Just under the wire – in honor of today’s “Empty Chair Day.”
People fancy me a politico, and I’m approached by anxious Romneyites who see a tight race and wonder if Mitt’s going to be abe to pull it out. It happened on Sunday, in the halls at church. A guy pulled me aside and asked, with a note of panic in his voice, “Can Mitt really win this?”
My answer, which I now share with you, is yes. Yes, he can win this. Yes, he will win this. What’s more, he will win big. Landslide big.
This is neither bluster nor cockiness. It is a cold-eyed assessment of the facts.
“But the polls, Stallion!” I hear you cry. “The polls show a tight race!”
No, they don’t. The polls show that this would be a tight race… if exactly the same people showed up who showed up in 2008. Almost all the neck-and-neck polls presume that just as many Democrats as showed up when Obama was hardcore hopey changey will turn out this time around. In fact, some of them oversample Democrats, presuming that more Democrats will turn out in 2012 than showed up last time.
I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat – you have to recognize that that’s absurd.
Consider, for instance, a new Public Policy Polling poll headlined “No bounce for Romney in Florida.”
“No convention bounce? We’re doomed, Stallion! Doomed!”
Look at the poll. Under two seconds of scrutiny, it collapses entirely.
The poll presumes that the Democrats will have a four point advantage in Florida. In 2008, they had a three point advantage in the actual voting results. Florida’s even more on fire for Obama than they were in 2008? Not bloody likely.
Other polls tell an interesting story on that score.
A Rasmussen poll points out that 37.4% of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans. That’s compared to the 33.6% of people who consider themselves Democrats – an almost 4 point GOP advantage. This represents “the largest number of Republicans ever recorded by Rasmussen Report since monthly tracking began in November 2002.” To understand what a big deal this is, remember that when President Obama was inaugurated, Democrats had an almost nine-point advantage in the same survey! So a poll that tells you that Democrats will have a four point advantage and completely ignores that there has been a nearly thirteen-point partisan swing in the GOP’s direction is a poll that you can safely use to wrap fish.
My cousin was in Florida for a week this summer. “Man,” he said, “Obama is flooding the airwaves with anti-Romney stuff,” he said, “while I never saw a single Romney ad.” Yep, he’s right. Obama outspent Romney 3 to 1 and ran nothing but negative ads. And guess what? The numbers didn’t budge. And now Romney has a larger war chest than the incumbent president, and he’s getting ready to spend it when it matters.
Poor President Obama. The guy’s in serious, serious trouble.
Consider this poll – by lifelong party hack James Carville, no less. It, too, wildly oversamples Democrats and has Obama leading, 49% to Romney’s 47%. But it also claims Romney is leading among independents by a whopping 16 points. 16 points! Obama won independents in 2008 by 8 points four years ago. That’s a 24-point swing – in a poll conducted by the most partisan man alive. How do you lose independents by 16 points and still win the election? You need swarms of Democrats who didn’t vote for Obama last time coming out to vote this time.
Anyone think that’s going to happen? Yeah, me neither.
Poll after poll after poll has chronicled what pundits call the “enthusiasm gap.” Democrats are demoralized, while Republicans are fired up and loaded for bear. (Figuratively only, of course.) By way of anecdotal evidence, my brother-in-law is a law professor back east, and he has noted the change from the Obama frenzy among his students four years ago and the complete apathy among young people now.
See, what’s remarkable in all these polls is that even with the oversampled Democrats, Romney’s still neck-and-neck. Restructure the poll based on a 4-point Republican advantage, and Romney’s winning comfortably, with numbers at or above 50%. Dick Morris, professional weenie, has a poll where Romney’s at 50, and Obama’s at 43. Despite Morris’ weeniness, he’s the only pollster who seems to recognize that hope is hopeless and change has changed. Everyone else is still pretending it’s 2008. Maybe that makes the Democratic voters at large feel better, but you know who isn’t buying the hype? Barack Obama.
Obama is running a flailing campaign. Short on money, vision, and voter enthusiasm, all he’s got is “Romney’s too rich! Romney’s a liar! Romney gives women cancer!” To be fair, that’s what Romney did to Gingrich and Santorum when he was behind, too. You can tell who’s losing based on the composure of the candidate. You watch the solid confidence of Romney compared to the frantic panic of Obama, and you know that both of them have seen the real numbers.
I’ll watch the DNC with eagerness, to see whether Obama can pull one final rabbit out of the hat. Because barring some kind of magical event or Todd Akin-style blunder, it will be very difficult for Mitt to lose this thing.
And Obama knows it.