Someone Will Win The 2012 Election In A Landslide, Unless They Don't, Say People
This part of the election year summer is a time when the people who write about politics should probably do more "getting drunk in a hammock" and less "gaming out electoral college scenarios," if only because most Americans have taken a break from political coverage and the most volatile part of the election season is yet to come. But whatever, people are bored! And what's the alternative? Have a national conversation about gun violence? Too hard, so electoral college scenarios it is.
If I had just 30 words to describe the state of the race, I would say, "Obama holds a narrow but not insurmountable lead, and the lousy state of the economy offers Romney a better than average chance to win a close race." That would leave me with three words, which I would donate to a worthy charity. But even if I had several hundred words to describe the state of the race, I probably would not describe it as an imminent "landslide." At least not in August of 2012.
But Dick Morris, who primarily exists as a counteragent to Clinton-era nostalgia, is doing just that, because he's seen "numbers" that are more "real" than other, less "real" numbers, and these hypothetically add up to a Romney "landslide":
On Friday, I saw the real numbers. These state-by-state polls, taken by an organization I trust (after forty years of polling) show the real story. The tally is based on more than 600 likely voter interviews in each swing state within the past eight days.
The trend line is distinctly pro-Romney. Of the thirteen states studied, he improved or Obama slipped in nine states while the reverse happened in only four. To read the media, one would think that Romney had a terrible month. In fact, the exact reverse is true.
I'm actually a little disappointed that Morris cited a hypothetical polling organization instead of a hypothetical "Bain investor," because how hilarious would that have been? But the point is this: Morris speculates that it's exceedingly likely that Romney will carry "Iowa, New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey" as well as "Indiana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Nevada, North Carolina, and Colorado," and -- because why not, at this point? -- "Florida, Ohio, and Virginia," for good measure.
Morris posits this scenario not because it's particularly well thought through (it isn't) but because he wants to counter "the garbage being put out by the media." Again, I sort of think the media consensus is "Obama holds a narrow but not insurmountable lead, and the lousy state of the economy offers Romney a better-than-average chance to win a close race," but Morris is basically conflating "the media" writ large with a single article written by Michael Tomasky over at Newsweek. (He sort of gives away the game in his first paragraph, where he says, "One benighted Newsweek reporter even speculated about a possible Democratic landslide.")
So, what of that Tomasky article? Well, Morris is absolutely right that the piece has ended up with this headline: "Michael Tomasky on the (Possible) Coming Obama Landslide." But I sort of think this is the work of a headline writer with an overactive imagination because a "landslide" -- "possible" or otherwise -- isn't what Tomasky really describes. In fact, outside of the headline, the word "landslide" does not appear anywhere in Tomasky's piece, which actually describes a pretty generic, caveat-laden scenario in which Obama wins a close election.
Let's go through Tomasky's brief. He begins by putting Pennsylvania into Obama's column. He goes on to posit that Iowa and New Hampshire will also be Obama pick-ups. (I don't feel like these states are done deals for Obama, by any means, but let's go with it.) Tomasky then places Michigan into the blue column, cites Obama's mortal lock on the West Coast states and Hawaii, and says that Obama now has 260 electoral votes. I don't know where he gets that, actually -- if I give Obama Minnesota and Wisconsin, this brings me to 252, with the seven states Tomasky wants to talk about next (Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia) still on the table.
But Tomasky's main argument is this: "Obama can lose the big Eastern four--Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida: all of 'em!--and still be reelected." That's true! If Obama loses all four of those states and wins the three Western states, then Obama wins the election, 272-266.
Now, Tomasky adds that "barring some huge cataclysm, he's not losing all four" of the Virginia/North Carolina/Florida/Ohio combination. I'm not sure, though, that the persistently terrible economy is not the "huge cataclysm" for which he's looking. But even here, this is not a "landslide" argument. This is another variation of the "Romney has a narrow path to win" argument that was in bloom in the late spring. It sounds pretty convincing, until you realize that the "narrow path" scenario is the same scenario that anyone seeking to unseat an incumbent president faces. (Here's Steve Kornacki on why you should treat the "narrow path" argument as a "red herring.")
