Political Endgame

Nate Silver is the most reliable assessor of political polling in our country. His latest column seems to indicate that President Obama is in pretty good shape. Here are some highlights

This is probably about the last week, for instance, in which Mitt Romney can reasonably hope that President Obama’s numbers will deteriorate organically because of a convention bounce

First, the polling by this time in the cycle has been reasonably good, especially when it comes to calling the winners and losers in the race. Of the 19 candidates who led in the polls at this stage since 1936, 18 won the popular vote (Thomas E. Dewey in 1948 is the exception), and 17 won the Electoral College (Al Gore lost it in 2000, along with Mr. Dewey).

There has not been any tendency, at least at this stage of the race, for the contest to break toward the challenging candidate.

Instead, it’s actually the incumbent-party candidate who has gained ground on average since 1936. On average, the incumbent candidate added 4.6 percentage points between the late September polls and his actual Election Day result, whereas the challenger gained 2.5 percentage points.

The last point seems the most salient. Political races often become self-fulfilling prophecies in the last few weeks. The stench that Romney is a loser grows and so contributions slow down.

But Mr. Romney’s grass-roots fund-raising is not nearly so robust as Mr. Obama’s. In order to match Mr. Obama dollar for dollar, as he intends to, Mr. Romney must therefore spend more time than the president at big donor events, at a time when challengers might traditionally spend more time on the road campaigning.

The conventional wisdom was that Romney would not need to raise as much money as Obama because he had the mighty Super-Pacs behind him. In a little noted article, the Wall Street Journal reported that Karl Rove and company are not have the influence they thought they would.

But signs are few that super PACs have had the major impact that both supporters and critics predicted. The flood of spending doesn’t appear to have significantly influenced voter opinion in key states in the presidential contest or in top congressional races.

On the presidential front, conservative outside groups backing Republican candidates say they already have played their most significant role, and that their influence will fade as the candidates themselves present their closing arguments to voters.

I believe this is because at a certain point there are diminishing returns to carpet bombing ads, especially for a product that people don’t want to buy like Mitt Romney. So now the remaining danger for the Democrats is overconfidence. If Obama can use what Nate Silver calls the “tendency of the contest to break towards the incumbent” and run a “throw the bums out” campaign (chart above) against a “do nothing congress” in the last month, then we really might have a choice election.

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18 Responses to Political Endgame

  1. Rick Turner says:

    As I’ve said before here and elsewhere, the most important issue is the Supreme Court, and if there is no other reason to vote for Obama (and I can’t think of many…), then this is it. Of course, if we continue to have utter log jam in Congress, the next four years will be more of the same…the bankers win, the MICC keeps going, and America keeps falling apart.

    This will be the most negatively motivated vote in my lifetime…

    Woe to us all.

  2. Alex Bowles says:

    Not sure how much longer the Romney campaign can go on pretending it’s a real campaign. We’re not even into the debates, and Politico (hardly a friend of the left) is covering Paul Ryan vs. The Stench

    “I hate to say this, but if Ryan wants to run for national office again, he’ll probably have to wash the stench of Romney off of him,” Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa, told The New York Times on Sunday. Coming from a resident of Iowa, a state where people are polite even to soybeans, this was a powerful condemnation of the Republican nominee.

    Though Ryan had already decided to distance himself from the floundering Romney campaign, he now feels totally uninhibited. Reportedly, he has been marching around his campaign bus, saying things like, “If Stench calls, take a message” and “Tell Stench I’m having finger sandwiches with Peggy Noonan and will text him later.

    That’s two rogues in a row. If things keep imploding at this rate, the GOP may lose the House as well as the Court.

  3. Alex Bowles says:

    Meanwhile, this is looking increasingly like the real Romney.

  4. Rick Turner says:


    Floundering vs. foundering

    Sorry, but as the son of writers…and a professional writer myself, it’s funny.

    And, sorrier yet…but my sense of and in belief in such science fictional religions as…well, I’ll just start with Scientology and Mormonism, but in my mind it goes much farther…well…

    Faith and begorrah…

    or buggerism…

  5. len says:

    Alex Bowles :Meanwhile, this is looking increasingly like the real Romney.

    When lip readers get stoned before the gig…

  6. T Bone Burnett says:

    Funny to see the Republicans fleeing the erstwhile queen of mean, Ms Rand.

