The full outbreak of Romney Derangement Syndrome
posted at 12:07 pm on July 14, 2012 by Karl
This week in the presidential campaign was driven by several stories, primarily Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP convention; the likely bogus rumor that Romney was considering Condoleeza Rice as his vice-presidential pick; and the hysterical, bogus claim that Romney may be a felon based on decade-old SEC filings. Let’s look at the common thread running through them.
Partisans on both sides of the aisle questioned Romney’s decision to appear at the NAACP convention, given that African-Americans have been a solidly reliable Democratic voting bloc for decades. However, a Romney campaign adviser told BuzzFeed that Romney’s attendance at the convention wasn’t primarily intended to break off a portion of the black vote, but to make clear to moderates that he intends to be an inclusive president. (I would suggest this was also part of the motivation for the Condi VP leak, if it came from the campaign.) It is really polite code for saying Romney was going after the votes of white college graduates, particularly women.
Recall how the Emerging Democratic Majority theorists see this campaign:
[Ruy] Teixeira, writing with John Halpin, argues in “The Path to 270: Demographics versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election,” that in order to be re-elected, President Obama must keep his losses among white college graduates to the 4-point margin of 2008 (47-51). Why? Otherwise he will not be able to survive a repetition of 2010, when white working-class voters supported Republican House candidates by a record-setting margin of 63-33.
Obama’s alternative path to victory, according to Teixeira and Halpin, would be to keep his losses among all white voters at the same level John Kerry did in 2004, when he lost them by 17 points, 58-41. This would be a step backwards for Obama, who lost among all whites in 2008 by only 12 points (55-43). Obama can afford to drop to Kerry’s white margins because, between 2008 and 2012, the pro-Democratic minority share of the electorate is expected to grow by two percentage points and the white share to decline by the same amount, reflecting the changing composition of the national electorate.
Recent polling suggests Obama’s current support among non-college whites remains mired about where is was for Democrats in 2010. However, Obama has largely maintained his support with white college grads, still within the margin of error of that 47% he won in 2008. If he erodes much further in that demographic, it is also unlikely that he would be able to achieve the alternate target for the overall white vote.
Obama’s precarious position in this regard explains the increasingly negative, hysterical and defamatory campaign being waged by Team Obama, promoted by various establishment media outlets at different times over the past few weeks, culminating in the full flowering of Romney Derangement Syndrome at this week’s end. Team Obama must increasingly rely on the “otherization” of Romney (and his church) of the sort the very same people roundly condemned and marginalized when attempted against Obama in 2008. Indeed, Obama started painting himself into his current corner during the 2008 primaries. Obama ran — and has largely governed — against the Clintonian version of the Democratic Party, now extending to Obama’s weakening of welfare reform. It is thus not terribly surprising that Obama’s tenuous grip on white college grads has become the flashpoint of the 2012 campaign.