Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Take From the Other Side of the Street (October 9, 2012)

In an attempt to be a little "fair and balanced," I've asked my childhood friend Dave Loveday to give me his take on the post-debate environment.  Dave is a veteran professional political operative in the Chicago area and, yes, a Republican.  Dave offers these thoughts....

There you go again.
Many political observers and spin masters believe that Obama cannot lose his re-election to some throw-back candidate, to a relic from the Fifties.  Sure, the economy is in struggling shape, and we’ve come to realize we have serious problems in the Middle East.  But this man can’t lose to a stiff traditional Republican.  Not unless something transforming comes along, like, well … like a blowout debate performance.
We all know Ronald Reagan used his “there you go again” line to great effect in 1980 when he faced off against the incumbent president of his time.  But it almost feels like that phrase is something political history itself is saying today.
There you go again, America.  Jimmy Carter first.  Barack Obama now?
Around a month from the election in 1980, Jimmy Carter in polls was running around 45 percent.  He ended up five points lower than that artificial high when all the votes were counted on election night.  Ronald Reagan, meanwhile, ended up ten points higher.
This may go against everything conventional wisdom holds, but there is a powerful argument that Mitt Romney is in a stronger position today than Reagan was at this point in his own election.
Despite all the stories for weeks that Obama should be measuring for new drapes, today the talk is how poor of a campaign he has and the loss of the momentum.  It is Barack Obama who has only a few weeks to turn a giant ship around and try to regain the momentum.
Here is one of the factors that puts Obama’s re-election in so much danger.  As early voting begins, virtually every piece of evidence shows Republican enthusiasm rising and Democrat energy flagging.  The first debate had a lot to do with that.  But it’s also a natural effect of the race going back to where it was for the year or more before the conventions.
Many pollsters are showing Romney starting to get a big advantage among independent voters.  This alone strongly suggests where the partisan gap will end up.  Non-affiliated voters tend to lean toward the eventual winner.  They are especially attuned to winning and convincing arguments. 

For the past few weeks, most polls have suggested Democrats will have as big an advantage this year as they did in 2008.  Can anyone seriously believe that will be the case when it’s all over, that in November we’ll see something on the order of a D+8 advantage?  The fact that so many spin-masters and surrogates questioned Obama after his mediocre performance goes to prove the thinness of his support.
The media will try to resuscitate Obama in the next few weeks.  But something terrible happened for those on the Democrat side.  After the Obama campaign spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking Romney and painting him in a negative light with negative campaign commercials.  Millions upon millions of voters – unfiltered by reporters and TV ads – got to watch and judge the two candidates directly. They saw the real Mitt Romney.
And unlike in 1980, they will see the candidates again, two more times.  And as people make up their minds for themselves … well – here we go again?

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