Romney Expands the Battlefield: Clever Sucker Punch or Desperate Hail Mary Pass?

In American Football, the Hail Mary pass “refers to any very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half”, according to Wikipedia. With the final seconds of the game ticking away, and the team in possession just a few points down but a long way from the goal line, the quarterback will launch the ball as far down the pitch as he can, in the hope that one of his receivers will latch on to the ball and find a route through the tackles of the defensive secondaries into the endzone. While the probability of success is low, many of football’s most legendary games culminated in a wide receiver jumping through a forest of defenders’ hands for a touchdown.

While there are the usual theories from the trailing side that the polls are all wrong, and Mike Smithson of reminds us that the theories are sometimes right, a straight reading of the polls shows Mitt Romney still trailing in the states that matter, with his momentum stalled or even reversed, and just five days left to turn things round. As well as public polling, both campaigns will have an array of privately commissioned polls as well as an ever more sophisticated capacity to capture and analyse data coming back from volunteers manning the phones or knocking the doors.

Both campaigns had, since at least July, decided to fight the election in the same nine swing states, and with the arguable exception of New Hampshire, all of these states have been polled into oblivion. Whatever they’re saying publicly, both campaigns will have come to conclusions about how likely they are to win each of them, and it’s unlikely that the conclusions will be different for Team Romney than they are for Team Obama. With every day that passes, it’s harder and harder to see a path to victory for Romney out of these nine states.

This explains Romney’s decision to start running ads in Pennsylvania (for the first time since July) and Minnesota (for the first time full stop), backed by serious third party money from Republican Political Action Committees. It doesn’t look like a prepared move – Romney’s ground operation in both states will be minimal, and a serious effort to catch Obama off guard would have begun at least a few weeks ago. Figuratively speaking, Mitt has wound his arm back, hurled the ball down the pitch as far as he can, and is probably murmuring a Mormon Hail Mary.

That doesn’t mean this is dumb strategy. Anything but. After Romney’s first debate surge, polling in both Pennsylvania and Minnesota started showing a tight race. While neither state has voted for a Republican for at least 24 years, Bush Jnr. lost these states by only a narrow margin in both of his elections. Oregon and Michigan, another two states which have voted for every Democrat since Clinton, but which W fought hard and lost only narrowly, have also tightened dramatically in the last few weeks.

And the environment in these states is different from the nine states acknowledged to be the battleground. In the big nine, Obama spent the summer pounding Romney with a barrage of negative ads, defining him successfully as an unprincipled vulture capitalist and flip-flopper. Those ads made a difference. Look at how Romney’s lead has remained thin in North Carolina, where Obama spent heavily on attack ads, in comparison with the other states which were extremely close in 2008 – Indiana, Missouri and Montana – where Romney is heading for blowout wins. (This also goes a long way to explaining the alleged ‘gap’ between national and swing state polling.)

In Pennsylvania, Obama’s ad campaign was relatively light to begin with and stopped in late July when it was clear that Romney had given up in the Keystone State. In Minnesota, Obama never even started advertising. Romney is less defined in these states, and voters should be more receptive to him selling his story positively.

Advertising in these states will also be a lot cheaper than in the big nine. In the battlegrounds, spot prices for ads will be through the roof in the unlikely event they are still available, while in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, Romney will find space between the commercials for relatively impecunious downballot races.

It still feels not only like it’s too late, but in the sense that a serious ground operation can’t be conjured from nothing in six days, also too little. This might have been a genius move had it been put into place in the week after the first debate, when Mitt had momentum and time. But you never can tell how the late deciders might break on polling day. Mitt is clearly down, but down by less than a touchdown.

It is also a move that may have been obviated had Obama kept even a skeleton advertising campaign in place in these states into the fall. But David Axelrod’s strategy was always to build a firewall in GOP-leaning swing states and let Romney spend money and energy trying to fight his way through it. Romney was campaigning in Florida again yesterday, a state that should already be locked down if he has any hope of winning. Five Florida polls were released yesterday, two showing Romney ahead, two showing Obama ahead and one tied. It looks like David Axelrod’s strategy is working.

While still a regular feature of college football, it is now rare indeed for a crunch NFL playoff game to be won by a Hail Mary.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Mitt has wound his arm back, hurled the ball down the pitch as far as he can, and is probably murmuring a Mormon Hail Mary.’

    ah come on Gerry. A Morman Hail Mary???? thats too good to pass-up (no pun intended). apologies if this is a bit tangential but…..

    One of the fundamental tenets of Christianity is that Christ was born of a virgin. The Bible teaches that though she had not yet had physical intercourse with a man, Mary miraculously conceived and bore a son. Mormons insist that they believe in the “virgin birth”, yet many of them have described it in a way far removed from what Christians have believed for two millennia. While individual Mormons are divided over this issue, to this day the Mormon Church has no unequivocal official position on whether the immortal Heavenly Father had sexual intercourse with his mortal spirit-daughter Mary to conceive Jesus.

    Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie, in perhaps the most explicit denial of the virgin birth, wrote,

    “Christ was begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers.” (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 547)

    You might ask, “How can Mormons who believe this say that Christ was born of a virgin?”

    This is done by changing the definition of the word “virgin”. The virgin Mary did not have sexual relations with a mortal man, they say, but instead was impregnated by an immortal man.

    … Hmmm, changing definitions?? Flip-Flopping??????

    “While Latter-day Saints clearly believe that Jesus is the Son of God the Father, there is no authoritative doctrinal statement within Mormonism that explains how the conception of Jesus was accomplished,” (Another Jesus? The Christ of the Latter-day Saints, p. 74)

    …. Just like there is no authoritative statements from Romney on a number of fundamental issues.

    When one considers that Mormonism teaches that every human born on earth is a literal spirit child of God, the concept that Jesus was conceived in a natural manner becomes even more blasphemous. Why? Because it means the Jesus of Mormonism was conceived in an incestuous union between Heavenly Father and his spirit-daughter Mary.

    Mormans can, or could have many wives…. And a hail mary pass is tossed up to many receivers. It is all starting to make sense now

  • Ruarai

    Shortcut anaysis:

    Watch one fund allocation and see the election: Once RNC SuperPACs start pumping their funds flow with a spike into Senate and House races instead of Romney, this thing is ‘officially’ over for Romney.

  • andnowwhat

    Looking at the rolling news a couple of days ago, it looked more like obama’s ball was lifted on a breeze called Sandy. With praise heaped upon the president by pretty much all but the tea party types and Romney responding in that Dubya ” just not getting it” style it would seem almost unpatriotic to diss the incumbent.

    Most surely, seven days are too few for so many voters to forget what was done in the run up, during and after(yet to be seen, to some extent) Sandy

  • Rory Carr

    While I am inclined to accept Ruaraí’s astute reading of the eventuality of Republican funds being switched to Senate and House campaigns indicating that they had lost faith in Romney’s chances I would be careful to read this as a given in any other election year. Funds might also well be switched from the presidential race where it was perceived that their guy was a shoe-in and needed no further assistance – a Reagan if you like.

  • Kevsterino

    What frightens me about this election is the stark polarization that has been getting worse as the campaign has progressed. I fear that if Obama wins a second term, there are those on the right who are entirely prepared to kill him, and Joe Biden as well. I went fishing in the Ozarks last month, and you wouldn’t believe the kind of talk going on down there.

  • The Romney campaign took a massive sack from the Governor of New Jersey. Basically not only did Christie say Obama was ready to take the 3am phone call but gave Christie the direct line to make it.

  • Look at the National Journal ad spend tool; Super PACs are still spending plenty of money on Mitt.

  • wild turkey

    ‘I went fishing in the Ozarks last month, and you wouldn’t believe the kind of talk going on down there.’

    ever seen the fillum Deliverance?

    For most of my living memoy, America has been violently divided.

    The Kennedy Assassination ?
    The denizens of wingnut country did not kill Kennedy. But that day many celebrated openly and joyously. Birchers and Klansmen gloated. Elementary-school students in the Dallas ‘burbs broke into spontaneous applause. In Amarillo Texas, a reporter witnessed jubilation in the streets, with men whooping and tossing their hats in the air and one woman crying out, “Hey, great, JFK’s croaked!”

    Fast-forward 49 years. There is nothing particularly new when a vocal minority of right-wingnuts, indulged by the MSM, are openly expressing, slanderous and rhetorically violent hostility toward a president whose greatest crime is not being a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

    when you have the chance, read H.L. Menckens essay on the ‘Anglo-Saxons’

    by the way, how was the fishing?


  • Greenflag

    @ kevsterino ,

    ‘I fear that if Obama wins a second term, there are those on the right who are entirely prepared to kill him, and Joe Biden as well. ‘

    There is probably a fringe element within the Tea Party and some of the ‘dumber ‘ poorly educated and backward rednecks in the south who would ‘exult ‘ if Obama was assassinated and Biden too . These are the believers in a 6,000 year old universe -the literal bible and virtually every lie put out by the neo con ideologues who use and abuse these people for the suckers they truly are 🙁

    These cretins have no idea what they would unleash on the USA and the world if such were to happen . The losers would be the the very people who would exult .

    The GOP used to be fiscally conservative and socially relatively liberal up to the 1980’s . Thereafter it’s been drifting further right -so far right now that any return to the centre seems improbable or will take a decade or more of lost elections to wake up the brain dead of the GOP .

    At this point the only Republican I can read without wanting to vomit is Julia Eisenhower a grandaughter of Ike but she would have as much chance of being nominated for a Senatorial or Congressional seat as Menachim Begin would have had of being accepted into the Gestapo .

    The worrying aspect is the not just the income disparity gap growing even more under the Republicans -they are now seen as the party of white males and elderly whites and as such out of touch with young people , women , african americans , hispanics (apart from Cubans ) . This is probably the last chance from a demographic perspective that a Presidential election can be won by a white male majority and even now it would require at least some votes from white women and minority hispanic support .

  • Alias

    “The Romney campaign took a massive sack from the Governor of New Jersey. Basically not only did Christie say Obama was ready to take the 3am phone call but gave Christie the direct line to make it.”

    As long as Obama stands ready to spend other peoples’ money on the 20% or so of Americans affected by Sandy then said 20% stand ready to vote for Obama.

  • Kevsterino

    @Wild Turkey, the fishing was not as good as years past, but the company and scenery was just fine. During the fast forward of 49 years you allude to, we have had controversial presidents. One resigned, another the Republicans insisted on trying to impeach and fell on their face doing so. In all those years I’ve never heard such violent denunciations of a sitting president. I didn’t hear, “Let’s vote him out” stuff. I heard, “If the liberals (said in a manner once reserved for the “N” word) reelect him, somebody has to “take him out” before he turns the Federal government into a Soviet regime. These folks are off their collective rockers.

    @Greenflag, it is important to recognize that rednecks habitat stretches from coast to coast, north to south. If you don’t believe me, let me take you where I fish in the summertime up in Michigan. I assure you, you will meet the same Stock Car racin, moonshine drinkin and bible thumpin squirrel hunters one encounters in Dixie.

    The old Republican Party is dead, devoured by the New Right. They have no respect for the individual and that was their hallmark.

    The old Democratic Party is perhaps still alive, but that is debatable. If they aren’t dead, they at least smell funny.

    The Libertarians are starting to look like the middle-of-the-road. And that is almost too strange for me to comprehend.

    all the best

  • Greenflag

    @ kevsterino ,

    I’m aware that the ‘redneck ‘ habitat stretches beyond Dixie it’s just that in those other states there remains a decent number of reasonably educated white working class and middle class voters who can see further than the colour of a man’s skin and who can see where their real economic interests lie .

    At this stage I just hope that Winston Churchill’s observation of the ‘American cousins’ is correct i.e

    ”The Americans ‘ said Winnie faff about a lot but they eventually do the right thing ‘ And I hope for the USA ‘s sake and the world’s sake that they re-elect Obama to the still most important political office on this ‘rare ‘planet ‘

    This link might interest Pete Baker & Mister Joe and others if they manage to see it . ‘Intelligent ‘ life is clinging on by a thread and hopefully in enough states of the Union to make a difference on Nov 6th 😉

  • Greenflag

    @ kevsterino ,

    ‘The old Democratic Party is perhaps still alive, but that is debatable. If they aren’t dead, they at least smell funny.’

