Political Animal


September 27, 2012 9:42 AM “Vote Now” Versus “Here’s My New Message”

By Ed Kilgore

Whether or not you believe the polls that continue show Barack Obama slowly but surely building a sizable lead over Mitt Romney (the most dramatic recent one probably being the 50/44 margin for the incumbent in the latest Gallup tracking poll, one of the few Republicans have touted as accurate in the past), there’s undeniably a different mood in the two campaigns that’s most notable when they are operating in the same place. RCP’s Erin McPike, who has no reason whatsoever to favor Obama, noticed it repeatedly in her latest dispatch from Ohio:

The opponents’ events were a study in contrasts of not just content but tone and goals.
For months, those inside the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have scoffed when the Obama camp touted its bigger and more sophisticated field team, saying it’s just lipstick on a pig, unable to compensate for the electorate’s great economic pain. Nevertheless, the logistical advantage the president’s team has built — which is apparently evident in a recent series of non-partisan state polls showing him with a sizable lead — was on full display when both candidates rallied their supporters at multiple events in Ohio throughout the day.

Obama, she notes, not only has a well-honed stump speech full of applause lines, but is the headliner at rallies that relentlessly pound away at the urgency of voting as early as is possible. It’s clear his campaign wants to “bank” as many votes as it can when the campaign dynamics are favorable, while minimizing its task (not to mention the risks of polling-place problems) on November 6.

Romney, on the other hand, is “still honing his message,” and doesn’t seem to have his surrogates on the same page.

Now it’s always possible, of course, that Romney will finally settle on some thematics during the debates, and if any one line or set of line seems to go well, that’s what we’ll hear all over the country. If he decides to accuse Obama of being a spy for China, he certainly has the resources to make sure every single Ohioan hears about that before November 6. But it’s impossible at this late date not to wonder how this supposed organizational genius with the most excited party base since 1860 and freshly enabled by the courts to pour money into his campaign with a reckless abandon never seen before—wound up where he is today, stumbling around Ohio in search of a message while his supporters focus feverishly on denying the evidence he’s got a problem.

Yeah, if Mitt loses the post-mortems are going to be pretty amusing. And I’ll bet the man never voluntarily sets foot in Ohio as long as he lives.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on September 27, 2012 9:59 AM:

    It's ok - Mitt says it's still early in the campaign.

    Yeah, the Mitt-anic's hit several icebergs, but no need to panic!
    The Captain will yet right the ship. So, stay in the bar and enjoy a few more cocktails, THEN check on the lifeboats - but you won't need to, since the ship if fine, and on course!

    Time to PANIC!!!

    Come to find the ships in real trouble, and now the lifeboats are full of Republican consultants who evacuated because they want to have a career after the Mitt-anic sinks!


    First Allen Keyes, then McCain and Palin, and now Romney and Ryan.
    Obama's the luckiest political candidate in the 21st Century!
    I don't see anyone later on being any luckier - it's just not humanly possible to run 3 elections in a row against opposition this week.

  • Napoleon on September 27, 2012 10:10 AM:

    We don't want him ever to set foot back here in Ohio.

  • Diane Rodriguez on September 27, 2012 10:15 AM:

    Big dollar donors will be shifting their resources down ticket ASAP. It's a business decision. Akin will benefit greatly in Missouri. Wingnut ideologue clearly, but in the end he'll get his campaign dollars.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on September 27, 2012 10:21 AM:

    I disagree with Ed. I think that Mittens has a 'finely honed' message that he has been using for months.

    Mitt's message is "n!gger, n!gger, n!gger, welfare, welfare, welfare, food stamp president".

    Mitt's message only fails in the battleground states if we cannot arouse enought anger among whites and disenfranchise enough democrat voters.

  • c u n d gulag on September 27, 2012 10:21 AM:

    R.I.P. Romney and Ryan campaign.

    They’re losing to Obama with NASCAR fans.


