The Republican (FOX) Echo Chamber
The neo-cons can’t believe that a majority of Americans don’t share their vision of American Hegemony. The Republican party in general and the Romney supporters have the same echo chamber problem – they simply can’t believe Obama could win in November. I think this is a result of FOX news, talk radio and the right wing blogosphere.
The most recent example is this memo from Romney pollster Niel Newhouse.
The stakes are very high in this election, and voters understand the future of our country is on the line. This may be lost on those living within the hyper-political world in and around the Beltway, but it is not lost in communities in battleground states. In short, the Romney-Ryan campaign understands Americans struggling in the Obama economy will determine the outcome of the race, and once the preponderance of information about the President’s failed policies — combined with Mitt Romney’s vision to strengthen the middle class — are communicated,our nation will move in a different direction….
Political campaign historians will recall President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan by a near double digit margin late in the fall in 1980. In that race, the voters made their decision based on the key issues confronting the nation and it determined the outcome. On the economy, the most important issue of this race, Mitt Romney leads by 51%-45%, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.
As Greg Sargent points out this isn’t 1980, Romney is no Reagan and Obama is no Carter.
It is stunning that the Romney campaign continues to rely on this flawed historical comparison. First, the polling. Despite the mythologizing to the contrary, Gallup polling shows that Reagan was leading Carter heading into the conventions. John Sides has suggested Reagan may have actually led throughout most of the race. By contrast, as Alex Burns puts it, “we’re now less than 60 days from the election and Romney hasn’t established a decisive lead in a single swing state.” Spot the difference there?
There are plenty of other key differences. The economy was in worse shape in 1980 than it is today. Jimmy Carter could easily be criticized for mismanaging the economy and foreign affairs, given the Iranian hostage crisis. Obama, by contrast, consistently polls better than Romney on national security. What’s more, as Reagan biographer Craig Shirley has explained, the electorate of 1980 is vastly different than it is today. Far more states were in play, and Dem swing voters — the so-called “Reagan Democrats” — formed a much bigger chunk of the Democratic Party, making a late break of such a significant magnitude much more feasible than today. The electorate is far more polarized and the map far narrower this time around.
Ed Rollins, who worked on the Reagan campaign in 1980, notes yet another key difference: Romney is not Reagan, and Obama is not Carter. As Rollins says of Romney: “On his best day, he’s not a Ronald Reagan.” Carter was partly undone because of his debate performance; that’s less likely to happen to Obama.
This is the danger of an echo chamber – the Republicans and the Romney campaign don’t think Obama can win.
The Romney campaign seems to believe the idea that the Obama presidency was a total failure is baked into this election and will inevitably dictate the outcome, as in 1980. The Romney camp seems to be relying heavily on its own data to reach this conclusion.
Read echo chamber!
There is another difference, at least equally crucial and often overlooked today: 1980 was a three-way race. Reagan won a landslide of the electoral vote, but less than 51% of the popular vote. President Carter’s support collapsed in the last weeks of the campaign, with dissident liberals breaking off to support the independent candidacy of John Anderson, who scored 6.6% of the vote – the third best performance by an independent since World War II, after Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996.
If Anderson had not run – if Carter had not so alienated his liberal base – what would have happened in November? Who can say – but let’s remember the actual events of 1980, not a too-gratifying legend.
I too remember 1980 and I remember voting for Anderson. The third party candidates this year are Johnson and Goode and they will take votes from Romney.
Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal