Tune Out Until Wednesday

Did you know that in all of these latest polls showing Obama winning in a walk, Romney leads among independents by a wide, often double-digit margin?

Just consider that for a moment. Obama trounced McCain among independents last time out. Now independents are solidly behind Mitt, but Obama’s still going to glide to victory because scads of Democrats are going to spring from the depths of the earth to vote in numbers vastly exceeding how they voted in 2008, and, indeed, in any other election in history. This is despite the fact that actual Democratic voter registration in swing states has fallen precipitously.

Yet we’re told, over and over and over again, that the race is over, cancel the election, accept an inevitable four more years of the greatest presidential failure in our lifetimes.

Up is down; black is white.

But who cares? Honestly?

Barring some cataclysmic event, nothing will change the race between now and Tuesday night, when the candidates meet in their first presidential debate. Well, that’s not entirely true. The stories and the Sunday morning round tables will become increasingly insistent that the actual election is just an Obama-affirming formality, and wobbly Republicans will bury their heads in the sand and lament everything, real and imagined, the Romney campaign is doing wrong. And too many anxious Romney voters will watch all of it with a growing sense of dread and panic, grasping at any straw they can find as the cool people assure them they’re just delusional imbeciles.

Who needs that? Don’t watch it. Seriously. None of it matters.

Wednesday is when the campaign begins.

Both sides are downplaying expectations to an absurd degree, but Romney’s miserable press has the silver lining of giving him a massive leg up in the expectations game. He’s a very good debater, having dispatched every anti-Romney bubble opponent with ruthless efficiency. He will win the debate handily, and the press and the Democrats – but I repeat myself – will have to find new and exciting ways to bring you down.

Until then, enjoy the weekend. Read a good book. Let the Obama floaters gloat now, because this is pretty much their last and best chance to do so uninhibited before the election.

Mini-Election Follies

A friend on Facebook cited the president’s commanding lead on Intrade today – 72 to Romney’s 27 – in an attempt to shake my faith in Romney’s chances. (This isn’t the main point of this post, but I do find it remarkable how many Obamaites are genuinely perturbed by my confidence that a Romney victory is in the offing. If you’re guy’s a sure thing, why bother to berate the delusional?)

I got renewed insight into how distorted electoral perceptions are this time around when the same friend noted that the more than 20-point Intrade spread was “well beyond the margin of error.” Margin of error?! How does a commodities market, which reflects self-selected investor confidence and not a random sample of the electorate, have a “margin of error?”

More than in any election in memory, the polls have become their own narrative, almost as if each poll is an election unto itself. Romney has bigger crowds at his rallies than the president, more money than the president, significant numbers of new Republicans registering in swing states, a much more motivated base than the president, a more effective ground game than the president, more recent and effective debate performances than the president, and he’s running in an environment where the president’s glaring failures, both foreign and domestic, are becoming increasingly difficult for even a sycophantic media to ignore.

Anyone who thinks Obama isn’t in serious trouble is either burying their heads in the sand, or they’ve taken cover behind the odd alternative universe being created by a warped perspective of polls – specifically, what they are, and what they mean.

I’ve already talked repeatedly about the fact that the polls are oversampling Democrats to an absurd degree, and, in fact, many in the press are starting to notice. A new website, unskewedpolls.com, actually takes all of the major polls and reweighs them according to current party identification, and in each case, Romney holds a commanding lead and is above the critical 50% threshold.

But today, just for the sake of argument, let’s consider the polls at face value. If I’m an incumbent looking at numbers like Obama’s, I’d be sweating bullets. Why? Because most if these polls are still very close. Romney’s “gaffes” that the punditry breathlessly cite as proof that the election can now be cancelled strangely don’t seem to be moving the numbers at all. And even with a generous helping of Democrats tossed into the mix, the president is almost always floundering somewhere below 50% in both national and swing state polls.

That’s the key right there.

An incumbent that can’t cross 50% just over a month before an election is not sitting in the catbird’s seat. These undecided voters have endured the Obama presidency for four years now. What’s going to happen between now and November 6 that’s going to get them to fall in love with him? Another month of soaring unemployment? More dead ambassadors? More ads telling people that Mitt Romney gives women cancer?

As for Intrade, feel free to comb through this blog’s archives and find me gloating about Romney’s stellar Intrade stats – in 2008. Romney was going to win the Florida primary, according to Intrade prognosticators, and then Charlie Crist endorsed McCain, and Romney’s campaign tanked as quickly as his Intrade numbers went south, which they did instantly. Intrade is a reflection, not a forecaster, of conventional wisdom, and it is a lagging indicator that shifts with events. To discuss its “margin of error” is to assign it with magical powers neither it nor Nate Silver at the New York Times has.