    Cue the Conservative blogosphere to start criticizing NASCAR fans as Socialists, for turning to the left.

  • Bo on September 27, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Mittens has exhausted the universe of "new messages". His challenge is to pick and choose from amongst all the messages that he has adopted over seven straight years of running for the nomination/election.

    His second challenge is frankly to align his running-mate, party faithful, surrogates and RNC officials around that recycled message. At present, they certainly aren't on the same page which is understandable because Mittens has failed on what he himself has defined the responsibilities of a "leader" -- to create, communicate and enlist others in his vision of the future.

    Purely on the basis of his performance as a presidential candidate and the titular head of his party, Mittens has demonstrated that he is unfit to govern. Stick a fork in him. He's done. All that remains to be seen is (1) how Ryan will extricate himself from this mess and attempt to preserve any hope for his future in politics and (2) the down-ticket impact of Mittens' colossal failure.

  • stormskies on September 27, 2012 10:22 AM:

    And isn't it am amazing spectacle to watch the pigs at Fox propaganda, and other places, not create their own made up polls to reinforce their pathetic delusion that Romney is ahead ?

    This is just how their psychologically operate: crush one of their delusions by actual facts that then leads them to invent another delusion to reinforce the delusion that was just crushed by the facts.

    What a fucking spectacle.

    And gulag your reference to the titanic and having the plutocrats come first into the lifeboats is so fucking right on: they would trample the women in children to get in those boats first.

  • CK Dexter Haven on September 27, 2012 10:25 AM:

    "Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Don't feed fish."

    It's a Sicilian message: their campaign sleeps with the fishes.

  • Steve on September 27, 2012 10:26 AM:

    No self-respecting Michigander voluntarily sets foot in Ohio. Unfortunately, geography sort of makes it difficult to avoid.

  • Josef K on September 27, 2012 10:29 AM:

    But it’s impossible at this late date not to wonder how this supposed organizational genius with the most excited party base since 1860 and freshly enabled by the courts to pour money into his campaign with a reckless abandon never seen before—wound up where he is today

    Its hardly a mystery when you actually watch the man talk. He's stiffer than the California redwoods, as empathic as a stone, and about as likeable as F.W. Murnau's vampire "Count Orlock" when he's on a rampage.

    In short Romney is loosing because he's being himself, and not even a second Great Depression is likely enough to make people willing to vote for such a ghoul.

  • james on September 27, 2012 10:36 AM:

    @Steve 10:26

    Are suggesting Mr. Romney has no self-respect?

  • Gandalf on September 27, 2012 10:40 AM:

    Living in Ohio for many years has taught me one thing. People here are not particularly dogmatically ideological. The state is and has been intricately connected to the auto industry and many people here just can't forget the two candidates postions on the bailout of GM and Chrysler and subsequently the associated industries connected to those companies.

    And maybe there's more people paying attention than we'd like to think.

  • Ronald on September 27, 2012 10:40 AM:

    From RCP-
    "My heart aches for the people I’ve seen. There are so many hurting in our country right now. I want to help them."
    from a new Romney ad:
    "President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them."

    WTF is with the 'them'? Or is this the same 47% of 'them' that are ungrateful freeloaders who he doesn't care about anyway?

  • stevio on September 27, 2012 10:41 AM:

    Dorma con le pesce...(Tuscan but the same...)

    Not only does he sleep with the fish, he smells like it too. This GOP party is so friggin weird. They bypassed a moderate (Huntsman) to place the likes of Santorum and Mitt to the fore. At least Santorum was true too his roots. RoMoney would change his mind to suit the weather. He got elected in Massachusetts playing to libs and moderates even though we know he's neither. He's not a conservative either. He's a piece of play dough. Unremarkable play dough at that...

    I pity his kids. His wife? Not so much. She's got to hear him lie on a daily basis.

