If Romney is in NC, he’s still losing

Driving home yesterday I heard a story that Romney was campaigning in Asheville, NC yesterday.  Asheville?!  If the Romney campaign still feels he needs to be spending time in NC this close to the election, there’s no way he’s winning this race.  I’d say the equivalent would be Obama campaigning in Michigan or Pennsylvania (which certainly isn’t happening).

National Journal ran a nice piece on the strategery today:

On its face, North Carolina would seem the swing state President Obama is least likely to win on Nov. 6. But while they won’t concede the state is lost, Obama’s campaign is pursuing a curious strategy — while they have ramped up spending on television advertisements across the battleground map, their spending levels in North Carolina have remained stagnant.

They may not be playing to win North Carolina, but Obama’s team is staying competitive enough to force Republican nominee Mitt Romney and the outside groups that back him to pour millions into the state — money that might otherwise be used to prop up Romney’s efforts in other states where he has more work to do…

Republicans, meanwhile, have slowly ramped up their spending in North Carolina. This week alone, Romney’s campaign is spending $1.4 million, while the two wings of the American Crossroads organization are dumping $1.75 million into the state. All told, Republicans are outspending Obama by a nearly five-to-one margin this week. Over the last four weeks, Romney and his Republican allies have spent about $12.2 million on North Carolina advertising, almost four times the amount Obama has spent.

It is money Romney and his allies would desperately like to spend elsewhere.

But North Carolina is an essential state for Romney’s hopes of winning the White House. Polls show Romney with a slight advantage, though neither candidate can claim a lead anywhere approaching the margin of error. While Obama’s paths to victory are myriad enough that North Carolina’s electoral votes are a luxury he could afford to lose, there is no practical path to the necessary electoral votes for Romney that doesn’t include the Tar Heel State.

When Romney can consider NC (and probably another battleground state, too) safely in the bag, maybe then this race is actually even.  Not before then.

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Photo of the day

Found a gallery on these awesome Astronomy Photos of the year at the Post.  But they make you wait through an annoying 30 second video.  I figured I could just go right to the source (and get larger images, too).  Here’s the winner:

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy, by Martin Pugh (UK/Australia)

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy by Martin Pugh (UK/Australia)

19 June 2012 

What the photographer says:

‘I was always going to be excited about this image given the exceptional seeing conditions M51 was photographed under and the addition of several hours of Ha data has really boosted the HII regions.’

Planewave 17-inch CDK telescope; Software Bisque Paramount ME mount; Apogee U16M camera

What it shows:

M51 or the Whirlpool is the archetypal spiral galaxy and for centuries astronomers have studied it in order to understand how galaxies form and evolve. Here the photographer has made use of exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions, minimising the twinkling or ‘seeing’ caused by air turbulence to produce a sharp, clear image in which every detail of the galaxy is visible.

M51 has been drawn and photographed many times, from the sketches of astronomer Lord Rosse in the 19th century to modern studies by the Hubble Space Telescope. This photograph is a worthy addition to that catalogue. It combines fine detail in the spiral arms with the faint tails of light that show how M51’s small companion galaxy is being torn apart by the gravity of its giant neighbour.

Chart of the day

With all the talk of Medicare, the truly brutal Romney cuts to Medicaid have been largely ignored.  Kevin Drum posts a nice chart showing what’s at stake:

And some very on-point commentary:

But that’s not all. In this case, there’s more than ideology at work: Romney doesn’t want to spend as much on Medicaid as Obama does. In fact, he wants to take a chainsaw to it. Aaron Carroll and Austin Frakt took a look at the Romney and Obama plans in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, and the chart above shows their conclusions. On Medicare, the two candidates want to spend roughly similar amounts of money. On Medicaid, Romney wants to spend way, way less. And not just on poor people.As Jon Cohn points out, cuts of this size will have a huge impact on “dual eligibles,” elderly patients who rely on Medicaid to pay their nursing home bills. This is not a minor point of technocratic disagreement. It represents a massive change in our commitment to providing decent medical care for those who can least afford it. Medicaid, much more than Medicare, demonstrates what’s really at stake in November’s election.

Then again, those people who cannot afford decent medical care on their own are moochers, takers, (and of course, disabled people with genetic diseases), etc., and probably just deserve to die anyway.

Ultimate Biden metaphor

There’s a reason that Jon Chait gets paid to write:

He [Biden] did not ignore Ryan’s arguments, but he barreled over them like an enraged truck driver plowing over orange cones, before moving on to his own intellectual turf.

And the full context:

 Obama approaches debates with the same intellectual method he uses in his books, his speeches, and his policy discussions. He instinctively tries to find common ground first, trying to work within the framework his opponent has established and acknowledge what he agrees with before delineating his disagreements.

Biden does not bother. He simply casts aside his opponent’s frame and works within his own. He did not ignore Ryan’s arguments, but he barreled over them like an enraged truck driver plowing over orange cones, before moving on to his own intellectual turf. Sometimes he barreled so fast his points were wrong or incomprehensible – most notably when he appeared to attribute the financial crisis to Bush-era fiscal profligacy, and seemed to set the bar for who should pay higher taxes at $1 million a year, not the $250,000 line Obama has labored to align his party behind. But it was a highly effective way to handle the smarmy evasions that Ryan predictably served up.

Biden met his audience at a gut level. Over and over he appealed to them to settle the debate by falling back on long-held prejudices about the two parties.

Yep.  And, big man that he is, Chait admits he was totally wrong in thinking Ryan would win the debate.

Biden: Mission Accomplished

My official VP debate analysis: Biden’s job was to be aggressive (in the way Obama decidedly was not) and to fire up the Democratic base. He did that. Thus barring an overwhelmingly good Ryan performance (which no one is claiming), that’s a Democratic win given the current strategic context. This debate changes the media narrative in a positive way for Dems.  Honestly, it may have worked against Al Gore, but if the best Republicans can do is argue that Biden was rude, that’s not a winning line.  Romney was rude (though much smoother at it than Biden).

The fact that CBS’s insta-poll of 500 undecided voters showed a clear Biden win, will also help shape the narrative going forward.  And I imagine that, like after his convention speech, fact checkers may well have a field day with Ryan.

Two weeks ago I would’ve suggested it was close to preposterous that a VP debate could have much meaningful effect.  But I also would’ve suggest it was absolutely crazy to suggest that a weak and passive Obama performance would cause him to lose 4-5 points to Romney in national polls.  So, who knows.

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