    ??? If you have time over the next few days can you explain what you mean by smell funny ? I’m guessing you mean their move to right of centre? or are you referring to their 2008 and prior years ‘Alliance ‘ with the financial masters of destruction in Wall St ?

    I read Barclays are in for another half a billion fine for ‘rigging’ the energy market and this on top of the other half a billion for the Libor interest rate manipulations .

    Perhaps an honest ‘rat ‘ may yet be found in Wall St or the City of London but I would’nt hold my breath 🙁

  • What about a simpler explanation of the GOP expansion of interest? The national party — and its fellow-travelling semi-affiliates — are so stuffed with money, the armchair generals don’t know what to do with it? And if they don’t spend it, they’ll carry the can.

    In some markets (which is TV — the main market in town) the ad-buy is now so excessive it is lunatic. Quite frankly any further ad-buy is self-defeating over-kill. Yet the Super-PACs and godfather wannabes keep shoving more gelt into the coffers.

    Desperation? Catch the SuperPac Enpower Citizens Network (self-described as “alternative conservatives”) in Ohio. One ad plays the Soviet anthem while preaching about the Dems forcing mortgagors to lend to “unqualified borrowers” and so imploding the economy. Another pledges that welfare will be protected by reducing business regulation. A third has Lincoln as proof that the Dems don’t care about African Americans. Oh, and the Obama White House feeds its “socialist friends” on top-of-the-range imported Kobe beef.

    Yes, similar nonsenses may be peddled the other side of the fence.

    Were one not a total cynic, the sickener would be the $1.5 million ad-buy that reports suddenly appearing in favour of Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. We know that $700k is from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, via the Missouri Republican Party. Then there’s the further $800k a mysterious SuperPac is divvying up — the origin of which will remain under wraps until after Election Day.

    The total spend on the 2012 Election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, will be around $6 billion — getting close to $50 per vote across the whole country. And, of course, the money isn’t muck-spread like slurry: it’s been mainly targeted on just seven States, and even more precisely on the ‘mixed’ districts within those States.

    The best democracy money can buy

  • andnowwhat

    One of the great heroes of the Sandy response are the FERA, an organisation that Romney has said he will cut. I hope someone reminds the electorate of this next week

  • pauluk

    Wouldn’t it be so ironic if the man who promised to stop the rising of the oceans in 2008 actually gets elected again in 2012 because of flooding along coastal regions?

    btw, what exactly has Obama done in the past four years to try to stop ‘global warming’ or climate change? Little or nothing!

  • As long as Obama stands ready to spend other peoples’ money on the 20% or so of Americans affected by Sandy then said 20% stand ready to vote for Obama.

    So, Federal Disaster Relief is theft?

    In some markets (which is TV — the main market in town) the ad-buy is now so excessive it is lunatic.

    Have a look at the 22 political ads in a row during the lunchtime news in Columbus, Ohio today:

    The law of diminishing returns kicked in a long time ago. I mean, I am not only a hardcore political junkie, but one who normally thinks of American political ads like an actual junkie would think of mainlining heroin. But this would do even my head in.

    But look on the bright side. Hard pressed local TV station executives will enjoy a welcome few weeks’ respite from the bitter midwest winter as they sun themselves on Aruba or St. Thomas as a result.

  • New Yorker

    I think it is a desperate Hail Mary pass based on their internal polls. It is clear who makes a better President. Obama has been right on foreign affairs, right on the economy, right on healthcare and his second term will benefit by the economic recovery underway. The only major problem I see is if the Republicans manage to hold the House.

    Another good thing about living in New York is that there are not too many political TV ads, except for wrestling mogul Linda McMahon’s vanity run for the Senate in Connecticut.

  • Alias

    “So, Federal Disaster Relief is theft?”

    More unfair competition in buying votes in the election. Obama has an advantage over his competitor in that the more disaster zones he declares (and he has already declared more than his predecessor) the more taxpayers’ money can be claimed for damaged property by voters in that area. Naturally, they’re going to vote for the guy who has promised them other peoples’ money for free rather than the guy who has promised to cut FEMA’s budget.

    The problem for FEMA will be that Obama has blown its annual budget at the start of its fiscal year to buy himself votes so that when a disaster hits people (and not private property) there’ll be nothing left in the kitty. Still, as long as Obama gets to be on the news visiting FEMA HQ and looking very concerned from a plane flying over Atlanta when it matters most (election time), why should be worry about that?

  • Neil

    Still, as long as Obama gets to be on the news visiting FEMA HQ and looking very concerned from a plane flying over Atlanta when it matters most (election time), why should be worry about that?

    We all recall Bush observing New Orleans from the comfort of his jet. Obama at least made it onto the ground. It’s a tough call, I think at this point if I was an American I wouldn’t vote for either of them.

  • Harry Flashman

    Ah yes the old, “I’m afraid those crazy right wingers are going to kill the president” nonsense, never fails.

    Let’s have a look at assassinations and attempted assassinations of US presidents shall we?

    Republican president Abe Lincoln, assassinated by the sort of people who went on to become the bedrock of the Democratic party.

    President William McKinley assassinated by left-wing anarchists.

    President John F Kennedy assassinated by a communist, Russian-trained sniper. No amount of spittle-flecked, tinfoil hat wearing, eye-ball rolling nonsense has ever credibly linked JFK’s assassination to any vast right wing conspiracy, the best intentions of Hollywood notwithstanding.

    Kennedy’s brother runs for president five years later and is gunned down by a Palestinian gunman, those darlings of the international Left.

    President Ford escapes assassination attempt by crazed member of Charlie Manson’s family. Politics unsure but I’m pretty certain Manson wouldn’t have fitted in with the law-and-order, fiscal responsibility, prayers in school, conservative right.

    President Reagan shot by crazed gunman with fetish for left-of-centre film starlet and movie by left-leaning movie director about assassinating a US president.

    Yup a long history of crazy right wing nuts out there assassinating US presidents, isn’t there?

