Monday, August 20, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Show Time, Fellow Citizens

We now know who the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and
most of the congressional candidates, are, and in less than three weeks,
the two major party national conventions will have concluded. Less than
two months after that will come Election Day. It's showtime!

Polling, usually a vital tool to political commentator, and a guide to voters,
has been notably inaccurate this cycle, for reasons discussed in this column
and in many other venues. As is well-known, polling becomes significantly
more accurate in close proximity to the actual election date, and with so
much at stake in this industry, I suspect the polls, by October, will give us
a better picture of the various competitive races than they do now.

Thanks to the surprising judgment of Barack Obama and his campaign
team, the incumbent president so far has not decided to compete openly for
U.S. voters in the political center, and instead they have decided to make
the 2012 election a plebiscite on a new and radical direction of American
public policy, and on voter affection for the president himself. This is a
surprise because the administration's policies have not been popular, and
the standing of Mr. Obama with the pubic has been shrinking. If the
outcome depended on only bringing out the political base, as happened in
2008, it could work, but so far, virtually every measurement indicates that
there is considerably more "intensity motivating Republican voters than
motivating Democratic voters (in a time of continued high unemployment
and economic stress).

The Obama campaign strategies, in fact, so far have been erratic, beginning
with the ill-advised Obama campaign agent who attacked Ann Romney and,
most recently, the public declaration that Mr. Romney's choice of Paul Ryan
as his running mate was a mistake. That attack on Mrs. Romney
misadventure was one of the earlier signs that Team Obama was overrated,
and that Team Romney had been underrated.

Size of crowds for a candidate, especially just before an election, doesn't
always translate to size of the vote for that candidate, but at this point in a
campaign, large turnouts for one ticket, and disappointing turnouts for the
other ticket, are an ominous sign.

The party convention is a traditional political pageant was inaugurated in
1840. But beginning with the age of television, and hastened further by the
age of the Internet, it has lost much of its attraction to both the public and
politicians themselves. I cannot remember a cycle when the two major
conventions, the Democratic one in Charlotte, North Carolina; and the
Republican in Tampa, Florida, were less anticipated. The conventions today
are simply an orgy for the media who attend.

The conventional wisdom is that the presidential race will be close in
November, and that control of the U.S. senate is unknown. I have
challenged these commonplace predictions, but now we will soon find out
just to what direction the American voter is going to send its government.


Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.      All rights reserved.

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