Tuesday, October 9, 2012
A brief post to get us kicked off for the week, because it has been, well... a very, um, special day, and I am whipped.
I've co-opted the title of the apparently somewhat fictional account the SEAL Team raid that took out bin Laden for this post. I don't do it to disparage NAVY Seals. I deeply respect the world's most intensive training the Navy SEALs undergo. I honor the fact that they live to keep us safe. I just think that Marc Owen stole the line from pretty much every parent, ever.
Let me not lecture you, the father of three boys, on tough parenting days. Also, don't let me get distracted. Or something.
There are, in fact, easy parenting days, and those are the days you live for.
There are easy campaign days, too -- and you hope you get more of those around Election Day than, say, February. To date, President Obama has had more "easy days" than Mitt Romney. That is to say, he's had a lot more go his way than has Mitt.
Debate Night was not one of them, for sure, and recent polling is showing a pretty good polling bump for Mitt.
The truth is, there comes a point when there's just not much you can do anymore except hope for those easy days, and work like hell to make sure they happen. In other words, there really is a moment when the outcome of the election is less in the hands of either campaign, and is more up to the voters. Different folks would argue about when that is, exactly; I say that time begins around the end of this week, actually, the second week of October. Others would say a little later. Some, earlier.
Why? Well, absentee and vote-by-mail ballots are out in many states, including this one. Indeed, I know people who have voted already (Duncan and I will this week).
Sure, there's a few more debates. Sure, we still have about a month to go or so. Little less.
Matt, some days you wake up expecting a good one. Then you remember the thing you have to do for work, which I hope you can type with one hand, because you have to hold your son who is gassy and crying and your daughter wants a bagel -- no she doesn't, though, she wants a dried fruit snack, which she doesn't, really, she wants candy. None of that makes your wife happy, because she's got laundry to do, and some errands to run, but...
Wait. Election. Yeah, sorry.
Look, the time frame is the exact same for both Obama and Romney. 28 days. Less by the time we publish this. Whoever has more "easy" days between now and Election Day is the winner.
Romney has had a campaign filled with a whole lot of bad days. And the easy days he's had, he has paid for (except for debate night), or it feels like he's paid for it. Spencerian Blue still feels like they're focused on the right things -- GOTV and organization.
And that's going to determine who gets the ultimate "easy" day on Election Day: the guy who buys it, or the guy who organizes like hell to get it done.
One quick post-script here, because there's been an awful lot of overly dramatic doom and gloom around Obama this week, and I think it's a bit much. This, from Matthew Yglesias, ought to help keep things in perspective:
It's been such a bad week for Obama that he's been reduced to winning by his August margin: pic.twitter.com/dkuQShU5
Yes, after an awful week for Obama and an "easy" week for Romney, Obama now "only" has a 74.7% chance of winning, and a probable 302 electoral votes (as of this email to you).
It's a perspective I promise to keep if you will, Matt. For me, it's easier when I watch a sleeping boy cuddle with his mommy, and a little girl, under the covers with her stuffed animals and her books, knowing that tomorrow I have another chance at an easy day.
Hug the kids.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
It is interesting that you started this week with a family-centric post. It reflects where I am with this election and, as you mentioned, where many Americans are focusing now as well. I read your email and instantly made a connection between the two threads, whether you meant there to be one or not. Family life - the small but wonderful moments of your 5 year old making your 6 month old laugh so hard that he spits sweet potato baby food all over the place, the less fun moments of a 2 year old tantrum over, well, pretty much anything - has a way of forcing the big picture right in front of your eyes. Really, this is an extension of the "kitchen table" discussion that began last week.
You are absolutely correct when you say that at some point an election becomes less about the shiny objects and flashing lights of daily talking points and quips and 30 second ads and gets very real and personal. Ha ha, Romney is going to "fire Big Bird" (who doesn't work for PBS by the way - and Sesame Workshop has asked for the campaign to pull the ad.) Oh no, Obama (and Ryan) stripped $716 Billion from Medicare to put it in Obamacare... At some point it all becomes background noise. All over the country, parents like you and Duncan and Erin and me are sitting down at the kitchen table after the kids are in bed and asking themselves some important questions. Are we going to be able to afford a big Christmas this year? Can we travel to see relatives for Thanksgiving? What would we have to give up to make sure that Santa does his job well this year?
If my family is safe, secure and prosperous, then the status quo isn't that bad. If I'm fearful for my job, for my health insurance, for my ability to be able to afford gas, then I will probably take a much closer and less upbeat look at the people currently in power. Sure, the Dow is up, but so is the number of Americans on food stamps. Sure, unemployment is down some, but underemployment is up some as well. Can Obama turn it around for my family? Or is Romney a better bet? If I don't think that things have gotten better over the past four years, am I willing to give the current administration another four?
Campaigns matter. Speeches are important. Debates tell us a lot about our elected officials and those who want to take their places. But none of that matters as much as whether or not I can pay my bills. None of that matters as much as how safe my kids feel, or how good their schools are or what I can put on that kitchen table for dinner tomorrow.
That is perspective.
Get out the vote efforts, electoral college math, push polling, oversampling, polling switches from registered voters to likely voters, quips and fact-checks. All good stuff and worthy of conversation. But milk is $3.65 a gallon and we go through 3 or 4 gallons a week in my house. Gas is about the same, and we go through quite a bit more of that. What millions of Americans will be asking themselves this week is simple; who do I trust to turn the economy around and help my family the most?
Perhaps the most important result of last week's debate was not that Mitt bullied Jim Lehrer or that Obama seemed disinterested, but it was that Americans began to see Romney as human, as someone who might actually have something to say about their family's well being. I think that, more than any policy position or quip or ending subsidies that eventually somewhat impact the ability to broadcast commercial free children's programming, is why the polls have narrowed again. Voters may very well choose to move back toward POTUS. In fact, they probably will. The polling changes were most likely a bounce (which tends to fade) and not a slide for Obama (which tends to hold)...
Either way, the pressure is ratcheting up on both sides for the final two debates.
This week's VP debate is somewhat of an outlier. These things usually have little to no impact on the final vote. Still, it should be entertaining. Joe Biden tends to say silly things - sometimes even ridiculous, dumb or offensive things. @SpencerianRed is most definitely underestimating him. It is easy to forget that he was in the Senate for more years than I have been on this earth (and almost as many as Paul Ryan has.) It would be a big mistake for Ryan to underestimate him.
What, if anything, do you think will be the story coming out of the VP collision?
Best to your family - and happy conversations at your kitchen table,
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Thursday, October 11, 2012
First of all, what a strange week.
The conversation devolved from Wow, great debate performance (emphasis on "performance") Mitt Romney! I wonder if it will move the poll numbers? To Wow, those poll numbers sure are moving, to Holy crap, should Obama worry, to How much should Obama worry, to My god, I can't believe Obama's worrying, to Hey, nice job numbers -- but what's Obama going to do about his crappy debate peformance and the goddam polling?!?!?!!11One!, to Wait, what? Big Bird?
It got meta, fast. And in my view, that's no good -- for anyone.
Tell you what: this VP deal is starting right now. Let's get the feel for it tonight, and see what we come up with tomorrow. I'll publish our addendum thoughts on it tomorrow.
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Welcome to Into the Echo Chamber, the weekly electronic conversation of the 2012 presidential campaign as viewed from two Twitter feeds. Matt Spence is monitoring the Twitterverse of the Romney Campaign, Republicans, and the "red" side of the aisle at @SpencerianRed. I am monitoring the tweets of the Obama Team, Democrats using @SpencerianBlue. Our email-based back-and-forths are posted here on Thursdays.