Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Now that Republicans have, um -- what's the precise political science term? oh, yes -- bullshitted their way to a sense of electoral inevitability, merely by asserting their guy is winning, the reality they've created will probably manifest itself, as the gullible public buys into the notion of Romney-as-winner and votes accordingly.

But if that doesn't happen -- if Nate Silver is right, if Charlie Cook is right, and if Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium is right, then Obama is still on track to win in the Electoral College, even if he loses the popular vote. Wang thinks it would take a shift not yet in evidence for Romney to win the EC, but he thinks a popular vote/electoral vote split is a distinct possibility:
Today, the race is quite close. However, note this. In terms of the Electoral College, President Obama has been ahead on every single day of the campaign, without exception.

I would then give the following verdict: Indeed the race is close, but it seems stable. For the last week, there is no evidence that conditions have been moving toward Romney. There is always the chance that I may have to eat my words -- but that will require movement that is not yet apparent in polls.

The popular vote is a different story. I estimate an approximately 25% chance that the popular vote and the electoral vote will go in opposite directions -- a "Bush v. Gore scenario".
Now, if Obama wins the Electoral College, he wins, right? Republicans insisted in 2000 that there was no other acceptable outcome -- right? And Democrats conceded the point, didn't they?

I've never believed that's how things would go if Romney were in Gore's place. I've always assumed that the GOP would do a 180, flooding the zone with hypocritical new talking points in favor of installing the guy who wins the popular vote ... and get away with it, because the press would go along and Democratic opposition would be weak and ineffectual. (Y'know, kind of the way spin is working in the aftermath of the final presidential debate.)

But wouldn't that be a slap in the face to the last Republican president, who took office in a way Republicans would now be saying is illegitimate? Wouldn't Republicans have to say they were wrong in 2000 to demand that Bush be awarded the presidency?

Well, I think, if pressed, many Republicans really will say that 2000 was settled the wrong way. They'll toss Bush under the bus. After all, when it's suited them, they've declared him a betrayer of Republican principles. (And here we thought that he was the embodiment of Republican principles.)

Consider Paul Ryan, as portrayed in a recent New York Times Magazine article. He postures as a man of deep-rooted deficit-cutting principle who lost his way in the Bush years:
"I did a lot of defensive voting during that time," Ryan said, referring specifically to a 2003 bill that overhauled Medicare and gave seniors prescription-drug benefits at a cost first estimated at $400 billion over 10 years.... Gaining a permanent majority supplanted budget discipline as his party's governing imperative. "Earmark your way, ribbon-cut your way, and you'll keep your job," Ryan said. In 2006, House Democrats reclaimed the majority in the midterm elections, putting what Bush called a "thumpin'" on the Republican Party. It was well deserved, Ryan said. He thought seriously about quitting Congress, maybe joining a policy group. He did a lot of bowhunting, spending long contemplative days in his tree stand. He talked a lot to [Senator Tom] Coburn....

"It set him free," Coburn told me, speaking of Ryan's vow to himself after 2006. "If you decide that you’re just going to ... not play the political game, all of a sudden you can have fun."
This is self-serving nonsense, but it's what a lot of Republicans seem to believe about themselves: We were under a spell for the first six years of Bush's term, then suddenly the scales fell from our eyes when we lost congressional majorities, and we vowed never to overspend again. Hallelujah!

It's a short step from that to repudiating Bush. So if they need to in order to install Romney, it seems quite possible that they will.


Victor said...

Amen, Brother Steve!

Throw Bush under a bus?
Haven't they already?

Throw him under a train?
Haven't they already?

Throw him from the Empire State Building, the GW Bridge, throw him in a car compactor, throw him in the middle of the Pacific, or and active volcano?
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! Yes!!!! YES!!!!

All that matters, is the here and now - DEFEAT THAT N*GGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

: smintheus :: said...

Over-thought. Republicans will say "That was then, this is now."

Rand Careaga said...

Shortly after the 2000 election Newsweek (at that time not yet the god-bothering rag it became under Pastor Jon Meacham or the shambling zombie embarrassment at present lurching toward its final rest) had a wrap-up—the cover featured a photocomposite of Bush and Gore—including a story in which an unnamed Bush campaign operative cheerfully admitted that they would have expected a popular/electoral imbalance to run the other way, and that they'd been prepared to scream bloody murder had Gore carried the Electoral College but not the popular total. I remember this quite well (and kept the issue around for years for that reason).

To paraphrase an almost certainly apocryphal quote variously attributed to Einstein, Harlan Ellison and Frank Zappa, the only two elements in infinite supply are hydrogen and GOP mendacity, and one can't be certain about hydrogen.

Steve M. said...

Yeah, Rand, there was an article to that effect in the New York Daily News a couple of days before the 2000 election. It's lost behind the paywall now. I wish I could find it again.

Unknown said...

Well, I wouldn't say they'll "install" Romney - the Electoral College is the Electoral College, and that's kind of that. But they will have absolutely no problem saying that Obama didn't REALLY win his second term, so no one has to listen to anything he says. And the fact that they literally considered criticizing Bush treason will simply be ignored.

Our Media Stars will maybe bring it up once, after a year or so; whichever Republican is on camera will come up with the Rove/Luntz-approved reply*, and the issue will be "laid to rest."

* (No, I don't know what they'll come up with; I don't hate America enough to think like they do.)

Steve M. said...

What I meant by "install" is work the refs in the media, flood the zone with talking points to alter public opinion, pressure electors to change their votes (God forbid any electors have personal scandals -- they'll be all over the front page of Drudge), start Brooks Brothers riots, etc.

If they choose to pursue this, they'll get it.

jinchi said...

I remember hearing a lot of this nonsense during the election in 2000.

"What if Gore loses the popular vote, but wins the electoral college?".

The question was never posed the other way around, and when the reverse actually happened, every journalist had a ready answer. The winner of the electoral college is the president. Full Stop.

So why am I suddenly reading all this nonsense about Obama losing the popular vote, but winning the E.C? It's because it's a theme that Republicans are more popular with "real Americans" than Democrats are.

Don't feed that troll.

Steve M. said...

Forewarned is forearmed.

The New York Crank said...

The Republicans can avail themselves of much simpler solutions:

Tag Romney can ring up the voting machine company he owns and say, "Okay guys, flip the switch."

Or the U.S. Supreme Court can declare that the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is unconstitutional.
I mean, why not? It makes as much sense as some other recent Supreme Court decisions.

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank

David Constantine said...

The electors are all party designees, aren't they? Sure there'll be pressure but if Obama wins the College, then there's not much the GOP can do.

Of course, if he only wins by a few EVs and loses the popular vote, that could be a different story..