    “But instead the story of the last few weeks has been all about Mitt Romney — his campaign’s infighting, his weakening swing-state numbers, his muddled message, his dismissal of 47 percent of Americans as pathetic supporting characters in an Ayn Rand melodrama.”


    Mr Rat, meet Mr Ship.

  7. len says:

    Meanwhile as Jon pointed out on his FB page, trust in the Federal government to do the right thing in foreign relations is increasing. New numbers show the economy is getting healthier.

    It’s not that we don’t have challenges but we seem to be escaping the cloud of fear, uncertainty and distrust that has kept us blind, dumb and fumbling for the last decade. Crossing my fingers, but again, this election may be a shining moment for the American zeitgeist and mood.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    So it turns out that Roger Simon of Politico was just making stuff up”. Ryan did not, in fact, refer to his running mate as “the Stench.”

    Simon is trying to spin the confusion, saying it’s a product of people simply mistaking satire for reporting. He cites the inclusion of an admittedly hilarious riff on Power Point (on page 2) as his signal that the piece wasn’t serious.

    Of course, that’s hardly the same thing as a clearly misrepresented fact – the kind of thing that would clearly indicate satire, and nothing else really flagged as such. In other words, this looks like the kind of thing that was fully intended to be mistaken for real news. After all, Ryan doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being trustworthy (though it is odd thinking of him kicking up not down).

    Even if it’s “corrected” swiftly, the damage will be done. The name will still stick. After all, it encapsulates the larger reality, even if this particular episode is fiction. Bad reporting, to be sure. But no one ever accused Politico of being a serious and sober news organization. Theirs is a flagrantly political shop, steeped in all the roughness that entails.

    “Ha ha, no. No long knives here! We were just kidding – really”.

    Except not.

  9. Rick Turner says:

    What are we doing right in foreign relations? I guess that we’re not at war with Canada or Australia is a good thing… I don’t see us doing much right in the Middle East. I’m dubious about how we’re doing with China. How are we doing with Japan? Not doing too well with New Zealand. Russia? And the economy is very fragile and totally misunderstood by the folks making the decisions other than they line their pockets no matter what’s up with the rest of us. We do well, they do well; we do poorly, they do well… Kind of like lawyers…the guy gets off, the lawyer gets paid; the sucker goes to jail, the lawyer gets paid.

  10. len says:

    I think it is the Big Picture sort of trust. Arab Spring sprung, Libya was libbed, Syria hasn’t sucked us in … yet.. and Iran is running. Basically, a lot less overt flag waving mouth frothing militarism. OTOH, I’ve no clue why they believe it. Obama seems to inspire that kind of trust for some n of a majority.

    As long as we keep making movies there, New Zealand will talk a big game but get in line. Canada is beginning to feel their own Right Wing Cabalization. China is scared of their own new middling class. Russia? Back to it’s old nasty ways but terrified that its own Muslim population will want to be a Pepper too.

    It seems to be the normal levels of festering, not the big flashing bulbs.

    Maybe they are finally too numb to be afraid and putting themselves in a good mood to be able to be in any mood at all. Personally, I’m tired of the blues.

  11. JTMcPhee says:

    @Rick Turner
    Rick, as a former attorney, may I note that in criminal cases the lawyer gets paid FIRST, before the first bit of representation? And in bankruptcies and class actions and most other stuff, like foreclosure scams, the lawyer also is first in line?

    I always hope that someone with some experience and authority will break down “how we are doing” in the world into bite-size units that could be looked at and analyzed and taste-tested before the entire entree is shoved down our collective throat, wrapped in a TARP, to the tune of a HARP, signaled by shooting off HARMS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGM-88_HARM), cooked in Hellfires, et nauseous cetera. “Policy” as a word is pretty much as meaningful as “freedom,” and equally over-used and under-understood. “how we’re doing with China”? Which initiative, which corner — doing joint maneuvers with Vietnam’s Navy to tweak the Dragon’s privates? Filing unfair trade actions? Selling weapons to them? Buying chips for OUR advanced weapons from them? iBuying iStuff from iSlave manufactories? “Pivoting” the capital ships and the Grand Strategic Doctrine Maker Searchlight to “Asia?”

    Yeah, how’re we doing?

  12. Fentex says:

    Not doing too well with New Zealand.

    You are mistaken, I presume because of the Dotcom thing. That’s isolated in a nice little silo of it’s own.

