Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Big Pivot

Leaving the other GOPer clowns weeping, Richie Richney cleaned up in Tuesday's primaries and made a speech billed as the beginning of his general election campaign.  It was the Big Pivot, to a generalized, positive, and severely poll-tested campaign.

Gone was the podium with "Obama Isn't Working" on it (among other things, another dog whistle for old white guys who remember the stereotype of the lazy Negro)--Tuesday it was "A Better America" begins today, presumably chosen after focus groups indicated that "A Worse America" wouldn't really sell.

MSNBC showed most of it, and afterwards their resident GOPer Steve Schmidt was psyched.  If Richney can keep to this, he can win, said Steve.  Rachel thought not--but Rachel's been paying attention, and Richney has already started contradicting his previously stated positions. 

For all the noise to be endured (or ignored) for the next several months, one basic question might well be: are people making up their minds now (there's some historical evidence that this happens in the spring before the election, and then people just turn the campaign off, or else just follow their candidate) or is the decisive slice of the electorate going to start paying attention in October and make up their minds the weekend before the election?

There's no way to answer this unfortunately.  Throw in variables like early voting (and the new limitations on early voting--or voting at all--in Florida and elsewhere) and the new data-rich Internet toys, and it's all pretty unpredictable.  But Schmidt could be right--if the economy is below a lot of expectations, and Richney can sell himself as a viable alternative, low-info voters may throw up their hands and vote for him as the Other Guy (not to mention The White Guy.) 

Right now the numbers are really against him.  President Obama may have a lock on Latino majorities, and they are a big factor in 7 of the 9 swingiest of the swing states.  Still, the movement towards Obama particularly among women was fast, and if those issues fade, who knows what will happen. 

If you're out of scary thoughts, though, here's one: for Richney to win, figures Ezra Klein,  it would take a GOPer surge that would mean a GOPer controlled Congress--and so Richney could actually enact big chunks of the far right agenda.  It could be like Wisconsin, or Florida, or PA, but for the whole U.S.!  Yippee!  On the other hand, Klein writes, if Obama wins he might well still be stuck with a GOPer House, and not enough Dems to deal with filibusters in the Senate.  Same old same old.

Yup, scary.  But once again I heretically suggest, a big Obama/Dem victory could mean returning control of the House to the Dems and retaining the Senate. No one knows what the political landscape would look like then, depending on how this election plays out.  And this campaign.  There's a lot at stake.  And President Obama knows it.  Despite the GOPer noise machine that the establishment media echoes religiously (Pew once again noting that the only candidate in the past few months to get more negative than positive coverage was President Obama), and all the monied mudslides ahead, President Obama is still the best campaigner out there.  This could even be fun.

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