Political Reality Depends on Who You're Talking To

Over the weekend, my parents were visiting for my son's seventh birthday. As a small group of adults softened the sharp edges of tyke-induced chaos with white wine and take-out falafel, political talk ensued. My father commented out of the blue that he didn't see how Obama could possibly lose the presidential election. The Arizonans in the room glanced at my old man like he'd grown another head. Obama a shoo-in? His reality didn't really jibe with ours.

I've noticed before that the political assumptions my father references, even though we agree on most issues, are at some variance from my own. He lives within easy commuting distance of Washington, D.C. and his buddies are all retired or near-retired government workers or military. Whatever their nominal ideologies, they tend to assume that politicians are rather smarter than my neighbors and I consider them to be, and they assign a higher level of competence to government agencies than is considered credible in my circles. Not long ago, I started a dinner-time argument on the East Coast by suggesting that Joe Biden isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. That's not exactly a controversial point of view in my current stomping grounds.

Which is not to say that the assumptions that Arizonans are soaking in are necessarily correct. I think the folks I meet in town who assume Romney will win in a walk are dreaming too. But they talk with like-minded people and reinforce each other's opinions just like the superannuated bureaucrats in Maryland — it's just a different set of assumptions.

A few years ago, Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing wrote in The Big Sort about how Americans are increasingly moving to areas or just associating with people based on their political and cultural comfort levels, and how their opinions tend to become hardened by subsequent reinforcement. I think even those people who hold on to outlier beliefs still marinate in the local assumptions. That's true of me and my friends as much as for my father and his.

But I still think I'm correct in looking at the presidential race and seeing anything but an easy call. Strictly speaking, I see two midgets locked in a slap fight, and the loser is us as we confront the fact that one of them will be left standing.

Even beyond that prejudicial take, though, the numbers all around are pretty uncertain. The RealClearPolitics average of polls gives the incumbent a 3.5 percent advantage (with both major candidates coming in under 50 percent) and Nate Silver of the New York Times averages the prediction models to, as of today, give Barack Obama about a 60 percent chance of winning reelection.

But this is in an election season where the Democrat is only eight percentage points ahead in Connecticut, a state he won in 2008 by almost 23 points.

I read that as a really soft edge for Barack Obama, in a race that either he or Mitt Romney still has a lot of opportunity to screw up.

But, when our friends start telling us that something is a sure thing, it's hard to not go along with the reality they're creating around us.

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  • Tman||

    Confirmation bias is confirming.

  • T||

    And comforting, too, apparently.

  • ||

    That can't be, all my friends say confirmation bias doesn't exist.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah I've got friends on both ends of the red/blue spectrum and it is infuriating to hear them talk about how much of a shoo in their guy is and how horrible the other guy is.

    Even worse are the claims (from both sides) that America (or even the world) faces an existential crisis if the other guys wins. When I look a them I see a hell of a lot more similarities than differences and honestly I think the best thing that could happen for America would be another Obama victory because that might just break the back of the Republican party apparatus and either allow the Paul wing to take control or allow an actual opening for a legitimate challenge from a 3rd party in 4 years.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    I agree with your friends that an existential crisis will exist whichever midget is elected.

  • SugarFree||

    "Hell is other people."

  • T||

    If you lived with Simone De Beauvoir you'd have probably thought that, too.

  • Killazontherun||

    Hell was the gulags he denied existed.

  • Lord Humungus||

    I thought Hell was for Children...

  • ||

    But this is the entire point of the TEAM dynamic. The other TEAM is evil, so anything is justified in having your TEAM win. So it doesn't matter if your guy doesn't hold to any of your TEAM's supposed principles, or lies, or commits a crime, or whatever--because anything is better than the other TEAM winning.

    It's the ultimate system for politicians to retain and increase power, and it works for all of them. They love this shit. They encourage it. They want it. And the partisan sheep are all too willing to be the principle-less pawns in the warlords' games.

  • PapayaSF||

    Except I would think that libertarians would understand that the Supreme Court means a lot. Republican presidents, at least sometimes, nominate justices who think the Constitution as written means something. Sometimes. Modern Democratic presidents almost never do.

    So four more years of Obama means one or two more lefties on the Court. In that case, get ready for the discovery that the Constitution mandates free health care for everyone., and who knows what else.

  • ||

    This is a bullshit, specious argument. Hasn't Sotomayor turned out to be surprisingly good on civil liberties? And who appointed Roberts, the fucktard who let Obamacare stand?

  • PapayaSF||

    Sotomayor is a reliable liberal vote. Sometimes, on civil liberties, that aligns her with libertarians. Any other time, no.

    Yes, Roberts wimped out on Obamacare. That's why I said "sometimes" twice. But which presidents nominated the four who voted against it? And how do you think Heller and Citizens United would have gone with more lefty justices?

  • Generic Stranger||

    Sotomayor is one of the justices who voted against incorporation of the 2nd amendment. She may be good on some things, but she's absolutely awful on others.

  • Thane Eichenauer||

    If Obama were to be re-elected and four more years of creeping government growth ensued perhaps that would be the straw that causes some state to secede. In my book that would be the best thing ever as it would get the debate hoppin' about what the USG should or shouldn't do and what are the benefits (if any) of continuing to support this US Constitution.

  • ||

    Do Republicans and Democrats even know what their parties stand for anymore?

  • ||

    Not the other TEAM. Seriously, that's what they stand for, and nothing else.

  • ||

    It's all starting to make sense now. My friends are convinced that as a libertarian, I stand for nothing.

  • ||

    Makes sense. If they are partisans, they stand for nothing, so of course they're going to project it on you.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    My friends are convinced that as a libertarian, I stand for nothing.

    THIS.

    My friends routinely tell me how intellectually lazy my position is because I don't take a stance on anything. You know, because the world is black and white, and find gray as the most appealing is squishy.