    Just for the record anyone who thinks the US is suddenly divided now needs to examine the 1930, 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. You will find that violence on the streets, anarchy, civil disorder, riots and assassination were quite frequent then. I haven’t noticed much of that lately, well at least not from the US right, those Occupy guys are a bit obnoxious mind you.

    Oh and yes, before I forget about how divided American politics has become and the rise of crazies threatening to kill or impeach the president. You do all remember a certain George W Bush don’t you? Your collective memories can’t be that short can they?

    Obama’s getting it easy compared to ol’ Dubya, at least Obama still has the fawning media’s tongue firmly embedded in his rectal passage.

  • Ah! More counter-factual ‘his-story’/’hearse-story’ from Harry Flashman @ 12:55 am.

    Would anyone care to highlight a single word or phrase of it relevant to the headline posting and topic?

    Conventional Malcolmian cut-and-paste (with hot-link):

    From the Urban Dictionary

    One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

    We each conform to type.

    By the way, Alias @ 12:35 am may be quite correct in predicting that FEMA busts its budget. That might be expected when the Ryan (remember him?) budget reduces the FEMA revenues by 40%. Plus, of course, the Sequester. Luckily, for this year, FEMA are carrying over a surplus from previous years so there is $7.8 billion available — of which $3.6 billion has been allocated to relief work for Sandy.

    Forget global warming. Why have we not had the revealed truth explaining Sandy? Cue (self-appointed) Chaplain John McTernan — surely, separated at birth from his twin, Sammy Wilson MLA, though Sammy got the sense-of-humour and John got the pies.

  • Harry Flashman

    Let’s see;

    Cut and paste? Check.

    Snarky ad hominem comments? Check.

    Incorrect use of term ‘troll’? Check.

    Failure to address points raised? Check.

    Standard post from Malcolm, ticks all the boxes.

  • Sorry, Harry Flashman @ 6:24 am, can’t hear you. Every time I try to tune in to you, there’s just this constant interference of white noise: “Me! Me! Me! Me!”

    More positively, there is something interesting going on in the GOP. Are we witnessing a revival, long overdue, of the East Coast liberal Republican? The local heroes of the hour are Chris Christie and Mike Bloomberg — both likely to be regarded as RINOs in the eyes of the true believers. Bloomberg will now be forever damned, consigned for sins of the She-wolf to Dante’s Ninth Circle for endorsing climate change. Christie was probably already there for vetoing Bill #2946. For the record, lest we be partisan, each of the fourteen sponsors named on the heading of that Bill is a Democrat.

    My US contacts and family, many in NJ (they were still without either power, or telephones or cable — perm one, two or three — as of last evening) are exclusively Dems. Yet I yearn for the civilised Rockefeller Republicans. At least they were receptive to argument, unlike the Tea-partying boneheads

    Michael Tomasky, for the Daily Beast (I’m out of hot-links, but it was posted 4th October) suggested that Romney won the first debate with the Rockefeller Republican move, and Obama didn’t know how to respond. If this is the new Romney, he’d better figure out how.

    However it plays in this election cycle, were that the way ahead (and I can’t see how Christie, for example, could recant sufficiently ever to please the GOP fundies) it would be a much healthier politics. It’ll never catch on in Kansas, of course.

  • wild turkey

    note to gerry lynch

    gerry. you’re good. very good. on this topic you beat the Daily Beast by an entire day

    Obama Reacts to Romney’s Risky Late Ad Buys
    by James Warren Nov 2, 2012 4:45 AM EDT

    ‘Romney is throwing long in states thought to be out of his reach. James Warren reports on Team Obama’s reaction—and their ad-buy edge. President Obama’s campaign is leaving little to chance as it quickly rebuts Mitt Romney’s surprise, even head-scratching, media buys in at least three states assumed to be Obama wins on Election Day: Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.’

    ‘Sorry, Harry Flashman @ 6:24 am, can’t hear you. Every time I try to tune in to you, there’s just this constant interference of white noise: “Me! Me! Me! Me!” ‘

    ‘white noise’ good one in more ways than one. relax buddy. its halloween so they always come out this time of year

  • Rory Carr

    Blomberg has now also come out in support of Obama, citing his positive stance on global warming, made all the more relevant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy ( a Democratic hurricane by all accounts) .

  • Greenflag

    In a surprise announcement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy had reshaped his thinking about the presidential campaign and that as a result, he was endorsing President Obama.

    Now theres a mayor who can spot a change in the climate political or otherwise and will be sure to land on the winning side 😉

    Political savvy ? opportunism ? or does he still retain ambitions for the presidency ?

    As to Mayor Bloomberg’s view on why he could not endorse Romney ?

    “In the past he (Romney) has taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care — but he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the very health care model he signed into law in Massachusetts,” the mayor said of Mr. Romney.

    Romney the ‘pants on fire ‘ candidate is now belatedly discovering that when lying -it’s important that the last part of the lie (his recent adopted positions to cater for the Tea Party bozos must not be too dissimilar from his earlier positions on the same issues ) .

    Bloomberg’s endorsement coming at this late stage may only influence a few independents but nonetheless gives a boost to the Obama campaign .

    Now where will Romney get his last minute boost from ?

    Sheldon Adelson the gambling casino mogul ? ? Pat Robertson ? the moon wired evangelist ? Clint ‘I can talk to empty chairs ‘ Eastwood ? or perhaps Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or even Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ? given that Israel and Pakistan are the only two countries on the planet who would prefer a Romney presidency .

    Here’s the bloomberg full story link.

  • Greenflag

    As it’s Friday I’ll endorse this little non political gem gleaned from a collection of comments made by children with a less than adult understanding of the world and words about them .

    religious studies :

    ‘If you marry two people you are a pigamist
    but morons can marry more than two wives’

    natural history :

    ‘Crabs and creatures like them all belong to a family of crushed asians ‘


    ‘Sir Walter Raleigh circumcised the world with a big clipper’

    geography :

    In Scandinavai the Danish people come from Denmark the Norwegians from Norway and the Lapdancers from Lapland.

    holidays :

    On our activity holiday Dad wanted to ride the hores but mom said they were too ekspensiv.

