Saturday, September 22, 2012

Race for the White House

45 Days Until Election Day

Election Day continues to inch closer, and some Americans are now already voting, but much will continue to transpire on the road to the White House, despite the media and Democrats, declaring, for the second week in a row, that they have basically wrapped a victory up.

There were a plethora of polls over the past week, and the results can be confusing. Most national polls have continued to show a single digit Obama lead and the incumbent is also ahead, at least by a couple points, in almost all polls from the key swing states. Yet, as of today, the two daily national tracking polls, show the race as dead even. The Rasmussen Reports poll of swing states that were won by Obama in 2008 show a virtual tie in the aggregate of those states, as does the survey of swing states from Gallup. If those polls are accurate (which may very well be the case as there continues to be evidence largely ignored by the media, that so many polls are oversampling Democrats, for whatever reason) then the Presidential election would be a coin toss, if the election were tomorrow. Of course, there is still a long way to go, including all the debates.

At a point last week, Barack Obama led Mitt Romney by seven points in the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll. Exactly one week later, the candidates were tied at 47 percent each, which is where it remains as of today. That means, that for whatever reason, Mitt Romney gained seven points in the span of one week. If that is true, that is a considerable "bounce" more than on par with anything that happened at the conventions. Similarly, Rasmussen had shown Romney down the previous week as well, only to see him now tied once again. Yet the media has declared it to be another horrific political week for the GOP nominee. Are they accurately reporting the news, or are they trying to shape the news? It is has long been said that obsession over polling and "horse race" journalism was bad for the process, but those things are basically inevitable at this point. One would think though that all the polling data would at least be presented. The fact is that in the oldest poll of all polls, the past week saw a significant increase for Mitt Romney nationally and a significant decrease for Barack Obama. Quite often, state polling trends lag behind national numbers.

Anyways, I need to avoid the attempt to try to list and analyze everything that happened in the past week and just focus on the themes. There were political headaches for both candidates to be sure. The situation in the Middle East in regards to anti-American protests, continues to grow more dangerous, despite a lack of coverage in the mainstream media. Last week, Mitt Romney's remarks over the foreign policy issues were supposed to have sunk his campaign, but that did not happen, and while the messages coming from the Obama Administration continue to be mixed, it now appears certain that the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was an act of deliberate terrorism and not a spontaneous protest in regards to a little known internet movie, though the White House continues to apologize for that movie.

While people may or may not think that was a valid reason to vote for Obama in 2008, it is a fact that the candidate promised that his election and service as President would do much to placate the Muslim world and make America (and the American Presidency) more popular and respected around the world. Nearly four years later, American military involvement in the Middle East has decreased, but there are all indications that America, under Barack Obama is more despised than ever. Of course, I believe that hatred is completely unjustified (even if the Democrats did go way overboard in celebrating the Osama bin Laden death at their convention), but chalk this one up to one of Obama's biggest broken campaign promises.

Along those lines, this past week saw the candidate, who was elected on "hope and change" four years ago, declare that he has discovered that Washington cannot be changed "from the inside", which really does sound like a massive admittance of failure. This remark has to be considered a major gaffe, that will be revisited often during the homestretch of the campaign. It came when Obama was in Miami, Florida speaking to a Spanish language town hall meeting hosted by the Univision television network. One day earlier, Romney took part in a similar event. While not many English speakers likely watched the programs, it was said that the hosts of the forum were far tougher on Obama than anybody in the media has been in some time and that he seemed to struggle with his answers.

Making far more headlines this past week was the discovery of a videotape that so many have declared politically toxic for Mitt Romney. During a Florida fundraiser back in May, that was supposed to be off limits to cameras, the GOP candidate was caught making a series of unscripted remarks in the answer to the politically pointed questions of attendees. Apparently, this hidden video footage has been on the internet for months, but never received any coverage until this past week, when it was published by Mother Jones magazine, with an assist from the grandson of Jimmy Carter. One question has to be why it was released now. Many on the right have and will continue to speculate that this was intended as an "October surprise" that Democrats released early in order to hurt Romney during a time when they sensed he was regaining momentum.

On the surface, I will certainly admit that what Romney said can easily be used against him politically and will be, even though his remarks will clearly be taken out of context. I do not know that this is going to have the negative effect that so many on the left and in the media expect though. To be sure, it will greatly anger a lot of people, but those are the people who are already not voting for Mitt Romney. He definitely will not win those votes now, but it's not as if they can vote against him twice (legally.) On the flipside, many conservatives became aware of the remarks and heartily agreed and said that the person the hidden video captured is the candidate they want to see on the campaign trail.

My own feelings are a bit more mixed. In general, I agree with what Mitt Romney had to say, and agree with the point he was making in regards to the culture of government dependency that has been increasing under Obama. Yet, as the candidate admitted this week, his remarks were "inelegant" and I do think that Romney inappropriately drew a correlation between the 47 of voters that Obama is almost certain to get and the approximate 47 percent who do not pay federal income taxes, which include a lot of people who will vote for Romney.

Critics say this proves that the "real Romney" is a cold, uncaring plutocrat who is willing to write off almost half the country and would not have their best interests in heart as President. I certainly do not think that is the case at all, as I have no doubt that the candidate I am so proud to support is a compassionate conservative, who has demonstrated his humanity at all points in his adult life and who wants to be President because he believes so deeply in the America in which people can improve their lot in life. I realize he was speaking (perhaps too pessimistically) in regards to a political question about how he would proceed as a candidate, going about to try to win an election, and not how he would govern as President. I would theorize that he was maybe tired and a bit frustrated that night in May in Florida, as we all can be from time to time, but candidates for high office, especially the President, need to always be reminded that they are never really "off the record." We can all look back at the Obama 2008 remarks about "bitter" voters who "cling to their guns and religion" as a similar incident where a candidate was hammered for off the record remarks, but which ultimately did not prevent them from winning an election.

As a Romney supporter, I wish that we Republicans did not have to deal with the distraction of this matter, but there is also a blessing in there to try to put the focus of this campaign on the differences between the parties on dependency vs. opportunity. I definitely expected a short term decrease in Romney's polling numbers, but for the second week in a row, I may have fallen a bit too hard for the media meme, as that clearly has not happened based on the Gallup and Rasmussen numbers.

By yesterday, the Romney campaign was probably a bit happy (and thank G-d that Ann Romney's airplane scare was resolved safely) to have the focus shift a bit to the long promised release of the candidates 2011 tax returns. In addition to that a summary from a tax preparation form was released which confirmed the candidate has paid taxes going back at least twenty years. That proves that Harry Reid is a liar, but I think all smart people who follow this already knew that.

Anyways, the 2011 tax returns show that the Romneys made a substantial amount of money, almost all from previously taxed investment income, and gave millions to charity. In fact, they overpaid taxes in 2011 by a significant amount by not claiming deductions for all the charity money they gave, in order to keep with a previous campaign statement of having always paid an effective rate of at least 14 percent.

Based on that, the very same liberals who had for months been slamming Mitt Romney for what they said was his not paying enough in taxes to now slamming him for having paid too much in taxes, saying it was just a campaign gimmick.

Clearly the Republican candidate cannot win with a large segment of the political and media class, but once the American people look at the two candidates and the issues facing the next President, I believe Mitt Romney can still win.