Monday, February 20, 2012


A few days ago, I wrote that I don't believe it's possible for President Obama to win a massive, LBJ-size election victory in November -- a blowout of a size BooMan thinks is conceivable. Today BooMan responded to me in a post called "Why I'm Bullish," and then explained why he thinks the state of Mississippi -- one of the states I said can't possibly go Democratic no matter how much Republicans screw up -- really might not be so far out of reach.

I guess I just don't accept the notion that, as BooMan says, the Obama reelection team is the best there is:

After you watched Michael Jordan win his first championship, did you ever worry that he wouldn't win more? Or, if you prefer football, think about Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Some teams are born champions. They are a cut above everyone else. Barack Obama and his campaign team are better at elections than anyone in history. And now they have the advantages of incumbency and four years to prepare. Are you impressed by Mitt Romney's campaign team?

Well, they must be doing something right or he wouldn't have won any contests this year, would he? (Romney is the weak link in his own campaign.) And whoever wins the nomination is going to have Rove and the Kochs and talk radio and Fox -- that's a pretty formidable team. The Obama team didn't exactly blow away the opposition in late primaries in 2008, and it was useless in 2010. These guys are good, but I wouldn't go further than that.

I don't see any reason to believe there's "a good chance that Obama will improve his performance among Latinos by better than 10 points" -- Hispanics may be repulsed by the GOP agenda, but they're not exactly thrilled by heavy-handed immigration enforcement on the part of the Obama administration. Besides, Hispanics want jobs, too, and they're still hard to come by. (The economy, of course, is a key reason to doubt the possibility of a blowout -- sure, it might be possible if we really came out of the recession, but we're only seeing a few green shoots.)

And no, I don't think "Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are two of the least appealing presidential candidates in modern American history" -- is Romney, in particular, any worse than John Kerry or Mike Dukakis or Bob Dole? (Those guys were all beaten, but none by opponents who approached 60% of the vote.) Is Santorum more extreme than Reagan or (as people knew by the second term even if they didn't in 2000) George W. Bush?

I know Santorum, in particular, won't stop saying extreme things -- but I think lefties vastly overestimate how much this puts people off. Last week Greg Sargent wrote a post titled "Is Birth Control Fight a Terri Schiavo Moment?" As evidence he cited the results of a Democracy Corps survey (PDF) that, yes, showed a real depletion of the Republican brand, and a return to the fold of many in the Democratic coalition. But when Democracy Corps clearly laid out the Democratic and Republican positions on contraceptive coverage, the Democratic position won by a mere 49%-43%. With Terri Schiavo, opposition to the GOP position was overwhelming.

And no, I don't think, as BooMan suggests in his Mississippi post, that Romney's going to be hurt in the South because he's not an evangelical -- simply because Obama's not a Caucasian.

Look, I think Obama's chances are good. I think Republicans might keep sabotaging themselves. However, I think there's simply a limit to how well a Democrat can do in a political culture that for decades has accepted right-wing arguments about government wastefulness (always linked to Democrats) and fiscal prudence (always linked to Republicans), and that also regularly retransmits propaganda about GOP "normalness" and Democratic "elitism."

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


ploeg said...

1. The main thing, first, foremost, and always is to Run Up The Score. If you're behind, get ahead. If you're ahead, get margin. If you got margin, then crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of the women, etc. etc. 'Cause that's the only way you're going to get More and Better Democrats in Congress. Full stop.
2. So don't give Obama credit for knowing the rules of the game or for playing things smart. Perhaps you have a point about that. Sure seems, though, like Obama has a unique talent for attracting the biggest head-up-their-collective-asses buffoons as opponents, though. And to any impartial observer (that is to say, the people who will be deciding this election), Obama makes them look like the buffoons they are.
3. Rove, in fact, isn't that smart. In 2000, he sent the campaign into CA and lost FL because of it. In 2004, he came within an ace of losing OH and the election, despite the electoral shenanigans. Giving the man his due, he got his man into the White House, but if he were such a super genius, he would have done it much more cleanly.

ploeg said...

And probably most importantly:

4. Eight months is a pretty damn long time in politics, a lot can happen between then and now, and Obama quite literally has not yet begun his campaign. About this time in 2008, many were thinking that Iraq and the surge would be the defining issue of the 2008 campaign. And as it happened, the deep crazies took over the McCain campaign and started hollering about how much of a radical Islamic socialist Obama was. People took one look at that, and then looked at Obama during the debates, and saw who was serious about getting things done for people. And not to say that the same thing is going to happen this time, but it sure doesn't look like they can help themselves.

Cereal said...

More importantly, no matter what margin Obama wins by, it won't be acknowledged as a landslide, mandate, o r evidence that people prefer moderate centrist Dem policy to extremist GOP lunacy. Only republicans win mandates, even when they don't even actually win.