  • MJGreen||

    It is surreal browsing here and seeing all the comments about how Obama's doomed to fail, and then checking another forum where the debate is whether Obama will do even better than in 2008. And yes, it is hilarious to see anyone talk about a Romney win as a crisis for the country, the end of women's rights, etc. The same stuff obviously goes on over at hotair or whatever, but the grand narrative already judges conservatives as loons. Progressives are supposed to be a bit more dispassionate and a bit more sensible, but so many are guilty of the same shallow hyperbole. I've seen people delude themselves into thinking that the political robot known as Mitt Romney willfully committed tax fraud a decade ago. I mean, come on!

  • Hyperion||

    Most of the posts here, that I have seen, seem to think Obama will be reelected. I think that too. Although if by fail, you mean his policies will fail, we are already way past that point.

  • Carston||

    Failure entirely depends on perspective.

    If you believe Obama is seriously doing his best to improve the economy, then he is definitely a failure.

    If you believe he is doing what he is doing to try and bring about full collapse, so he can rebuild America as his socialist utopia, then he is leaning towards his success.

  • wareagle||

    I go with the latter, that what we consider bad outcomes are purposeful. But most folks can't bring themselves to go there.

  • ||

    Progressives are supposed to be a bit more dispassionate and a bit more sensible

    What the fuck?

  • MJGreen||

    According to the prevailing wisdom/"the grand narrative". And we're dopey idealists who, with any luck, will grow out of our naive beliefs.

  • Hyperion||

    The longer I live and the more politics I see, the more Libertarian I become. People used to tell me I am not a Big L Libertarian. No one tells me that these days. I have went so far right, that I have started to vote for Libertarian candidates when no liberty leaning GOP candidate is available. To some, that is quite radical.

  • ||

    Whenever I bother to vote, it's for the TEAM L guy. But I always feel dirty that I voted.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I usually feel good about what is essentially a middle finger to TEAM PURPLE. However, 2008 would have been a good time to not vote. Mr. "Papa Doc needs back the money he looted from Haiti" Babar and WAR! the anti-affirmative action Jackson were an embarrassment. And embarrassing the Libertarian Party is no mean feat.

  • Killazontherun||

    It is surprising that WAR still holds an official party position. If there is pressure from the Dems to spurn him, they should be told to 'fuck off.' The answer to either major party should be 'fuck off' on anything they have to ask followed by 'you're not the boss of me, you unholy whore of Satan.' But then when the fervor dies down, quietly oust him.

  • Proprietist||

    I was seriously going to just write in some absurd name. The only reason I didn't is ballot access, which is in and of itself a worthy cause. Even then I almost didn't and made my decision at the last minute.

  • Trespassers W||

    We prefer to call it TEAM NIGHTMARE GREEN.

  • Hyperion||

    I was thinking exactly the same thing, but didn't even bother to say it. Most progressives are completely detached from reality and a lot of them are just insane.

  • Carston||

    Progressives are supposed to be a bit more dispassionate and a bit more sensible

    If you believe the MSM, or that they are an accurate portrayal of public opinion...

  • Killazontherun||

    Harry Reed's comments were such an insult to our intelligence. Show us a little respect by attempting some nuance, you fucking goatse faced bastard. No one believes Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. If Harry said that one of Romney's former partners told him that there is a major screw up in the early oughts that Romney doesn't want anyone to see that would be in the realm of possibility, at least, but to claim ten fucking years!?!

  • The Hammer||

    Goatfaced bastard would be a pretty good insult. I love that you took it even further.

  • Zeb||

    The imagery is just perfect. I can just picture his face as a giant asshole spewing out verbal diarrhea.

  • Brandybuck||

    Don't forget the Republican War on Women!

  • ||

    The whole "war on women" meme is the height of hyperbolic bullshit.

    And the funny thing is that even the Democrats seem to know it. They roll out the phrase with a kind of smug sensibility, like they think they've thought up something really brilliant, something that will really get the Republicans. They're just in love with what a great piece of spin they think it is.

    Which is even odder, cause it's so damn transparent. Either they aren't trying to be sincere, or they are completely unaware that the smugness is a dead givaway that they're full of shit.

  • Astra||

    Yes, Facebook has become annoying as hell. I'd prefer more Farmville requests than to hear the simplistic political views of friends and family. Why do you want to make me respect you less?

  • SugarFree||

    I think Obama is going to win. That has nothing to do with my desire to see it happen. Obama has most of the media on his side--and rabidly so--, Romney is uninspiring at best, downright depressing a lot of the time. They cancel each other out on healthcare and neither of them are interested in a hands-off foreign policy. There's nothing for independents to get too riled up about and the bases are rock-solid and about equally energized. Unless something very odd happens after the Olympics, I see Romney losing.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Probably the worst thing that could (reasonably) happen is a Romney victory with a Republican Congress.
    Divided government is the best we can hope for.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I think I just admitted I'm hoping for an Obama victory. J o h n will be very cross.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    (It's only because I want liberals to love me. Love me!! Love me!!!!)

  • Randian||

    Cosmo COCKTAIL PARTIEZ.

  • Zeb||

    I agree. Republican controlled government is not desirable. I think that the best likely outcome in 2012 would be Obama reelected and republicans gaining in the Senate a bit. Either that or the end of the world.

  • some guy||

    You could also have Romney winning and the Dems maintaining a small edge in the Senate. So long as Congress is split it almost doesn't matter who is elected President.

  • Carston||

    Except they will continue to "compromise" and the compromise will always be more gov't.

  • Zeb||

    Sure, that would work too. Either way, it doesn't matter much what I think.

  • R C Dean||

    If Obama was just a little less thuggish and incompetent, I think he would be pretty much of a lock.

    But he's thuggish, which puts off some independent voters and motivates Republicans.

    And he's incompetent, which means both (a) he's got to run from his record and (b) he's likely to fuck something up in the next few months.

    So I rate it a toss-up. Its Obama's to lose, but he's kind of a loser.

  • Hyperion||

    Obama is horrible. There has never been a worse president on every level than him, in modern times. All the GOP would have to do is to nominate someone half way sane and with some type of personality, and not totally creepy like McCain. They just apparently cannot do it. Romney is about as inspiring as road kill.