Yes, that Nate Silver, the guy who is a statistical wizard who does no polling on his own and is hostage to the flawed assumptions of the polls he is given. Most who gasp at my unflappable Romneyism throw him in my face as proof of my inherent stupidity, since, you know, Nate’s very smart.

Yes, I know he is smart. He’s also proceeding from a number of flawed assumptions, which makes him wrong. The best SAT scores and most brilliant models cannot compensate for bad data. In addition, he is not clairvoyant, and his predictions carry no electoral authority.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

A Martian stepping in to this debate could be forgiven for thinking that the election was a sequence of mini-elections, decided by daily random samples of a thousand people or so, and he who crosses the finish line with the most polls wins. As it stands, Nate Silver sputtering on election night that the electorate was uncooperative with his brand of modeling won’t do anything to earn Mr. Obama a second term in office. Polls are not elections; they shift quickly when events warrant, and when it comes to the probability of winning actual votes, Mr. Romney is the one in the stronger position.

Thus I don’t mind, and, in fact, I welcome the derision of the lefties who feel compelled to remind me that I’m out of my skull. Their scorn is reassuring, as it is symptomatic of an underlying, unsettled electoral anxiety that they dare not name. No, my ire is raised more by the pantywaist Republicans cowed into submission by conventional wisdom, frightened of being laughed at by the people getting it wrong. They are too eager to offer conflicting and useless advice to a campaign they do not understand and that is doing just fine without them, thank you very much.

And while they’re not nearly as bad, I also have very little use for the columnists who write stories with headlines like “Romney Can Still Win,” or “He Still Has a Chance, You Know.” Again, watch the demeanor of the candidates. It is Obama, not Romney, who is running scared.

The question should be, then: Can Obama still win this? Of course, but not if nothing changes between now and November. The race is still very much Romney’s to lose.

Spirit Orbs

In my online travels, I came across the following Facebook update from a woman who’s no fans of the Mormons:

I’m sick of hearing Christians saying they are voting for Romney because he believes in God. Seriously guys, do you even know what Mormonism is? I suggest you look into it because he does not believe in your ‘god’. He believes that we were made by spirit orbs from the planet Kolob and that he will receive his own planet when he dies. His religion also believes that is okay for an old man to marry a 12 year old girl against her will. Its sickening. Someone needs to expose Romney for the nut he really is.

This prompted a lengthy and largely pointless debate, where I pointed out that Mormons haven’t practiced polygamy since the 19th Century and her insistence that we, in fact, do, because, you know, she’s seen Warren Jeffs on TV, and my pointing out that Warren Jeffs has absolutely no connection to mine or Mitt Romney’s church, and her insistence that we’re just covering it up, and thus it went, amen.

Blech.

I also pointed out that I have no idea what a “spirit orb” is.

That’s a tragic lack of knowledge on my part. For not only are these “spirit orbs” supposedly central to our theology, but we were apparently created by them and not by God. She chalked this up to “semantics.” See, either we’re created by an all-powerful, loving Father in Heaven in His likeness, or we’re created by a collection of mystical circular thingees. Tomato, Tomahto.

In the interim since I was introduced to the whole “Spirit Orb” concept, I have given it a great deal of thought. I’ve decided that we shouldn’t throw the whole spiritually orbular baby out with the bathwater. I have found that Mormon propensity for roundness crops up in unexpected places. Surely this is the Will of the Orb asserting itself to promote its circular will.

Witness the following lyric from “If You Could Hie To Kolob,” the only hymn in the Mormon hymnbook that mentions Kolob at all and the only one that resolves in a minor key. It also sounds very groovy when you swing it a la Mack the Knife.

The works of God continue
And worlds and lives abound
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round

One eternal round! Here it is! The universe is orbalicious! How is it that I’ve spent 44 years in this church and never noticed that? And why are worlds round and not octangular? Huh? Riddle me that, Orb Denier!

Soon you start noticing all the things that are orbs and all the things that are not orbs, and you start to realize that the things that are not orbs were likely championed by Scientologists. For instance, the evil galactic emperor Xenu has no O in his name. Orbital prejudice? I have to say yes. But look at the word “Mormon.” Two Os! Double your roundness! No other religion has Os so prominently displayed in their derisive nickname. You might be able to make a case for “Moslems,” but that’s pretty much misspelled, and people will riot in the streets if you try to do that.

This almost made me want to vote for Barack Obama, because, you know, the O and everything, until I noticed that Romney has just as many Os in his last name as Obama does, although Obama’s comes first and is prominently featured. Is it enough to have numerical orbular surname parity, or is it the Will of the Orb to prefer That Which Capitalizes?

