Fool Me Once…

As the debate progressed and we were introduced to Mitt the Dove on foreign policy, I felt so foolish that I hadn’t seen this coming.  He did in the foreign policy debate exactly what he did in the first debate on domestic policy — move sharply and dramatically to the middle.

So whatever Obama said and stood for, we then heard that championed by Me Too Mitt.

He ran as far and as fast from his neo-con image and advisers as he could, trying to hurl himself into the arms of women voters.  This election won’t turn on foreign policy, but it will turn on how big the gender gap is.

When Mitt said “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” and talked about dealing with the Muslim world through economic development, education, gender equality, and the rule of law, he wasn’t really telling us his strategy for the Muslim world, he was telling us his strategy for American women.  If he doesn’t care about gender equality here, why would he care about it there?

Mitt didn’t need to win (and he didn’t), he just needed to keep his momentum going.  Saying something glaringly stupid as Ford did on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe would have stopped that momentum cold and doomed him.

So the main goal tonight was to avoid a gaffe that made him seem unready to be commander in chief.  He achieved that.

The next goal was to calm down women voters who might worry that he’s too hawkish.  He achieved that.

His strategy told me that his campaign is feeling confident right now.  Pretty, pretty confident, as Larry David would say.  If they weren’t confident, he would have felt the need to be much more aggressive against the President, rather than amiably agreeing with him.

They know the election is still about the economy (where Mitt was aggressive), so why make waves on foreign policy when he had more to lose than to gain?

Behind that cautious playing-it-safe was a calculated playing-to-win.

The Sow’s Ear Nominee

I watched Mitt’s speech with the soft bigotry of low expectations.  I thought it was overall a well-crafted speech, well-delivered, probably the best I’ve seen him.  They took their sow’s ear of a candidate, and certainly didn’t turn him into a silk purse, but they fashioned a decent pigskin one.

I still can’t stand his little tight-lipped smirk that passes for a smile.  You’d think someone who’s been running for president for five years would have fixed that by now.

I don’t think the speech changes anything, I still think President Obama will win.  When Mitt talked about his mother’s running for the Senate and wondering why women shouldn’t have power in national affairs, he left hanging the question why we shouldn’t have power over our own bodies.   He didn’t bridge the gender gap chasm.

The attack on Putin/Russia was ill-advised.  We have a sitting President who is trying every day to get more cooperation from them on issues like Iran and Syria.  Mittens wasn’t helping.

Even Fox News Says Obama Is Winning

A new Fox News poll (alas, registered, not likely voters) show Obama up over Mitt, 46 to 39.

There are some fascinating internals.  The poll shows a huge gender gap, with Obama up among women by 55-33.  Mitt is up among men by 46-37.

Asked which one they would choose as a life coach, those polled chose Obama 47 to 33.  I don’t think I’ve seen that question before.

The dissatisfaction with Mitt among GOP voters is still there.  Asked if they were satisfied having Obama and Mitt as their choices, 74% of those supporting Obama said that they were, while only 59% of those supporting Mitt said the same.

This lack of enthusiasm shows when voters were asked to state in their own words why they support their candidate.  Of those supporting Mitt, 43% gave “He’s not Obama” as their top reason.  By contrast, of those supporting Obama, 25% gave “He’s doing a good job” as their top reason.  So Obama’s votes seem to be more pro-Obama, while Mitt’s seem to be more anti-Obama than pro-Mitt.

While Mitt is running on his business background, only 5% of his supporters called that background their main reason for voting for him.

As Virginia Goes?

President Obama is leading Mitt in Virginia by 8 points — 51 to 43.  Among women, the President is leading by 17 points — 55 to 38%.  Thank you, Bob McDonnell, Governor Ultrasound!

Six percent of those who voted for Obama in 2008 say they will vote for Mitt this time.  But 12% of those who voted for McCain say they will vote for Obama.

Between Now and November

From “The War War,” John Heilemann, New York Magazine:

“Phony wars are nothing new in presidential politics, to be sure, but rarely have they been this dimwitted, dishonest, debasing, or, when it comes to what the months between now and November hold in store, so utterly depressing.  And yet as dismaying as last week was, it was also revealing of the terrain and tactics that will define the general election — with Chicago relentlessly touting economic fairness and seeking to exacerbate Romney’s weaknesses with key constituencies such as women, and with Boston talking economic opportunity and scrambling to rehab its man’s battered image with those same groups.

