue state and one can easily guess that the 69% are who really don't care that their champion is a fraud are Dems. ......far fetched? I think not!

I think the point is that since Warren & Brown are each polling at about 50% in the polls, it's safe to assume that the 31% who care about the Native-American controversy (manufactured by Karl Rove's SuperPAC), are those who are already in the Brown column.

JB: "Obama may have had a huge fundraising advantage in 2008......"

"may have"??????

If you're not even sure of the fact your Messiah set the fundraising record (he passed up General Revenue Funding, don't your know? And was the first Presidential candidate to eschew such!), how in the world can you be so certain "Nothing Has Changed About the Election"?

Remarkable and entertaining.......it would be sad to see this rag go!

I for one am ignoring all the crys and pop ups to save this site.
Borrow some from Obamas stash.

the expression is couldNT care less. not 'could care less,' which implies they care a significant amount. it's ASTOUNDING how many *writers* get this wrong. and you frontloaded it!

YES! I created an account and logged in to say exactly this, but you beat me to the punch.

"could NOT care less"

PLENTY has changed about this election, and it's all about President Obama's desperate, false attempts to attack Mitt Romney/venture capitalism and counter his known record of spending increases. He parties with venture capitalists and takes their money at night, and curses their practices in the daylight. It is absurd for Obama to claim he actually LOWERED spending. How exactly did that extra $5 Trillion in debt amass itself? If that's all Team Obama has, they are TOAST!

Fortunately, in just a few months, after the Obama administration has been relegated to the dustbin of history.....we will not have to endure any more such blather from the Left.

I do wonder, however, what those poor folks like Bouie are going to do?? They will probably go back on their meds...

To this day, we look back 30 years and think "Jimmy Carter.... ultra-liberal President who damaged the Democratic brand for decades". Guess what... Obama is about to do the same. To this day, can anyone really think of ANYTHING that Carter did well in office? I can't... and I was a young adult during his Presidency. What is going to happen here? Healthcare passage? This much hated policy will probably will be gone through SCOTUS. Balanced budget? No... trillions in debt. Unemployment rate went down? No... and if someone looks at the Labor Participation Rate, you will see that we are down millions of jobs. Great Energy Policy? ummm... Solyndra. Gas prices doubled. Poverty? Up. Food stamp distribution? Up. Youth employment? Ugly. What's funny is that the ONLY thing he is spiking the football on is bin Laden. And had he had his way as a Senator, many of the Bush policies that he vilified would have gone away and he never would have found him. As the public gets to realize that Romney is not the crazy right winger they are going to try to paint him, and as we slip back in to a recession (which we are) Obama will be Carter redux. The only person spiking the football will be Jimmy himself, since the heat will be taken off him as a really bad President. Mr. Bouie, you are deluded just like all of the other liberals living in a bubble, and reading the NY Times who refuses to report what is really happening. It doesn't surprise me that liberals always seem shocked when they lose.

I have nothing really positive to say about Jimmy Carter as our president. He was naive beyond belief. But his blundering even-handedness did seriously ameliorate our troubled relations with Latin America at the time.

Jimmy Carter was a good President in many ways, but unfortunately fell victim to a man with a lot of style, but very little substance. Most of the things Jimmy Carter stood for have gone on to become well-respected today, and he won a Nobel Prize and has enormous stature internationally. Jimmy Carter did what a President was supposed to do - not engage in war unless necessary. He did not needlessly sacrifice American lives or engage in deals with Iran, drug-dealers, the Contras, etc. Incidentally, unlike Mitt Romney who is a Vietnam Draft Dodger, Carter served during World War II.

Really? He was a good President in many ways? Let's hear about them....Inflation ran away unchecked, interest rates were sky-high, long lines for gas and we could only buy $5 worth of it, Iran hostage crisis, failed plans to rescue hostages. Complete lack of respect by the rest of the world and nobody took the US seriously, especially the U.S.S.R. It was under Jimmy Carter that we saw the rise of Islamic fundamentalism when Carter refused to back up the Shah. That kind of mindless purist way of thinking-either the whole enchilada or nothing-was Carter's downfall. He was unable to see that, in the political world, there are unfortunately bad people that you have to deal with. Furthermore, the Carter-created misery index (a campaign tool against Ford) rose exponentially under Carter. Stagflation. Gas on certain days of the week (hello, windfall profits tax!). 444 days of our citizens being held hostage while he sent a helicopter crashing into the desert sands because he couldn't stand to bring the full weight of the armed forces to bear against Iran when the evil of that empire was in its infancy. And the way he has acted over the past few years.... ugh. Hello President Romney. And as for Reagan having no substance, he is consistently listed as one of the great Presidents in our history.

