CONFIDENCE INTERVAL

Over the years I have been and continue to be averse to making predictions. There simply are too many variables in play to accurately predict the outcome of close races (the uncompetitive ones are another story, obviously). We're unsure of turnout, the accuracy of polls, and the motivations of what few voters remain undecided in an election like the current presidential race. As a point of ego, I'm also hesitant about making predictions that will turn out to be wrong and make me look foolish. That said, every election I end up taking a stab at it. With or against my better judgment.

On the heels of the Mitt Romney Realtalk secret video hitting the news cycle on Monday evening, it is time to ask the obvious question: Is there any way that Mitt Romney can win this election? His ineptness as a candidate is almost difficult to believe, and every week he says or does something to prove that he is exactly what his critics say he is – a wildly out of touch multimillionaire pandering to whatever audience is put before him. He is a real-life Richie Rich, a guileless man of great privilege with zero charisma and to whom non-wealthy Americans (and a lot of the wealthy ones, for that matter) cannot relate in the slightest.

When the McCain campaign threw in the towel on Election Night 2008, I clearly recall their spokesperson telling reporters that the campaign was looking at the electoral map and "could no longer see a path to victory." I am beginning to feel the same way about Romney. There are scenarios in which he wins, of course, but they are looking more and more like they lie outside of the 95% confidence interval. We have a campaign that, in all honesty, has probably been a good bet to lose for the last few months and the only thing they are accomplishing as time passes is to make more mistakes and fall farther behind. If Romney was looking like toast last week, what's he going to look like after the latest "Whoops!" in his comedy of errors?

The winning scenarios for Romney at this point rely on leaps of faith and downright implausible conditions. To conclude that he's in good shape or primed to win requires assuming that:

1. The polls are flat out wrong, even though in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 the pre-election polls were damn near perfect.
2. Some improbable turnout event will take place, i.e. that millions of Democrats will suddenly decide not to vote for some reason.
3. Romney will make up substantial ground in the debates, which very few people even watch and which research shows quite conclusively rarely change any viewers' minds unless one of the candidates has a colossal meltdown.
4. Obama is far more unpopular than the data suggest. Certainly his approval rating is not high, but neither is it in the 20% range like a certain former president's was during the 2008 race.
5. Romney has enough charisma and political skills to win over any potential voters beyond the people who categorically loathe Obama and would vote for literally anyone who the GOP nominated to oppose him.

When coming up with victory scenarios for a candidate requires this kind of magical thinking and this many "I mean, I suppose it could happen!" moments, we've gone beyond playing devil's advocate; we're working overtime trying to convince ourselves that the election is competitive. Yes, there are six weeks remaining and something could happen to tilt the race in Romney's favor. But for his sake it better happen soon and it better be Earth-shattering.

Basically this is the long way of saying: Under any set of reasonable, normal assumptions about voter turnout and other moving parts in the election, it looks extremely unlikely at this point that Mitt Romney can cobble together 270 Electoral Votes. Right now your odds at a slot machine are better than his odds of winning. I want to be conservative but I just don't see it. Whatever hope he may have had earlier this year appears to have been dashed under the sheer weight of his campaign's ineptitude.

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68 Responses to “CONFIDENCE INTERVAL”

  1. Heywood J. Says:

    I actually felt bad for McCain in 2008. I would have probably voted for him in 2000 had he survived the Rove ratfucking in the SC primary. But the 2008 version was obviously a radically different model, cemented by his roll of the dice on the Thrilla From Wasilla. Still, after all that, I think most people can at least see some good in John McCain.

    But Romney's a soulless fucking asshole, and if there was any doubt about that, the video effectively dispels it. He quite literally sees the unrich as another species, spoiled, lazy, too stupid to take care of themselves, and inexcusably ungrateful for all the trickling Mitt and his friends have, um, showered them with. I mean, really. Even before the video, how many times did we all spontaneously erupt, "What the fuck is wrong with this guy?" Right?