  • Alias

    Greenflag, aren’t you being a bit inconsistent by citing the endorsement of a fat-cat capitalist (with a net worth of 25 billion) as a reason to vote for Obama?

    Next you’ll be boasting that Goldman Sachs sponsored his campaign bus…

  • Only a hopeless addict has all the US pundit sites bookmarked on a drop-down menu. I am that hopeless addict.

    So to Rory Carr @ 11:22 am and his Democratic hurricane. If Nate Silver and the 538 blog have it aright, the turn-around since the third debate has been as spectacular (and — I’d hope — more solid) than what happened over the first one. 538 are now reckoning a 89/19% possibility of an Obama win — nearly back to the walk-over position at the start of October. There’s also a useful piece on Nevada by Micah Cohen, posing, and answering:

    How has Mr. Obama’s support in Nevada weathered the state’s struggling economy? Or, as Mr. [Jon] Ralston [‘a longtime political reporter in Nevada who runs his own political commentary site’] put it, “How in the world is the president not getting crushed here?”

    One of my regular conversational topics with my Pert Young Piece (she’s a fellow political junkie) is the uncanny parallels of The West Wing and the Obama Presidency. The most recent is how, in the final series and the final throes of the campaign, the Alan Alda character as the Republican has his previous support for nuclear power conflicted by a power plant gone critical. Compare Romney on FEMA.

    As Greenflag @ 11:45 am, my first teaching post had *The Book* pinned on the staff-room noticeboard, wherein was recorded any such gems of adolescent male wit and wisdom. Two stick in my mind, four decades gone:

    Q: How do you check the sex of a mosquito?
    A: Take down its jeans.

    Henry VIII wanted a son, but his wife wouldn’t give him one. So he asked the Pope for a divorce, but he wouldn’t give him one either.

    There was also the complicated diagram of how the Roman army laid out a fort, with arrows directing us to the ‘amoury’.

    Moving swiftly on …

  • Kevsterino

    In reference to your request regarding “The Democratic Party at least smells funny.”

    I’m guilty of paraphrasing the late, great Frank Zappa, who said “Jazz isn’t dead, it just smells funny.” I think that was in “Be-Bop Tango”, but the years have muddled my memory.

    What I meant is both parties have morphed to varying degrees in the last 50 years. The Christian fundamentalists are now in charge of the Republicans and are unopposed in the absence of any moderating presence. Locally here in Missouri, Jack Danforth was a Republican who is still respected in Democratic enclaves. There is now nobody like him in the Missouri Republican party. The Democratic Party was once a coalition of Farmers, Labor and Academia. When the religious Right ascended in the Republican party, the Dems all but gave up on the farmer vote, and with the decline of the family farm, much of our agriculture is run by corporate concerns now anyway. Unions have gotten pretty well beat down to where their membership is only a fraction of what it was in the 50’s, when they had real political power. All that is left is the academics as far as the old coalition goes. Not dead, but they do smell funny.

    This post got a little longer than I originally intended. Just feeling like a windbag this morning. Good coffee.

  • Kevsterino

    @Harry, I love this bit, “Republican president Abe Lincoln, assassinated by the sort of people who went on to become the bedrock of the Democratic party.”

    It made me laugh because you expect people to believe that folks like Booth and Payne et al would have a place in the Democratic Party of the 21st century. C’mon, you can’t really believe that.

    No, I’m talking more about folks like Oklahoma City bombers and the good folks that were mailing faux anthrax to Democratic congressmen ten years ago. The militia types are actually kind of scary. The CSA in southern Missouri are delusional armed fanatics who haven’t voted for a Democrat in 50 years.

    But, of course, you knew that.

  • Greenflag

    @ kevsterino ,

    ‘All that is left is the academics as far as the old coalition goes. Not dead, but they do smell funny.’

    Thanks . I see your point . Without any counterbalancing force outside the ivory towers they ( the academics) sometime’s can’t see the economic woods from the environmental trees . Not a purely American or even middle American phenomenon these days . The same has happened throughout the anglophone world from Dublin to Wellington and from London to Vancouver and all points between and indeed in the non anglophone world .

    Capital or more specifically International Financial Capital has been ‘enfranchised ‘ at the expense of the large majorities of middle and lower income people everywhere . Out of that continuing downward spiral grows the rotten fruit of the ilk of the Oklahoma city ‘bombers ‘ and the maniacal militia types that hover on the edge of Romneyism /Ayn Randism and the insane cult of the individual uber alles 🙁

  • Greenflag

    Alias @ 2 November 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Mayor Bloomberg may be a ‘fat capitalist ‘ but at least he’s a thinking one . There is a reason he’s no longer a Republican and that reason is he understands that the GOP today is now a refuge for the bat shit crazy evangelicals , Tea Party ignorati and a dwindling numbers of old white fart racists and NRA gun lobbyists and warmongers who can’t see beyond the end of their noses .:(

    In any event I’m not anti capitalist per se -I’ve no idea where you drummed up that idea . I’m pro responsible capitalism but entirely opposed to financial sector led capitalism which has via mythological trickle down economics led to the greatest recession since the 1930’s .

    These GOP old farts have seen the USA under the Bush & Reagan and to an extent the Clinton presidencies get ever deeper in debt without calling a halt for over 20 years and they complain that ‘Obama ‘ can’t fix it in 4 years ?

    F***ing hypocrites is what they are .

    But don’t get the impression I’m pro Obama . It’s just that I trust him more than Romney to do the right thing on the international front and that even if the great majority of American middle and lower income classes have zero power in either their workplaces or in political representation they will have a t least a President whi is not a complete out of touch ‘bollix’ when it comes to how the majority of Americans have to live and work in their daily lives .

    Or as one TV ad puts it

    ‘Romney -NOT ONE OF US ‘

  • Greenflag


    Goldman Sachs has been pumping money into the Romney campaign at the rate of 9 to 1 in favour of Rmoney . AA big change from 2008 when it was closer to 50/50 .

    What was it Karl Marx said about getting the financial capitalists to supply the rope which would be used to hang them ;)?

  • wild turkey

    gerry. you’re good. very good. on this topic you beat the Daily Beast by an entire day

    Not just that, but Charlie Cook agrees with me (later the same day) on the import of Obama’s summer barrage of attack ads. I am going to spend the rest of the evening getting drunk to celebrate my own brilliance.

  • pauluk

    Or as one TV ad puts it ‘Romney -NOT ONE OF US ‘

    Indeed, Greenflag, what a clear illustration of the partisan, divisive and negative language coming from the Democrats.

    That’s why there needs to be in change in US politics, and also why Romney’s positive, inclusive, forward-looking message is resonating so effectively with American voters. They are tired of the bickering and stalemate, and only Romney has shown that he has the skills for compromise and bipartisanship in dealing with the majors problems in the American economy.

    I think we are in for quite a surprise next week. I don’t think everything is going to hinge on Ohio. In fact, WaPo is already analysing who the Obama Defectors are, – present tense- as many of them have already voted.

  • Kevsterino

    @pauluk, my ears aren’t what they used to be, but Romney’s positive, inclusive forward-looking message has passed me by with no resonance whatsoever.

    Change is indeed called for, but the change being offered is, par for the course, insufficient.

    In this economy, typically, the incumbent wouldn’t stand a chance. The fact that a few days before polling takes place, it is up in the air, speaks volumes.

    It reminds me of when my voting life began. Best campaign slogan ever. “Why change Dicks in the middle of a screw. Vote for Nixon in ’72.

    all the best

  • Romney’s positive, inclusive, forward-looking message, says pauluk @ 9:55 pm.

    Only one thought: 47%.


  • USA

    Romney’s move into PA was actually a worrying sign for me as it might imply that his people think the state is “in play”. And yes you can now see their efforts. However this evening the phone rang at my house, it was a recorded message from Mitt. He says “Hello Christopher, this is Mitt Romney, the election is getting close….blah blah blah”. All well and good, however my name isn’t Christopher and nor is my wife, so I wonder about the effectiveness of his campaign in PA. Smells like the old “Hail Mary pass.”
    Oh, yes, forgot to mention, both my wife and I are registered Democrats, even more reason to wonder about the effectiveness of Mitt’s spending in PA cause there is absolutely no way we would vote for the GOP.
    Four more years 🙂

  • pauluk

    Hi Malcolm.

    Romney has obviously made some ‘gaffes’, but the interesting thing is, there’s always a kernel of truth in them. You might enjoy this piece by Charles Moore on Romney’s ‘gaffes’.

    Romney, as a governor, clearly displayed that he had the political skills to be an effective bipartisan leader. That’s what is sorely needed in America today.

  • pauluk

    Hey USA,

    Good to have you on Slugger.

    Thought you might enjoy this little poster!

  • Kevsterino

    pauluk, Romney’s platform in Massachusetts is clearly distinguishable from the various stands he took during the primary campaign. Everything he accomplished with bipartisanship in MA he condemned from coast to coast. I think that is one of the biggest problems he has with nonaligned voters. He wasn’t beholden to any right wingers as governor. He would be as POTUS.

  • pauluk

    Not at all, Kevsterino.

    He’s a born pragmatist. He can work with people that he doesn’t necessarily agree with.

    There are many Democrats who have recognised this in him who will be actually voting for him. He’s a compromiser who can help bring people together, not alienate them.

    I could probably be described as a right-leaning conservative, but I think Romney’s tactical abilities in finding consensus and solutions would be good for America and all Americans.

  • pauluk @ 10:26 pm:

    Read my previous posts in this thread. Romney became Governor in Mass as a centrist. He adopted positions which suited a strongly liberal-Democratic electorate. Hooray! Mass got Romneycare! He was unequivocal that he would preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose. He supported and campaigned for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Iniative (i.e. cap and trade). He approved the issue of single-sex marriage certificates. He snatched control of the Big Dig.

    Virtually overnight, getting a whiff of the 2008 nomination, he reversed all those positions. Suddenly he was playing footsie with the neo-Cons, the pro-lifers, the coal combines, the Coalition for Marriage. He was anything but bi-partisan and consensual. By the end of his term his job-satisfaction figure was down from 61% to 38% (only two of the fifty governors had a worse public standing — and I think one was bound for gaol). He effectively walked out of his job as Governor:
    ¶ he announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election;
    ¶ spent twenty-nine weeks of 2006 out of the State; and
    ¶ dumped from great height on the State Republican Party and on his Deputy, Kerry Healey — she’s a TCD PhD and a bright girl — who unfairly inherited the odium and duly went down by 20-points in the 2006 Election.

    Come the first debate, we have the re-invented cooing-dove Rockefeller Republican …

    How does any person of ‘principle’ flip on so many issues, so sequentially?

  • pauluk

    Malcolm. I don’t think I’m going to influence your opinion on Romney, so, I hope you have a great weekend.

    Just a small word of advice, make sure you stock up on some anti-depressants for next week.

  • The thing that amazes me about Romney is his ability to execute a full 360 degree pirouette on abortion without dropping about 10 zillion points in the polls. Do not underestimate this guy’s political skills. He went from being absolutely pro-choice as governor of Mass, then through several stages to being absolutely pro-life during the Republican campaigns, then slickly through several stages back to being absolutely pro-choice again as he realises women in Virginia, Ohio and Colorado won’t vote for him otherwise.

    I always thought that abortion was the one issue you had to be absolutely straight with people about, where you were expected to have strong principles and stick by them. People might respect you even if they disagreed with you, but they didn’t respect evasion or trimming in the wind on an issue of such strong principle. This guy has pulled off the political manoeuvre of the century. I tend to stick to the numbers, and the numbers say Obama, but Romney is a hell of a political operator and I could be wrong.

    Being a flip-flopper buried John Kerry. Axelrod, who is very good, has tried to impale Romney on the stake of flip-floppery, and while he took a hit, Romney has just sort of ploughed through it. Incredible.

  • pauluk

    Romney has a phlegmatic personality which means that he is a consensus person. He works within whatever situation he finds himself for the benefit of all those around him.

    He has been extremely successful in whatever he has chosen to do in his life, and I think he would make a very good president in such a divided country as America now is.

