Quote of the day

From Monday, but quite good:

There’s no need to panic though, insists Romney pollster Neil Newhouse in a state-of-the-race memo sent out Monday morning. Although some voters “will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly,” he insists. Yet, as the Business Insider notes, “The bottom line is that people don’t send ‘don’t freak out’ memos unless people are in fact freaking out.”  [emphasis mine]

Romney and Libya

Lots of great commentary on Romney and Libya today.  Alas, very busy Steve.  Will farm out for Drum’s excellent take:

But I think Andrew Sprung hit on what was really so distasteful about the whole episode: its knee-jerk quality.

You do not have to be expert in anything to assess the merit of Romney’s reaction — or his fitness for the presidency. You need only be a social mammal of the human species.

In response to everything Obama [does] or says — or, for that matter, anything his primary opponents did or said — Romney’s reaction is so knee-jerk condemnatory, so extravagantly worded, so predictably self-serving that the instinctive response for most listeners or readers not themselves besotted with hatred for the target has got to be, “this guy is faking it.” His condemnations have the rote extravagance of a Soviet communique.

What we have here is a meme that was born in the fever swamps of the conservative blogosphere — Obama apologized to attackers! — and which the Romney campaign could barely restrain itself from mimicking even while the entire episode was still unfolding. They didn’t care whether it was true (it wasn’t), they didn’t care if it was appropriate, and they didn’t care what effect on actual events it might have. They just jumped at a chance to pretend that Obama had disgraced the country yet again. In Romneyland, everything Obama does is automatically a disgrace, no matter how you have to mangle his words to get there.

But this time they’ve seriously misjudged things. This was not the time or place for an insta-reaction that was so plainly political, so obviously twisted, so transparently opportunistic, and so obnoxiously over the top. But they just don’t know any other way of running a campaign. This is who they are.

And, what goes unsaid, I think they will pay the price.  The media does not have a liberal bias, but I think it is fair to say they have a bias against transparent political opportunism.  Nice to see how extensively this particular episode is quickly redounding (as it should) to Romney’s disadvantage.

Photo of the day

From Time magazine U.S. Open photos.  Very cool.

A general view of the court reflected on rain droplets as the evening session is cancelled due to rain.

JASON CAIRNDUFF / ZUMA PRESS

Faux news

Fox News is truly incredible and shameless.  It would just be funny if there weren’t millions and millions of Americans who form their political opinions based on the crap they learn from Fox.  Worse than leaving their viewers uninformed, they leave them actively misinformed.  Here’s a great case in point (via Steve Benen):

This visual actually aired, without a hint of irony or shame, on Fox News today, as if it presented accurate, legitimate information to its audience. Media Matters’ Zachary Pleat called it “dishonest,” but really, that’s being overly generous. I’m more inclined to say Fox News is deliberately deceiving its viewers, assuming they won’t know the difference.

via Media Matters

There are two main elements to this. The first is the notion that the “real” unemployment rate nearly doubled on President Obama’s watch. To arrive at this figure, Fox News began with the standard U-3 unemployment rate from January 2009, and then compared it to August 2012 U-6 unemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who want to work full-time and those who’ve given up.

The only reason to equate a U-3 rate and a U-6 rate at the same time — a classic apples to oranges comparison — is to wildly mislead people. [emphasis mine] It’s about as honest as saying a team that scored two touchdowns loses to a team that scored three field goals, because three is greater than two, and when you weren’t looking, we decided to count by how many times each team scores.

Turnout and race

Jon Chait and Nate Cohn look at the latest polls and both approach the issue of race and turnout from different perspectives.  First Chait:

The thing I’ve been harping on for months is racial composition. Obama has held very steady support among non-white voters, so the key factor is his share of the white vote. Where polls have tended to differ is how many white people will turn up at the polls. The ABC/Post poll shows Obama leading by six points among registered voters — a nice bounce, in line with what other polls show — but only a single point among likely voters. Why is that? Because the Post’s likely voter screen produces an electorate that’s about (according to political scientist Alan Abramowitz, via email) 80 perecent white — even whiter than the 2010 off-year elections, and off-year elections are always whiter than presidential elections. The fact that the Post’s likely voter screen is screening out massive numbers of non-white voters suggests that Obama may have work to do to turn them out, but it isn’t showing us a very plausible portrait of the electorate.

Both campaigns seem to be assuming an electorate that is about as diverse as the one four years ago — non-white voters will probably be a little less jazzed to vote, but more of them will be eligible. That assumption, combined with Obama’s steady share of the non-white vote, produces a break-even point of around 60 percent of the white vote, or perhaps a little higher, for Romney. In the Post’s likely voter sample, he only leads by 55 to 42 percent among white voters. That thirteen-point lead is nowhere close to the twenty-point-plus margin he probably needs.

Despite that, Chait concludes on a very cautiously optimistic note:

The conventions have tested the candidate’s ceilings — they show the candidate in the best light and then see who might support them then. Obama’s ceiling appears higher than Romney’s. But it’s not very high. There’s not going to be an Obama landslide. His path looks a lot like George W. Bush’s in 2004 — that is, 51 percent of the vote. That happens to be right about where he stands in Nate Silver’s forecast.

Though, of course GWB was re-elected. Nate Cohn seems to take a somewhat more optimistic take for Obama:

 In the survey [latest Gallup], there were hints of an important shift:

The number of non-white voters who said they would “definitely vote” increased to record highs. 81 percent of African Americans said they would “definitely vote” compared to 82 percent of whites—the smallest deficit to date. In total, 75 percent of non-white voters said they would definitely vote compared to a low of 68 in July. Only one quarter of the sample reflects the DNC, so it will be interesting to see if these numbers increase further over the coming weeks…

Even so, the initial returns suggest the Obama campaign may have made up some ground in its effort to narrow the gap between registered and likely voters, even if it still have more work to do.

Romney has been doing much better in polls of “likely” rather than “registered” voters.  Those “likely voter” screens are as much art as science and if they are under-predicting minority votes they are over-stating Romney’s strength.  I have to say that 81% of Black voters saying they will definitely vote is as good an internal polling statistic as Obama could hope for lately.  There’s many simple ways of looking at the election, but it’s safe to say that if minority voters show up in 2012 at a proportion just reasonably close to what they did n 2008, Obama becomes very, very hard to beat.

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