    And with an already existing enthusiasm gap, this comes out. COuldn't happen to a nicer guy. Even these ricockulous fist-shaking codgers who've supported Money Boo Boo up to now have to be rethinking it. I'm betting a decent chunk of them still won't be able to stomach voting for that damned black socialist, but they also won't bother with the Stormin' Mormon who just had the balls to call them a bunch of freeloading losers. They'll stay home and masturbate to Hannity, or git on the Hoveround and just vote downticket.

    I have two sincere hopes involving the Mittster: 1. That he and his family someday get to experience the full brunt of the policies he and his granny-starving sidekick espouse; 2. That the day after Obammy kicks Romney's ass in the election, James Carter IV sends Romney a card saying, "Oh, by the way, Grandpa says for you to go get your fuckin' shine box."

  2. Anonymouse Says:

    The people who think Shrub is "affable" and "pleasant" are likely the same mouth-breathers who find Palin "stunningly beautiful" and "man, I'd like to f*** her".

  3. bb in GA Says:

    @Anonymouse

    I think you are letting your animosity towards W and a majority of the folks who supported him (multiplied millions) cloud your objective analysis of the situation.

    It also puts you in the same elitist position as Mr. Romney with perhaps a different demographic, but nearly as large, block of the electorate.

    //bb

  4. Sarah Says:

    Unsurprisingly, Mitt Romney is stilla racist shitbag.

  5. Bill Jones Says:

    Well, the barking mad corporatist neo-con whack jobs of the Republican Establishment got the guy they wanted as their candidate.

    So, Obama it's going to be then.

    The GOP needs to get thrashed on a regular basis until something like the Whig/Republican transformation takes place with the wars replacing slavery as the issue.

  6. bb in GA Says:

    I know we are near the end of our attention span on this post…but I notice, again, that liberals here use the term "mouth-breather" to deride those they disagree with…Why?

    I have worked with mentally retarded people and have friends who have Down syndrome children. They are sometimes difficult to deal with, but on balance they are lovely, kind, and simple (in the good sense) people.

    Hate me straight up, I can handle it, but why do you Libs, who often imply you have the patent on compassion, denigrate these poor souls? Fortunately, I would bet nearly all of them don't know about your unkindness.

    If you believe in Cosmic consequences a la karma/sowing and reaping, perhaps, or maybe not…most of y'all are probably Randian on that score (about the only place you agree w/ her.)

    Another question, 'Why do you liberal feminists allow without challenge and sometimes use the word "douche bag'" as an epithet?'

    What about the process of feminine hygiene is degrading to the point that you want to use it as a derogatory term for someone you disagree with or don't like?

    I as a male have always been partial to the care and maintenance of the equipment that douche bags service :-)

    //bb

  7. bb in GA Says:

    Oh..I forgot mention our good Liberal former VP ALgore. You know, back in the day, he referred to some of us as "the extra chromosome right."

    Down Syndrome results from an extra chromosome, if I understand correctly…

    Why use that reference, if you are a kind, compassionate, politically correct liberal?

    //bb

  8. Heywood J. Says:

    bb:

    Obviously I don't post comments here much, but I read G&T pretty regularly, and I enjoy many of the commenters here, including yourself. Even when you post something I happen to disagree with, you seem to be reasonable and objective. It's too bad more conservatives don't comport themselves the way you do.

    That said, your dismay at the seeming insensitivity of the librul cohort seems a tad selective and disingenuous, after a full generation or so of the saturated vituperation of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Neal Boortz, and any number of additional right-wing tubthumpers and Fox News propagandists, whose track record of playing fast and loose with data and calumniating opponents is vast and easy to research. It is important to note that no such counterparts on the left exist. Maybe Bill Maher, but at least Maher sticks to empirical data.

    Mainstream conservative discourse has for so many years been characterized by these over-the-top gambits to defame and distort, to invent where needed. Everything from "Hitlery Clinton is a lesbian who killed Vince Foster" to heckling Obama at the SOTU. And that doesn't even touch the years of vile, hateful rhetoric on the internets, far nastier and more insensitive than "mouth-breather".

