dcurtis

It’s Not Just Ohio

I’m growing increasingly tired of the Very Serious People in the chattering class contriving narratives about this country for the sake of a good story. On the policy side, it’s the dreaded Fiscal Cliff, on the candidate side it’s Romney’s earth shattering debate, and on the campaign narrative side it’s all about Ohio and Florida. I’m going to talk about that third one here.

The Narrative Problem

Romney has been behind in every electoral college projection by a wide margin since the race began, but if you read Mark Halperin, POLITICO, Washington Post (The Fix), ABC News, and a few other Beltway outposts you’d think Obama was the one on the ropes; boy, won’t Obama’s comeback be a great story!?

I can only assume that there is a strong bias to these fairytale narratives because it’s easier than digging into the primary sources and coming up with a nuanced picture that most of the country would rather not swallow in favor of some other content - but hey, at least the newsy-civic-duty-stuff would be out there. 

Mitt Romney Has An Extremely Narrow Path To Victory. 

I read/hear a lot of chatter about how important Ohio is for Romney to win. I think a more accurate frame would be: Romney cannot compete without Ohio, but it’s not nearly enough to clinch a win.

If you divide states up that are a lock for Romney and Obama according to the current 538 projections, Obama has 252 votes and Romney 180 votes.Romney needs to get 90 electoral votes to squeak his way into the presidency. The swing states in play are:

Ok, let’s play a game and try to find 90 votes shall we? If we only listen to the DC chattering class then clearly most important races are in Ohio and Florida. OK, let’s give them both to Romney.

OH + FL = 47 not enough

OH + FL + NC + VA = 75 still not enough.

OH + FL + NC + VA + CO + NV = 90 Found the path to victory! It only took ALL of them combined.

The winning scenario shows that Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado are all equally important to the Romney victory. If he loses any one of those states he cannot make up the ground anywhere else - unless he believes he can put move heaven and earth to put Iowa back in play. All of this Ohio stuff is just myth making from previous cycles.

Romney didn’t even get there with the improbable win of both Ohio and Florida. In Ohio, Obama has been leading for months by 3-5%, not to mention the fact that the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will be on the ballot there; He’ll be on the ballot in Virginia too.

If this were tennis, Mitt Romney would be down  (6-0, 5-0) Love-40, and playing some weird rules where he only returns serve and starts every game down Love-40.

Note: I’m not going to pretend that Pennsylvania is a swing state - it’s gone reliably blue for he last 20 years, and it’s only gotten bluer. Nevada is on the list to make 

More on the narrative conversation:

From Jonathan Chait: Romney Says He’s Winning — It’s a Bluff

Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily….

This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

From Michael Tomasky: Reality Vs. ‘Reality’

Today may be the most important single day of the campaign. Obama won the debate. Everyone this side of Charles Krauthammer agrees that Romney was general and platitudinous and not that engaged. That makes two out of three. You might think that would mean momentum. And yet the conventional wisdom is congealing right now—it is hardening this morning, minute by minute—that Romney is going to win the election.

In reality, Obama is the favorite. The state maps still make him so. Nate Silver, the only person who takes every single poll into account (plus loads of other indicators), still has him so. This emerging c.w. is built more on spin and smell, which the media are starting to buy. One piece that Mike Allen bought this morning in that Playbook item: A Romney aide told him New Hampshire leans their way.

From Alec McGillis: The Liberal Media, in Love With Our Narrative

But we are not driven by politics or ideology, really. Above all, we love a good story. Which, after all, is a very deeply ingrained yearning of the human race, isn’t it? Anthropologists will tell you it is what sets us apart from the beasts—after all, when’s the last time you saw a cat or a dog telling an anecdote at a cocktail party or reading a bedtime story to their offspring? Yeah, didn’t think so. We crave narrative. And let’s face it, the narrative of the 2012 campaign was a real dud. Incumbent president faces tough reelection environment but manages to hold onto slim, steady lead thanks to a just-enough recovery and a singularly uninspiring challenger. I remember being in a Dayton hotel the morning after Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remarks broke and watching the head-shaking reaction of Morning Joe and his crew: it left them with nothing to say. Which is a problem, because, well, they had many more weeks of needing something to say.

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