I understand everyone is upset about last night, and therefore I understand the lashing out.
However, we need to keep things in perspective and not throw blame willy-nilly simply to vent our frustrations.
Personally, I believe Romney ran a credible race. But his Campaign made two major mistakes – one in the last week, and one from the very beginning of his campaign.
In the last week, Romney was getting all sorts of criticism (particularly from the MSNBC folks) for asking for material donations for the people in the path of Superstorm Sandy. In the mean time, Obama was getting all sorts of positive press for his taking “charge” after the storm – simply for visiting the area – and the repeated positive contrasts drawn between him and his predecessor. The pictures of Obama standing at the podium with Chris Christie, looking concerned as he toured the area and of course, his arms wrapped around a sobbing NJ woman were electoral gold – to low-information voters, late-deciders, etc. this stuff is like catnip.
Naturally, Romney’s 5-point national lead narrowed down to a tie, together with his lead among Independents (who form the vast majority of late-deciders) declining by almost the same amount.
I wrote a diary about this a few days ago – right after both men had gone back to the Campaign trail and it was obvious Sandy had left many people in extremely dire straits and that the Red Cross and other organizations were vastly under-provisioned to handle the crisis. The key part was this;
If I were advising Mitt Romney, I’d ask him to dip into his personal bank account and not just get his bus, but also any other form of transport he can get his hands on and start getting that stuff over to where it is needed. I’d tell him to have it announced that his rally attendees should bring whatever they can, clothes, canned food, etc. to the rallies and there would be trucks that would take them to the nearest helipad/airfield to have them delivered to New York, Staten Island, the Jersey shore, etc. He should cut ads immediately to get the message out and publicly appeal to people with jets and helicopters to put them to use to help their fellow Americans.
And, I should have added, he should have made sure he got lots of Press doing it, no matter how much it went against the grain of his nature to do good deeds away from the cameras.
I wrote the diary because I remembered this same thing (a natural disaster boosting the incumbent) happening in 2002 in Germany – Schroeder was behind by seven points with one month to go, and then the floods came and he was everywhere in his raincoat and galoshes, comforting the victims and “looking in charge”. Result? The biggest one week poll-swing in German history. It was enough to carry Schroeder and his Social Democrats to victory.
The error made at the beginning of the campaign was the Romney Campaign and the GOP’s wholesale decision to once again allow themselves to be violated repeatedly by the MSM and not call them out on it. And yes, I did write about this too.
Look, we bloggers and online pundits can make all the noise we want about media bias and the simple fact is that we can be safely ignored. The Chairman of the RNC, a Presidential, Gubernatorial or Senatorial candidate publicly accusing a news outlet of deliberately slanting the news and covering for one side of the political divide i.e. deceiving the American people – having campaigns very publicly sending fact-checks on news outlet articles/segments, releasing critical press releases and videos, bringing subjects up that they’d rather not discuss and keeping them in the spotlight – basically declaring war is not quite so easy to ignore.
For all the crowing about their declining Nielsen numbers and FOX News dominance of the cable news market, they’re still extremely influential and can make all the difference on Election Day. We need to start thinking outside the box of the political junkie who keeps track of who said what, when, how and why – we’re most assuredly quite rare – and start thinking of the guy who finds out Senator X did Y while casually flicking through to watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”.
Until and unless the GOP at all levels starts paying attention to public perception and the way the Democrats have the upper hand thanks to a Press Corps that is 90+% well to the Left of center, we’re going to have more nights like this more often than not.
NOTE: Message to Erick: The next time you’re face to face with a GOP bigwig, most especially Reince Preibus – the first question you should ask is; What the **** are you guys going to do about the media?