    Hannity & Colmes epitomized the mainstream conservative style of demonizing and effeminizing liberals, treating them as girlie-men, somewhere between a milquetoast and a prison bitch. (So it's a problem for "liberal feminists" to use the term "douchebag", but no great shakes for virtually every popular conservative broadcaster to routinely use effeminizing terms to defame liberals, thus clarifying their sentiments about both liberals and women. Good to know.)The choice in those circumstances, unfortunately, becomes either fighting fire with fire, or continuing to get punked by the lot of them. Colmes chose to stay classy and punked. Good for him.

    As for GeeDub's "affability", sorry, but I never got it. I still don't. As far back as 1999, when an unsuspecting media decided to introduce W. as a serious candidate, he struck me as a smug frat-boy prick. The more I became acquainted with him, the more that impression was cemented.

    Maybe you remember a Gary Cooper type who innocently liked to josh around and snicker at his own jokes. Some of us recall the frat-boy one-upmanship, the snotty nicknames he stuck everyone with, coupled with the pissiness when he felt someone was being insufficiently deferential. I recall the photo-op tough guy, the guy who blew off the bin Laden memo because it interrupted his vacation, the guy who told the jihadis to bring it on, and seemed surprised when they, um, brought it on. The guy who nicknamed everyone taller than himself "Stretch", and patted every bald man he saw like he thought he was on Benny Hill. The guy who wiped his hand on Bill Clinton's sleeve after a filthy Haitian shook it. In virtually every environment he appeared, Bush conveyed a profound sense of disrespect to all who happened to be within proximity of him.

    Maybe you saw someone relatable, and that's awesome. Some of us just saw another spoiled, entitled sociopath, just like every other rich asshole many of us grew up with, people who never had any skin or risk of their own in the game, because Daddy would always bail them out. But they never shied from pushing someone else into the shit they started, whether a bar fight or a war. That's not emotion, that's just recognizing that sort of person on sight.

    The guy's a dick, pure and simple, and everything you need to know about him, as a man and as a president, was demonstrated quite clearly by the fact that he wasn't invited and was mentioned only by his own brother athis party's convention.

    I see the same sort of thing in Mitt Romney. The video just confirmed what many of us long suspected — he knows that his core fundraising audience views the unrich as another, lower species, and he shares their concerns. Maybe it's just me, but I find the guy who just got caught telling 47% of Americans to go fuck themselves because they're a bunch of freeloading, thankless losers, that guy and the audience who dropped $50k to listen to him talk like that are a much greater problem than random internets commenters using pejoratives like "mouth-breather" or "retard". As always, your mileage may vary.

    By the way, while Al Gore did indeed use the "extra-chromosome" insult to describe the supporters of Ollie North's misbegotten Senate campaign, Lee Atwater actually used it first. To describe his own fundie base. The idea that liberals are always expected to use a rhetorical fencing epee against the conservative assault-rifle militia, because it's classier, is one of the more pernicious disparities that persists in some pockets.

  9. Heywood J. Says:

    Sorry for the excessive length of the last cpmment.

  10. Heywood J. Says:

    Or comment, if you prefer. Sheesh.

  11. BobS Says:

    Nice comment, Heywood J.

  12. Heywood J. Says:

    Thanks. I would like to make a humble but 100% reliable prediction concerning this election. I claim no powers of clairvoyance, but one thing I know in this life is assholes.

    And while I believe that Obama will gain a little traction on Money Boo Boo in the debates, and ultimately hold on to win, one thing is a dead-certain lead-pipe cinch — regardless of who wins the election, the losing party will tack further right for the next round. Bet your next fifty paychecks (if your job hasn't been sent to China) on it.

    If that doesn't tell us everything we need to know about the current state of American politics, that it's the owned-and-operated province of plutokleptocrats (or is it kleptoplutocrats — how about just kakistocrats?) I don't know what would.

  13. bb in GA Says:

    @Heywood J

    Great post – shorter reply

    Just like Libs flambe' conservatives/repubs when they have a sexual/moral failure because Rs often represent themselves as the 'family values' party, in a like manner Libs/Dems need to be called out when they are heartless vis-a-vis Down's people, for example, because the Left claims the high ground on empathy and compassion.

