EDITOR OF REDSTATE
The Marriage Question, Romney’s Polling, and Bibi’s Red Sharpie
You know that 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce right? Every time gay marriage comes up, that data point comes up. Fifty percent of married couples get divorced. If heterosexual couples value marriage so little, why should they stand in the way of gay couples who really will value it as a civil right?
You know that evangelical Christians in the United States get divorced at the same rate as everyone else, right? Every time Christian living comes up for discussion, the media uses that data point as a point of derision for those who point to Christian values.
You do know that a majority of Americans favor gay marriage right? Every major media outlet in the nation takes it as an article of faith that gay marriage is an opinion held by a majority and you are a bigot if you think otherwise.
Did you know that none of those data points are true? You’d never know it from the media. In fact, from most surveys you’d never know it. Those are the talking points. In fact, the rate of divorce in the United States, while still not great, is only around 30 to 35%. The rate of divorce among “Christian evangelicals” matches the general population, but not among practicing evangelicals. It is one thing to say someone is an evangelical Christian. It is another to see if they actually practice their faith. On gay marriage, it may show up in polling as having majority support, but in actual votes it has yet to muster support of a majority of voters even in places like California.
But the media hangs on to those data points that turn out to be false. They report them as truth because the data confirms how the media sees the world, even though it ain’t so.
What does this have to do with Mitt Romney?
Go back to 1996 and look at the media postmortem of each election thereafter. After each election, the media’s criticism of the media is that the media relied too much on polling to dictate the coverage of the election. Without fail, after every election reporters lament they spent too much time covering the polls and not enough time covering the issues. It is this way this time too.
You and I can disagree on whether Mitt Romney is ahead or behind. I think he is behind. Barely behind, but he is behind. We can all agree that it is irrational for the media to keep spitting out polls that show a higher Democratic turnout in 2012 than in 2008. Not only is the media doing that, but the media is then using those polls with inflated Democratic turnout to dictate how the media covers the election.
If Mitt Romney wants to win the election, he needs a five week strategy instead of five weeks of tactics. He needs the visual equivalent of Benjamin Netanyahu’s red sharpie marker. He must force the media to move away from poll driven coverage they are comfortable with to Mitt Romney’s idea of coverage.
Instead of us arguing over polls and having the RedState community rioting over my remarks, let me offer up a solution. Just, for the sake of argument, assume I’m right that this is a close race, but that Romney is behind — just for the sake of argument people. If we can accept we do have a problem, i.e. we are behind, we can then offer up a solution to that problem.
Mitt Romney finally has a message that I think resonates. His message contrast with Obama is very simple. Barack Obama’s plans won’t help people and Mitt Romney’s plans will. Put more bluntly, “be patient and wait a few years” is no plan and that’s all Barack Obama has to offer.
In the past few weeks we’ve learned that more American men are out of the workforce than at any time since records have been kept.
We know that 4.2 million women are out of work since Barack Obama took office.
We know that more Americans are out of the work force than at any time since the Carter recession.
Yesterday we learned that our growth rate was only 1.25%, manufacturing orders fell more than 13%, mortgages are down, foreclosures are up, and personal income is down.
Mitt Romney’s red sharpie moment should be to stop with the rallies and go to the factories that are being shut down. Drag the press along and repeat that data over and over. The local media in Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, Florida, etc. will eat it up. Play to that local press, not NBC, CBS, and ABC. He needs to be willing to put Paul Ryan in the commercials and let Paul Ryan explain why the free market will work better than Barack Obama’s plan.
His strategy over the next five weeks must be to every single day focus the discussion on the deluge of economy data showing Barack Obama has failed. The tactic to employ is to each day have a red sharpie moment at a factory, a small business, or an unemployment office showing Barack Obama’s failures to everyone.
Hell, he should go to Washington, D.C. and point out that it is the only place in America doing well and promise to shut it down. Read this excellent piece by Alex Castellanos. The last paragraph is key:
Sometimes the best way to get a job is to start doing the job, not campaign for it. Two suggestions for Mitt Romney: Go where the problem is … and kick the problem’s butt. And every day, listen to an hour of Rush. It’s good for what ails your campaign.
The cheering, adoring crowds at the Romney rallies have been awesome and large. But In the rah-rah of the campaign, we’re missing the compelling visual. We’re missing the simple drawing of the bomb that a red line can be drawn on. We’re missing the candidate in front of the factory showing we can do better.
The media focuses on data points that show marriages are failing, Christians are flawed, and gay rights is super popular because those data points comport to the media’s world view. There is a confirmation bias. The media reports the polling that Mitt Romney is losing because it conforms to their bias against him. The question is no longer whether Romney is winning or losing, but what strategy will Mitt Romney deploy over the next five weeks to get the nation paying attention to Barack Obama’s failed economy and not Mitt Romney’s polling or alleged gaffes. Everybody is so focused on polls showing Romney doing badly that the media has no need, incentive, or direction to focus on the economy doing badly.
Debates come next week. It is the perfect launching pad for Mitt Romney’s tour of Barack Obama’s failures. First stop? Let me suggest it be a certain shuttered auto factory in Paul Ryan’s hometown. Mitt Romney’s going to have to fight the media, not just Obama. He might as well start the fight there and give some very good visuals along the way. Then head to the Caterpillar facility Barack Obama went to as a success story that turned out not to be. Then go back to Solyndra and remind people of that one. Then go to a the Louisiana Gulf Coast and remind people of Barack Obama shutting down an entire oil industry. Every day another visual reminder of Barack Obama’s failure will, over five weeks, sink in. And if the press cries foul, we’ve got Barack Obama at the Caterpillar Plant and the Janesville Plant and helping Solyndra, etc. Draw those red lines, connecting them between each of Barack Obama’s failed promises.