On a weekend where the baseball world watched the low-budget Oakland A’s & Toronto Blue Jays deliver series sweeps over the lavishly funded New York Yankees and the well-heeled Boston Red Sox respectively, maybe it’s appropriate that the president of the United States also found out that money per se, isn’t enough to buy prosperity. The Los Angeles Times reports that President Obama’s recent media offensive against Republican challenger Mitt Romney cost a cool $58 million. In the meantime, Romney spent less, while raising more. That $58 mil is quite an outlay for the president who is supposedly a man of the people.
What’s most noteworthy is the effect Obama’s spending had in the polls—none at all. According to RealClearPolitics, who averages polls conducted nationwide and has produced credible results over the past election cycles, Obama’s lead over Romney is 1.1 points, after having been close to three over the past several weeks.
The second most noteworthy item is that not only has Obama’s spending offensive put him in reverse, but that dip has taken place over the last few days—in other words, where media reaction to his “You didn’t build that”, remark to business owners was hitting the airwaves and the Internet. We can argue endlessly about what is the precise cause of the poll dip—including whether it’s just the vagaries of polling itself and therefore a mirage—but the coincidental timing of Obama’s Roanoke speech and the subsequent effect on his poll standing can’t be casually dismissed and it surely won’t be within the offices of the re-election campaign.
So for the sake of argument let’s assume we can at least draw a bit of a correlation between the speech at Roanoke, which the president or the White House has yet to seriously defend—and the resulting poll movement. What does it tell us about the American electorate?
Given that Obama seemed to be making political headway with his attacks on Romney’s record at Bain Capital, it would be a stretch to assume the entire country suddenly had a libertarian epiphany. And as I pointed out last week here at Catholic Vote, the comments at Roanoke, if taken at face value, are not all that notable—if anything, it’s their inherent un-noteworthiness that was really noteworthy. (Confused now?). While it’s always a temptation to assume political movement one way or another is for reasons you personally approve, I wonder if the general electorate at large had the same reaction I did upon hearing the president’s remarks—that there was a sheer arrogance in them that was more than a little off-putting (whether it’s more arrogant than linking to your own posts repeatedly like I’m doing here is another question entirely).
I do believe the poll movement—which includes Romney moving to a slight lead in Virginia, a traditionally Republican state that Obama won in 2008 is a harbinger that the map of ’08 is about to be rendered irrelevant, and we’re about to return back to the maps of 2000 and 2004—which does not necessarily augur a GOP win as in those years, but that the traditionally “red” states are coming home and the election’s going to be eventually fought in the same handful of states that George W. Bush battled Al Gore and John Kerry in.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com.