  • FC on September 27, 2012 11:05 AM:

    There was a discussion some months ago on Daily Kos about Mr. Romney's mental health. Several speculated as to whether he could be exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's? I wasn't too convinced at the time, but the near daily gaffes have renewed my concern. (His comments about the inability to open jet plane windows being a problem and his loss of composure at Univision being just the latest in a long string.) In any event, if the grinding schedule and relentless pressure of the campaign serves as a proving ground, it's abundantly clear that Romney fails the test.

  • rrk1 on September 27, 2012 11:22 AM:

    With 40+ days yet to go before the election circus folds its tents, although there may be encore performances in the courts for weeks thereafter, Romney's efforts to reinvent himself or his campaign emphasis is likely to fall flat. As dumbed-down, uninformed, and disinterested Americans are about politics and the election, how much contact with Romney does anyone need before concluding he's an absolute stick of a person, who thinks the rich are better than everyone else, deserve more consideration, and should be in charge. His message is to the 1%, and it's now clear he can't hide it. He's branded himself, with a little help from the president, and it's highly doubtful he can rebrand himself this late in the game.

    It's all about turnout, and we should be very worried that polling places are going to be scenes of contention nationwide. The Rethugs no doubt already know their only chance to insert their corporate cardboard cutout of a candidate into the WH is suppressing the Democratic vote and blatantly stealing the 'election' by whatever means.

    However, assuming complacently that Obama has it all wrapped up is to my mind a bad mistake. Obama's lead has to reach the high single digits before I begin to sleep more soundly.

  • bigtuna on September 27, 2012 11:39 AM:

    The guy has been running for president since 2007, and lusting after it since - - 2003 - and he's "honing his message" 40 days before the election ????!!!!!!

    What a pro.

  • boatboy_srq on September 27, 2012 1:17 PM:

    @CK Dexter Haven:

    That quote of rAyn is "compassionate conservatism" illustrated.

    Restated: "there are people who can fend for themselves, and there's fish food." It's the same logic that said a 70% survival rate for slaves shipped to the New World from Africa was an acceptable ratio for the business: it doesn't matter how many die as long as there's profit to be made.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on September 27, 2012 1:31 PM:

    RepublicanPointOfView hits the nail on the head. After jettisoning the referendum on the economy,Romney had honed his message going into the last stretch, but that message was aimed at demographic who apparently maxes out at 44-45% of the vote. Oopsie!

    Now we see Mitt flopping back toward an "I love and care about everyone in America. Gosh, I also love the trees in America. The small ones, but also the large ones", Romney v11.0 Reboot. Plenty of time in this myopic horse race of course. McCain, for example, got great mileage out of the pre-manufactured Joe the Plumber™ debate plug ridiculousness.

  • beejeez on September 27, 2012 2:20 PM:

    Here in Cincinnati, you can see Mitt's money muscle on the campaign trail -- TV stations run about twice as many of his ads (well, the PAC ads, anyway) as Obama ads. But oversaturation has set in from both camps, and Romney is getting less bang for his buck every day. Obama's ads aren't more subtle, but they are more tactically nimble. When an Ohioan registers he's fed up with political ads, Romney is the elephant in the room.

    I think the race will tighten up, but not so much that Democrats shouldn't start thinking right now about pivoting their focus down the ballot. I'd rather have a close presidential win with lots of House and Senate gains than a presidential landslide with no corresponding movement in Congress.

  • lunkhead on September 27, 2012 3:26 PM:

    However, assuming complacently that Obama has it all wrapped up is to my mind a bad mistake.

    Spot on @rrk1. My twisted cynical nature sees the polls as almost a form of voter supression. There are a lot of voters begrudgingly voting for Obama as the lesser of two evils etc. If the polls continue to show an easy win, fewer folks go to the polls to vote at all. This may have precarious down ballot results. Its better for this to be a horse race IMO.

    @Republican Point of View, we get it. There is a huge racial component to the attractiveness of the Republican Party. Methinks the obsessive, repetitive,somewhat strange glee in the typing of a certain word (in this and many other posts) reveals something about you too.