Monday, September 10, 2012

Why Barack Obama Is Winning

Nate Silver
Nate Silver, a man very, very good at interpreting both political polling and economic facts and figures that also influence elections, wrote a blog post at his FiveThirtyEight perch at the New York Times yesterday. It was entitled, "Conventions May Put Obama in Front-Runner’s Position." And so they have. Barack Obama, by my estimate, has gotten something near a six-point bounce. Since Mitt Romney appears to have had a net negative bounce, having lost a point after his own convention performance, the Republican candidate is what you might call behind the eight ball.

Pundits of all stripes continue to wonder how it is that Barack Obama could be leading when the economy is so weak, especially in light of the fact that incumbents rarely if ever win when the nation is in such a condition.

This is one appealing family, you got to admit.
Now, I'm such an optimist that I feel strongly Barack Obama will win a second term, but I'm not so reckless as to assume it's a lock. There are still ways and conditions -- and even "October Surprises" -- that can sway the election in Mitt Romney's direction, especially considering the crazy money available to his cause in light of the Citizens United decision. Still, given all that, Romney is currently losing, and that's a cause of consternation to a whole lot of people, journalists and political operatives alike.

Why? It's not so hard to figure. Let us count the whys.
  1. Barack Obama, regardless of the state of the economy, remains an appealing person. He has an engaging smile, he's really intelligent, and he talks real well. Not only that, he's got a genuinely appealing family. It doesn't matter what Michelle Malkin or Ann Coulter call her, Michelle Obama quite simply rocks, as a mom, as a speaker, as a style setter. She's as engaging as Barack is, and her kids are just plain cute -- and genuine, too.
  2. Mitt Romney is, well, I have to say it, a phony. That doesn't mean he's not blue-blooded, well-educated, successful in business, or well-healed and handsome. He's all those things. But maybe because of the business he chose, private equity, which has a dirty little secret in its very conceit, being that it doesn't really care that every venture it backs succeeds as long as the company milks the situation for serious profit, Mitt Romney ended up looking good without being good. And that's just not that appealing. As for his family, they're a fine crew, but they're just as cookie-cutter as he is, and poor Ann Romney, lovely though she is, is just not made out to show Mitt's best side, probably because his best side is not much better than his worst side. He is what he is, and Ann can't change that. And then they send poor Ann out to explain why Mitt's not releasing his tax returns? Man, she drew the short straw on that one.
  3. American citizens like Obama's policy positions better than Romney's. This is an especially frustrating thing for the rump Republican Party (and they are a rump party, let's face it) in that it shows them for what they are: a group declining in both numbers and sellable ideas, not to mention their squeezed demographic nature. The 1% may have a lot of money, but they are, after all, just 1% of the population, and blue-collar Christian males and the women they get to dominate just aren't as widespread as they used to be. So Mitt Romney can fire up his itty-bitty base with his phony-baloney "I'm not removing God from my coins" or "Obama wants to remove work from the welfare requirements so shiftless blacks can drink malt liquor on the corner all day again" or "how dare Obama gut Medicare with those dastardly cuts to providers!!" Mitt's base may scream and holler and bobble their signs up and down, but I've got a sneaky feeling that in the back of their minds even they are thinking, "Is this all he's got?"
  4. I've been fond of saying that George W. Bush was so bad a president that the United States of America elected a black man as president! Think about that for a minute. Then I think that we can only conclude that Mitt Romney is so bad a candidate that we're about to give a black man a second term! Sorry, Mitt, I can't help but think it's true.
  5. The conventions told an important tale and laid down some very serious markers. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made a stirring case, but it was based on shifting sand. You can build pretty castles based on nonsense and unsubstantiated word constructions, but if they wash away at the first high tide, you got nothing. It doesn't matter that Ann Romney gave a pretty speech. The net loss of one point in the polls sums up what America thought of the combined effort. With Obama and his team, highlighted by stunning performances of Michelle, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, and yes, Obama himself, giving such a lift to his campaign and the Democratic cause as a whole, there's no way not to admit they crushed their Republican rivals in the political convention game. The six-point bounce says it all.
  6. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can't just make shit up, say it with a whole bunch of conviction and expect to win with it. I just don't see it happening. What's more, they seem to be trying a new, or at least refined or redesigned or repackaged, set of messages almost every day. "No, I didn't mean I'd vote for personhood, who told you that?" "Romney's running the campaign, not me, his ideas and policies decide this, not mine!" "Rape is rape!" "I'm totally pro-life, but let's face it, Roe v. Wade is settled law." "I will repeal Obamacare on Day One!!" "Oh, maybe not all of it..." "Oh, I didn't mention Afghanistan or our troops, but I did say the word military once, and I'm sure they get that." No, Mitt, they don't. And Paul, you do have a voting record, and people do look at it and draw conclusions. You're decidedly not a deficit hawk, you only play one on TV.
  7. People trust Obama even if they're unsure they're totally behind his policies. But with Romney, they have a little trouble trusting the man, not simply because you get a sneaky feeling that he only just saying those things, which is not hard to believe, but also because his rope-a-dope "I'll tell you what I really think right after I win the fight" strategy offers such thin gruel, if you don't mind my mixed metaphors. After all, that what Romney and Ryan actually are: a series of mixed metaphors that you can't quite be sure of their meaning. But they're good-looking!
Good-looking but cookie-cutter, n'est pas?

There, I reached seven, so they must be highly effective points, and so I'll stop.

In political campaigns, things change right up to the last minute. Hell, in 2000, they kept changing right up to the last Supreme Court decision weeks after. But my guess is Barack Obama will likely win this thing, and there's not much Mitt Romney can do about it, even with all that Karl Rove, Koch Brothers, and Sheldon Adelson money. The Beatles said it best: Money can't buy you love.

Update. Kos says Romney had an actually net positive bounce from his convention:
They had a 1.9 point bounce. President Barack Obama has a 5.5 point bounce. And counting.
 And I have no reason to doubt him. Read his whole post, called "Romney campaign claims again that it is not losing, when it is." It's fun and informative.


  1. If Obama wins it is because the media is STILL not doing their job and showing what is really behind the smoke and mirrors. Obama is of such a different mindset as most Americans that they can't believe it can be true although it is. Sadly, the youth of the world and the 'me' generations created by the 70's, 80's and 90's are so blind to it that they will still vote for an anti-American president. God help us...and I did say God which means I am not a Democrat since the majority of them don't want anything to do with that word...And I only sign anonymous cause I don't have any handles but you can always debate me at

    1. I simply don't agree with you that Obama is anti-American. His values are consistent with generations of American values. Students, true students of political history -- in my studied opinion, of course -- know that Barack Obama is probably about even with the politics of Dwight Eisenhower. Personally, I find him to the right of Richard Nixon, from a policy, not a psychic, perspective. Obama is only marginally to the left of George H. W. Bush and somewhere near center-left Bill Clinton.

      In any event, Barack Obama is as American as apple pie and baseball. If you think otherwise, I'd have to ask you for well-researched specifics that indicate some basis in reality for your positions.