Politics Magazine

Obama v. Romney?

Posted on the 06 March 2012 by Erictheblue

As Republican voters head to the polls on Super Tuesday, it appears that Mitt Romney may finally be about to bury his remaining opponents beneath piles of cash and the waves of negative advertising that they pay for.  (I am not one of those opposed to ending sentences with prepositions, a "rule" that has been properly satirized by the retort, "That is the kind of English up with which I will not put.")  If that happens, he will start responding to and attacking the president instead of responding to and attacking the likes of Santorum and Gingrich.  The roving media strobe light will begin to shine upon the general election campaign.

What's it going to look like?  I know we are all supposed to be focussed on The Issues, but Romney has been on at least two sides of most of them, and what he says while purporting to address them now is often wispy cirrus.  What is all this talk about, "The economy is what I do"?  Presumably, he doesn't think Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz should be president.  He thinks he should, and there's not much evidence he has many opinions besides that one.

So let us consider "the horse race."  We don't know what's going to happen in the next months with the domestic economy, let alone the European one, and anyway events even more unforeseen will have their effect.  But from 50,000 feet, in early March, what does it look like?

I think it looks like Obama will probably win.  A couple months ago, he was a fifty-fifty bet (at most), but his chances have since then improved significantly.  The Republican primary campaign has been a disaster--Barbara Bush recently called it the worst she's ever seen.  The candidates have been so awful that Mrs Bush is not the only Republican who can tell.  Perhaps it could have been different, but I'm afraid these clods are representative specimens of the modern Republican party.  By "these clods" I mean the three besides Romney, who is a wooden trimmer, still standing, as well as the haircuts who've dropped out.  Michele Bachmann!  Herman Cain!  Remember when Rick Perry, the sheriff of Texas, rode in on a white horse?  Uff duh!

A few months ago, Obama had two chances: that by Election Day the economy would be perceived as on the mend, or that the public would deem his Republican challenger unacceptable.  The latter appeared more promising, and has by no means dissipated, but the former is now even more likely.  Then there is the Electoral College.  I think it should be abolished, but, notwithstanding the election of 2000, it's  existence does not necessarily harm a Democrat's chances.  There are eighteen states (plus the District of Columbia), possessing 242 electoral votes, that have been carried by the Democratic presidential candidate for five elections in a row.  For the record, they are, alphabetically: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.  Geographically, it's essentially the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Maryland, the western Great Lakes region, and the Pacific rim.  It's possible to win without any of these states--Bush did twice, obviously--but it's a little like drawing to an inside straight.  For example, the "blue eighteen" plus Florida is sufficient to win. 

Unless Romney (or whomever the Republicans end up nominating) can break the Democrats' winning streak in the blue eighteen, the best they can hope for is barely to eke it out.  They have to have Ohio, they have to win not just Florida but everything in Dixie (Obama carried Virginia and North Carolina four years ago), and they probably need the blue-trending Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada as well.  Where can they break through in the blue eighteen?  Romney probably thought Michigan, for sure, but I doubt he still thinks so.  He's going to win Michigan by insisting he was right about the auto bailout?  The things you have to say to be the Republican nominee are killers in the general election.

I read somewhere that a political scientist said he could predict who you'd vote for if you would just answer three simple questions.  Are you white?  Are you married?  Did you go to church last Sunday?  Three ayes make a Republican, a single nay makes a Democrat.  Exceptions prove the rule.  It's been that way for awhile now, and it's obvious that more and more the formula favors the Dems, but the Republicans act as if they haven't noticed.  Instead of moderating their views, they want campaigns awash in corporate money and all voters to present ID.  I doubt it will be enough for Romney, and it's a horrible long-term plan. 

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