    The past 12 years have been so divisive and Romney’s temperament would go a long way in helping to heal some of the deep wounds that have been inflicted by both sides.

  • Harry Flashman

    An endorsement from Nanny Bloomberg, a vote-winner and no mistake, the man who can micro-mange New York to such an extent that he can tell you how much trans fat you can have in your burger or the size of carbonated beverage you are allowed to buy but can’t actually manage to keep the lights on in the biggest city in the United States during a bad storm.

    No wonder Big Gub’mint types adore him, the sort of tycoon that lefties love. He can achieve miracles of government control when it comes to the carbohydrate intake of private individuals but ask him to do his job and make sure the commercial hub of the United States is properly prepared for when an entirely predictable storm hits his city and he falls apart.

    Just for the record Bloomberg has past form in such hopelessness against entirely predictable weather phenomena. A few years back a heavy snow storm brought the Big Apple to a standstill on his watch, streets and highways were impassable for days and he was left twiddling his thumbs. The man who can pass laws telling you how much salt you can eat is utterly incapable of putting the same damn salt on 42nd Street in a snowstorm.

    Hey see all those multi-trillions of dollars that Obama spent over the past four years, any idea what it was spent on? Did it buy flood defences for the Eastern seaboard? Did it pay for improved electrical infrastructure so that 17 states in the Atlantic north east wouldn’t be without power for a week after a bad storm hit a couple of dozen coastal counties in NJ and NY?

    Where did all that Big Gub’mint money go exactly? What did you Big Gub’mint supporters get for all the dough Obama has blown? Because I sure as hell can’t see what it bought you other than more foodstamps and unionised government workers.

    Gotta love the Nanny State, Big Gub’mint always there to kiss the bruises on your knee and tell you all will be well, even as you sink into the oblivion of history.

    The west is absolutely rooting-tootly fecked, it is now clear beyond any doubt, you can argue over the deck chairs on the Titanic all you like but I thank God I moved to Asia years ago.

    We still have a future, and you owe us all the money.

  • pauluk

    WaPo has a succinct and pretty good summary of the campaign so far,

    The Democrats who predicted the 2012 campaign</a

  • Neil

    Where did all that Big Gub’mint money go exactly?

    Well there’s $1,400,000,000,000 to get you started. Of course Obama didn’t start either of those wars.

    The west is absolutely rooting-tootly fecked, it is now clear beyond any doubt

    Does this mean your prior confidence in a Romney victory has been somewhat shaken?

  • Greenflag

    The Economist sums up it’s choice on why it would re-elect President Obama .

    As a result, this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

    Many a Mitt makes a muddle

    Mr Obama’s shortcomings have left ample room for a pragmatic Republican, especially one who could balance the books and overhaul government. Such a candidate briefly flickered across television screens in the first presidential debate. This newspaper would vote for that Mitt Romney, just as it would for the Romney who ran Democratic Massachusetts in a bipartisan way (even pioneering the blueprint for Obamacare). The problem is that there are a lot of Romneys and they have committed themselves to a lot of dangerous things.

    Here’s the full story for those who are still wondering how a conservative business orientated world reknowned and respected journal could favour Obama over the Rmoney man .-

  • pauluk @ 9:37am recommends a worthy article from Wednesday’s Washington Post as a succinct and pretty good summary of the campaign so far.

    I leave aside his value-judgements (and mine) to add that Michael Gerson gets two Post columns each week. I read them, but am always aware whence Gerson comes. He was Dubya Bush’s chief speech-writer. He was the onlie true begetter of the “axis of evil”. His comparison of Saddam’s mushroom cloud as a smoking gun was an essential to generating the whole pre-Iraqi War mythology.

    If we really want to plumb the depths, Gerson was Chuck Colson’s ghost writer — if you’ve forgotten Tricky Dicky Nixon’s gofer and the first Nixonite to go into chokey for it, well done you.

    So, yes, Gerson is an essential read. I’d also be looking askance — if only for the anticipatory use of a future perfect tense — at anyone with his axe to grind commending that Obama will have left the nation divided, disillusioned and less governable.

    Take Gerson, but with a pinch of salt: the salt could be Colbert King’s wider, and equally partisan, view of a (not ‘the’) context of this election: Mitt Romney could be the next Andrew Johnson.

  • If we’re trading newspaper editorials, what about this one from the WaPo (big in northern Virginia):

    (We can do this all day, you know. It isn’t going to influence the election. Nor help us come to a better understanding of what’s actually happening.)

    THROUGH ALL THE flip-flops, there has been one consistency in the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: a contempt for the electorate.

    How else to explain his refusal to disclose essential information? Defying recent bipartisan tradition, he failed to release the names of his bundlers — the high rollers who collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. He never provided sufficient tax returns to show voters how he became rich.

    How, other than an assumption that voters are too dim to remember what Mr. Romney has said across the years and months, to account for his breathtaking ideological shifts? He was a friend of immigrants, then a scourge of immigrants, then again a friend. He was a Kissingerian foreign policy realist, then a McCain-like hawk, then a purveyor of peace. He pioneered Obamacare, he detested Obamacare, then he found elements in it to cherish. Assault weapons were bad, then good. Abortion was okay, then bad. Climate change was an urgent problem; then, not so much. Hurricane cleanup was a job for the states, until it was once again a job for the feds.

    The same presumption of gullibility has infused his misleading commercials (see: Jeep jobs to China) and his refusal to lay out an agenda. Mr. Romney promised to replace the Affordable Care Act but never said with what. He promised an alternative to President Obama’s lifeline to young undocumented immigrants but never deigned to describe it.

    And then there has been his chronic, baldly dishonest defense of mathematically impossible budget proposals. He promised to cut income tax rates without exploding the deficit or tilting the tax code toward the rich — but he refused to say how he could bring that off. When challenged, he cited “studies” that he maintained proved him right. But the studies were a mix of rhetoric, unrealistic growth projections and more serious economics that actually proved him wrong.

    Etc., etc.

