WaPo’s Cillizza Tells Us Why Republicans Are Losing
posted at 7:31 am on September 27, 2012 by Matt Vespa
We’re getting smoked by the Democrats! It’s over! The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza gave us the main reasons why Republicans, generally, are getting smoked by liberals. In his post published yesterday, Cillizza laid out ” the [top three] reasons proposed to us by Republicans.”
* The Democratic convention bounce has lingered well into September, with the framing that former President Clinton put on the race in his convention speech working against the GOP. Clinton, in a way Obama has not/can not, was able to set the stakes of the election and the choice before voters — particularly wavering Democrats — in a powerful and very high-profile speech that continues to resonate.
* There’s been a jolt of optimism in the country of late, most markedly in an improving “right track” number in most state and national polls. While more people still say the country is headed in the wrong direction, the differential is not so lopsided as it’s been in past months. Moving hand in hand with that increased optimism is the number of people who say they approve of Obama’s performance on the economy.
* Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s campaign has struggled to push its preferred message — Obama is mishandling the economy and it’s time for a change — for at least the last two weeks. “When was last time Obama was on defense?,” asked one experienced GOP strategist closely monitoring downballot contests. “The ‘it’s not about me, it’s about you’ strategy only works if your opponent is continually taking on water and you’re not.”
First of all, who are the “Republicans” feeding him this drivel? Yes, Obama had a bounce after the convention, but it wasn’t anything special. According to Rasmussen, “the… daily Presidential Tracking Poll for [Sept. 26] shows both President Obama and Mitt Romney attracting support from 46% of voters nationwide. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate, and five percent (5%) are undecided. See daily tracking history. When ‘leaners’ are included, it’s Romney 48% and Obama 46%. Leaners are those who are initially uncommitted to the two leading candidates but lean towards one of them when asked a follow-up question.” Additionally, Ed Morrissey reported earlier this week on how this race is still in a dead heat.
Overall, Obama leads Romney by just 3 points on the ballot (50 percent to 47 percent) – which before we rounded up, is actually a 2.6 point lead and only up a half-a-percentage point from the 2.1 point lead for Obama in our last Battleground poll in early August. In our latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll with middle-class families, which comprise about 54 percent of the total American electorate and usually split in their vote behavior between Republicans and Democrats, Romney holds a 14-point advantage (55 percent to 41 percent). Middle-class families are more inclined to believe the country is on the wrong track (34 percent right direction, 62 percent wrong track), are more likely to hold an unfavorable view of Obama (48 percent favorable, 51 percent unfavorable), and hold a more favorable view of Romney (51 percent favorable, 44 percent unfavorable) and Paul Ryan (46 percent favorable, 35 percent unfavorable) than the overall electorate. These middle-class families also hold a majority disapproval rating on the job Obama is doing as president (45 percent approve, 54 percent disapprove), and turn even more negative toward Obama on specific areas; the economy 56 percent disapprove; spending 61 percent disapprove; taxes, 53 percent disapprove; Medicare 48 percent disapprove; and even foreign policy 50 percent disapprove.
All of this data make clear that Romney has won the strong support of middle-class families and is leading the president on an overwhelming majority of key measurements beyond just the ballot. In fact, when respondents were asked who, Obama or Romney, would best handle a variety of issues, Romney led on all but one including the economy (+9 percent), foreign policy (+3 percent), spending (+15 percent), taxes (+7 percent), Medicare (+2 percent), and jobs (+10 percent). Ironically, the one measurement Obama led Romney on was “standing up for the middle class” (+8 Obama), reinforcing that often the Democrats win the message war with the middle class, but not their hearts and souls.
Lastly, you need to factor in that some in the media are basing their numbers on 2008 voter turnout levels. This isn’t going to happen this year. Mike Flynn at Breitbart wrote on September 16 that:
Friday’s [Sept. 14] CBS/New York Times poll, for example, uses a D+13 sample of registered voters. This is absurd.
In 2008, an historic election wave for Democrats, the electorate was D+7. In 2004, when George W. Bush won reelection, the electorate was evenly split. In other words, D+0. Repeat after me; the Democrat share of the electorate is not going to double this year. Given the well-noted enthusiasm edge for Republicans this year, the electorate is going to be far closer to the 2004 model than 2008. Any poll trying to replicate the 2008 is going to artificially inflate Obama’s support.
D+13! Flynn quipped at Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit last August that we haven’t seen an electorate representative based on such numbers since 1856 – when the GOP was in its infancy. On September 13, Flynn wrote that Democracy Corps’ poll showed “Obama with a 5-point lead over Romney. Of course, the sample for the poll is D+11… I get tired of saying this but the electorate is not going to be more Democrat this November than it was in 2008. And, the Democrats are certainly not going to increase their share of the electorate by 50%. This is just fantasy.” I’m not saying polls are worthless – we just need to be mindful that the media pees in the pool.
This leads us to the next poll: the direction of the country. What “jolt of optimism” is Cillizza talking about? Rasmussen has 36% of Americans believing the nation is on the right track.
Thirty-six percent (36%) of Likely U.S. Voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken the week ending Sunday, September 23.
That’s up a point from 35% the week before and down just one point from 37% two weeks ago, the highest level of optimism since late June 2009.
Real Clear Politics has a rather nice spread concerning the direction of the country and it isn’t pretty.
Concerning Romney’s inability to stay on message lately – Cillizza has it partially right. Although, some in the media are playing a role in changing the narrative, which has frustrated Romney’s efforts to fully pressure the president. The latest attempt by the media to keep him off message certainly rests with the Libyan fiasco, which left four people dead, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In the aftermath of the attacks, some in the media decided to focus on Romney’s remarks and ignored the questions surrounding the embassy’s security and Obama’s unpresidential habit of missing almost half of his intelligence briefings.