It's hard to fault the Romney campaign for their attempts at spin and damage control, which are right in line with what we would expect from a campaign fighting the perception that it is circling the drain. We hear these same narratives in every election except for the very closest: it's closer than you think, the media is biased, Mitt's gonna turn it around at the debates, there's plenty of time left, etc etc. They've spent the last week running wild with the conspiracy theory that every poll is biased (including those at Fox News, apparently, in which Obama's numbers are higher than in polls from rival Lamestream media outlets) without thinking much, if at all, about how desperate that sounds.
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As much as it makes my skin crawl to listen to people who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground talk about polling methodology – really, I think I need a Xanax prescription if I have to listen to Newt Gingrich talk about "oversampling" any more – this is a predictable part of the election when one campaign has its lips clamped around the tailpipe.
Wednesday night after the debate we will hear both campaigns declare an overwhelming victory and Team Mittens declaring that the race is "tightening". Of course every bit of available evidence tells us that the debates are essentially meaningless, with low ratings, low comprehension, and an audience that has largely made up its mind already. Barring a spectacular foul-up by one of the candidates – Obama waving a Koran around while beheading Michael Phelps, for example, or Mitt Romney opening his mouth and talking – they simply aren't going to change anything. Conveniently, this leads us to the next really irritating and nonsensical narrative: Why can't Obama "put Romney away"? Isn't Romney proving his mettle by "hanging in there" despite everything working against it?
This will be lapped up enthusiastically by the media, as this is first and foremost a ratings play and they have a vested interest in convincing viewers that the election is extremely close. That it is profoundly stupid will not deter anyone. It is never explained how it is feasible for one candidate to "finish" the other given the reality that it's impossible to win before the election happens, nor is it explained how the leading candidate is supposed to poll like 60% given the current composition of the electorate. It is accurate to say anything can happen – True, but not everything that can happen is plausible or likely – but quite silly to claim that because Mittens is trailing consistently rather than by a growing margin over time he is somehow achieving something or building positive momentum.
That won't stop anyone from making such claims, of course, because the narrative has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with a floundering campaign searching for positives and unafraid to grasp at straws. Any bets on the first campaign surrogate or right-wing pundit to use some variant of "Why can't Obama put Romney away?" or "Romney's hangin' in there"? Smart money's on Chris Christie, since the campaign appears to be turning to him whenever they need someone who lacks shame to mouth the company line of the day.