    NZ has the most right wing and U.S loving government it has ever had at the moment with our prime minister a once U.S based derivatives trader who obviously likes an environment that made him rich.

  13. Fentex says:

    As long as we keep making movies there, New Zealand will talk a big game but get in line.

    I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. Last year the NZ government fell over itself to rewrite NZ labour laws to provide greater profit to U.S movie studios.

    We do not have a government that talks any kind of game at odds with the U.S, our current government (which shames me for being the most corrupt this country has had in a hundred years) yearns for some U.S loving.

  14. len says:

    Fentex :

    As long as we keep making movies there, New Zealand will talk a big game but get in line.

    I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. Last year the NZ government fell over itself to rewrite NZ labour laws to provide greater profit to U.S movie studios.
    We do not have a government that talks any kind of game at odds with the U.S, our current government (which shames me for being the most corrupt this country has had in a hundred years) yearns for some U.S loving.

    It’s supposed to mean BWAHAHAHAHA! I’m a Kiwi fan.

  15. Edward says:

    I’m not convinced Romney is finished yet. He is in trouble, no doubt, but he has access to cash, a pretty good ground game in swing states and voter fraud laws that hurt Obama constituencies. He has performed poorly and doesn’t appear to be nearly the politician we thought he might be, but the debates are in front of us and polls swing wildly. Obama must not get overconfident.

  16. len says:

    Let’s say for argument’s sake that Obama wins and tax reforms are legislated.

    1. What would those reforms be?

    2. If taxes are returned To The People, how can they ensure the money goes to infrastructure or other worthy works and not straight back into the same politcally connected politics that took them away the first time except locally?

    Call this a local miasma. I live in a State where the same Senator (Jeff Sessions) who is relied on by the local/global contractors to bring home the bacon in military contracts personally shot down a veteran’s jobs bill. What looks like hypocrisy may in fact simply be doing his job to ensure those taxes are returned to contractors who employ veterans, particularly the most recent who have the most recent expertise on the systems the contractors build, refurb and defurb.

    I’m not defending Sessions. I’m pointing out the locality of the politics that throw a devil into the details of ideas such as tax reform. Unless accompanied by local cultural reform, it is doomed in respect to the notion that it could help the poor and disenfranchised. The same obstinate class system will still be in place to wipe the gravy from the plate with fat biscuits.

  17. JTMcPhee says:

    Following my fascination for things biological and what I have been told is a logically incorrect insistence on analogizing to larger structures, offered for consideration today is my observation of functional similarities between a pretty deadly pathological condition and the larger structures of which Jeff Sessions is a small and deadly part.

    The topic is “disseminated intravascular coagulation,” a big phrase to describe a body that, due to some dysfunction of the normal balance, becomes riddled with inappropriately generated clots, causing a bleeding-out of the organism, since the clotting factors are all used up in making the myriad little clots. Treatment is dicey, since adding anticoagulants accelerates the bleed-out, and adding clotting factors just creates more little clots in vital vessels in lungs, kidneys, liver, brain…

    Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), also known as disseminated intravascular coagulopathy or consumptive coagulopathy, is a pathological activation of coagulation (blood clotting) mechanisms that happens in response to a variety of diseases. DIC leads to the formation of small blood clots inside the blood vessels throughout the body.[1] As the small clots consume coagulation proteins and platelets, normal coagulation is disrupted and abnormal bleeding occurs from the skin (e.g. from sites where blood samples were taken), the gastrointestinal tract, the respiratory tract and surgical wounds. The small clots also disrupt normal blood flow to organs (such as the kidneys), which may malfunction as a result.[2]

    DIC can occur acutely but also on a slower, chronic basis, depending on the underlying problem.

    But wait! There’s more!

    Under homeostatic conditions, the body is maintained in a finely tuned balance of coagulation and fibrinolysis. The activation of the coagulation cascade yields thrombin that converts fibrinogen to fibrin; the stable fibrin clot being the final product of hemostasis. The fibrinolytic system then functions to break down fibrinogen and fibrin. Activation of the fibrinolytic system generates plasmin (in the presence of thrombin), which is responsible for the lysis of fibrin clots. The breakdown of fibrinogen and fibrin results in polypeptides called fibrin degradation products (FDPs) or fibrin split products (FSPs). In a state of homeostasis, the presence of plasmin is critical, as it is the central proteolytic enzyme of coagulation and is also necessary for the breakdown of clots, or fibrinolysis.