I dOn’t KnOw myself, but frOm here On Out, I’m not taking any inOppOrtune chances. If the Orbs Offer their Olmighty WisdOm, then whO am I tO defy their inscrOOtable will?

On anOther nOte, this may well be the mOst pOintless blOg pOst I have ever written.

Spine

This blog got a pingback yesterday – i.e., another blog quoted me and linked back here. I was flattered – until I read what he had to say. Linking to my controversial post “The Coming Romney Landslide,” a site called rightwingnuthouse.com quoted me at length and concluded with his own commentary: “Um…no, that’s ridiculous.” Today, I got a Facebook message from a liberal friend who claims I was actually right about how the Left will mock Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, because he heard some lefty talk show hosts who feel free to make disparaging Mormon comments “now that the race is over.”

Romney’s 47% remarks have been pilloried by Republicans the likes of David Brooks, who calls him “Thurston Howell Romney,” and by Bill Kristol, and by Peggy Noonan, and by several other pundit types. I would link to them, except I don’t want to, as I have no desire to encourage more of the same. Polls oversampled with Democrats continue to pour in, and headlines continue to beat the drum that Romney hasn’t got a prayer. Saturday Night Live lead their primetime special with a re-creation of Romney’s recorded video, portraying Jason Sudeikis’ clueless Romney parody character as saying “when I say I don’t worry about ‘those people, what I mean is ‘black people.’”) And on and on and on it goes.

Spine, people. The fundamentals of this race haven’t changed.

Romney is tied in today’s Gallup poll – 47% to 47%. The race is over? Romney has been leading in the Rasmussen poll for the past few days, and Rasmussen was the most accurate polling firm in the past two election cycles. The race is over? Yesterday, Barack Obama, the most Washington insider there is, admitted that “you can’t change Washington from the inside,” which immediately prompted Romney to fire back that “he can’t change Washington; we will.” The race is over?

It is not. The race is still very much Romney’s to lose.

Spine.

Remember Romney’s Libya gaffe, the one that the media told us would doom the Romney campaign? The electorate doesn’t – or, if they do, they liked it, because both Romney’s Gallup and Rasmussen poll numbers have risen since then. Well, this 47% thingee did him in, didn’t it? No, not really, if you believe either of those polls.

Encouraging poll factoids for Romneyites – behold Gallup incumbent poll numbers from September of election years vs. their final vote percentages. You have to go back to Ronald Reagan’s 84 landslide to find an incumbent who didn’t lose at least three percentage points from their September number. And in a 47/47 vote split, where do those where do those other 6% usually go? (Hint: in every election since 1960, they have broken for the challenger.)

Back to Reagan. Reagan’s Gallup poll numbers on October 27 had Carter ahead, 45-39. Reagan won that election by nine points. Why? Those undecideds broke for him almost unanimously, which is what they usually do. Dick Morris, who, I must again state is a weasel and a half, used this analogy. If you ask someone whether or not they’re going to be still married to the same person in a year’s time, and they tell you they’re “undecided,” what does that tell you about the marriage? It tells you they’ve already decided they don’t like where they are, but they haven’t figured out where they will go. If you’re still undecided about Barack Obama four years into his failed presidency, odds are you’re going to take any acceptable alternative. And Romney more than qualifies.

Spine.

Think of it this way. If the race were truly over, if Romney were doomed, why would the intensity of the anti-Romney reaction be increasing, not decreasing? The stridency of the tone of the Romney doomsayers is far more intense than it should be in criticizing such an ostensibly sure loser. At this point in the 1996, Bob Dole was getting far more patronizing pieces about his years of service and such, because it didn’t take any heavy artillery to bring the guy’s campaign down. Obama is the darling of the left, and the left won’t let him lose without a fight. The shrieks of horror that denounce everything coming out of Romney’s mouth don’t sound like the chatter of a team simply running out the clock.

Spine. Romney has it. He has it in the face of fiercely adversarial press, weak-kneed Republican allies, and the drumbeat of conventional wisdom doing everything in its power to discourage, depress, and demoralize you. Increasing opposition means you’re doing something right. Keep your head up. Weather the storm. It is always darkest before the dawn. There are better days ahead. Choose your aphorism; they’re all good. Mother of pearl, people, we haven’t even had the first debate yet. Yesterday, did you see what Obama does when he’s confronted with the kind of hard questions Romney gets every day? It isn’t pretty. 

Spine.

