All the signs say it’s Rom­ney

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

It looks like Mitt Rom­ney. Oc­to­ber has come and gone with no sur­prise, with just a slow, plod­ding ac­cu­mu­la­tion of signs and por­tents sug­gest­ing that “the One” who has come will soon be gone.

The polls are tight, and the num­bers are steady, but it be­gins to feel like 1980 again, when a tight race be­tween Pres­i­dent Carter and Ron­ald Rea­gan broke open over the last week­end. His own poll­sters went to Mr. Jimmy and Miss Ros­alynn on Mon­day morn­ing to tell them that “the num­bers just aren’t there.”

If Pres­i­dent Obama has taken such a meet­ing, there’s no hint of it. Both the Obama and Rom­ney camps nat­u­rally pre­dict vic­tory, but the pres­i­dent’s men are a lit­tle more em­phatic than their num­bers war­rant, which sug­gests they may be work­ing hard to keep hope alive.

Mr. Obama will close his cam­paign Mon­day where it all started, with a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, af­ter stops in Wis­con­sin and Ohio. The at­ten­tion he’s pay­ing to states he had locked up a fort­night ago tells a lot about how the cam­paign ends. Iowa can con­trib­ute just six votes to what the pres­i­dent expected would be a land­slide.

The pres­i­dent has been to Iowa 11 times this year; Mr. Rom­ney made his 14th visit with a rally in Dubuque on Satur­day Nov. 3. He will close on Mon­day in New Hamp­shire, fight­ing for four elec­toral votes. It may be a po­etic way to end a long and con­tentious marathon, but sen­ti­ment has noth­ing to do with it. Nei­ther man would be strug­gling in the dy­ing hours of the cam­paign for nick­els and dimes if the race were a set­tled is­sue.

The lat­est Iowa polls show an ex­ceed­ingly tight race: A Marist poll, out Nov. 1, gives the pres­i­dent a 6-point lead, and a poll by the Univer­sity of Iowa the day be­fore shows the pres­i­dent ahead by just 42.7 per­cent to 41 per­cent. Fight­ing for frac­tions is no por­tent of a land­slide.

Nev­er­the­less, some wise heads say they see the signs of a dra­matic and de­ci­sive break to­ward the chal­lenger. The im­por­tant swing states, par­tic­u­larly Ohio, may have swung. Dick Mor­ris, the cam­paign-con­sul­tant­turned-pun­dit who in­vented Bill Clin­ton in Arkansas and in two pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns, has turned cau­tion aside to speak of a land­slide, though he calls it a vote of “his­toric pro­por­tions.”

The cam­paign has reached a tip­ping point, and it goes back to the first de­bate. “Rea­son­able vot­ers saw that the voice of hope and op­ti­mism and pos­i­tivism was Rom­ney, while the pres­i­dent was only a nit-pick­ing, quar­rel­some, neg­a­tive fig­ure,” he says. “The con­trast does not work in Obama’s fa­vor.”

In­deed. The Obama cam­paign spent a hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars on tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing to paint Mitt Rom­ney as an evil Wall Street vil­lain, lighting cigars with hun­dred-dol­lar bills, mak­ing the kids’ dog ride on the roof of the car. He was the kind of vil­lain who would shoot Big Bird and serve it for sup­per with im­ported cham­pagne.

Then came the first de­bate, re­veal­ing Mitt Rom­ney as an or­di­nary rich guy with beer-and-ham­burger tastes like the rest of us. The pres­i­dent re­vealed him­self to be spoiled and petu­lant, in a pout for his teleprompter and barely able to hide his ir­ri­ta­tion at hav­ing to an­swer ques­tions like any other can­di­date. It’s been up­hill for him since.

Mr. Rom­ney slowly over­took the pres­i­dent in the polls and has held a small but con­sis­tent ad­van­tage since. Over the past week, by the reck­on­ing of The Wall Street Jour­nal, Mr. Rom­ney has led in 19 of 31 na­tional sur­veys, the pres­i­dent in just seven. Mr. Rom­ney’s rate has been above 50 per­cent in 10 of those polls, Mr. Obama’s in none.

“It comes down to num­bers,” wrote Karl Rove, the ge­nius of Ge­orge W. Bush’s two suc­cess­ful cam­paigns, in The Wall Street Jour­nal. “And in the fi­nal days of this pres­i­den­tial race, from polling data to early vot­ing, they fa­vor Mitt Rom­ney.”

Soon enough, none of these num­bers, ac­cu­rate or not, will mat­ter. We’ll vote, and that will set­tle it. Only one pre­dic­tion here: The Elec­toral Col­lege, as it nearly al­ways does, will fol­low the pop­u­lar vote, and the na­tional pop­u­lar vote win­ner will out­per­form the polls.

The polls have been skewed by fear. The main­stream me­dia have been re­lent­less with their mes­sage, abet­ted in ways large and small by the Obama cam­paign, that only big­ots, churls and haters would vote against a black in­cum­bent. This is the ul­ti­mate racism, that a failed black in­cum­bent can’t be held to ac­count like a failed white in­cum­bent.

Num­bers can lie, of course, but if Pres­i­dent Obama pulls this one out, the num­bers have told a whop­per.

Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.