Political Animal


September 10, 2012 5:30 PM If It’s Really 1980….

By Ed Kilgore

The Romney campaign polling memo I mentioned earlier today relies for some of its certainty about Mitt’s election on the familiar argument that it’s 1980 all over again, and thus Mitt is destined to win because he’s “acceptable” to voters ready to “fire” Barack Obama.

Lord knows I’ve tried to blow up the 1980 analogy again and again. WaPo’s Greg Sargent gave it the heave-ho again just today.

So let’s try this: if it is 1980 all again, why is Mitt Romney spending all this incredible amount of money and exposing himself to the vicissitudes of the campaign trail? And why is he veering off into all sorts of dangerous territory involving health reform and taxes and God and so forth? Shouldn’t he just calmly talk about how he and Ann are looking forward to living in the White House, and make sure he’s rehearsed Reagan’s “Are you better off….” line for the debates? And why on earth did he pick Paul Ryan as a running-mate? Was he that over-confident?

Hard to say, but at this point, anyone touting the 1980 analogy should be mocked. Maybe “there they go again” is the right putdown.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • mudwall jackson on September 10, 2012 6:04 PM:

    i don't remember where i read it (or heard it. might have been here or elsewhere) but someone took a look at the 1980 election results but substituted 2012 demographics. reagan's landslide disappears and it's plausible that carter could have won.

  • Th on September 10, 2012 6:14 PM:

    I so hope Romney makes the really stupid mistake of bringing up the "better off than 4 years ago" crap at a debate. Talk about a floater down the middle.

  • c u n d gulag on September 10, 2012 6:22 PM:

    It ain't 1980 anymore.
    Obama ain't no Carter.
    And Romney sure as Hell ain't no Reagan.

    Outside of that, it's EXACLTY like 1980!

  • NCSteve on September 10, 2012 6:29 PM:

    In October, 1864, Jefferson Davis gave a speech in which he declared that the South would force Sherman to reenact Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. Davis, a West Pointer, was alluding to the fact that Sherman had cut himself loose from his supply lines which, to Davis, was kinda sorta like how Napoleon overextended his supply lines until they broke.

    When Grant heard about the comment, he said "Mr. Davis has not made it quite plain who is to furnish the snow for this Moscow retreat."

    Likewise, Mr. Romney has not made it quite plain who is to furnish an Iranian Hostage Crisis that would have to have began on November 4, 2011 to have the same impact on the vote.

  • Doug on September 10, 2012 8:44 PM:

    What do the Republicans have so that they're NOT forced to dredge up false analogies with previous elections to maintain morale?
    They're not only behind in the polls but, more importantly, their candidate/s' approval ratings and support seems to have flatlined. Their campaign is based on platitudes and stereotypes that likely poll well with the GOP "base", but the base isn't enough to win a general election. Nor can R/R widen their support to gain "independent" voters without losing that very base.
    They HAVE to get those undecided voters, which is where the obfuscation and lies come in. However, every obfuscation and every lie makes the base that much more nervous about R/R's real intentions, which calls for more reassurance of the base by the R/R campaign. Which then leads to more obfuscation and lies to try and get some, any, undecided voters. Which is followed by more reassurance for the base and yet another decrease in support outside the GOP base.
    Trouble is, the R/R campaign can't even use the "Are you better off..." line because that focuses attention on economics, which focuses attention on the Ryan "budget" overall and its effects on Medicaid and seniors in particular and they really, really don't want voters paying attention to THAT until AFTER it's too late.
    The GOP has R/R at the top and quite a few nut-jobs and weasels further down-ticket. Their only hope was to build up a big lead at the very beginning and hope that, once challenged, they could maintain that lead. Right now it doesn't look like they're going to get away with it. Which leads me to conclude that these attempts to compare THIS election with the 1980 election are efforts by people in the R/R campaign trying to convince themselves, let alone the electorate, that it's 1980 all over again.
    The thing about panic is that it can spread very, very quickly...

  • Roddy McCorley on September 11, 2012 2:48 AM:

    Maybe what Mitt means by "1980 all over again" is that he's got a treasonous plan to negotiate with a hostile foreign government in order to sway the election?

  • Peter C on September 11, 2012 9:26 AM:

    Yes, it is clearly stupid and desperate to make such an absurd claim. Back then, Clint Eastwood was an impressive person.