Dispatches from an Alternate Universe

[Note: this past week, the following news article appeared on the front page of the New York Times in an alternate universe in which, for reasons unexplained, George W. Bush is still president and is making some of this-universe Obama's mistakes. Meanwhile, that universe's still-Senator Barack Obama is running against him. Get it? 'Cause you need that sort of exposition to make sense of what follows.]

____________

CONTINUED FALLOUT FROM BUSH’S EGYPT MISTAKES
Bush campaign tries to change subject as riots intensify

Fury at President George W. Bush’s diplomatic blunder, in which he identified Egypt as “not our ally, but not our enemy, either,” continued to fuel the anti-American demonstrations throughout the Middle East that have left four American diplomats dead. The president’s remarks further undermined confidence in the Bush administration policies that experts say have thoroughly destabilized the region. The president, who spent the evening of the embassy attack in Libya at a Las Vegas fundraiser, was unavailable for comment, although some observers noted seeing a figure who looked “very much like Dubya” at the Caesar’s Palace craps tables.

“It’s simply inexcusable to have a sitting president ignore a long-time alliance like that,” said former President Jimmy Carter, who has been a harsh critic of Bush administration policies. “In an instant, the president turned his back on over forty years of diplomacy. That’s a tremendous blow to American credibility.” Mr. Carter also noted the fact that, in an unprecedented move, the Bush State Department was forced to contradict the president and reassert that Egypt is, in fact, an American ally. “Seriously, what president has to do that?” Carter asked. “Even I didn’t suck that bad.”

The State Department today also conceded that attacks against the American Embassy in Libya embassy may have been pre-planned and not fueled solely by outrage over “Mohammed is a Bunghole,” an obscure and poorly-made YouTube video insulting Islam’s founder. The admission drew sharp criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which held a press conference last night to denounce the “Patriot-Act-driven chilling effect” on First Amendment free speech rights demonstrated by the arrest and detention of the filmmaker responsible for the YouTube video. The arrest came on grounds of “parole violation,” grounds that many law enforcement officers at the scene viewed as suspect.

“There’s no parole violation, you kidding me?” said one police officer who asked not to be identified. “This is just pressure from the Bush administration, absolutely. They can’t very well say they’re locking him up for making a movie, can they? F*&%ing free speech and all that. ”

Susan N. Herman, President of the ACLU, called the filmmaker’s arrest “the very kind of abuse of the Patriot Act that George W. Bush assured us would never be a problem. What a butt that guy is.” Even several prominent Republicans were willing to criticize the president’s actions, with former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. calling the Bush response to the situation “a total craphole of a piece of crap” before mumbling to himself in Chinese.

For his part, Democratic Presidential Nominee Barack Obama held an impromptu press conference the night of the attacks, in which he issued a statement forcefully denouncing the president’s “apology for American freedoms and ignorance of America’s friends,” a statement that has been widely praised by people across the political spectrum, with Jon Huntsman, Jr. a Republican, claiming “that Obama fellow is very well-spoken and very, very good-looking.”

The Bush campaign has scrambled to change the subject, even releasing an illegally recorded and selectively edited tape from an Obama fundraiser from months ago, in which Senator Obama expresses empathy for voters who receive government benefits. Law enforcement officials have traced the tape’s origin to Frank Nixon IV, a grandson of former President Richard Nixon, who is currently unemployed and, frankly, a tad overweight.

There is increased speculation of how this will affect the president’s already dismal poll numbers. Today’s New York Times daily tracking poll has Barack Obama leading in all fifty states by a margin of 97% to 5%, with -2% undecided. The poll was taken from a random sample of 800 members of Senator Obama’s immediate and extended family, as well as some members of his circle of friends.

Defying Expectations

As I did with my last post, I could write another five hundred words about how the polls showing Romney falling behind are based on a 2008 turnout model that won’t apply this time around. I could point you to better-sampled polls, like Rasmussen, that actually show Romney ahead. But something is happening here that can’t be so easily dismissed.

In politics, perception is reality. The drumbeat of “Romney can’t win; Romney is losing big; Romney’s campaign is over” is pounding steadily and furiously in all traditional media outlets, and that creates a perception that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy among the wishy-washy. The country is also being told that the murder and desecration of the bodies of four American diplomats, eruptions of violence in countries throughout the Muslim world, and a president who has to be corrected by his own State Department as to whether or not Egypt is an American ally are nowhere near as controversial or troubling as a critical statement by the Republican nominee.

Thus the Middle East is burning as the president picks up Nero’s fiddle, and we’re all supposed to think Mitt Romney’s the problem.