  • Lord Humungus||

    some meaningless and pointless predictions:

    Democrat convention: Obama's numbers don't move.

    Republican convention: Romney gets a small bump, enough to make it a real horse race. If he can hang on, he wins.

    That and the economy will continue to be a drag on Obama, and Romney has yet to unleash his advertising blitz. So yeah, polls are fairly meaningless right now until things heat up and (non-polical junkies) voters start paying attention.

    But whoever does win - liberty loses.

  • Killazontherun||

    But whoever does win - liberty loses.

    She is no maiden, but they take their turns raping her anyway.

  • Hyperion||

    Republican convention

    You do know they are going to let sweater vest talk, don't you?

  • SugarFree||

    Ricky Cumfart?

  • Randian||

    Jim Tressel.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Jim Tressel?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Damn you, Randian.

  • Pip||

    There is a strong possibility that Romney will chose General Petraeus as the VP nominee

    http://www.drudgereport.com/flashgp.htm

  • ||

    Yeah I read Drudge who said so then a second source confirmed it by quoting Drudge then a third source confirmed it by quoting the the second source. A fourth source is coming soon which will quote the second and third source giving absolute confirmation that drudge heard some guy who heard some other guy that thinks Obama thinks that Romney wants Petraeus.....that is if Romney does not pick some other guy who Drudge said was the top pick a month ago.

  • ||

    Anyone else get the feeling that Drudge sometimes just doesn't like a particular news cycle so he resets it by simply making something up?

  • ||

    I think the whole "teachers, cops, and firefighters", not to mention "roads" thing is going come back and bite him in the ass.

    Not because of the "you didn't build that" phrase - which has probably already swayed as many people as it will. It's because, well, what do teachers, cops, firefighters, and roads have in common? UNIONS. Keep hammering on that point and it starts sounding like all you care about are unionized public sector workers and your going to make sure they get as much money as possible.

    No independent voter wants to hear that shit. They're out there thinking "well, wait a minute, I'm not a teacher, a cop, a firefighter, or a road construction worker, how the fuck is this going to help me? "

  • ||

    I think that predictions are pointless. You just never can tell what's going to happen. Anything can happen. It's impossible to predict what millions of people will do.

  • SugarFree||

    I predict that none cares what you think.

  • ||

    I predicted that you would say this.

  • SugarFree||

    I predicted I wouldn't care.

  • ||

    I predicted this, and therefore didn't care before you didn't care.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    NONE shall pass

  • T||

    You mean my autographed poster of Hari Seldon is a dirty damned lie?

  • ||

    I predicted that you would say something stupid about the worst Issac Asimov books.

  • Killazontherun||

    Caves of Steel, the best? I'm a big fan of that particular book, though not a big fan of Asimov.

  • ||

    The Elijah Bailey stuff is pretty good. Asimov's short stories were better than his novels, because he was an idea man, and not a particularly good writer.

    I've been reading the Wool series, and I really like it. It just gets better each volume.

  • Another Kevin||

    I just devoured Wool Omnibus and #6 over the course of a couple of days - couldn't put them down!

    Although I'm hoping #7 ties the threads together and continues the main narrative.

    Tasty, tasty stuff...

  • SugarFree||

    Caves of Steel, the best?

    Best book, but it made the worst movie when adapted for porn.

  • Killazontherun||

    Vagina dentata au braces?

  • Tulpa Doom||

    I really wanted to like Caves of Steel (and Naked Sun), but fainting as a plot device was already old the first time he used it.

  • mustard||

    I liked the book with Will Smith in it.

  • ||

    Exactly. In '08 that race was neck and neck until Lehman imploded and McCain decided to suspend his campaign.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yep. McCain, of all people, was on an uptrend after Obama's stupid 'citizen of the world' speech.

  • Loki||

    Looking on the bright side, if Obama does win, then the huge sack of FAIL will be his and his alone. If Romney wins, the narrative will be that the great and magnificent ONE was on the brink of turning things around when that tax slashing de-regulating libertarian KOCHSUCKER Romney stole the 2012 election, and ruined everything (despite the fact that Romney won't do anything of the sort and will govern pretty much the same way Obama has, which is the same as BOOOOSH did).

    Hopefully after a full eight years of abject failure O will finally discredit big government fellating progressivism forever.

    HAHAHAHA, yeah right, what am I thinking? The talking heads will totally whitewash that shit. People will actually believe that Obama governed as a moderate, and if only he had gone full left-tard the country would have been saved. That and OMG OBSTRUKSHUNIST RETHUGLICANS!!!!1!!!!11! ruined everything

  • Killazontherun||

    Blaming it on Bush in '13-'14-'15 onwards and upwards, given the increasing absurdity would actually make an Obama second term worth seeing in action.

  • Rich||

    It *would* be something to see people actually LOLing at his (serious) speeches.

  • Hyperion||

    The huge sack of fail is already his, Loki. It doesn't matter, half the voters in this country are now brain dead sheep feeding from the government slop trough. They just want more free stuff, and they don't care about freedom. Freedom means personal responsibility, and not as much free stuff, and they want none of that. And our government are pushing as hard as they can to swell the numbers of the totally dependent. They will be a majority soon. We are screwed.

  • Marshall Gill||

    There's nothing for independents to get too riled up about and the bases are rock-solid and about equally energized.

    I agree with this but you give independents too much credit. I think that many of them believe that government works but you just have to get the right person. Since Obama has not produced Utopia, anymore than any other candidate would, they will show their displeasure by voting against him and for Romney. He won't be able to credibly claim "I can fix things for you". "It is Bush's fault" isn't going to work this time around.

    Obama might still pull his classic election move and dig up some dirt but Romney is probably squeaky clean.

  • Pip||

    "Strictly speaking, I see two midgets locked in a slap fight, and the loser is us as we confront the fact that one of them will be left standing."

    Finally! Someone who gets it!

  • Ramjet||

    Best sentence in the whole piece.

  • Pip||

    Back when Virginia Postrel was the editor, every sentence was that good. And don't even get me started on the headlines (e'g., How Much is that Dodgy Innuendo?

  • Pip||

    )

  • ||

    DRINK!

  • Heata||

    I LOL'd at work. So I had to tell everyone what I was lol'ing at. And now I'm enduring exactly what the article is about. O.o

  • The Hammer||

    Let us know how it turns out.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    FWIW, Arizona is probably a good deal closer to the general sentiments of the country than the NOVA/DC circuit of federal government employees. I don't know anywhere else in the US where saying that Biden ain't that bright would get disagreement, much less a spirited debate.

  • ||

    This is why I never talk about politics with anyone in real life.

  • Killazontherun||

    I still give Romney a slight edge as I don't see how Obama can carry my state this year. His numbers are even down with blacks. The demographics of Ohio don't favor him if you look at the breakdown of favorability trends by race and likely voter as opposed to what people are telling pollsters.

    On the other hand, the Obama campaign has been very good at changing the subject from anything unrelated to his shitty record. With a lot of help coming from the media even his frequent gaffes get smoothed over, 'private sector is doing fine' hey what about those tax records, Mitt?

  • ||

    The demographics of Ohio don't favor him

    Thanks for reminding me that Fuckface and Shitass are going to be spending most of the next 3 months here, shitting up traffic and polluting my vision with their retarded billboards. Fuck them and fuck you.

  • Killazontherun||

    Lol! Don't feel too bad. Romney just called my house to see if I was interested in buying a couple of tickets to an event this coming Sunday. I said, 'fuck you' though it was likely a recording. Just in case the real deal was manning the phones.

  • ||

    You get what you deserve for living in Cleveland, dude.

  • ||

    Now you've gone too far.

  • Randian||

    No, no...he's right. It's Cleveland.

  • ||

    You're even more screwed than me. They'll spend way more time in Columbus than up here.

    ...You are in Columbus, right?

  • Randian||

    Cue Charlie Brown style "AUGGGGH"

    I know.

  • Tim||

    Alert Drew Carey.

  • ||

    No. When I've gone too far, you'll know it. Fatso.

  • ||

    I say your 3-cent tax increase doesn't go too far enough.

  • ||

    "Sold your body? Oh, Bender, I've been down that road. I know it's glamorous and the parties are great, but you'll end up spending every dollar you make on jewelry and skintight pants."

  • Killazontherun||

    I checked into shipment rates while I was at UPS yesterday. Thirty five bucks was the cheapest, and that isn't justifiable economically on either end. You can likely get two to three times the batch for that price locally. Prices were jacked. I remember s similar shipment around '02-'03 for seven bucks. They even asked me if I wanted to pay a carbon off set. I told the girl, 'how stupid do I look?' People still buy carbon offsets, wow.

    I have an aunt, the nun, actually, who lives in Seattle. Next time she comes to visit, I'll arrange for her to bring the figgy IPAs to you personally.

  • ||

    Sounds good to me. But nuns can't come within 20 feet of me without one or both of us bursting into flames. We'll have to arrange a dead drop.

  • Killazontherun||

    She use to be a lesbian truck driver, you'll love her.

  • Pip||

    It's a prerequisite to nunning these days.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Ohio is the armpit of America. It's too bad that the damned state is between me and the south, otherwise I would be visiting there every other day.

  • Randian||

    You're mad that a civilized states stands between you and the South?

    What part of the UP are you from?

  • Tim||

    Actually Ohio keeps Indiana and Pennsylvania from bumping into each other, which is good because you know how those two get after a couple beers.

  • Lord Humungus||

    have you ever driven through Ohio? It's a 65mph police state.

  • ||

    Drive 75 and you're fine. Just don't drive like a Michiganite asshole and no one will molest you.

  • Lord Humungus||

    75? We do 80-85 here in Michigan, wimps.

  • Randian||

    Seriously, you can go 10 over and you'll be OK.

  • SugarFree||

    It's too bad that the damned state is between me and the south

    Huh? Are you admitting to being a filthy Canadian?

  • Lord Humungus||

    only my relation - I'm worse, a west-side Dutch Michigander.

  • SugarFree||

    Michigander

    I'm going to be sick.

    Ohio sucks. But most places suck, so I don't hold it against it.

  • Killazontherun||

    Hey Sug, hipsters. Didn't we use to call them artfags in the late 90's?

  • SugarFree||

    Didn't we use to call them artfags in the late 90's?

    Close, but they are not the same. Hipsters aspire to nothing, not even the nebulous pretensions of art. They want nothing, create nothing, and are nothing. They are the perfect Buddhists if Buddha wasn't, like, so 1997.

  • Killazontherun||

    I remember this artfag guy I worked with who liked to collect ugly ass Converse tennis shoes and toasters as hobbies. But he was also the bassist of a very good local band. I bet he gave up all hope and desire and is now a hipster.

  • ||

    I was more fun when I was a wannabe hipster. Now that the life has been sucked out of me, I now longer care that I am accepted by other hipsters. I take pleasure only in the irony of knowing that having been acknodged as cool, I no longer give a shit.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Ohio sucks.

    But the worst place to drive without question is Indiana.

  • Randian||

    Oh damn, you're some Grand Rapids hipster, aren't you?

  • Lord Humungus||

    'fraid so.

  • Randian||

    I knew it. What a weird little place. Say hi to your Lords and Masters the Van Andels for me.

  • Lord Humungus||

    minus the hipster part - I'm too damn old.

  • The Hammer||

    I love living in Colorado. Nobody ever says it sucks.

  • Pip||

    Not to be contrary, but Colorado sucks. Denver is lousy with homeless beggars and forest fires burn up lots of houses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I believe Romney is going to win, only because I believe he has lost the very large middle that either side depends on to win the White House. The economic situation is not promising and will probably be the incumbent's undoing.

    Of course, the only fence-sitters that Obama or Romney really have to court are the registered ones in Ohio and Florida, so who knows.

