Nobody likes Mitt

Maybe he should try to be more like Raymond (insert groan).  Anyway, interesting piece by Charlie Cook that basically says Romney is clearly screwing up in one way or another in not leading this race:

Still, this race shouldn’t be as tight as it is. Whether one looks at polling measurements of whether voters think the country is headed in the right direction, at consumer confidence, or at key economic measurements such as growth in gross domestic product, deviations in the unemployment rate, or the change in real personal disposable income, it is puzzling, to say the least, why polls show President Obama and Mitt Romney running neck and neck. Incumbents generally don’t get reelected with numbers like we are seeing today…

So why isn’t Romney doing better? If we wake up on Nov. 7 to find that Romney has lost—as if the writer or readers of this column would go to bed before the outcome is known—here are four explanations.

First, Romney is a very bright guy but hardly a natural candidate. I suspect that the results of a Myers-Briggs personality test would not have suggested that he pursue politics as his vocation.

I.e., it’s the personality stupid.  Cook goes on to also blame ads and strategy, but I think you are looking at it right there.  Romney lacks the natural charisma of a politician and the natural skills that might help combat some of these other problems Cook mentions.

On a very related note, Nate Cohn (easily my new favorite blogger of this election sesaon) takes a look at Romney’s favorability problem:

Given tepid economic growth, Obama’s mediocre ratings, and an energized Republican base, Romney ought to be well positioned by now. But the Romney campaign has one overriding weakness that jeopardizes their chances: low favorability numbers. The Obama campaign adopted a strategy to reinforce and worsen Romney’s problem by depicting him as an out of touch plutocrat bent on annihilating the middle class to advance the interest of his Wall Street friends. If the Romney campaign possessed an effective response, it wasn’t effectively employed; Boston essentially forfeited their candidate’s biography, record, and policies to a well-researched opposition.

To be fair to Romney, it’s got to be hard to avoid appearing an out-of-touch plutocrat looking to advance the interests of Wall Street when you are an out-of-touch plutocrat looking to advance the interests of Wall Street.  Much easier when you are an in-touch plutocrat.

The rest of the post compares Romney’s favorability problem to Clinton’s pre 1992 convention favorability problem.  Sure, there’s some hope, but, short version: when it comes to political skills and talent (and great backstory), Mitt Romney is no Bill Clinton.  He certainly may still win, but it will surely be in spite of his personality.


A FB friend posted this the other day and I was meaning to blog about it and forgot.  But just this morning my son David brought up the fact that people are so scared of sharks despite the fact that there’s far more deadly animals.  That led us to a nice conversation on the availability bias.  Anyway, a sampling:

Sharks are kinda scary. In the water they’re faster than us, can appear from what seems like out of nowhere in an instant, and pack a pretty solid bite. It’s easy to get nervous when you’re in the dark ocean and unsure of who is swimming by with a toothy grin. But sharks aren’t the animals you should be most afraid of. Here are some that are much more likely to cause your demise…


JelleS/CC BY-SA 2.0

22 people are killed in the US every year from these seemingly docile creatures. They’re fun to pet, but getting kicked in the head… not as fun…


© iStockPhoto/Thinkstock

>1 person is killed each year in the US and fewer than 6 worldwideare killed by sharks. From 2006 to 2010, there were just three fatalities from shark attacks in the US.
eleZeta/CC BY 2.0

53 people die each year in the US because of an allergic reaction from being stung.


Photo of the day

From N&O’s best of the day:

People are reflected in a window as they enter a building in front of Germany’s landmark Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012.

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) 

Abortion and the radicalism of the Republican Party

One interesting thing about contemporary politics is that so many people just don’t appreciate how truly radical (not the least bit “conservative” in the classical sense) today’s Republican party is.  One of the great things about this Akin imbroglio is it shines light on this fact.  The Republican platform committee has re-committed to a platform that bans all abortions all the time.

The Republican platform committee approved language on Tuesday seeking a constitutional amendment that would ban abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest, or danger to the life of a pregnant woman, a position Democrats quickly labeled the “Akin Plank,” after embattled Representative Todd Akin of Missouri.

The wording of the GOP’s call for a “human life amendment” is no different from what the party approved in 2004 and 2008, but proponents and opponents alike greeted it with renewed zeal two days after Akin said he “understand[s] from doctors” that rape-induced pregnancies are “really rare,” and that “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Got that– nobody was really paying attention before, but now Akin has really brought attention to this issue.   I loved listening to the verbal gymnastics of a spokesperson on Dianne Rehm today saying, basically, “well, just because we don’t say anything about exceptions doesn’t mean we don’t support exceptions.”  Ummm, no, that’s not how things work.  If you support a ban of something, but believe there should be specific exceptions, than you say as much when you write the ban, e.g., North Carolina bans riding in the back of pick-up trucks except when operating in an agricultural capacity.

And here’s, the thing, this no exceptions policy is really unpopular even among Republicans! The following chart is 2008 National Election Study data:

Just in case you are not so good with charts– only 19% of Republicans support the no exceptions policy and only 14% of the general public.   In short, Republican elites are just really, really conservative.


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