Some commentators aren’t fazed by this at all. Hugh Hewitt has taken the approach that the skewed coverage is only destroying the credibility of traditional media outlets and galvanizing Romney supporters to turn out in droves to express their righteous anger at the polls in November. I tend to agree with that in theory, but I’m concerned about the growing restlessness among the Republican rank and file. “We’re losing! Romney needs to hit back hard! Why is he letting them walk all over him? I knew we should have nominated a real conservative who would stand up for himself!”

First of all, Romney is hitting back hard. He hasn’t backed down an inch from his criticism of Obama’s feckless response. He’s assailing Obama on every front at every rally, and he’s being greeted with large crowds and huge enthusiasm. But Romney doesn’t control how the evening news decides to cover his campaign. It’s becoming increasingly clear that nothing he does will generate positive coverage. If you’re a conservative that’s going to judge the success of the campaign by what the pundits think of him, then you’re going to get very demoralized very quickly.

Second, look for the silver lining here. Joe Klein at Newsweek has savaged Romney over all this and claimed that this is a sure sign that Romney’s going to flop in the debates. That’s a very, very good thing for Romney, and here’s why.

The debates are going to be huge this time around. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was trailing Jimmy Carter by eight points in the Gallup poll when he faced him in their one and only debate. The conventional wisdom about Reagan maintained that he was a trigger-happy nuclear cowboy who would lead us to Armageddon. Then voters got to see him up close and personal in comparison to their failed president, and they liked what they saw. Remember that undecided voters aren’t really choosing between two candidates. They already know Obama, and they don’t like him. They’re still evaluating whether Romney is an acceptable alternative. It’s very likely that they’ll view him that way when they watch him maul Obama in the debates.

Yes, you heard me. Romney is poised to completely dismantle Obama when they come face-to-face.

Remember the Newt Gingrich boomlet? The rationale driving his turn behind the anybody-but-Romney wheel was that he would bring his A game to a debate with Barack Obama, and that Newt’s oratorical brilliance would leave the president sputtering and speechless in their rhetorical face-offs. This kind of thinking reached a fever pitch before the Florida primary, when Newt was fresh off his South Carolina victory and leading Romney in the polls by about eight points.

Then they debated. And, contrary to all expectations, Romney wiped the floor with the guy, which, more than anything else, paved the way to his nomination.

Expectations are the key in debates. Candidates aren’t really debating their opponents; they’re being measured against the standard of how well they’re expected to perform. If people think Mitt’s going to blow it, they’re going to be that much more surprised when he doesn’t.

Remember, Romney has been debating all year long with all the Republican yahoos. And he’s gotten better as he’s gone along. In contrast, the last credible debate opponent he had was Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primaries. (Certainly the hapless John McCain doesn’t count.) He’s been treated with kid gloves ever since. He underestimates Romney, as do his media lapdogs.

If you’re a Romney supporter, you shouldn’t make that same mistake. Your guy is tougher than you think, and this race is still his to lose.

“He jumped the gun, Stallion! He jumped the gun!”

This morning, I was greeted by a fresh doubting comment on my Coming Romney Landslide Facebook link. The friend who questioned my prediction a few days ago wrote this morning: ” I gotta ask…… Still????”

Yes. Still. Despite, or perhaps because of, the media hysteria over Romney’s brave, insightful, and entirely appropriate comments on the unfolding disaster in the Middle East.

As the DNC bounce fades into oblivion and the tracking polls show Romney retaking a slim lead, weak-kneed Republicans now find themselves with a new source of panic – Romney spoke too soon! Romney jumped the gun! Romney’s talking foreign policy, which, you know, he shouldn’t, because – well, because – because, well, you know, he shouldn’t!

Before I address the thin-gruel substance of the accusations, I would ask the wobbly among us whether they would prefer the opposite media reaction. “Golly! This is the Romney we’re looking for! Isn’t Romney conducting himself well? What a statesman that Romney fellow is.” If Joe Klein at Newsweek or Lawrence O’Donnell at MSNBC ever says anything like that, then you will know with certainty that the Romney campaign is over. Whereas if they’re apoplectic about something Romney is doing, then it’s pretty likely Romney’s doing something right. To quote polemicist Ann Coulter, “You know that Romney’s statement was devastating to President Obama because the media is screaming bloody murder.”

So let’s take a look at the events.

We have four dead Americans, including a dead American ambassador whose body was not found until six hours after his murder, on a day when the sitting president decides to hightail it to Vegas to raise some big bucks. You have a tepid and mixed response from our embassy in Cairo, which first begins by apologizing for the First Amendment and then rescinds the apology. You now have growing unrest throughout the Middle East, with anti-American demonstrations now growing in places like Tunisia and Yemen, and you have a president who doesn’t seem to be paying attention. The Arab Spring overthrew dictatorial thugs and replaced them with bloodthirsty Islamic radicals, mainly because the United States policy is to “lead from behind” and allow violent extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood to assume power with no real resistance from us.