    We also have a power gradient issue:

    VP Gore or some national D political figure (Reid – W's a loser, Pelosi, with her observation of SWA-stee- KAHS at the T-party, et al) saying something degrading or offensive is not categorically equal to a talk show host running off at the mouth.

    I'm not in love w/ W, but my observation holds they he is perceived positively by a large swath of the electorate, not withstanding your cogent comments.

    The shorter version of one of your points is, indeed, fighting fire w/ fire. But another characterization of it could be 'justifying your bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of others.'

    Being unkind to mentally retarded people because R. Limbaugh is a butt head kind of escapes me – especially when the person saying that would likely claim moral superiority to others (especially the Right) on the topic of empathy/compassion.

    Thanks,

    //bb

  14. Heywood J. Says:

    bb:

    Thanks for the response. Your first point is valid, although aside from Al Gore's "extra-chromosome" (again, in 1994) comment and Rahm Emanuel's use of the r-word a couple years ago while he was CoS, I honestly cannot recall any Lib/Dem politicians indulging in that sort of hypocrisy, whereas you could pretty much dock a barge on the list of "family values" conservatives caught with their pants down.

    You're right about the collective perception of W, I'm well aware that I'm in the minority. It is something that will puzzle me for the rest of my days, I suppose, to me the man's dickishness is and always was as self-evident as Gore's stiffness and discomfort in his own skin.

    All due respect, I think your final point is an oversimplification, and is off by an order of magnitude. Limbaugh (a man, incidentally, already hoist on his other hypocrisies of monogamy and drugs) has inflicted his nonsense on millions of people for more than two decades. This is a man who, among other things, openly mocked Michael J. Fox' Parkinson's symptoms, and strongly implied that Fox was faking some or all of it (or at least not taking his meds to make it appear worse).

    Does that excuse Anonymouse or me or anyone else from the occasional use of "mouth-breather" or some such? No, but we're also not doing it because of Limbaugh or anyone else. The "fight fire with fire" strategy, unfortunately, is about the only thing that keeps us in the same game, maybe not with you, but with the vocal majority of your ideological kin.

    I'll let it go for now, we've beaten this poor horse pretty well at this point. Have a great weekend.

  15. Heywood J. Says:

    One last minor point, before I forget: while the "mouth-breather" stuff is (for me at least) mostly schtick, there are instances — the so-called "Creation" "Museum" is a prime example — where it is extraordinarily difficult not to seriously wonder about the mental acuity of the participants and attendees.

    I'm sorry, but it's impossible to be confronted with things like that, and not assume that said mental acuity affects all their decisions — and more importantly, votes, which the rest of us who read and pay attention are forced to bear the consequences of.

  16. Sarah Says:

    Another question, 'Why do you liberal feminists allow without challenge and sometimes use the word "douche bag'" as an epithet?'

    One can't go around fixing every little thing that's wrong with the world. If I tried to do that I'd be engaging in an endless game of whack-a-mole and getting very little accomplished. But I will say that the fact that liberal dudes will sometimes say things like "douche bags" (and even worse, like "cunts") is proof that dudely privilege does in fact exist, although using such gendered insults is not wholly a dude thing (see Bill Maher; I love Bill Maher's politics, but–yeah). And that's why you will see some radfems who will say that they don't trust dudes at all. The very least I will say is that even the most foul-mouthed liberal dude is not looking to put women back into the kitchens barefoot and pregnant (thus the designation of "liberal"). Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton were assholes, to be sure (and Kennedy by all rights should have gone to prison). But they both did a lot of things that have benefited and continue to benefit women. Those are things which I and other women are not willing to give up, and as has been said here, it's not a good idea to have the perfect be the enemy of the good. Speaking of perfect, let's not forget that we're all human beings and we are all prone to making mistakes and doing stupid things.

  17. Barry Says:

    DiTurno Says:

    "Imagine it's January 2009. Someone appears in front of you and says "Hey, I'm from the future. Unemployment will not get below 8% during Obama's entire first term, but a month and a half before the 2012 election it looks like he's headed for a comfortable victory."

    There's no way you'd believe that. Besides the time travel part, I mean."

    Actually, you could, considering what the situation was like four years ago. Not having an actual second Great Depression was not assured.

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