The Fat Lady Awaits
As one eminent philosopher philosophized, “It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings,” so even though said lady is waiting in the wings and tuning up, I am not quite ready to administer Mitt Romney’s last rites.
It is, however, as difficult to chart a path to a Romney victory as it is for him to pass through the eye of a needle. Thus many of my fellow pundits are already applauding the fat lady’s aria.
He has had the worst three weeks of any candidate in recent memory, beginning with the Republican convention, remembered mainly for Clint Eastwood-gate. Things look so wretched for the Romney campaign that one Republican pundit called it a “rolling calamity,” while other conservatives chimed in to the extent that Ann Romney angrily pleaded with them to “stop it.”
Today almost all the national polls show Barack Obama up by 3 to 8 points, although some outliers show a tie or a minute advantage for Romney. More importantly, state-by-state surveys of the 10 battleground states show increasing leads for the president in all but two. Only New Hampshire and North Carolina remain iffy. GOP hopes of actually turning Wisconsin or Michigan from blue to red have faded.
Ohio looks well within Obama’s grasp and he is even running decently ahead in Florida. Either one of those would virtually assure victory—both would portend an electoral vote landslide.
Of equal if not greater importance, Obama well outdistances Romney on all the significant voter concerns, from likeability to doing more for the middle class, preserving Medicare, handling foreign policy and taxation. They run even on the economy, while Romney wins only on controlling the deficit.
In part this is the result of Team Obama’s powerful takedown through the summer months, defining their opponent as an out-of-touch, job-killing, outsourcing plutocrat who only cares about the wealthy. The Romney campaign reinforced the image through a series of mis-steps compounded by gaffes culminating in the notorious “47 percent victims” video. They have elevated ineptitude to an art form.
To change the conversation, Romney issued his 2011 tax returns, which were juggled to show him paying higher taxes than required in order to keep his rate near 14 percent. That overpayment, however, reminded the world of his dictum that if he paid more taxes than necessary he should not be president.
There remains a slender possibility of Republican turnaround with six weeks until Election Day. The Middle East is alive with dangers. Joblessness can still increase. Three debates lie ahead, where a gaffe or loss can cost Obama dearly. As can voter suppression and a huge turnout of Evangelicals plus the large body of Obama haters at large in America. The multimillion-dollar Republican “Super PACs” can exploit these mercilessly.
Nevertheless, based on current information, I’ll go out on a limb and predict he’ll get around 52 percent of the popular vote and more than 300 electoral votes (270 needed to win).
But never forget the words of that great American philosopher, Lawrence Peter Berra:
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer.