Mitt Romney and his allies are [...] hoping that burying President Obama in ads will give them a crucial edge on Election Day. Ad purchases in the presidential race doubled or in some cases tripled last week in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, Iowa and Virginia. -Washington Post
Woe to you, Colorado. Yes, Virginia, there is a wee bit of sympathy for your current woebegone plight. Terribly sorry, Florida, for your ineffable suffering, though given how pretty much everyone in the developed and reasonable portions of our fine nation is grateful they don't live anywhere near the sweaty tongue of America that is you, that's sort of redundant.
But still, it must be said: How sweet it mostly is to live here in California right about now. Not merely for the weather, or the insane food, or the coast, or the culture, the variety, the nature, the beaches or the sushi or the music or the trees or any of the other usual suspects of wonky and dead-broke fabulousness the West side is so rightly praised/bejealoused over.
No, the source of our delight at this moment is our utter and glorious lack of soul-mauling political ads, the deeply gratifying non-existence of Romney and Obama pummeling all common senses into submission via billboards, TV, radio, skywriting and knocking on the goddamn front door every five minutes as they try with all their millions to sway that most bizarre of American creature, that most disturbing cultural substrata, that ideological cartoon character known as the "swing voter."
Ah, the mysterious swing voter. Who are these bizarre beasts of the American political underbelly? Who dares, at this point in his/her wobbly existence, have no concrete clue as to what's going on, who to vote for, or why they should bother to learn to understand how to care about any of it in the first place?
No one seems to know for sure. Regardless, reports now suggest that Mitt Romney somehow managed to sway a few of them after the first debate -- particularly a few of the female variety, which is sort of stunning given how Mitt and his crew essentially fear and detest females, and his VP, Paul Ryan, thinks women are barely worth more than the rapist they allow to impregnate them. What, too harsh? Hardly.
Meanwhile, Obama apparently swayed many others with the recent uptick in the economy, the death of Osama bin Laden, and by wearing a nice dark red tie during the second debate, which is apparently the lucky color for roughly 17.3 baffled swing voters lost somewhere in the outskirts of Jefferson City. Lucky him!
Swing voter! You are like that mysterious giant eyeball washing ashore in Florida. You are like the toxic Flamin' Hot Cheetos of the obese American schoolyard. You are like Sarah Palin in the bleary apocalypse morning: A weird, enthralling and slightly disturbing part of the news cycle for a short burst of time, before you fall back into the category of "just not very bright."
It is, however, a fine thought experiment, should you have sufficient whiskey and time. Can you imagine what it might be like to still be, at this point, completely undecided between the flawed but rock-solid president, the guy who essentially saved the nation from Bush's Decade of Decimation, ended the Iraq war, killed Osama and championed gay marriage, and the sneering, ultra-rich smarm-master who hates everything you stand for and will basically enact Bush 2.0 all over again, only with sillier underwear and gaudier show horses?
Stranger still, can you imagine what it must be like to not merely be undecided, but to be so ideologically mushy that a certain wink, a clever catchphrase, a smarmy comeback, a TV news pundit with the right haircut might have the power to change your mind on a whim and a Gallup Poll uptick? What fun! What a delight you must be to be around on a day-to-day basis! Please stay away from my plants.
To be clear: California is not at all lacking in weird pockets of these kinds of fence-sitters, nervous moderates, undecided voters; they play significant roles in local elections, propositions, even mayoral races and sprints for the governorship. Sometimes they even help!
And of course, we have plentiful clusters of deeply red conservatives galore in those regions where colleges and educations don't prevail, culture consists of beer pong and tailgating, and people still pack, blind and desperate, into their area megachurches, praying for someone to tell them it's OK to go back to sleep.
But a true swing voter seems like a different species, someone who has no problem vacillating like a drunk penguin between two radically different poles, who still isn't sure if they like hot water or cold, coffee or liquid nitrogen, being lightly tickled on the nose to being punched in the face with a pickup truck.
Perhaps, then, we should clarify further. Because if it's sort of glorious to be in California where the electoral college is so devoutly blue, it's perhaps even better to be in a city like San Francisco (or Chicago, Or LA, or New York, et al, or just about any decent college town in America), where there is never a doubt which way the electorate will go, and there is a sort of calm reassurance that there are enough smart people around to keep the joint in check.
Say what you like, but the truism is the same planet wide...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. He's also a well-known E-RYT yoga instructor in San Francisco. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...