Actually Carter did not serve during WW2 (you know you really make a lot of mistakes) and is recognized as a failure by darn near everybody except a few party goobs who don't know what their talking about. I know many dedicated democrats who still can't stand Carter after he intentionally conceded the race while the polls were still open on the west coast in a move to punish the democrats in congress who he didn't think had given him enough support.

If you look at the Senate races, it should be a 180 from 2010. This time the Senate will be 53-47 Republican. Once Rubio is set at VP, the entire government will be controlled by the republicans. If they blow it again, history will repeat itself.

Nice to see sense from a pundit. Campaigns fight over the framing, but control neither voter feelings nor events which sometimes do affect voter feelings. The frame thing comes down to the time of voting itself. When it's close, it's mostly how events have built feelings of good path/bad path amongst the voters.

For over a century, no incumbent has won re-election when the growth of the GNP in the 9 months preceding the voting was less than 3%. None! So you are 100% correct, gaffes are meaningless... other than to signal insecurity.

I am Birther, Bircher, a modern flat-earther. I revile the Kenyan Obama and his Kansas-born mama. He produced a certificate finally, but he's not American like me! Since I bleed Tea, I oppose any whose face, place or prayer is foreign to me. Truth, logic, & science are an unholy alliance. Justice, fairness, & reason are liberal acts of treason. I'd rather claw out my eyes than compromise. I hate unions with Koch brothers passion. Low paid cops, teachers, & firemen must be the fashion. My Rove rage will end the minimum wage! By GOP decree, a woman's choice and body, will be policed & submit to me. Thru deception I will end contraception. Climate change is a joke & gays get no equal consideration. My place is in big oil's yoke. I miss segregation. I love free market anarchy. Tax cuts for the rich, kill Social Security! Socialism is my nightmare. Gut the VA & Medicare! Since "Corporations are people" is the thing, my love life is more interesting. On a cross Obama's presidency must burn! My vote propelled Bush-for-brains to heights undeserved. But mention his name? I ain't got the nerve. God bless America! But I am not keeper of my brother. All my failures, the fault of an illegal or an "other". Thanks to Rush, Fox, & the internets I think independently as superPAC anonymity steals our democracy. I'm a pawn, a rube, the new GOP. Birther, Bircher, modern flat-earther, that's me.

Thanks for proving to all the world why the criminal organization of democrats are a bunch of low down losers who fiend for power and tax payer dollars who are incapable of winning elections on merit or honesty. They have proven themselves unworthy of running this Country or holding positions of power at any level of Government.

You not being smart enough to keep your mouth shut have proven yourself and why your party is seething with hatred for those you can never measure up to , Republicans/Conservatives/Americans.

While the election is close in terms of the national polls at the moment, it is not as close in terms of the state polls or the Electoral College. Barack Obama retains a large lead in the EC at this point in time, and leads in almost all of the states he won in 2008 except for Indiana and North Carolina. What some people forget to mention in their analyses is that the Republicans have not won a Presidential Election decisively (eg. by over 300 EV) since 1988. By contrast, the Democrats won over 300 EV in 1992, 1996, & 2008.

They also refuse to mention Bush's name or that Romney will govern EXACTLY as Bush did given the fact that the EXACT same billionaires, corporatists, and zealots will expect the EXACT same failed policies.

My question is this: if you voted for Bush, what makes you so smart? EXACTLY!

Obama and the Democrats definitely need to make this not only a referendum on the harmful policies of Romney & Boehener, but of George W. Bush. As one article I read recently said, Bush inflicted more damage on America than any President in history, and we must never forget that. The Republicans certainly know how toxic he is since the Bush family's big endorsement of Romney had to be done by George Bush Sr., who is pushing 90, instead of Bush Jr. Bush Jr. is in exile and hardly ever comes out in public and unlike Clinton who is popular on the campaign trail, is shunned by Republicans. The Democrats have to keep reminding people of who crashed the economy in the first place.

You stupid liars can continue spewing democrat lies and propaganda in hopes that their criminal organization that fiends for power and tax payer dollars can can continue to exist, deceive and rip off the American people. This registered democratic AMERICAN will continue to expose them for the lying treasonous creeps that they are until they are voted out of existence.

Americans do not need the party of democrats to survive, they exist off the backs of us Americans like leeches and parasites. There was a reason well over 700 of these stupid lying traitors were kicked to the curb in 2010 and since these idiots are doubling down on stupid and think they are entitled to rule and dictate how we AMERICANS should live our lives they are going to get another well deserved shellacking. They have no business in positions of power at any level of our Government, where they belong is in prison.

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