Welcome Powerline readers!
For the better part of the year, even as President Obama enjoyed a modest lead in most polls, I wondered why his campaign was acting so desperate, perhaps because his approval remained below 50% or perhaps because rarely topped that number in head-to-head match-ups against Mitt Romney.
I’m not alone in noticing this. On Friday, commenting on the biased media coverage of this campaign, RedState’s Erick Erickson titled his post, Not the Behavior of a Winning Campaign. (Via Ed Driscoll.)
Finding the tone of the “fundraising emails” he has “received from Barack Obama or his surrogates” increasingly desperate, John Hinderaker wonders “how bad must Obama’s internal polling be, to cause him to whine and beg in such pathetic fashion”.
I’ve wondered the same thing, but now I have another thought — perhaps the Democrat’s internals track closely with the national polls and show that the $120 million he spent over the summer “in hopes of”, as John put it quoting an Obama advisor, “killing Romney,” hasn’t been as effective as they hoped. The ads may have pushed Romney’s numbers down, but haven’t made him an unacceptable alternative to a failed incumbent.
Indeed, the polls are tighter now than when Obama began his anti-Romney advertising barrage. And perhaps that’s what’s making the Obama team sound so desperate. Their strategy isn’t working. They had hoped to have knocked Mitt Romney out by now, perhaps in the hopes of running a more upbeat fall campaign.
Now, to be sure, it could be other things as well. Perhaps Obama’s internal show that he has a ceiling of about 47-48% and that undecided voters are more inclined to vote against him than to vote for him. Or that his own support is softer than Romney’s, with a higher percentage of his voters willing to change their minds before November 6.
Writing last Friday about the then-upcoming Republican Convention, George Will suggested as much. Observing that “John McCain in 2008 did not carry any suburb contiguous to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit or Chicago“, he also found that “Such places are habitats of people who by now may be lightly attached Obama voters — people who like the idea of him but not the results of him.” (Emphasis added. Read the whole thing.)
It is perhaps that light attachment which most concerns the Obama team. They know that suburban voters have trended Republican in the most recent off-year elections. They too could be open a Republican of Romney’s temperament and business background.