My 2012 Election Predictions 4 Days Out: Obama Hatred v. Slow Steady Progress

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(Follow Tim Suttle on Twitter at: @Tim_Suttle)

Where is the Presidential Race Right Now?
As I wrote a couple of days ago, Romney’s momentum is gone. His peak for support, in terms of polling, was on or around October 12th. Since that time, President Obama has continued to build his advantage in the polls, especially in the state-wide polling data, and especially in key swing states like Iowa  and Ohio. Nate Silver’s 538 Blog is the best model. Instead of picking a winner, Silver gives probabilities for winning the election. As of today, Silver gives Obama an 81% chance of winning, Romney 19%. In the major polls released or updated yesterday, not a single one gave Romney the advantage in Ohio. Only one poll gave him an advantage in either Virginia or Iowa. Florida is the only good news for camp Romney where it looks as though Obama is trailing.

When the polls spit out the same numbers day after day, polling agency upon polling agency, it’s time to stop thinking about margin of error. Obama has what Silver dubbed an electoral college “firewall,” Romney hasn’t been able to crack. Obama is running 2-3 points ahead of his national average in state polling. Ohio, in particular, has not changed in the past few days as the wide cross-section of polls are begin to resemble one another more closely.

So, minds are made up. The election is no longer about convincing people, it’s about getting out the vote. Here it is strength against strength.

  • Romney’s strength: is that conservatives hate Obama more than they hate anyone or anything. They are motivated to vote. It’s one of the peculiar elements of this presidential election that make this race different from any in my lifetime. Somewhere around 15-25% of the country thinks that President Obama is the personification of pure evil. The vitriolic hatred with which the far right has attacked the president is so powerful that Romney has been able to take their support for granted, and since the first debate he has run as a moderate.
  • Obama’s strength: is his grass-roots voter turn-out machine. It’s unparalleled by the Romney camp, especially in certain key swing states (Nevada in particular, but also Ohio and Virginia).

Why Is Obama Leading?
Surprisingly, some of the most articulate arguments in favor of retaining the president for another four years have come from conservative Republicans. In particular David Frum and David Brooks – both conservative writers – have summed Obama’s first term this way:

“When President Obama took office in January 2009 the US was plunging downward into the worst recession since World War II. By summer 2009, the US had begun a weak but real recovery, which at last seems to be accelerating into an expansion that more and more Americans can feel. President Obama gave the order that killed Osama bin Laden. He ended the war in Iraq on acceptable terms. He is enforcing tightening sanctions against Iran, inspiring hopes of a peaceful end to that country’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, his opponents in Congress have behaved about as badly and irresponsibly as any opposition group since the congressional Democrats of the mid-1970s forced the defeat of South Vietnam. And as for conservatives in the country – well, I’ve posted my thoughts elsewhere on that particular plunge into paranoia and extremism.” – David Frum on his blog.

“…President Obama has lived up to the promise of that day [his inauguration]. In office, he has generally behaved with integrity and in a way befitting a man with his admirable character. Sure, he has sometimes stooped to the cynical maneuver. Contemptuous of his opponents, he has given himself permission to do the nasty and negative thing. But politics is a rough business and nobody comes out unsullied. In moral terms, he hasn’t let us down. If he’s re-elected, his administration would probably remain scandal-free. Given the history of second terms, that is no small thing. Moreover, Obama has been a prudent leader. He’s made no rash or disastrous decisions. He’s never acted out of some impetuous passion. His policies toward, say, China, Europe and Iranhave had a sense of sober balance. If re-elected, he would probably commit no major blunders, which also is no small thing.” – David Brooks in the New York Times

Why is Obama leading? At least part of the explanation has to include the fact that the economy is making progress and people think he should get some credit for it. Romney staked his campaign on the idea that he could pin the slow economic recovery on Obama, but as Frum and Brooks both argue, apart from those who don’t consider the president to be the personification of pure evil, most actually think that Obama has been faithful steward of the economy and should be kept at the helm.

