Whiplash Mitt and the Swing Voter

Random thoughts that don’t necessarily hang together to make a coherent essay —

Yesterday I read a number of analyses of Mitt’s Gaffapalooza Tour that decided it would have no impact on the fall election. Most voters, especially “independent” ones, care more about domestic issues and aren’t interested in the Middle East or what gets printed about the candidates in the British tabloids, they said.

While there’s some truth to that, it’s not all-the-way true. First, I question how much issues, foreign or domestic, really factor into voters’ decisions on presidential candidates. Those of us who are politics junkies care passionately about where the candidates stand on this or that issue, but we’re a minority. I think at least a large chunk of voters, especially “independent” ones, vote with their guts and not their heads. They vote for the guy who feels right to them. In the event neither candidate really feels right, they vote against the guy who frightens or angers them more.

IMO in an incumbent, cluelessness is a bigger sin than incompetence. An incumbent whose performance hasn’t been all that great, but who seems to understand how the electorate is seeing things, and who can persuade voters that he “gets it,” whatever it is, probably will be re-elected. IMO Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush failed to win re-election mostly because the electorate got frustrated with them for not “getting it.” On the other hand, George W. Bush could screw the pooch up one way and down the other and still make a lot of Americans feel he was their guy, like it or not.

IMO Romney can’t sing that song. No way, no how. I don’t care how white he is. Except to the ideologically blinkered, Romney is just too much of a space alien, even to white people. Of course, there are plenty of those who would vote for a white space alien over a black human.

Yesterday there was some muttering that Mitt’s foreign tour probably helped him more than hurt him with the Republican base. That’s no doubt true, although it hardly matters. I read another analysis, somewhere, that said Mitt has a floor of between 40 to 45 percent of voters who will vote for him no matter what. I suspect that’s true. About the only way he could attract fewer than 40 percent of the vote is if someone video-recorded him eating a baby. Maybe not even then. Because to between 40 to 45 percent of voters having a Kenyan Muslim foreign usurper communist n***** in the White House just feels all wrong, and any other (white/right-wing) candidate will get their vote. Baby eater or not.

So, anything that ingratiates him even more with that 40 to 45 percent doesn’t concern me, because it’s not going to get him more votes than he will get anyway. Well, unless baggers and wingnuts get a pass to vote twice.

Nate’s got Mittens at 48 percent right now, and he may hang on to that. But that’s unlikely to win the election, especially since Mittens is losing in many of the “big” electoral college states, like New York and California.

And I sincerely believe that once we get past the conventions and more people begin to pay attention to the campaign, Mitt’s social awkwardness and general cluelessness will be more evident to more people. Right now I suspect that at least a small sliver of that 48 percent only knows what Mittens looks like and that he was a businessman who made a lot of money, and that might appeal to them, but they’re not going to stick with Romney when they get a closer look at him.

The gaffes of Mitt’s foreign trip may not register with tuned-out voters consciously, but I do think a steady drip, drip, drip of bad press about a candidate does sink in to the American collective subconscious and impacts how voters feel. That’s what killed Al Gore in 2000, IMO, and allowed the vote to be close enough so that Bush could steal it in Florida. Regular Fox News/Rush Limbaugh news consumers are inoculated, but there aren’t enough of them to give Mittens a win by themselves.

Also, I think if Mittens’s foreign tour had gotten him some good press, or even better, cheering crowds such as Obama got in 2008, that would have given Mitt a big boost, and swing voters possibly would feel more comfortable with him. That would have been significant. However, he didn’t get that.

So, while the foreign trip may or may not have a direct impact on the election that will show up clearly in polls, I think indirectly it was huge.

6 thoughts on “Whiplash Mitt and the Swing Voter

  1. The whole Republican plan is to run AGAINST President Obama, with Mitt as the anti-Obama: a rich, successful, businessman. AND white!

    The problem is, that they haven’t yet defined Mitt to the public, except as that. And, with Mitt not willing, or not able, to show his tax returns, and the stories about the Bain outsourcing and lay-offs, that puts a taint on this aspect of his career.

    By this time, his campaign was to flip over Mitt the human ‘Etch-a-Sketch,” and start over, running towards the middle.
    The problem is, the Conservative base STILL doesn’t trust him, so everything he says and does, everywhere he goes, he’s still trying to convince them that he’s one of them.

    And that make Mitt less an ‘Etch-s-Sketch,” and more of a ‘paint-by-numbers.’

    And since his campaign is afraid to filling-in some of the numbers in the picture, that leaves the base to project it’s colors where it wants, and leaves the Obama campaign to fill-in the rest.
    The result isn’t art – it’s political graffiti.
    And at this late date, it may be too late to try to paint Mitt a better picture. And their Convention will try to do just that. The problem is Mitt himself – even when he stays on script, he’s still liable to say something pretty stupid. And that’s if that’s not already scripted for him by his neo-con clowns, like Dan Senor, and others, who have spent too much time in the Right Wing Echo Chamber, and think most of the country think as they do.

    Because of propaganda, and too many people in this country who are stupid, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic, this still leaves this election as still a close one.
    As one Republican consultant put it, ‘Romney can’t win this election – but Obama can lose it.’
    And that’s what they working towards, and hoping for.

    The next 3+ months will be the ugliest election in our lifetimes. BECAUSE UGLY IS ALL THEY’VE GOT!!!

  2. There is one important constituency that Romney is on the brink of losing, and that’s the media. The degree to which they shape the story that the tuned-out voters will hear when they do tune in after Labor Day is critical, and the Romney campaign seems to be working hard to get bad spin. There are quite a few news organizations who paid a lot to send people to follow him on this trip, and he only answered 3 questions. That’s not the deal – the candidate uses the press for publicity, but they have to pay for it with availability for quotes. Romney doesn’t get that.

    If the “common wisdom” generators in the press decide that the Narrative on Romney is “awkward gaffe machine who’s hiding something”, that will color all the reporting for the rest of the campaign, like the Al Gore’s earth tones meme. Romney’s job is to convince enough people that he’s a viable alternative, but if the press is subtley cueing them that he’s a rich shifty guy that insults people, he won’t be.

  3. “So, while the foreign trip may or may not have a direct impact on the election that will show up clearly in polls, I think indirectly it was huge”

    I think it is a net negative, for me it just reinforces the fact that the man does not seem comfortable on any public stage, he should stick to the quiet rooms. I think most people not hell bent against President Obama can see the awkwardness.

  4. Foreign policy is not a “biggie” for most people, but don’t forget: he’s of the same general mold as Shrub, the guy that bankrupted us with two wars. Don’t doubt it: he’d do something stupid with Cruise missiles if his handlers asked him to.

  5. About the only way he could attract fewer than 40 percent of the vote is if someone video-recorded him eating a baby. Maybe not even then.

    No, not even then. Before long Rush and Fox would be talking about how the video was obviously faked by Obama. Everyone knows how liberal the Hollywood elite are, and they’ve got all the special effects.

  6. “Before long Rush and Fox would be talking about how the video was obviously faked by Obama.”

    Eating a baby ON THE MOON, WITH ELVIS PRESLEY, CHE GUAVARA, and the ever-popular AREA 51 (undocumented) ALIENS.

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