Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dirty Politics Can Backfire

Obama's re-election team made a determination early on that their guy could not run on his record, no way no how. So even though they had  some distinct advantages; the power of incumbency, their press resources and the fundraising (both legal and overseas illegal), this election was going to be a squeaker. They weren't worried about their base. A few trumped up issues here or there, create a narrative like the "war on women" (with the help of the media of course) and that's done. Turnout was a bit concerning for some constituencies but when the time was right they could fire 'em up, distribute a little "walking around" money and you'll get them to the polls, no prob.

No, what they were worried about is the undecideds like the Wal Mart mom. The lower middle class female, not well educated and not particularly sophisticated. She is the classic emotional buyer. This voter makes up about 6% in swing States like Ohio and Florida and if you can win this demographic you've won the State.

So to get this voter, and those like her, it became doubly important who the Republican nominee turned out to be. From Team Obama's perspective the nominee could not be allowed to connect emotionally with the voters, most especially the Wal Mart mom. Demonizing Newt Gingrich or Rich Santorium would be easy as pie, hell they had already done most of the work themselves. But Romney presented a problem. He's a speaky clean Mormon, a family man with no moral skeletons in the closet, and he looks the part. Plus he's the ultimate pragmatist problem solver with a track record to prove it. So from CREEP's perspective what's to be done? (Committee to Re-elect the President, not really but I felt compelled to throw that Nixon reference in, they're so much alike!)  Well obviously being from Chicago the playbook says hit him as long and as hard as you can in as many different ways as you can. Drive his negatives as high as possible. Make him so radio-active voters won't even look at him, much less give him a chance. Kill Mitt!

Not a bad strategy and maybe necessary but a dangerous one indeed. If voters ever got a look at the real Mitt Romney then this multi-faceted concert of misdirection, demagoguery and outright lies could all come crashing down like a house of cards. But it was working. The media did their bit, the donors ponied up, the campaign hit him with the kitchen sink and it was working, actually working. And then it all went away in an instant. Obama failed to show up debate night.

So where are we now? The bottom is dropping out of the polls and Obama's argument has been reduced to calling Romney a liar (repeatedly over and over again), and there's nowhere to go from here. Guys like Andrew Sullivan are losing their minds (see today's Daily Beast) and there's been an 18 point swing among women. And it's all because they painted such a distorted negative image of Romney that when the real Romney is revealed the efforts of the Obama campaign just look like slander...and Obama is the liar now. Wal Mart moms hate liars.  

1 comment:

Sally said...

And he's looking more petty by the day with his attacks. Using Big Bird, really? Romney needs to go on the air with an ad showing Big Bird in the background and scrolling side by side the (just fine) financial status of PBS and the debt clock...then cut to O on Letterman saying 'I don't what the national debt is.'

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