  • Tim||

    Obama or Romney, 90% of the shit that is going to happen, will happen either way.
    I'd expect a President Romney to "repeal" Obamacare, but in reality just rewrite parts of it and give it a new name.
    He sure as hell won't spend less money or quit slinging missiles into stone huts.

  • Killazontherun||

    I suspect there wont be much of a real repeal either way, but the good news, Americans will learn to be every bit as good at tax dodging and mandate dodging as the Greeks over the next decade. It will be a major change in our culture. the most tax compliant nation becomes one of the least.

  • Hyperion||

    Obama will win by 3-4% or less, but he will win.

  • some guy||

    It looks like Romney just needs to win Ohio. If he manages to pull that off then he'll probably get FL, VA, NC, and whatever else he needs. Ohio is his key like Florida was Bush's.

    Now let's hope both candidates stay in OH and out of my state.

  • ||

    It's a coin flip. The two candidates are both one gaffe away from losing.

  • some guy||

    There have already been several gaffes on each side and there promises to be more over time.

    I'm thinking this is going to be a random walk of gaffes in each direction. It's just a question of who gaffes last.

  • PapayaSF||

    Except the mainstream media will play up (if not invent) any Romney gaffe, while downplaying or ignoring any Obama gaffes. E.g.: In May, Obama referred to "my sons," twice.

  • some guy||

    Well, it may be a biased random walk, then. Maybe Romney just needs to keep his gaffe ratio below 1:3 or something.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Well, if his girls look like their mom, maybe he's unsure.

  • PapayaSF||

    Zing!

  • Loki||

    who gaffes last

    Kind of similar to Who Poop Rast?!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Obama has had his gaffe for the season, I think. After YoudidntbuildthatGate, he'll stay on teleprompter, filled with populist nothingness.

    Maybe Romney will accidentally pluralize "my wife" or something.

  • Killazontherun||

    I hope that happens. That will be a fun gaffe.

  • Bee Tagger||

    If he does it in Borat voice, I promise to never be sad again a day in my life.

  • PapayaSF||

    The "our plan worked" statement is also perfect fodder for Romney ads.

  • some guy||

    some guy's rules to life:

    1. A thing is never as bad as its opponents claim.
    2. A thing is never as good as its proponents claim.
    3. For any given thing, everyone is either a proponent or an opponent.

    That's why hard core Dems and GOPers are always unrealistically optimistic about their tribe's future.

  • Zeb||

    This weekend I actually got some generally leftish friends to agree that if Romney changed his tune on abortion (again) and rephrased a few other things he talks about slightly, democrats would line up to vote for him if he were the Dem. nominee.

  • ||

    Obama will win by 3-4% or less, but he will win.

    False certainty rears its head again.

  • T o n y||

    If the election were held today, it seems that any media talk of it being too close to call is typical media hype:

    Summary of 10,000 simulations of election outcomes based on state-by-state polls.

    So something big needs to happen in Romney's favor by November for Romney to have any chance. Maybe a return to recession, but I dunno. Things are pretty crappy today, and the president is very well positioned.

    Of course the political media won't come out and say Obama is heavily favored; they benefit from a horserace with some excitement.

  • Brandybuck||

    The only reason Obama is polling well is because he's pitted against candidate Milquetoast. He's winning on the "devil you know versus the snooze you don't" factor.

    It's easy for him to lose, just tank the economy a bit more, another "you didn't build it" gaffe, choosing to keep Biden as a running mate, etc.

  • PapayaSF||

    I also think that vast numbers of people really aren't paying much attention to the election yet.

  • T o n y||

    It's not just that Mitt is a boring, robotic, soulless empty suit, it's also that he hasn't moderated his positions. It's rather inexplicable, actually. He is obviously still trying to secure base enthusiasm, but the math doesn't work for him just doing base mobilization. Obama has an edge in committed voter numbers, so Romney actually has to win not only undecideds but some Democratic-leaning undecideds.

    Perhaps there's a point where a bad economy trumps everything else--hence Romney's other political strategy, crossing his fingers hoping for America to suck more.

  • Tim||

    Romney's been working on securing that there base since 2007...

  • Tulpa Doom||

    From the link:

    The simulator is not a predictor of the election. It provides a range of electoral outcomes that are plausible if the election were today, if the state polls were accurate and if each state were a fully independent event. The election is still months away; state polling is still infrequent and may be 'stale'. While each state is, in theory, a separate election, the reality is that there are usually correlations. For example, if Obama were to win Georgia, he wouldn't lose Virginia. However, something like that is possible in a given simulation.

    Maybe you should read the content at the links you post, moron.

  • PapayaSF||

    I have a hard time understanding how Obama can win. The economy still sucks, everyone knows it, and Presidents don't get reelected with unemployment this high. (Not since FDR, and Obama is no FDR.) Gas prices are rising again. In 2008 Obama had a wave of good feeling and hope and change that is almost entirely gone. Many non-blacks voted for Obama because he was black, but I doubt if many will this time. Obama ran as a moderate who would reach across the aisle and reduce the deficit and never raise taxes for working people... oops. Republicans are energized, with Tea Party candidates winning primaries. And I believe there is a Bradley/Dinkins Effect in the polling: some people will say they like and/or will vote for Obama, but once in the voting booth, they won't.

    Barring some horrible gaffe or scandal, Romney wins, possible by more than a little.

  • Tim||

    Romney? Mitt "meh" Romney? He's Bob Dole with management hair.

  • Mo||

    He's John Kerry with an R next to his name.

    This election is a replay of 2004 with the two parties flipped.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    As much as I thought the BO campaign's approach of painting Mitt as Scrooge McDuck as their primary messaging was foolish, it appears to be working.

    People are morons. It's the only conclusion. Plus, you have a lot of young people still enamored with the idea of a black president showing that racism is dead, ironically less concerned with the content of the president's character than the color of his skin.

  • PapayaSF||

    Ultimately, I think "boring Scrooge McDuck" beats "the incompetent guy who talked big but blew it."

