And it's clear that Romney's the one losing steam here. After pretty much writing off women, Latinos, gays, Muslims, African-Americans, etc., he's finding constituencies he's relying on slipping away as well. Older voters, concerned with Paul Ryan's Medicare-slaying plans, have moved away from Mitt. Romney's support among the 60-plus crowd has dropped from a 20-point lead to four -- in the past two weeks. He's hemorrhaging seniors. More telling, the Republican candidate is now losing among NASCAR fans -- 48%-41%. This is a group of mostly southern whites who can normally be counted on breaking Republican. All the news for the GOP is soulcrushingly bad -- until you look closely, then it's even worse.
I say that because The American Conservative's Noah Millman takes that close look at the race and sees disaster -- not only for their presidential candidate, but for the Republican Party as a whole. The turning point was the conventions and things have just kept going south since then.
As I’ve observed the race since then, I have only become more convinced that what has changed the dynamics of this election has been a fundamental reevaluation not merely – or even primarily – of the two candidates, but of the two parties. This election is becoming nationalized, and it is becoming nationalized in the context of an across-the-board swing in the direction of the Democrats.
The reason, I think, is a simple one. The Republicans Party – not just the Romney campaign, but the party as a whole – is running on nothing. They are running on the presumption that the country has already rejected the Democrats, and that therefore it is their turn. They are behaving as if choosing Democratic governance was some kind of “experiment” that didn’t work out, and now the American people will, of course, come back to their natural home.
By contrast, the Democrats actually made a case for their party. They explained what their party has done, and why they should be able to set the national agenda. They defended their foreign policy, their economic policy, and their social policy in strong, unapologetic terms.
So yes, Mitt Romney is an amazingly clumsy, inept, and "inelegant" candidate, but this doesn't really explain the down-ticket slide. Besides, if this election really was a referendum on Obama's term -- as Republicans keep insisting -- Romney's competence as a campaigner would be less of a problem.
But it's that "referendum election" theory that's killing Republicans right now. Romney's campaign slogan might as well be "Obama said fill-in-the-blank, that's terrible. Elect Mitt." He offers no argument for himself, just as the GOP as a whole offers no argument. They're just the alternative to a party they've convinced themselves simply cannot win.
This is bad enough, but the base is convinced there's nothing wrong and Romney's killing. Over at PJ Tatler, we're told that Obama showed up for a rally in Wisconsin and didn't attract a crowd of 18,000. He was at a venue with only 5,000 seats, so the lame-stream media is just lying to make Obama look good by saying he attracted 18,000. Never mind that the venue is an outdoor arena in the waterfront park used to host Summerfest -- the grounds are huge. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Obama did indeed fill the 5,000 seat pavilion, "along with thousands more who sat in bleachers and stood on the pavement beyond the protection of the roof, even as wind and rain lashed down in the latter moments of the near 30-minute speech." 18,000 could fit easily with room to spare -- I ought to know, I attended Summerfest. I'm pretty familiar with the grounds.
And that's how every story about Barack Obama's campaign is being treated on the right -- it's a horrible disaster marked by gaffes and tiny crowds. The only reason anyone thinks Obama is winning is because the press is in the tank for the guy. In rightwing world, Mitt is slaughtering, everything is fine, and everyone is going to vote Republican forever. It's like the South Korean press ministry over there.
I'm pretty sure this constant spin is well-intentioned, but it can't possibly be helping. When your candidate is in trouble, you don't want to sugarcoat it, you want people freaking out. You want people knocking on doors and making calls and raising money. You don't want people sitting at home, reading wingnut blogs, smug in the certainty of Mitt Romney's march to victory.
And worse, think about what sore losers conservatives were the last time. Imagine how insufferably whiny they'll be in November if trends continue. Obama won't just be a secret Muslim terr'ist, he'll be a secret Muslim terr'ist who stole the election. And maybe killed Reagan and orchestrated 9/11. You think they're insane now, just wait until this fantasy world they've constructed for themselves implodes.
If it happens, it won't to be pretty.
Or extremely rational.