Why is Romney Tailing Off?
Both Frum and Brooks follow the above assessments of Obama’s first term with the reasons why they are supporting Romney in this election. Their rationale is essentially this: Republicans in congress are so entrenched and unwilling to compromise that they will never allow any progress with a Democrat in the White House. If Obama wins Republicans will continue to thwart everything the Obama administration tries to get done. Brooks says that Republicans in congress are so scared of the right wing of their own party that they’ll never work out compromises with the president for fear of a Tea Party challenge in the next primary. Brooks says it this way:

“The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washingtonequation: House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.” – David Brooks, Dallas Morning News

Why is Romney tailing off? Because his widest appeal is that he will more effectively cater to the childish antics of the right wing of the Republican party. Romney will be the mom who bribes her children with candy in order to get them to behave. It’s not a bad strategy, to tell the truth, but so far not a winning one for Romney.

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  • scott stone

    Romney’s strength: is that conservatives hate Obama more than they hate anyone or anything. As a somewhat conservative individual I’m a bit offended by this remark. Show me the poll where 50% +1 in the conservative electorate is voting for Romney because they hate Obama and I might then agree with you. The wide sweeping position that conservatives as a monolithic block hate Obama is rather reckless. I have many conservative friends, as I do liberal ones, and I’m sure they’d find this remark offensive too.
    There isn’t a monopoly on hate in the GOP. Just look at the democrats who still suffer from Bush derangement syndrome. Accusing conservatives, which I kind of put my self in that camp only sort of, of making our decision on who to elect out of hate just continues the false narrative. It’s hard to want to have a dialogue with someone when they think you’re a hate monger.

    • rod ellis

      Excellent comment, where’s the “like” button?

  • Claude

    I’m wondering what people think of Romney’s latest pitch to extort the presidency by threatening havoc from his own rabid party if Obama gets re-elected.

    Vote for me, or: BANG!

    • Brian

      Seriously? It’s more like the Democratic Party that is threatening havoc if the Divined is not re-elected.

      Obama has proven he was not ready due to having NO EXPERIENCE ST ANYTHING. Obama has proven he does not deserve to be re-elected. No one can say they are better off because of his polices.

    • rod ellis

      Really? I guess you missed the Michael Moore superpac ad where they had the old people saying they would “burn this Mother Fu__er down” if Romney wins?

    • Eric

      i encourage you if you feel this way to please take a look at ads from Obama’s part that were made by, where the same thing you are calling someone out for is being done from the other side but you fail to mention that part.

    • Claude

      You guys are a trip. Oh noes! The Black Panthers are coming after you!! Please provide one credible cite as evidence of this total bs. And I want to see some birth certificates before you go vote.

      You also seem blissfully unaware of what I was alluding to. Both David Frum and David Brooks, the conservative political analysts Tim Suttle quoted above, admitted that Congressional Republicans have been a disaster and suggested that if Obama is reelected that these members of their own party might blow up the government and tank the economy out of sheer ideological spleen. Romney insinuated as much, as well! We are not talking supporters, but the national GOP!

      I would hate to be Mitt Romney on November 7 when he faces the wretch in the mirror who sold his soul for nothing.

  • sundaybest

    if Obama is winning, it only proves that Americans need another 8 years to prove they are not wise enough to select a right prisident–same mistake they picked Bush.

  • Brian

    ALL the is coming from the Democratic / Obama side! To say different is ludicrous! Not one Democratic election campaign site has been defaced or damaged but numourous Republican campaign sites have. Not one Republican is standing at a voting center threatening bodily harm or intimidation but the a Democratics have thugs and racist groups, Black Panthers, threatening riots and intimidating voters.

    Obama has done NOTHING to deserve re-election. He has done nothing but divided this country and dug us deeper into debt. NO ONE can name one positive “change” Mr. Obama has done for the people of this country. He will raise your taxes regardless of what he is telling you now. The Obama hype is over! He is no one special! He has nothing new to offer. The excuse train has left the station. He has been in charge for the past 4 years. Stop blaming President Bush! It’s time to tske responsibility your your total lack of leadership. You were not ready for this position. You had no credible experience at anything! You FAILED! It’s time to man-up and step aside. Let those with real experience turn this country around.

  • Cindy M

    The Author is very bias and he takes Obama’s side blindly. I am very offended by the comment of the author and his opinion has no weigh to me at this point. If you want to be successful in writing, be neutral. Thing like this makes you look stupid.

  • Hope Wishful

    I don’t know Romney personally, but I trust the guy because of his religion belief. I know that good Mormon loves and fears God and does good deeds for others and don’t expect them to return favor. I want someone honest like Romney to run the country.
    Can you tell I am sick and tired of the president? His wife spends money like she has never seen dollar bills in her life, and she is the most wasteful first lady in the whole history. His children is wasteful and more into “yeah I am a president of United states’ daughter, I can cry if I want to”

    Why don’t he set up good example and tell his family that a lot of us are jealous because we hardly have enough food to feed our family. The way Obama brags about killing Ben Laden made me sick in my stomach because he had nothing to do with it, I praise those who risk their life in doing so, not the one who sits behind his desk and reap the credit.

  • diligentdave

    I think that the motivation behind Romney, even in Ohio, but in Virginia, and elsewhere, is that they see his record in three organizations (Bain Capital, the SL 2002 Winter Olympics, & as governor of Massachusetts) and see that, yes, indeed, he turned big things around BIG TIME! What has Obama turned around? Joe Biden?

    The ‘get out the vote’ machine Dems may have in Ohio, I don’t think, will necessarily match the “get up and go” that regular working people, moms, dads, family people, business people, who are scared both what Obama has done to hurt them and this country, and what he will yet do. I, personally, see it as an existential question. I honestly don’t believe the U.S. can survive this spendthrift president!

    And I see Mitt Romney attending far more to the duties of the Office of the President than this current “Campaigner-in-Chief”! Another visit to “The View”? Some more glitz and glamor in Hollywood, Las Vegas, or elsewhere.

    Conservatives and even just anyone who struggles to make ends meet seeing how their country is spending it’s way into oblivion, has a “get out and vote” mentality, not because someone offered them a ride, but because they can get up on their own two feet, and get themselves to the voting booth! They don’t necessarily need “hand holding”. They’re responsible adults, who can do things themselves, in the interest of themselves, their family, and their nation!

    Obama-Biden is not so much the ticket necessarily of “pure evil” (though, still, there IS plenty of that between them), as it is the ticket of “pure idiocy”! Slogan, buzz words, and catchy phrases don’t pay my mortgage. They don’t put food on my table. And they don’t keep the electricity on, the gas bill paid, or the water bill caught up.

    Remember, voters, “Fool me once, shame on you! But, fool me TWICE, and shame on ME !!!!!”

    Let’s have NO MORE SHAME! NO MORE BLAME! by having NO MORE OBAMA (in the White House)!

    • Claude

      Right, I’m sure you were protesting in the streets when Bush turned a SURPLUS into a a big DEFICIT, charging tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare Part D on the national credit card, plus the trillion dollars in wealth lost on his watch during the great crash of 2008. No doubt you were crying For Shame! For Shame! as the tears rolled down your cheeks thinking of what Bush had done to your grandchildren.

      Obama gave you a payroll tax cut, he made it possible for your kids to stay on your health insurance into their twenties, he made it illegal for insurance companies to deny you and yours insurance based on preexisting conditions, he ended predatory practices by credit card companies, he extended unemployment benefits for those who lost their jobs during the Bush recession, he rescued the auto industry when there was little support for bailing them out, he ordered the hit on America’s Public Enemy #1, and on and on. What has Mitt Romney done for you? Expressed utter contempt for half the country! Yet half of you will vote for him anyway, despite his disdain for you. It’s sad, really.

  • Matthew

    A tipoff to the ignorance of many Obama haters begins with their declaring that the president is a socialist. To the ignorant, a socialist is much the same as a communist, and a communist, as we all know, is something horrible. Wake up! President Obama is a slightly right of center Democrat. Claude (at 1:42 p.m.) has listed a number of the president’s accomplishments, but Obama hasn’t done as much as he could have to keep people in their homes or to prevent the next financial meltdown. The reason to vote for President Obama mainly rests on the fact that he has done some good–despite opposition from Republicans mostly interested in ruining his administration. Why would you give your vote to people who have done even less, far less, for the people they have sworn to protect and serve? This election day, you may have to choose the best of the bad. Just think for yourself, use common sense and make your choice. If you feel swayed by your emotions, try to use your head, instead.

  • m.kypar

    Read Ralph Nader. Those who don’t have no one to blame but themselves as this country goes steadily downhill.

  • Don

    When the repubs say that Obama has done nothing and when they are reminded what he has done ,they say”well I just don’t like him—I don’t know why I don’t like him —I just don’t like him and no one will listen to me and I am so sad

    • Claude

      Ha ha, too true!