Will Mitt Get Mad?

A lot of people are anguishing whether Mitt Romney will begin delivering broadsides against Barack Obama.

Mitt certainly didn’t hold back against his fellow Republicans. In the primaries, he hit them all hard, especially Gingrich and Santorum, until they were out of the way. Last week when Romney was vacationing much of the conservative media began criticizing him for his tepid responses to the ruling on Obamacare, Bain capital attacks and overseas financial accounts. I listened as Fox News, the Wall St. Journal, Bill Cristal, Laura Ingraham, and about every talk radio host lambasted him.

Is Romney being lax? This morning Ace of Spades noted:

In a conference call Monday morning, senior staff said Romney’s surrogates would stop shying away from the word “lie” in responding to Democrats’ attacks on his business record, and plan to go on TV to call Obama a “liar,” the source said.

“They are very fed up with these attacks,” said the source…

“The feeling was that nobody is watching this right now,” said the source. “They had a time frame to respond to the Bain attacks… But today the counterattack with the surrogates is going to begin.”

He continues, reflecting that the Reagan/Carter election polls which showed Carter ahead for a long time, were suspect. Ace also comments:

But what if the country were doing well under Carter, and Reagan turned in the same charming, reassuring debate performance? Would the debate have turned the election then?

This gets to my point about underlying factors being crucial, and nearly determinative, to predicting election outcomes.

Yes, voters may have seized upon Reagan’s debate performance as a reason to vote for him… but due to underlying factors (economy, hostage crisis) they were already looking for a reason to vote for him.

I’m not sure if his debate performance was a game-changer so much as a justification for people to do what they were already inclined to do.

When couples divorce, there’s usually some precipitating event — a singular event — which spurs the actual decision. “The last straw,” as they say. But the last straw was the last straw only because there were so many hundreds of straws before that one.

I believe in the concept of preference cascades and tipping points. I think the country is poised for a preference cascade; I think most undecided voters are looking for a reason to vote against Obama.

Whether it’s a debate, or some Obama gaffe, or a charming Romney appearance on some news show, or a global depression… When you’re looking for an excuse, you’ll eventually find one.

Obama usually gets 46-48% support, in polls. But I consider 5-8% of that support either nominal (I’m saying I support him, but I really don’t) or extraordinarily fragile (I’ll give him one last chance).

It’s an unhappy marriage. The public is very disappointed in Obama, and by the all gods of Hyboria, is Obama disappointed right back at a public too stupid to understand his awesomeness.

Everyone’s looking for an excuse to get out of this unhappy arrangement. Including, I think, in his heart of hearts, Barack Obama.

They’ll find that excuse. I don’t know what it’ll end up being, but they will find it.

And then, in 20 years, the Story of the election will be “Oh right, Romney put the election away when he picked [Insert Candidate Name Here] as Vice President.”

But that won’t be the truth of it. The election was actually all but decided when the third sub-100,000 jobs report came down, way back in early July.

Many times elections hinge on one comment that rubs the public the wrong way. Or an unforeseen event. Sometimes a man gets elected president that no one even particularly likes (think Nixon in 1968). It’s still too early to tell in my opinion.

If Romney were way ahead in the polls right now, it still wouldn’t be much comfort. Leads can collapse and often do. Think of the Kentucky Derby. The favorite rarely wins and the one out front at the start usually finishes way behind the others.

One of the tactics Obama and the media will employ is to discourage us. They will tell us Obama is ahead and make it look desolate for the Republicans. We can’t believe this. It’s not over until election night. Well, hopefully election night.

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