  • ||

    In the second election after Wall Street took down the economy and got big fat bailouts, the Republicans nominated a guy who comes from gobs of money and brags about layoffs. I don't think it's a stretch to paint Romney as Scrooge.

  • ||

    The Tea Party is more powerful than many people realize.

    In a year when they appear to have gone away, they have continued to unseat Republican establishment pols at a rapid pace. They may not be out there doing marches anymore, but their primary sucesses show that they are very well organized and can mobilize a lot of voters.

  • kinnath||

    Obama wins or loses based upon unemployment rate, gas prices, and the stock market (dow-jones SP-500).

    Romney is not relevant to the equation.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Most people don't own stocks so how are they relevant?

  • Pip||

    I would contend that most people own stocks.

  • ||

    Summary of 10,000 simulations of election outcomes based on state-by-state polls.

    So something big needs to happen in Romney's favor by November for Romney to have any chance.

    Computer simulations are not reality. They show what happens when someone's somewhat-to-very-wrong assumptions are fed into a computer that then processes them according to somewhat-to-very-wrong coding rules for processing that.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

  • T o n y||

    The garbage you're referring to is polls. Take them for what you will.

  • Tulpa Doom||

    Would you be as accepting of a climate simulation that disproved global warming by just Monte Carloing the distribution of global temperatures in 2012?

  • T o n y||

    I believe I explicitly said "if the election were held today."

  • ||

    Yes, and how did those exit polls in Wisconsin work out?

  • ||

    It's not just that Mitt is a boring, robotic, soulless empty suit, it's also that he hasn't moderated his positions.

    He's "moderated" ALL of his positions. He's a flip-flopping Northeastern liberal RINO Republican whose positions on stuff changes with each perceived shift in public opinion.

    He's been pro-choice and pro-life.

  • T o n y||

    I mean recently.

  • ant1sthenes||

    What does that have to do with his likely performance once in office?

  • Hyperion||

    He's "moderated" ALL of his positions. He's a flip-flopping Northeastern liberal RINO

    When a liberal talks about moderating positions, that means getting as far left as you can without falling right into Joseph Stalin's grave.

  • Spoonman.||

    It's truly amazing that Romney is being portrayed as a radical.

    Except for the abortion stuff, I wish he were nearly as radical as anybody is claiming.

  • PapayaSF||

    I knew. It's a measure of the bizarre mindset of so many Democrats. Earlier in the year I had a few dates with a woman, very bright, seemed rational, but on our second date went off on a rant about how she'd leave the country if Santorum or Romney were elected.

    I said something like: "Well, I can see what you mean about Santorum, but Romney is considered kind of a squishy moderate by the right wing of the party." But to her, there was no big difference between the two.

  • ||

    On the other hand, anyone who can take the Book of Mormon seriously has to be viewed askance.

  • PapayaSF||

    True, but it was the faith he was raised in. It's not like he became an adult and decided he needed to go to a church to advance his career and picked the one run by an insane racist Jew-hater, like some presidential candidates I could name.

  • Gadianton||

    On the other hand, anyone who can take the Book of Mormon seriously has to be viewed askance.

    I always find this stance fascinating. Why is the Book of Mormon not to be taken seriously?

    Do you hold the same view of those who don't accept the New Testament as scriptural? How about those who hold the Apocrypha as scriptural?

  • PapayaSF||

    All religious texts have a certain degree of wackiness, but the older they are, the more I am willing to cut them slack.

  • ||

    I mean recently.

    Have you not been fucking paying attention? Have you not been watching The Daily Show or Colbert Report where they show Romney taking opposite sides of an issue, sometimes in the same interview about 30 seconds apart?

    Romney according to Huntsman: "a well-oiled political weathervane".

    No one knows what Romney will do until he fucking does it.

  • T o n y||

    Point taken, but he's pretty well stuck on taxes (as GOP orthodoxy), his stump remains red meat, and his recent overseas excursion was interpreted as a signal to Evangelicals (who require that Israel's interests be considered more important than the US's).

  • Pip||

    /Nancy Pelosi

  • Lisa||

    I have found liberals to be somewhat more sheltered in their beliefs than conservatives, due to the fact that conservatives can set politics aside for higher priorities. A typical scenario, often at work, involves some liberal complaining loudly about sex discrimination..or whatever. They know and like enough of the people present to assume that everyone agrees. Some people might voice agreement, but several people won't say anything. Some of those people probably don't care or are too dumb to form an opinion, but one or two will be conservative. They don't want to offend the liberal by stating their opinion, which is what would happen. Liberals are offended by conservatives and have to avoid their opinions because their psyches are fragile. Conservatives know liberals, but try not to let the liberals see the full extent of their conservatism so the peace is maintained. So most conservatives know at least one liberal. But most liberals don't think they know any conservatives.

  • PapayaSF||

    It's very true that many of the liberals I know seem threatened by the very existence of contrary opinions. They don't have the courage of their convictions, or they are insecure, or something.

  • T o n y||

    Liberals live in a world in which increasingly conservative positions are considered liberal by an increasingly radicalized conservative movement. It's a world in which they're supposed to consider Sarah Palin as every bit as legitimate a political thinker as Elizabeth Warren. Where, thanks I suppose to the fallacious conception of "balance" propagated by the political media, opinions that are fed by propaganda and have absolutely no deference to empirical requirements are to be considered just as legitimate as theirs.

    Libertarians unfortunately fall outside of what I would prefer to consider the bounds of good-faith debate, since they reject empirical facts that don't accord with their preconceived worldview.

  • ant1sthenes||

    "It's a world in which they're supposed to consider Sarah Palin as every bit as legitimate a political thinker as Elizabeth Warren."

    Ok, I'm coming around to the sockpuppet theory. Or is "we did something helpful for you once (at exorbitant cost and poorly and not necessarily with your approval) therefore it's only fair that you pay us whatever we want forever." what progtards are touting as "thinking" these days?

  • ||

    When Elizabeth "I'm really a Native American" Warren is your go to as a legitimate political thinker you've got some major fucking problems.