  • Greenflag

    @pauluk ,

    Florida coming back within Obama’s grasp while Ohio leans more towards Obama ,

    I suggest two cartons of fresh eggs for Wednesday mornings breakfast circa 7.00 am GMT

    Here’s the instructions

    1) Place both egg cartons on breakfast table and open.

    2) Sit at breakfast table directly in front of open egg cartons ,

    3) In the best tradition of Japanese greeting customs
    bend forward bowing profusely several times making face contact with egg shell surfaces with just enough force to cause contents to eject onto nose , face hair etc .

    4) You can utter the traditional ‘banzai ‘ if it makes you feel any better . In the interest of maintaining your kamikaze style forecasts for future elections including the next British Conservative victory I’ll not recommend Japanese Roulette as a cure for your lack of predictive skills .

    Should I prove wrong I will as always take as my medicine that old remedy favoured by the Irish Kamikaze pilot who flew 12 successful missions and lived to tell of his undying devotion for the Empire 😉

  • Greenflag

    Which Romney will people vote for .

    1) Romney the ‘old white guy’
    2) Rmoney the Bain Capital vulture capitalist
    3) Nice Romney the former Massachussetts Governor.
    4) Romney the Outsourcer of jobs to China
    5) Romney the Tea Party knucklehead
    6) Romney my budget deficit reduction plan doesn’t add up but don’t worry until after the election .
    7) Romney the bellicose get tougher with everybody including Russia our greatest threat .
    8) Romney the favourite candidate for Israelis and Pakistanis .
    9) Romney who established Obamacare in Massachusetts when Governor
    10 ) Romney the president who will get rid of what he established in Massachusetts .

    I could list another 25 or more flip flop Romneys but at this stage Romney is beginning to make the former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi (now sentenced to jail) look like honesty personified.

  • pauluk

    You guys are so funny. Tuesday will tell the tell. Looking forward to it.

    Here’s my favourite poster of the election campaign.

    Have a good weekend!

  • Harry Flashman

    “Does this mean your prior confidence in a Romney victory has been somewhat shaken?”

    No, I actually still believe he could squeak it but my point is that a Romney victory won’t actually make a difference in the long run.

    The US and even more so western Europe is now swirling around the pan of the toilet of history.

    All you true believers who think that raising another trillion or so in taxes or borrowing another fifty trillion from China or implementing another 2,700 page law on healthcare that no one could possibly understand or passing legislation on forcing Catholic colleges to provide contraception to 30-year-old students (yes, 30-year old students) or propagandising about the imminent global warming, cooling, staying just the same, or whatever the current issue de nos jours is with the enfeebled Left are going to look pretty damn stupid when you try explaining the collapse of the west on your watch to your grandkids.

    As you lot wet your panties about those non-issues, billions of Asians are getting on with the real world and getting richer and educating their kids about important stuff. They don’t fret about the things that get you all hot and bothered, they’re looking at the big picture.

    The music has stopped, the party’s over, there aren’t enough dollars or euros that can be printed by Zimbabwean-style central banks to finance the greatest Ponzi scheme in human history; the post War western welfare state.

    It’s over folks, Romney might delay the imminent fiscal collapse of the west for a half decade or so but ultimately it doesn’t matter whether he or Obama wins, you’re all right royally screwed.

  • Look, pauluk @ 12:22 pm — and any others of similar … err … bent, I don’t have a vote in this Election. Nor does my American-resident, UK-passport-keeping daughter. Yes, as a clan, they are Democrats — I’d guess my son-in-law and his relations have all done their duty by now. Since they are all voters in NY, NJ or CA, I doubt they’ll greatly change the plot.

    In a hundred hours or so, we’ll know who will be President after 20 Jan 2013. Yes, I’d hope it were Obama; but I’m not certain — though, again, all the indicators are that way inclined. So be it. End of.

    Aside from that, I bought my copy a day or so after publication, on DC’s Union Station as it happens (and finished it on the ‘red-eye’ back to Heathrow). It was only when I read today’s first leader in The Guardian I was reminded:

    In Stephen King’s remarkable time-travel novel 11.22.63, the central character, Jake, journeys back from the America of 2011 to the America of the early 1960s. While he is there, a woman challenges him to tell her one good thing about the future. “I’ll give you two for the price of one,” Jake eventually replies. “The cold war is over and the president is a black man.” The woman’s jaw drops. “You’re serious?” she stammers in disbelief. “Yes, I am,” Jake replies. The woman ponders this almost inconceivable news from the future. Finally she asks, very haltingly: “Is he … doing a good job?” Jake explains that opinions of the president vary but, “If you want mine, he’s doing as well as anyone could expect, given the complexities.”

    For the record, I reckon the US hard-back dust-cover is far better than the UK one, which goes against the run of play, even when, as here in front of me, it still has the sticker, ‘30% off list price’ (which means it cost me $21 — £13 or so — and worth every cent).

    Jake’s is not the most effulgent of encomiums, and properly so. It’s about where I’d stand, however.

    Above all, I’d hope I didn’t spend my time asserting that my dog in the fight has already won. That’s what makes bookies ride around in big Mercs.

  • By the way, the Obama reference in 11.22.63 is at the start of Chapter 27 (page 689-690 in this edition).

    While I was choring away (the gentle art of household mismanagement) I was musing. Perhaps I’m sidling up to Harry Flashman @ 1:59 pm (though don’t hold that against him, or me). He says there: … my point is that a Romney victory won’t actually make a difference in the long run.

    To which I’d add, “and probably a good thing, too.”

    It seems to me we’ve had an excess of Great Historical Figures in my life-time. One gave us a Tausendjähriges Reich. Another was a Man of Steel. Presidents for Life. And the odd Iron Lady and Iron Frau. I’m even a bit squeamish about “Leaders of the Free World” and the like (they start believing their own press hype).

    Inevitably, in Enoch Powell’s axiom:

    All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.

    Such Ozymandias figures either hang around a bit too long (which invariably is bad for the body politic) or meet a sticky end, even dangling starkers outside a Milanese petrol station.

    Off-topic. Irrelevant. Waste of band-width. Nice to get it off my chest. Sorry.

  • pauluk

    Obama’s ‘revenge’ remark gives a little glimpse into his psyche. Nasty and vindictive. He would make a good liberal.