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

Actually it isn't true that President retians a large lead in the EC. He holds about a fifteen to twenty point edge. It's too soon to say how this will turn out but anyone who says that they already "know" is either kidding themselves or blowing smoke for one party or the other. There's plenty of party hacks from both sides making fools of themsleves on this board anyway. As for who will break thre hundred this year,,,I can answer that, neither one. This might be decided by as little as four or five votes and even one isn't out of the question. For all intensive purposes President Obama has already lost North Carolina and Florida and Ohio doesn't look too good for him. If he can't carry Wisconsin, which is a real possibility considering that Walker seems to be cruising to an easy win in the June th5 recall, then he's actually in a degree of trouble. He probably won't carry Iowa, curiously his support for gay marriage is really hurting him him there*, and when push comes to shove I think the whole race might come down to Colorado. * yes I know Iowa is one of the handful of states that allow gay marriage but it was ordered by a judge and the democrats in the state legislature have fought tooth and nail to keep the issue off the ballot knowing that it, gay marriage, would be crushed by the voters by a two to one margin.

Romney = Bush 2012!

Because 8 failed years of Bush just wasn't enough.

This lying loser thinks he can falsely accuse Romney of being a draft dodger and AMERICANS are going to immediately betray their Country and vote for the serial lying smug arrogant *rick in the White House and his Communist Party USA caucusing criminal organization. Dream on fool.

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