Politics Magazine

State of the Race

Posted on the 28 September 2012 by Erictheblue


Where is the presidential race as we head into October?

Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, has moved five formerly "toss-up"states--Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada--into the "leans Democratic" column.  The effect of these moves is to bump Obama's electoral vote tally to 290, twenty more than is needed to win.  Sabato's remaining toss-ups are Florida, New Hampshire, and Colorado.  Clicking around at Real Clear Politics, it's hard to find a recent poll that shows Romney ahead in any of them.  Were Obama also to prevail in Sabato's toss-ups, his electoral vote total would be 332, which is right in line with Nate Silver's current model.

With all the usual caveats concerning "snapshot in time," et cetera, et cetera, it appears that, sans a large news event that redounds to Romney's advantage, he is (to use an expression you are more apt to hear on a Republican ranch than in the urban coffeeshops I patronize) staring up a dead horse's ass.  It's probably true that the chance of Romney winning the election is now no better than the chance of Obama winning  by a wider margin than he did four years ago.

Given the economic conditions, and what the models of social scientists say they should mean for an incumbent seeking reelection, the question arises:  Why?  Yes, Romney has been an awful candidate, but, to say it yet once more, any of his primary opponents would have been even worse.  For some unknown reason, I caught a snippet of Face the Nation on Sunday morning.  Bob Schieffer speculated out loud about where Romney might be if he had simply manned up and told the conservatives in his party: "I'm a moderate."  It was Schieffer's idea that if he had done that he would then not be trailing and fading in Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nevada.  It's my idea that if he had done that he would not be the nominee.

The problem is with the Republican party.  It's unhinged.  Probably there are Democrats as clueless as, say, Todd Akin, but they are not members of the House of Representatives--the Science Committee, no less.  Among Americans, abortion is controversial.  In the Republican party, contraception is controversial.   The only way to run as a "moderate" is to be a Democratic moderate.  Romney is a chameleon but it's too late for that.

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