Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is October scary for Obama? Yes. A surprise? No.

Last night, my sister and I watched one of our favorite shows, Key & Peele. In our favorite sketch of the episode, which lampoons increasingly ridiculous athlete names, one of Key’s characters says he goes to California University of Pennsylvania. It’s a real school, but it’s still chuckle fuel.

She and I are both into politics, though her pedigree has far surpassed mine (I’m a 32-year-old amateur pundit; she’s a 22-year-old veteran of Capitol Hill). Also, she’s a Republican. Yeah. See? Indoctrination my buttock.

What we share is a passion for intelligent political conversation (though my mom would argue as to how intelligent it remains at times). The slightest reference will get us going. And last night, that reference was Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania’s a swing state,” she said.

“What? I don’t think so,” I replied.

“Romney’s ahead in the polls there right now.”

“I haven’t seen any polls suggesting that, but I’ll look.”

Normally I don’t pay attention to polls. (I do keep an eye on long-term electoral analysis, but even scientific polls are generally too subjective for my taste.) But I had to see for myself if she was right. If she was, that’s pretty big news. To my understanding, Pennsylvania is a solid blue state. According to Nate Silver, it still is. But Nate’s latest blog entry gave me an extra chill — that Obama’s post-convention bounce has erased in recent days.

I didn’t expect Obama to pull away from Romney as decisively as he did following the conventions, nor did I expect that divide to last. In a way, it’s impressive that it happened and that it lasted as long as it did. (Also, I realize the media needs a horse race.) Still, I went to bed troubled.

“What killed such a huge lead so fast?” I wondered. “Was Romney THAT on the ball at the debate? No way.” That train of thought led to, “Who are all these people suddenly latching onto Romney? What about this man is suddenly attractive to people?”

Then I drifted off to sleep, dreaming that I had to move cross-country on my bicycle.

This morning, another writer I know and respect, who leans center-right, posted an endorsement on Facebook. He said that Obama, despite criticism, is one of the most decent men ever to hold the presidency. He added that he dislikes Romney. But he’s going to vote for Romney. Because though Obama nabbed Osama bin Laden, he’s been ineffective across the board and is a Carter-esque bust. Which to me is like saying Lincoln was a terrible president, except for keeping the nation together. The cognitive dissonance blew my mind.

But it (and some of the comments that followed) also sort of answered my question.

I see more and more people I know coming out in favor of Romney, especially since the first debate. They’re expressing enthusiastic support, putting signs in their yards, bumper stickers on their cars and sharing the campaign’s status updates on social networks. In 100 percent of cases where these previously undecided voters planted their flag on Mount Mitt, I have never been surprised. I always felt like they could vote for Romney, but for whatever reason they weren’t comfortable with saying so. I’ve written before that I have yet to hear a decisively liberal voter (even the annoying contrarian ones) jump to Romney, and that’s still true.

So I think that this newfound Romney momentum is due, at least in part, to conservative voters making it official. Republicans previously embarrassed by an opportunist and/or insufficiently extreme candidate are getting on board as November nears, emboldened perhaps by a debate performance that gave Glimmer One of hope. Naturally, the polls would reflect that sentiment as more people commit to Romney. That’s not great news, but neither is it a referendum on Obama’s viability. It’s the GOP falling in line.

I still think Romney has a long, uphill climb. I think he’s a terrible candidate who exhibits none of the integrity that the presidency requires. And I still think the race won’t be as close as the pundits predict. But it’s not decided until the ballots are in. And this uptick for Romney is a reminder of that. 

We needed it.

1 comment:

Nick Istre said...

Yup, some days, you just got to wonder when you hear from a retired guy saying he's voting for Romney because he "doesn't need big government" and the stuff you do know about his is the following:

- He's on Medicare and Social Security
- He had to get on Medicare and Social Security because the 2008 financial crash took a huge chunk out his 401K and his housing investment (which, he blames on Obama of course)
- Much of his later years he worked on internet-based technologies (nevermind government investment in ARPANET and much of the precursor of the modern internet in the 1960s...)
- He worked for government contractors and state jobs for most of his life.

Yeah... "No government" indeed. I'll make it official here; I can't vote for Romney. Maybe I'm over-worried, but it feels that my and my fiancee's future is at stake here. At the very least, I'm tired of having to work 60-80 weeks trying to get projects done for clients that then try to stiff us on pay (and I haven't taken an actual vacation since 2008), tired of having my fiancee having to work an almost full time (but not quite full time, because that comes with benefits) overnight job while going to school full time, and we are still going to end up 20K in student debt when she graduates, getting tired of living almost paycheck-to-paycheck living in a house with my fiancee and another roommate trying to build something actually useful while I saw the jobs in my "guaranteed high-paid career" disappear get shipped off to India and China [1] when I graduated in Computer Science, then get called a lazy moocher on top of that... We already have plans to leave the country as it is. Actually, we have to if she wants to continue with her graduate degree.

But yeah, it feels I have no choice but to vote for Obama, and as many Democrats as I can possibly vote for. He's not perfect, the Democratic party is far from what I want, but at least they are only halfway corrupted by money and powerful influences...

Ok, enough ranting here. And really, I have it good! I've not tapped into my own retirement savings (though I haven't been contributing any since being laid off in Jan 2009). I know too many of my peers who are in much worst situations right now. And I could rant for much, much longer...

Really, I need to get back to work again. This bug won't fix itself in this project that's projected for 6 months, which it would be on time with 3 programmers, but I'm the only one on it...

1 - And absolutely nothing against the Indians and Chinese programmers here; they aren't the ones who moved the jobs to them. And I didn't get into programming because of the easy money in it through the 90s, but because I did actually enjoy programming.