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Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:33 AM

Obama Courts the Motherlode of Undecideds

When you can't see the forest for the trees it becomes easier to get lost. President Obama's swing state scramble has sent a number of political analysts off barking up the wrong tree, failing to grasp the larger picture.

They view the President's current hectic travel plans as an indicator of electoral anxiety, an admission that a second term might be slipping away from Obama, swept away by an incoming Romney tide. Though basic facts don't actually support that view, political pundits as a lot are addicted to tea leaves; they just can't read enough of them. Reporting from the bottom of their cups, a narrative has emerged. Fearful of losing, Barack Obama is now scrambling for every vote, with his re-election chances seen hanging by a slender thread. It's not just the President's travel schedule that is being used to buttress that viewpoint. It's also Obama's campaign ads themselves, most notably the one that reminds us all of the breath taking closeness of the 2000 Florida vote that could have kept the Supreme Court out of it had just 538 more Florida Democrats voted for Al Gore in that election.

Conventional punditry sees all this as plausible proof that Barack Obama is anxious about his chances against Mitt Romney, more so than Mitt Romney is about his own Presidential chances. Hogwash, to use the polite way of putting it. No doubt neither side will be sleeping easy at night until this election is finally settled, but in private both sides exude at least equal confidence in the outcome. There is nothing coming out of Chicago to indicate a pessimistic outlook (nor should there be but more on that later). So why the seeming difference in the public tenor of the race?

The answer is straight forward. Obama, not surprisingly, is courting undecided voters, but that isn't just the tiny indecisive sliver of the electorate that polling outfits assign such importance to. Obama is reaching out to a much bigger group of potential supporters, one that lately has slipped below the primary polling radar. He is calling out registered voters who are not yet fully committed to voting. He is appealing to people who are undecided on whether they will actually cast any ballot at all. Not only does this demographic lean more heavily toward Obama than do those deemed "likely voters', it holds a much bigger reservoir of potential votes than do the ranks of those more typically viewed as "undecided" or uncertain.

The best way to reach those voters is to ratchet up the stakes. The way to motivate them is to heighten the sense of drama that this election elicits. That follows a long evidenced political truism; Democrats traditionally do best when voter turn out is high, and voter turn out is traditionally highest during high stakes Presidential Election years. So the single most effective way for President Obama to increase his likely margin of victory during the time remaining in this election campaign is to goose voters, who are undecided about voting itself, off of their butts and into the polling booth. Obama can't accomplish that by sitting on a lead and employing a prevent defense. Obama must instead convey a sense of urgency about this election, and his words and actions are now calibrated to do just that. Romney on the other hand does not benefit by ramping up tension about the outcome, nor does he benefit by stressing the point that 2012 is an extreme3lya pivotal election to anyone outside his core base . Romney believes they will show up on election day, driven by their fervor for an extremist ideological agenda that Romney would rather not draw further attention to now, and by the hatred of the President. It is moderates and liberals who Romney hopes to leave sleeping with soothing noises about relative continuity, only better yet.

Forget any narrative that shows Romney favored to win, because the facts show that Obama is clearly ahead in this Presidential Election, where the winner will ultimately be declared by the Electoral College. Sure it is obviously still possible for Romney to win but the odds are against it. Romney consistently still trails in too many states that he needs to take in order to have a chance. Yes Mitt Romney had a spurt of momentum after the first Presidential debate. President Obama had his own after the Democratic National Convention. Those spurts are history now, both of them. They have run their course. We are back to where we were earlier in the Summer, when Barack Obama was favored to win. Time is running out for Mitt Romney. Barring some very dramatic unexpected event, all the potential game changing moments have come and gone.

We always knew what they were: Romney making his VP choice, two National Political Conventions, one VP debate and three Presidential debates. All lie in the past now and Barack Obama remains a popular incumbent President. There was one other potential game changer that the pundits all used to repeatedly cite before we ran the board on the others. They used to talk about the unemployment rate, specifically they mused on whether or not it would drop below 8% before election day. That used to be considered the ultimate game changer in this Presidential race. If that rate rose at all, Romney became the odds on favorite. If it held fast it would then be a toss up race. But if the unemployment rate fell below 8%, an Obama second term became much more likely. That is where we are at now and there is nothing predictably left to change the fundamentals of the race, which broke in the President's favor. Since "winning" Debate One, the Republican team lost the three that followed. The last bounce, whether big or small, went to the Democrats.

Obama no doubt is taking nothing for granted, but he is fighting for a mandate now, and a governing majority. He is fighting for Democrats in down ticket races who all become more likely to win if Obama can motivate the true undecideds, his secondary pool of supporters who may or may not decide to vote in the 2012 Presidential Elections. That is how to measure his remaining words and actions

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Arrow 11 replies Author Time Post
Reply Obama Courts the Motherlode of Undecideds (Original post)
Tom Rinaldo Oct 2012 OP
fugop Oct 2012 #1
Historic NY Oct 2012 #2
dipsydoodle Oct 2012 #3
Tom Rinaldo Oct 2012 #5
gottavote Oct 2012 #4
Tom Rinaldo Oct 2012 #6
yellowcanine Oct 2012 #7
Maximumnegro Oct 2012 #8
Tom Rinaldo Oct 2012 #9
woolldog Oct 2012 #11
JNelson6563 Oct 2012 #10

Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:38 AM

1. Exactly!

This is also why Obama is giving a ton of interviews to different tv stations next week, while Mitt is hiding out, avoiding the press at all costs. Obama is reaching out to get voters to the polls. Mitt is trying to avoid any mistakes that keep his reliable voters home.

The Obama campaign is masterful at closing. I know they didn't put Colin Powell out there yesterday, but it still gives one the sense that it will all build and build now from today until election day. Interviews, rallies, ad blitz, concerts, Obama and Bill Clinton together on the road ...it's all building to the victory.

Screw the press and their complete lack of understanding about the dynamics of the race. They can cry in their beers after the election.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:41 AM

2. Thanks the soothsayers are all giddy while Obama goes for the jugular.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:44 AM

3. I thought that was the purpose of the debates.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #3)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:50 AM

5. Every aspect of a campaign serves the exact same function

That is to helkp the candidate win. Tactics shift but not the purpose. Going into the first Presidential debate, for example, it seemed like Romney campaign had imploded and was bringing down Republicans across the board. Under that set of circumstances maybe the Obama team thought a strategy of "leave welo enough alone" made most sense rather than a need to strongly amp up a sense of urgency about the result of this election, for example..

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:46 AM

4. Well Said, but lacked the punch line -

GOTV. The other reason for not taking anything for granted, for each person they get to assist with GOTV, they lock up that vote and potentially add many more. Smart people assist in GOTV now and throughout election day.

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Response to gottavote (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 10:54 AM

6. Hell yeah

But mostlyare reacting to a "different" election - on the surface. Both sides know GOTV is important. Obama's team is better at it though. I was discussing the reasons why it may seem like the Romney and Obama teams are reactkng to a "different" election - on the surface that is.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 01:18 PM

7. This is one place where the Colin Powell endorsement might help.

And the McCain and Sununu snarks about it could backfire also.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 01:26 PM

8. I called it. He's talking about you people.

The 'sporadic' voters the campaign keeps talking about. That's a lot of the people here and Dkos. The handwringers who need the fear and anxiety to be motivated. The 'silent dem majority' perhaps. Once again the Obama campaign shows it knows the base better than the base knows itself.

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Response to Maximumnegro (Reply #8)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 02:23 PM

9. No, it's not about DU and Kos readers

There may be a lot of worriers among us, more than the norm perhaps, but activists on the Dem boards vote. Where we sometimes slack off is on doing more than just voting, but we are overwhelmingly voters. It is people who are typically less engaged who need a kick to vote. Obama is working them.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Reply #9)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 11:37 PM

11. Yup

I'm a "worrier", but I already voted.

Obamas trying to get the attention of those who don't follow politics closely enough to worry.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Fri Oct 26, 2012, 02:26 PM

10. Very thoughtful post!

I agree completely with all of your well-made points Tom.

Julie

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