    In DIC, the processes of coagulation and fibrinolysis are dysregulated, and the result is widespread clotting with resultant bleeding. Regardless of the triggering event of DIC, once initiated, the pathophysiology of DIC is similar in all conditions. One critical mediator of DIC is the release of a transmembrane glycoprotein called tissue factor (TF). TF is present on the surface of many cell types (including endothelial cells, macrophages, and monocytes) and is not normally in contact with the general circulation, but is exposed to the circulation after vascular damage. For example, TF is released in response to exposure to cytokines (particularly interleukin 1), tumor necrosis factor, and endotoxin.[5] This plays a major role in the development of DIC in septic conditions. TF is also abundant in tissues of the lungs, brain, and placenta. This helps to explain why DIC readily develops in patients with extensive trauma. Upon activation, TF binds with coagulation factors which then triggers the extrinsic pathway (via Factor VII) which subsequently triggers the intrinsic pathway (XII to XI to IX) of coagulation.

    The release of endotoxin is the mechanism by which Gram-negative sepsis provokes DIC. [T]reatment causes the destruction of leukemic granulocyte precursors, result[s] in the release of large amounts of proteolytic enzymes from their storage granules, causing microvascular damage…

    Excess circulating thrombin results from the excess activation of the coagulation cascade. The excess thrombin cleaves fibrinogen, which ultimately leaves behind multiple fibrin clots in the circulation. These excess clots trap platelets to become larger clots, which leads to microvascular and macrovascular thrombosis. This lodging of clots in the microcirculation, in the large vessels, and in the organs is what leads to the ischemia, impaired organ perfusion, and end-organ damage that occurs with DIC.

    Coagulation inhibitors are also consumed in this process. Decreased inhibitor levels will permit more clotting so that a feedback system develops in which increased clotting leads to more clotting. At the same time, thrombocytopenia occurs and this has been attributed to the entrapment and consumption of platelets. Clotting factors are consumed in the development of multiple clots, which contributes to the bleeding seen with DIC.

    You-all can read the rest of the article yourselves, for more ugly details.

    Why does that horrific bit of physiology so trenchantly remind me, at least, of what DC and the rest of what looks to me a lot like a national circulatory system (MONEY being not only the mother’s milk but also the lifeblood of politics, at whatever scale you want to look) seems to be about? And of course it ain’t just The Land of the Free ™ and the Home of the Brave (c) that is showing signs of coordinate clotting and bleeding.

    And it takes a very subtle healer, working on a patient that has some reserves of strength and stability and will to live, with the best tools and techniques and metrics and medications, to bring a sufferer through that particular hell. Though given the organ damage that usually occurs, the mope is never the same or even near as good as before. And with all those Sessions types doing essentially random damage to the regulatory functions that ought to keep clots for when they’re needed and clot lysis to keep things moving healthily, there ain’t but one most common endpoint.

    The bacteria and maggots have a field day, however…

  18. len says:

    Oh. Ok, JtMC. I thought you were taking the long way to say Sessions is a DIC. I quite agree.

    I call it a local miasma because I think Obama will win and because I live in the State that elects DICs and keeps sending them back, I don’t think I’ll get much done. It seems I am a grigori and my fate is to see to it the portals are guarded, sing really sad songs and otherwise stay poor, anonymous and living in a moldy old pre-columbian robe. Shabby but sanguine.

    On the other hand, maybe y’all can. If you get going, you have some obvious big stuff to do (energy systems: if the Germans can make solar work, you can too) and not so obvious (sequestration or not, you have to cut the defense budget and I think there are some creative ways to do that but they require rejiggering acquisition; they keep trying but the beltway is a local clot of consultancies and they don’t care if they kill off the body to keep their own teeth in the jugular; this will require sneaky at the higher echelons of power). Reconsider hemp. Cheap and very easy to turn in sellable products.

    IOW, despair isn’t nearly as much fun as pretending we’re eighteen and there is a world to set right. And there is so much to reset it could take … a lifetime. 😉

    Cheer up. You’re winning because well… Romney’s just not that good. We may be about to see the Tea Partiers implode, the naysayers go nahnah bye bye, and maybe we’ll get a few years to do some incredible stuff, American stuff, proud, loud and in with the In Crowd. We’re bound to Summerland.

    Now whaddaya gonna do with a second term?

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