But the salient point is that what Tomasky describes is ... not a landslide. Tomasky describes, in any and all events, a situation where Obama wins by a much narrower margin than his 365-173 win over Senator John McCain in 2008. You see what I mean about the headline writer sort of running away with this argument?
So the brief that Morris brings against Tomasky -- or by his reckoning, everyone in the media -- with his hypothetical polling firm and their magic numbers, is actually counterargument to a suggestion that no one, outside of a Newsweek/Daily Beast headline writer, is making.
For the time being, I recommend everyone just go with: "Obama holds a narrow but not insurmountable lead, and the lousy state of the economy offers Romney a better-than-average chance to win a close race."
[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]
Birth Certificate -- "Born In The USA"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/27/obama-birth-certificate-r_n_854248.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(April 27, 2011) --</strong></a> The White House <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/04/27/president-obamas-long-form-birth-certificate" target="_hplink">released</a> President Barack Obama's "long form" birth certificate, adding documentation to a longstanding discussion over his ability to serve as commander in chief. "We do not have time for this kind of silliness," Obama said. "We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve." (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Osama Bin Laden Killed -- "Tonight, Tonight"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/01/osama-bin-laden-dead-killed_n_856091.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(May 1, 2011)</strong></a> -- In a televised address to the nation, Obama announces that Osama bin Laden is dead. His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding. "[T]oday's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people," Obama proclaimed. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
Debt Ceiling Deal -- "Gold On The Ceiling"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/02/obama-debt-ceiling-deal-jobs_n_916285.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Aug. 2, 2011) --</strong></a> After the Senate passed a bill to raise the debt limit, Obama pleaded with Congress to shift their attention to jobs. "I will urge them to immediately take some steps -- bipartisan, common-sense steps -- that will make a difference; that will create a climate where businesses can hire, where folks have more money in their pockets to spend, where people who are out of work can find good jobs," he said. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Don't Ask Don't Tell -- "Don't Stop Believin'"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/barack-obama-dont-ask-dont-tell-repeal-statement_n_971662.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Sept. 20, 2011) --</strong></a> As the ban on gays serving in the military came to an end, Obama hailed the fresh start, celebrating the fact that "patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love." (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
Iraq War To End -- "Homeward Bound"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/obama-iraq-troop-withdrawal_n_1024108.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Oct. 21, 2011) --</strong></a> Obama announced that all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by 2011, fulfilling a promise that dated back to his campaign. "As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end," Obama said. "So today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year." (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/20/obama-al-green-apollo-theater_n_1218070.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Jan. 20, 2012) --</strong></a> During a fundraiser at Harlem's historic Apollo Theater, Obama delivered a memorable musical message to his donors. With Rev. Al Green in attendance, Obama sang part of Green's hit song "Let's Stay Together," drawing strong applause from the crowd.
Singing Robert Johnson's "Sweet Home Chicago"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/obama-sings-sweet-home-chicago_n_1292576.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(Feb. 21, 2012) --</strong></a> Days after his Al Green rendition, Obama flexed his vocal chords again with a hometown favorite. The East Room of the White House had its blues fix filled when the president started swinging "Sweet Home Chicago."
Gay Marriage -- "Can't Fight This Feeling"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/obama-gay-marriage_n_1503245.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(May 9, 2012) --</strong></a> In a sit-down interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, Obama explained his evolution on the issue, affirming his support for gay marriage. "[A]t a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," he said.
Immigration -- "With Arms Wide Open"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/obama-immigration-order-deportation-dream-act_n_1599658.html " target="_hplink"><strong>(June 15, 2012) --</strong></a> The Obama administration addressed America's immigration issue, announcing that it will halt deportations and grant work permits to young individuals eligible for Dream-Act benefits. "They pledge allegiance to our flag," Obama said. "They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper."(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Health Care Reform -- "Beautiful Day"
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/supreme-court-health-care-decision_n_1585131.html" target="_hplink"><strong>(June 28, 2012) --</strong></a> After weeks of speculation that Obama's signature piece of legislation could be overturned, the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is constitutional. "It should be pretty clear that I didn't do this because it's good politics," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/obama-health-care-ruling_n_1632953.html" target="_hplink">Obama said</a>. "I did it because it's good for the country." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)