The nature of elections is to surprise. Candidates who are thought to be safe lose races where they insufficiently recognized potential threats. Incumbents with enormous built-in advantages squander their opportunities to define the opposition. Challengers lose because they fail to adequately inspire and motivate the base to engage in an election, overselling themselves to the meandering middle and losing the people who actually walk precincts and get people to the polls. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have made none of these mistakes. And so the polls today are close as they have ever been.
Yet I still think there’s potential for this election to surprise. John Podhoretz said months ago that he believed if Obama wins, it would be a narrow victory, likely with one state as the margin – but that if Romney wins, it will be a wave election. I don’t think a wave is possible at this point – we’d be seeing the signs of it already, with Romney leading definitively in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and flirting with Michigan and Pennsylvania. He is leading in none of those states as the polls tell it – he is either matching Obama stride for stride or he’s a few steps behind. But the coalition he’s forming in each state is relatively similar: he is maximizing the white vote and retaking the suburbs, winning all but a slice of blue collar Catholics who still seem off limits, and performing the best among independents (albeit a more conservative faction than it was four years ago) as any Republican candidate in the past two decades.
The Romney-Ryan culturally Midwestern ticket is doing what it was meant to do: give Republicans a real shot at states they have struggled economically all across the Rust Belt. I maintain this is still a short-sighted strategy for the party – that they should have focused more in this election on solidifying their appeal to Hispanics and Asian voters (more on that in today’s feature) – but as a short-term strategy, it could prove enough to win a close election.
Except… it may not be a close election…
And this (from Politico) regarding all that much vaunted early voting…
Sometimes it’s worth revisiting a story just to look at the media treatment it receives. After more than a month of media narratives about the advantage Democrats are getting in the early vote, Gallup’s poll from yesterday (analyzed by Guy in the Green Room) showed just the opposite — that Romney had a solid lead among those who have already cast ballots, and a lead among those who plan to vote on Election Day. How did Politico report this today? By calling it a draw:
Neither candidate has an edge among early voters nationally, the Gallup survey found. One-third of Barack Obama backers plan to vote early, as do 34 percent of Romney supporters. So far, 15 percent of Obama voters have shown up at the polls, compared to 17 percent of Romney voters.
Wait for it … Wait for it: ‘Sandy Stole the Election': Left, Media Prepare to Delegitimize Romney Victory