Why Romney Is Losing
In Why Obama Is Winning, Niall Ferguson is perplexed:
… the economy…’s growing at a lousy 2 percent. Unemployment is stuck above 8 percent. Manufacturing just contracted for the third straight month. Consumer confidence is sliding. Nearly 47 million Americans are on food stamps. And we’re heading for a fiscal cliff.
… According to The New York Times, President Obama is set to win 51 percent of the popular vote and 311 electoral college votes, including those of key swing states like Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. He has a 3 in 4 chance of being reelected. …
So what’s the explanation? I can think of four possibilities.
Which are: 1) the economy is actually doing well, 2) people are lying to pollsters, 3) voters are looking to the future or 4) Romney and the Republican Party platform is more unappetizing than the economy.
Three of Ferguson’s purportedly spurious reasons are at least partially true.
1) The economy isn’t doing great, but it isn’t as frighteningly bad as it was when Bush left office. Even though they won’t mention his name, Romney and Ryan want to pick up where Bush left off. They want to attack Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Iran — but probably not in that order.
2) No one knows who is and isn’t lying, but even the biased Rasmussen poll favors Obama.
3) Voters may well be looking to the future because the Republicans are still stuck in the past, as evidenced by their continuing obsession with trickle-down, pump-up-the-rich economic policy.
4) Yes, the Republican Party platform is alienating everyone but the angry white males. As Lindsey Graham noted, there aren’t enough of those to elect Romney. Demographics are against the Republicans.
Update: In the Village Voice, Roy Edroso’s, Rightbloggers Declare Democratic Convention a Failure — Which May Be Why It Succeeded echoes Item #4.
… some guy running a crap economy who nonetheless now finds himself enjoying a nice post-convention bounce. If you wonder how that came to be the result, you might consider who Obama is running against — or, better still, consider the reactions of rightbloggers, which show even more clearly why ordinary Americans may find the conservative alternative, as presently articulated by these spokespeople, difficult to embrace even under the worst of circumstances. …
When the tents were all folded, despite the alleged debacle, the Democrats saw “a swing of 4 to 7 points from their standing before the Democratic convention opened Tuesday,” reported USA Today, and a 4-to-5-point lead over Mitt Romney for the President.
Rightbloggers probably wonder how this could be — indeed, at National Review Andrew C. McCarthy asked “How can that be?” and at Power Line John Hinderaker asked, “Why is this election close?” They had a lot of theories, but neither of them considered the possibility that it was because people like themselves were getting to be noticed and read by ordinary Americans, who have decided that no matter how bad things are under the Democrats, there are some fates worse. They may be, you might say, victims of their own success.
Redstaters have been stuck in the right-wing radio echo chamber for so long, they don’t realize how awful they sound to people on the outside.
Update 14 Sept 2012: Andrew Gelman at The Monkey Cage questions Ferguson’s scholarship on this piece:
Just for a change of pace, I have no reason to think Ferguson is being a hack in this case. I’m guessing it’s just a combination of four factors:
1. He doesn’t know the literature.
2. He’s so convinced that Obama is a disaster that he can’t understand why anyone would vote for him (recall Ferguson’s earlier claim, reminiscent of Thomas Frank, that “If young Americans knew what was good for them, they would all be in the Tea Party.”).
3. He’s overconfident: once something comes to his mind, he doesn’t check it.
4. Nobody knowledgeable is editing his column.