  • ||

    Really, what conservative positions are considered liberal these days?

    "Sarah Palin" is a person, not a platform. Give me a list of legitimate conservative ideas that are now considered "liberal".

  • T o n y||

    Individual mandate. State flexibility on welfare requirements. To name two recent ones.

  • Gray Ghost||

    From polling aggregation sites like Real Clear Politics, Obama has to lose about 4-5% across the slate of state polls for Romney to beat him. So, about 10% of his total support?

    Does that seem reasonable, that 10% of Obama's support will not show or will support Romney instead? Who knows? Stranger things have happened. I just think it's premature to say that either Red or Blue has this election cinched up.

  • Spoonman.||

    What's blowing my mind is that Obama has turned the economy into a KULTUR WAR issue. Suddenly it's all about the rich and taxes, as if you could just confiscate the wealth of the rich and solve the systemic problems of our economy. It's a lie, but because the Republicans are too entrenched in their share of the pie to talk about fixing the real problems, they're stuck acting as if it's not.

  • PapayaSF||

    Very true. But it's hard to counter an emotional, populist argument, no matter how wrong, with boring old arithmetic.

  • ant1sthenes||

    I'm pretty sure some Ross Perot style charts comparing total pubsec revenues and expenditures as percentages of GDP over the past 100 years might have some impact.

  • PapayaSF||

    True. I'm not saying that Romney shouldn't try to explain it all, but it is hard. It doesn't have the visceral appeal of "tax the rich!"

  • ||

    The garbage you're referring to is polls. Take them for what you will.

    Have you noticed that polls are oftentimes wrong, or contradict each other? Or that they have a large margin of error to account for stuff like sampling bias, or people saying one thing and then voting another, a margin of error that basically says: "We know Obama will probably win, or maybe Romney, or maybe it is too close to call"?

    And that the link you gave contradicted Nate Silver's 538 blog showing his projection based on an aggregate of such polls that Obama had maybe a 60% chance of winning, maybe?

    GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) refers to ALL the garbage that occurs in such simulations, not just the polls.

  • T o n y||

    We shall see.

  • John||

    There was one interesting Gallup poll that came out today that said something 8% of people who voted for obama in 08 planned to vote for Romney and 5% who voted for McCain planned to vote for Obama. Anyway, if you did the math and reduced Obama's totals from 08 by that many and so forth, it gave Romney a slight lead. You combine that with the difference in voter enthusiasm and Romney is probably up three or four points right now, which is hardly a commanding lead and anything but a sure thing.

    The problem is so what if Romney wins. He won't be able to do anything once in office. The problem is that a good portion of the country has gone insane. And they take Obama losing as a sign the country is irredeemably corrupt and the game rigged. Realistically a Romney win would mean a large majority in the House and a 54 or 55 vote majority in the Senate for the Republicans. And that is not enough to do anything without the Dems coming to their sense, which isn't going to happen. Ron Paul could be President and it wouldn't change anything as long as such a large part of the country is completely barking mad with liberalism.

  • T o n y||

    On the contrary, a Romney win would probably mean GOP keeps the House and wins a Senate majority, in which case I have no doubt the new majority leader would immediately use the nuclear option on the filibuster.

    Then we get to experience the Bush years all over again, only worse!

  • John||

    Bullshit. They are not going to get rid of the filibuster. At most they would repeal Obamacare via reconciliation, which would be fine since it was passed that way.

  • John||

    And even if they did there are enough Republican RINOs to keep anything good from happening. We would end up with rule by John McCain and the moron twins from Maine. Woo hoo.

  • T o n y||

    Considering Olympia Snowe is leaving, that would be something. She, along with lots of other moderate Republicans, are getting out. Why? Because the party has become radicalized. We don't need radical dogmatists in control of the government. It won't be good. Romney would probably be a rubber stamp so as not to be primaried in 2016. The nuclear option is my own personal prediction--I would be willing to bet the Republicans do it with even less reservation than Harry Reid (and he has signaled that he would).

  • ant1sthenes||

    I know that our there on the HMS Progress, everyone is trying to figure out why the land is floating away, but let me clue you in: both parties are becoming radicalized.

    Well, the bases of both parties. So far, the Democrats leaders have tried to co-opt radical rhetoric while pushing business as usual corruption, in order to prevent a grassroots purge of their ranks like the GOP experienced. Their base might catch on, or it might not. It took a major ass kicking for the GOP to stop tolerating its leaders.

  • PapayaSF||

    As opposed to the Democratic party, which is as filled with moderates as it ever was...?

  • ||

    Then we get to experience the Bush years all over again, only worse!

    The Bush years were about perpetual War.

    I am pretty certain Americans are sick of war for the time being and it is unlikely that we will go running off to it again any time soon. I think the Romney years will suck in completely new ways never seen before.

  • T o n y||

    Well the obvious and immediate suckage will be recession, assuming they pass the budget they want to pass.

  • ||

    Well the obvious and immediate suckage will be recession, assuming they pass the budget they want to pass.

    The stupidity of this comment is epic.

    First off the budget "they" want to pass is your budget. Republicans want to increase spending.

    So yes increasing spending with debt at 100% of GDP and spending already at 1.2 trillion above revenues will hurt the economy.

    Of course you think the Republicans really want to cut spending...which in reality would prevent a recession and greatly improve the economy.

  • T o n y||

    Which is to say a GOP-dominated government = guaranteed immediate massive recession. They've become true believers in their own bullshit. The only questions that will remain is how long will they go until reality convinces them once and for all to change their minds, and how far is the nearest bread line?

  • John||

    Tony we are in a massive recession. We have effective unemployment rates of over 15% and growth near zero. This is the Obama lost decade/depression. Obama has put more people onto disability and public assistance than any President in history. That is why you really should be hoping he loses. If he wins, when things get really worse, he will get the deserved blame.