“Yet the antic, manic, overwrought first week of the general election did convey two lessons worth pondering. The first is that, on both taxes and the gender gap, the Romney campaign isn’t going down without a fight — and it would behoove the Obamans to beware the ample dangers of smugness and sloppiness and overplaying their (admittedly strong) hand.  And the second is that the campaign henceforward will be anything but pretty.”

Mitt the Unloved

The new WaPo/ABC News Poll of registered voters shows President Obama at 51% and Mitt at 44.

Obama is up among women by 19% (he won them last time by 13%).  Mitt is up among men by 8%.  Besides a battle of the parties, we’ve got a battle of the sexes going on here.

When asked who seems more likable, Obama was at 64% compared to Mitt’s 26%.

Do they have personality transplants yet?  Mitt desperately needs one.

Mitt’s Already Lost

In 2010, the gender gap that had plagued the GOP for about 30 years disappeared.  Women and men voted about the same.  But I believe that in 2012, the gender gap will be back, and with a vengeance.

In a presidential election, voters who are not part of either party’s base, look not just at the candidates themselves, but at whether the far left or the far right looks scarier for that particular cycle.  It’s about where the pendulum has swung since the last election and moving it back toward the middle.

For women, the far right will look scarier.  Even if they don’t mind Mitt personally, he will lose votes because of the baggage his base brings on birth control and abortion rights.  They have stirred the pot too much since 2010 both at the state and national level, and the atavistic rhetoric during the presidential primary has only exacerbated the outrage and sense of backsliding, the visceral sense that the GOP is bad for women.

The far left won’t look very scary because we’ve already had one term of President Obama, and we don’t have a hammer and sickle on our flag.  The mansions on the Upper East Side haven’t been broken up into apartments for “the people,” and the estates in the Hamptons haven’t been turned into summer camps for workers.

There are five segments in the electorate.  There are the two segments who always vote R or D.  For them, campaigns are more about entertainment than edification, since their minds are made up.  There are the two segments who “lean” R or D, some of whom register in that party and some of whom register as Independents.  Then there are the people who truly are Independents, who don’t lean consistently and who pretty much start at square one for each presidential race.

Mitt is going to lose many women who lean R and  many women who are true Independents, and therefore he will lose the election.

It’s seven months till the voting, but for me, the election was over at the debate when George Stephanopoulus asked Mitt if he thought states could ban birth control.  From the look on Mitt’s face, I think he knew it too.

Obama Winning Key Swing States

Since 1960, no one has been elected president without winning at least two of these three states — Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  A new Quinnipiac poll shows President Obama leading both Mitt and Santorum in all of them.

The economy and unemployment are still the top issues in all three, and President Obama wins among women (the gender gap) in all three, with margins between 6 and 19%.

In Florida, Obama beats Mitt 49 to 42%.  He beats Santorum 50 to 37%.

In Ohio, Obama beats Mitt 47 to 41%.  He beats Santorum 47 to 40%.

In Pennsylvania, Obama beats Mitt 45 to 42%.  He beats Santorum 48 to 41%.


Mitt Delusional Over Women’s Vote

Romney surrogate Bay Buchanan (Pat’s sister — nuff said) believes that Mitt will do fine with women voters and argues that the Republican party “hasn’t made its case yet with women.”*

I would say the GOP has made its case loud and clear, and it’s one that’s going to lose by huge margins, a gender chasm rather than a gender gap.   Don’t probe me, Bro!

*  “Romney surrogates say GOP can win with women in November,” Emily Schultheis, Politico

Is the Gender Gap Becoming a Gender Chasm?

The “gender gap,” which helped kill John McCain’s chances in 2008, when President Obama got 56% of women’s votes in an election where they cast 53% of the ballots, is threatening to become a “gender chasm” for Mitt Romney.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows the President leading by 18% among women against Mitt.  With Mitt up by 6 among men, that translates into a 6% overall lead for President Obama.

The way I see it, it’s not just that Democrat women will turn out heavily for the President and Independents will turn to him, as they see their reproductive freedom under threat from the right.   I believe he’ll get Republican women who voted for Bush and McCain, back when everybody thought birth control wasn’t an issue anymore (silly us).

Mitt’s in a tough spot.  Already mistrusted by social conservatives, the VP picks who help him with the base, choices like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida or Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, hurt him with women.