So the question you have to ask, as the region descends into chaos: is there anyone saying, “My goodness, isn’t it great that we have a steady, decisive hand like Barack Obama to lead us through this crisis?” I mean, anyone other than Democratic party hacks and the lapdog press?

So Mitt Romney looks at this and says, “you know, we shouldn’t be apologizing for freedom of speech in this country.” And when the Obama administration essentially agrees with him and yanks the apology, Mitt, rightfully so, says that sends mixed signals and indicates weakness in a region of the world that only respects strength.

And in the midst of all this, the story is not that the world is collapsing, which it is. It is not that the president is asleep at the switch, which he is. It is not that the president’s “lead from behind” doctrine is the thing that got us into this mess, which it is. No, the story is that Mitt Romney has made a huge, devastating gaffe by bringing any of this to the attention of the American electorate.

When on earth did it become a rule that a presidential candidate isn’t allowed to criticize a sitting president’s foreign policy? I’m trying to remember the press ripping in to John Kerry for criticizing the Bush administration’s foreign policy. We were engaged in a full-fledged war back then, remember, a war Kerry called the “wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Was he out of line? Actually, yes, considering he voted for that wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. But you never heard the press excoriate him for excoriating Bush.

In a world with any semblance of an objective press, the headlines would explain what happened yesterday, what the president is or isn’t doing about it, and what the Republican nominee said. It would then be up to the voters to determine whether Governor Romney’s remarks were or were not appropriate.

Instead, we have every talking head telling us that Romney’s political fortunes were significantly damaged by this, as they shake their heads in mock concern for a candidate who, try as he might, never seems to earn their praise. And in the meantime, the Middle East is ablaze with anti-American radicalism, real unemployment is in the double digits, and Obama offers four more years of the same.

Get a spine, Republicans. When the other side is panicking, don’t feel like you have to join them.

“But the polls, Stallion! The polls!”

Ordinarily, I’d schedule this to post at midnight for the next day, but tomorrow is September 11, a day unsuitable for political horserace analysis. So if I get this in under the wire, I’ll appear less partisan and more respectful, right?

Anyway….

I’ve endured some Facebook mockery for my refusal to back down from my Romney landslide prediction. “Did you watch the same two conventions I did?” my brilliant-albeit-leftist cousin snarked.

Yes, I did.

“Still predicting a Romney landslide?” asked another brilliant-yet-lefty friend.

Yes, I am.

“But the polls! What about the polls?!” cry the panicking conservatives.

What about them?

“They stink!”

No, they don’t.

The respected TIPP poll has Romney down by only 2% among registered, not likely, voters in a sample where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 5%. That’s a 5-point swing in Romney’s direction from last month.

Rasmussen, which, along with Pew Research was the only outfit that got the final number exactly right in 2008, has Romney down by 1% in its daily tracking poll of swing states.  The RCP average, which is tainted by a bunch of really bad polls that I’ll discuss below, has Romney only down by 2, whereas four years ago, Obama was down by 2.2 in the same average.

Get a grip, people!

Folks, there was a convention bounce. It’s fading, just as the GOP bounce faded. (There was about a four to five point bounce last weekend, too, but you didn’t see the level of Democratic panic you’re seeing among some squishy conservatives in the past couple of days.) The DNC had its moments, but Obama’s flat speech was a buzzkill; the economy is still terrible, and this election isn’t going to be about anything other than that.  All things considered, the race hasn’t really changed at all, and that’s good, because right now, voter enthusiasm, voter affiliation, and raw volume of campaign dollars all heavily favor Romney.

But, yes, there are some lousy polls floating around.  Let’s take a look at them.

Today’s CNN poll has Obama actually pulling a majority! That’s right –  52% to Romney’s paltry  46%. Holy gazumbas! This race is over. Call off the dogs. The fat lady literally sang around the same time that Biden was speaking. 

Except – wait a minute.

In that same poll, Romney wins independents by a whopping 14%. 14%! That’s huge! Obama won independents by only 8% in 2008. So the president’s had a negative swing of 22 points among independents, and yet he’s still able to pull out vote totals similar to his 2008 victory? Man, he must be pulling a lot of Republicans into the mix.

Uh, actually, no. The CNN poll presumes that 96% of Republicans support Romney. In 2008, only 91% of Republicans voted for McCain. So Obama has lost a huge chunk of independents and the sliver of Republicans he got last time. So how does he still get the same vote totals?!

Democrats!! Democrats!! Democrats!! Scads and scads of Democrats! Democrats as far as the eye can see! Hordes of Democrats who are ever so much more excited to support Obama than they were in 2008, back before he was a failure and a disappointment!

Bottom line: this poll claims the partisan breakdown of voters will favor Democrats by a ridiculously huge margin of twelve points. Who believes that will be the party breakdown of the final vote totals? For crying out loud, Democrats in 2008 only had a nine point advantage, which was still the highest partisan advantage they’ve enjoyed in the last four elections. In 2010, Democrats had only a three-point advantage. And, as I pointed out here, Rasmussen now claims that Republicans actually have a four point advantage! How on earth can anyone look at this poll with anything but contempt?

But some of these polls are not content just to radically oversample Democrats. This absurd Public Policy Polling poll has Romney losing to Obama in Ohio, 50-45. And it also presumes women account for 60% of Ohio’s population, which means it knows better than the census, which says only 51% of Ohioans are female. (Single fellas, move to Ohio, where the odds are in your favor!) See,women are more likely to vote Obama than men, so to get to a grossly inflated Democratic sample, they had to lean heavily on the ladies.

How is it possible to take such a poll seriously?

The Romney campaign remains confident and assured. If stupid polls like these are enough for you to go wobbly, then you deserve to lose.

Republicans, grow a spine, will ya?

Daniel Z. Was Right: Plus other thoughts on the state of the race

I want to get this out of the way at the outset, because it pains me to admit I was wrong about something this big.

But the fact of the matter is that Daniel Z., my liberal friend who has berated my persecution complex re: the treatment of Mormonism by both the media and the Obama campaign, seems to not be as wrong as I’d initially suspected. He has long insisted that I was overreacting, and that Mitt’s Mormonism would not be a major issue. I doubted this and believed that the Obama campaign would cynically exploit Mitt’s Mormonism as we got closer to election day.

Daniel was right. I was less right.

Most major media coverage of the LDS Church has been essentially positive, and the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt’s running mate has largely quelled the evangelicals who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Mormon. Could the attitude about Mitt’s Mormonism change between now and November? Sure, I guess, but it probably won’t, because there are no real surprises to be had anymore. Everyone knows Mitt’s a Mormon, and they know the Mormons have historical problems with polygamy and racism. They know that some Mormons wear so-called “magic underwear,” and they know they perform baptisms for the dead. All of this stuff is already part of the electoral calculus everyone is doing. As far as I know, there really aren’t any other wild surprises to be had in evaluating the eccentricities of Mormon doctrine or culture. So even if the Obama campaign decided, in a moment of desperation, to try and play some kind of Mormon card, they’d have to realize they’re holding a pretty weak hand.

So now that I’ve admitted such an error, that may erode your confidence in what I’m about to confidently predict. It shouldn’t. I’m actually quite happy to be wrong on that one, as it make this next prediction even more likely: All indicators are that Mitt still wins this thing, and he wins it big.

It’s almost comical to watch the panic unfolding as the inevitable DNC bounce shows Obama with a slight lead after his convention. Mitt was leading after his convention, too, folks. The idea that Romney’s bounce can fade but somehow Obama’s is written in stone makes very little sense to me. Obama is ahead by a measly 2 points in the RealClearPolitics average of all political polls. Guess who was ahead by 2.2 points in the RCP average four years ago? You guessed it – President John McCain. Oh, wait…

I’ve talked extensively about how so many of these polls are oversampling Democrats, but the other thing overlooked here is that none of them are adding up to 100%. So with a polling average that has Obama at 48 and Romney at 46, you have 6% of the voters still up for grabs. Where are they going to go? Not Obama, if history has anything to say about it.

Romney knows what he’s doing here. If you doubt that, read this article by a Romney pollster – Romney’s beating Obama in money, organization, voter enthusiasm, and the all-important ground game. There is confidence, not panic, in the Romney camp.

Here’s another interesting thing, too. Post-convention, between now and Election Day, the only thing that is likely to move the numbers in a big way is the presidential debates. Anyone remember the Newt Gingrich boomlet where the entire rational for electing the erratic former Speaker was that he would maul Obama in the debates? Ol’ Newt was riding high until he got to Florida, where Mitt dismantled him in the debate before the primary and ended up winning the one primary victory that, more than any other, ultimately propelled him to the nomination.

Mitt has been debating all year long, and almost every debate has been supposedly “make or break” for him. His debates performance have gotten sharper, more pointed, and more effective.