  • T o n y||

    We are not in a recession. We will be if the Republicans get their way on the budget. They can't even articulate a means of growing the economy beyond trickle-down fairy tales. And the scary thing is their corporate daddies have absolutely no interest in full employment. Why would they? That fact alone is enough to discredit the entire philosophy.

  • ||

    And the scary thing is their corporate daddies have absolutely no interest in full employment. Why would they?

    Employed people buy more crap.

    That fact alone is enough to discredit the entire philosophy.

    Now that the premise of your philosophy has been obliterated I would like to be the first to welcome you to libertarianism.

  • T o n y||

    No, the free market does not inherently lead to full employment. Never has, and it isn't incentivized to. Employers like labor being a buyer's market. Corporate America is just fine with employment where it is.

    True that aggregate demand would be raised by lower unemployment, but you're talking Keynesianism now.

  • ||

    True that aggregate demand would be raised by lower private sector unemployment, but you're talking Hayekianism now.

    Fixed for you.

  • ||

    No, the free market does not inherently lead to full employment. Never has, and it isn't incentivized to. Employers like labor being a buyer's market.

    You say this as if we had two fixed classes of "employers" and "labor" and one can never become the other.

    I prefer to think of it as a fluid collection of individuals organizing themselves into mutual-exchange networks. Sometimes trading places as "consumer" and "producer", or "emploter", and "employee".
    After all, isn't "labor" a kind of product?

    I would love it if we ditched the classic salaried employment system and everyone became an independent contracter, and registered as a one-man corporation.

    But a lot of people, I guess, prefer the security of a steady paycheck over the risk of entrepreneurship. It's a valid trade, but still a trade. You gain security, you lose some of the profit.

  • Gadianton||

    ^This in spades.

    In 2001, the company I worked for went under. I went looking for another job. One of my co-workers, looked around pulled in some people from the old company, talked to the defunct company's clients, and founded a new company to service those clients.

    Employers are frequently employees who realize that they can do the job better than the company they work for.

  • ||

    Wait, did tony just say we aren't in a recession?

    That is fucking comedy gold.

  • ||

    Point taken, but he's pretty well stuck on taxes (as GOP orthodoxy), his stump remains red meat, and his recent overseas excursion was interpreted as a signal to Evangelicals (who require that Israel's interests be considered more important than the US's).

    If you think you can trust anything Romney says, or trust that he will not change anything he has previously said if the polls or focus groups indicate that such a change will sway votes in swing states, you haven't been paying attention.

    And if by "stuck on taxes" you mean "not promising to raise taxes in an economic recession", perhaps you should go to the tape about the promises Obama made four years ago about taxes which he promptly reneged on.

    Romney will say whatever he thinks the 50.0001% of the voters who show up want him to say.

  • John||

    Our only hope is that circumstances will drive him to do some of the right things for the wrong reasons.

  • T o n y||

    You'd think so, but my entire point is that he's saying what about 40% of the voters who show up want him to say.

    It's not entirely nonsensical--both sides are doing a base strategy. Obama is not moderating either, if you'll notice, but is more lefty than he ever has been in office. The problem as I noted is that Romney has more of a hill to climb with undecideds than Obama does.

  • ||

    The problem as I noted is that Romney has more of a hill to climb with undecideds than Obama does.

    Undecideds vote against the incumbent.

    There is a reason why they are undecided.

    They have seen the incumbent and know they do not like him.

  • ||

    Libertarians unfortunately fall outside of what I would prefer to consider the bounds of good-faith debate, since they reject empirical facts that don't accord with their preconceived worldview.

    "good faith" and "empirical facts" don't mean what you think they mean.

  • ||

    And that is not enough to do anything without the Dems coming to their sense, which isn't going to happen. Ron Paul could be President and it wouldn't change anything as long as such a large part of the country is completely barking mad with liberalism.

    Ron Paul or Gary Johnson could do a crapload of changes without asking for the approval of Congress. Firing some of the employees in the Federal bureaucracy who are doing something that is not an enumerated power, for example. Or write an Executive Order rescinding all previous Executive Orders.

    There would be a huge battle over any of that, of course, but a president with some cojones could wade in and make a much smaller government despite the desperate opposition of both Ds and Rs.

    But, Romney will do no such thing.

  • John||

    Ron Paul or Gary Johnson could do a crapload of changes without asking for the approval of Congress. Firing some of the employees in the Federal bureaucracy who are doing something that is not an enumerated power, for example. Or write an Executive Order rescinding all previous Executive Orders.

    They couldn't do anything like that. the Congress controls the budget. And if the Congress says "executive thou shalt do X" the executive has to do it. And if they don't, someone will sue and the courts will order them to do it. And if you think a President Paul could win a constitutional crisis with both the Congress, Courts and media against them, I would like to have some of that crack you are smoking because it is some good shit apparently.

  • ||

    Obama is sure to lose.

    Paul thinks he is sure to win.

  • Charlotte Falcon||

    The polls that are cited tend to be biased toward Democrats. A normalized look at the polls shows Romney winning somewhat easily. How are the polls biased? Two ways:
    1) The sample used. Polls that use a sample of "Adults" or "Registered Voters" tend to sample Democrats in greater percentages than those that vote. Polls that sample "Likely Voters" tend to most accurate. These types of polls consistently show Romney winning by a couple of points.
    2) Polls don't adjust for the likely votes of the undecided. Undecided voters tend to vote against the incumbent by large margins, something like three- to nine-to-one. So if poll shows a dead-heat with Romney and Obama both at 45%. That means 10% are undecided or voting third party. Let's assume that the third parties pick up 2% leaving 8% undecided. That means that 6-7% of the 8% would vote for Romney. Factoring this in, the final totals would be Romney 51%, Obama 47%, and 2% third party. A four percent popular vote win tends to translate into a pretty sizable electoral college victory.

  • ||

    I think the predictions of likely voters are going to be off this year.

    Turnout is going to be low. Very low.

  • PapayaSF||

    I think you are wrong. Many, many people are ticked off at Obama. Tea Party types will show up in droves, holding their noses as they vote for Romney.

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