So I’m going to dictate this post via Siri and then edit it later. Should be fun. [Corrections appear in brackets.]
Tuning out of politics for just a few days is very good for your personal constitution. I highly recommend it. Looking at all the opinion pieces from the weekend until now, it’s clear I didn’t miss much. The Huffington Post declared the race is over. Ben Affleck talked about the fact that the Republicans “had a chance,” but now that the race is over, it’s a missed opportunity.
But something happened that I didn’t expect.
The polls tightened. Not just the reliable polls, but the ones that wildly oversampled Democrats. CNN now has the race in a statistical dead heat, when they had Obama walking away with it just the week before. Same with NBC, ABC, and the National Journal, which, in Nepal [a poll] which oversampled Democrats by seven points, still has the race tied at 47%. Swing state polls are showing a similar tightening, and it’s unlikely that any of the swing states are going to have margins that are wildly different from the popular vote total.
So what changed?
Nothing. Nothing at all. This race is exactly where it was before the conventions. We have an incumbent below a 50% approval rating, a challenger that is now neck–and–snack [neck] with him, with about 6% undecided, almost all of whom will end up in Romney’s column by the end of the election.
In other words, this race remains Romney’s to lose.
Kenny [Can he] lose it? Sure. In fact, if he’s going to lose it, he’ll lose it tonight. But I don’t think he’s going to lose it tonight, even though, or maybe especially though, the mainstream media has already decided that Obama is the debate victor.
Expectations for Romney tonight are in the toilet, despite Obama’s best efforts to raise them. He will likely exceed those expectations if his pants don’t fall down. He will also benefit greatly just from sharing the same stage with the incumbent. For the first time, people have the opportunity to measure the current president against the potential one, and they’re going to like what they see. Romney is easily the most articulate, effective presidential candidate the Republicans have had since Ronald Reagan. That goes against the Thurston Howell caricature the media and the Obama campaign have created, but tonight, for millions of general election voters, that caricature will collide with reality.
It turns out the declaring the race over five weeks before the race is, you know, actually over isn’t really a great idea. It gives people more than a month to come to terms with four more years like the last four years. If you think “It’s Bush’s fault” is a threadbare excuse in 2012, think how pathetic it will sound in 2016. Nobody likes where we are now, and, other than the rabidly partisan, nobody has confidence that four more years of Obama will pave the way to a better place. Over a month to reflect on that will provide plenty of opportunity Promoters to learn that the race didn’t end when the Huffington Post sedative. [said it did.]
It’s also plenty of time to practice saying “President Romney.”