Debates, like almost all political enterprises, are less about actual performance than expectations. The conventional wisdom is that the boring Romney will be overshadowed by the eloquent orator Obama. That plays very well to Romney’s strategy. Lower expectation mean greater opportunity to move the numbers. Remember that in 1980, Reagan was down by eight points before his one and only face-off with Jimmy Carter. When voters got to see the two side by side, undecideds determined that they didn’t like Carter, and Reagan, contrary to the screeching of the Carter campaign, was a reasonable and acceptable alternative. That 6% that can’t seem to make up their minds doesn’t like Obama, but they’re still uneasy about Romney. Barring some unforeseen flub on Romney’s part, the GOP nominee has a great chance to seal the deal in the debates.

So, yes, Daniel was right. Mitt’s Mormonism does not seem poised to derail his candidacy, which, of course, makes his eventual election far more likely.

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.

 

Amelia Bidenia

Didn’t watch the president’s speech last night. Early reviews suggest that he didn’t rise to the rhetorical standard set by Clinton, whose speech I didn’t watch because it literally made me sick to my stomach. Which literally brings me to the subject of today’s post, which is Joe Biden’s speech, which I literally watched.

And if you think I’m overusing or misapplying the whole “literally” motif, I literally don’t even come close to Bidenhood.

The good vice president gave a passionate and credible speech, but I kept being reminded of Amelia Bedelia, the maid in all those children’s books who can’t distinguish between the literal and the figurative. So when she’s asked to draw the drapes, she doodles a picture of curtains, and when she’s told that to make dinner she has to first dress the chicken, she therefore puts a hen in a miniskirt. Joe Biden has the same problem in reverse; he’s constantly using the word “literally” to intensify a figurative expression. Last night, he concluded by saying the “future is literally, not figuratively but literally, in your hands.” At the time I heard those words, what was literally in my hands was an iPhone and a dog leash. I did not then, nor have I ever, corporeally grasped an intangible concept like the future. The future has no substance or matter. One cannot literally handle it with any part of the human body at any time.

So as he invoked the inverse of Amelia Bedelia, I couldn’t help but mentally assume the persona of Inigo Montoya. “Mr. Biden, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Just so we’re all figuratively on the same page here, a literal expression is one where the words are assumed to mean exactly what they say. So, for example, comedians often use the word “killed” to describe a particularly good performance, e.g. “Did you see Seinfeld at the Improv? He killed last night!” People who are not Amelia Bedilia would hear that, recognize the figurative idiom, and not presume that Jerry Seinfeld committed murder sometime after 6:00 PM. But if Joe Biden were to tell the story, he’d probably say, “Seinfeld was amazing! He killed – he literally killed last night!” And then even the least Bidelia-esque among us would have to wonder if he got Kramer to dispose of the body.

Thus we were told by our figuratively literal veep that at the beginning of the president’s term, the nation “literally stood at the edge of a great depression.” We were left to ourselves to decide whether he was referring to the population or the landmass. Were all 300 million of us standing at the mouth of this crater, or did a large chunk of the North American continent rise up out of the ground, sprout legs, and assume a watchful vigil at the edge of the depressed hole from which it sprang?

The American auto industry, we were informed, was so at risk that at some point, it “literally hung in the balance.” One can only speculate as to the nature of the ropes, chains, or wires employed to hoist all the factories and workers into the air! And, remember, they were only one half of the balance in which they were hung. I’m thinking that several aircraft carriers and a smattering of Home Depot stores were suspended by pulleys in order to form a suitable counterweight.

If this massive midair suspension weren’t enough, we also learned that General Motors was “literally on the brink of liquidation.” Probably, it is only logical to assume, this took place at the same time it was literally hanging in the balance. Had this liquidation occurred, the ensuing deluge would have flooded three quarters of the state of Michigan. Our only hope would be if the country were still anthropomorphized and patrolling the literal great depression’s edge, thereby allowing the goo that was once GM to ooze into the ponderous hole’s murky depths.

Biden used the word in other ways, too, that aren’t quite as absurd but still left me literally scratching my head. (My psoriasis helped with that, too.) What does it mean, I ask you, when Biden claimed that something “literally amazed” him? What is the difference between literal amazement and figurative amazement? Only Amelia Bedilia literally knows for sure.

Thats why Obama should drop Biden and put her on the ticket. Literally.

Yes. You heard me. The president of the United States should heft his current vice president above his head, let go of him, and then watch him fall to the floor with a mighty thud. Then he should get the ticket printed and physically place Amelia Bedelia upon it. It should be a large enough ticket that she should be able to sit comfortably and perhaps have room to spread out a picnic lunch, but that will make it very hard for a ticket taker to redeem the ticket, especially if she gets mustard on it.

Oy. I’ve literally stretched this gag as far as it can go. I can literally see the stretch marks.

Done now.

Literally.