Today's the big day! If the polls are right, this could be a real nail-biter. But there's a chance that those polls aren't right. Ace of Spades has a great rundown on why he doesn't have faith in the polls. I tend to agree.
As Ace points out, the most glaring problem with many of the battleground polls is that they assume the electorate will turn out in droves for democrats. Not just keeping on par with the historic turnout of 2008, but often surpassing it - sometimes by half. That just seems wrong, coming on the heels of the historic loss of the House in 2010 and the Wisconsin recall elections, if nothing else. Add in the rather consistent fifty-two-ish percent of the electorate that disapproves of issues such as healthcare, the economy, the deficit, etc., and it just doesn't seem like the President has much wind at his back.
But there is another dynamic that has been ignored by the press - the intimidation factor. For the past four-plus years, since Obama was still a senator running for president, those who don't support him or his policies have been called racist, sexist, and homophobic. They have been hectored, lectured, patronized and treated like simpletons. When polled, do these people tell the truth, or do they tell a little fib to keep the heat off?
A friend of mine called me the other day and told me that an Obama campaigner had just knocked on her door. She was looking for the former resident, but upon learning that she no longer lived there asked my friend if she were registered to vote. She hesitated a moment, then answered that yes, she was, and she had already voted, hoping that would be the end of the conversation but bracing herself anyway:
"Who did you vote for?"
Again she paused, weighing her options. On the one hand, she could say it was none of the Obama supporter's business, but didn't want to come off combative and rude. What came blurting out of her mouth instead was:
"Why, Obama, of course!"
The thing is, that's not how she really voted. It just so happens that we went over our ballots together, researching and discussing the candidates and amendments, weighing the pros and cons. When she came home from her three-hour odyssey at the polling place (I voted by absentee ballot), she proudly recounted every moment of her experience, including her satisfaction at filling in the circle for Mitt Romney. For a little background, she had been flirting with a few of the libertarian candidates almost up until the moment she went to the voting booth. Ultimately, she decided that this election was too important to throw away her vote on a third party candidate.
She had a tough slog this election cycle. Not normally political, she has spent the past twenty years in Los Angeles, working in the entertainment industry. Her knee-jerk reaction to most things tended to be liberal. But once out of the bubble, she embraced libertarianism, leaning liberal socially and conservative economically. She spent a lot of time researching and bouncing from one libertarian candidate to another to Romney and back again. It was a tough decision for her, but ultimately, she was impressed by Romney's record and felt he was the most qualified person for the job, so she did what she felt was best for the country.
And yet, when confronted by an Obama campaign worker, she lied. Even after all of the thought and consideration, even though she has excellent, intelligent arguments for her vote, she lied. Why?
"Because I didn't want a lecture."
I don't believe she's alone in her thinking, either. There are a lot of independents and libertarians like her who have been lumped in with republicans when it comes to liberal hate. Their moderateness is no shield against the same accusations of racism, etc. that conservatives have had to endure for the past few years. So they have decided, as many conservatives have, that the best thing to do is keep silent unless challenged. At which point a fib is often the only other option to a long, potentially contentious debate and/or ad hominem attacks. And so fib they do.
It makes me wonder. That OfA worker went back to her campaign office and reported my friend as a vote for Obama, when in reality she was a vote for Romney. How many others have done this? If their internal numbers use this information, and my friend is not alone in her reticence, their internals could potentially be as wrong as the polls showing President Obama with a D+11 edge.
It feels like enthusiasm is on Romney's side (looks like it too), as are independents. But they are tired of the partisanship and name-calling and ultimately just want to be left alone to live their lives again. The big question is, how many of them are out there?
The willful blindness of the media - including much of their polling - has helped create a reality in which President Obama, he of credit downgrades, deficit and debt upgrades, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the most unpopular, hyper-partisan social engineering law in modern memory - Obamacare - is competitive against a man who's record on turning around failed companies is, according to Bill Clinton, "stellar" and understands the engine of the economy in a way the current administration never will. The question is, will that reality stand? Or will the people who have been pretending to buy it step up and let their voice be heard from the anonymous confines of the voting booth?
Here's hoping George Will, Michael Barone and others are right and that this ends up being a big, red wave that sweeps Mitt Romney into the White House. A close election will invariably create more bones of contention at a time when there is already a very real feeling in the country that we have had enough. A decisive Romney victory (there is hardly any talk anymore of a decisive Obama victory, just slim O, slim R or decisive R) would send home the lawyers and even the most partisan, passionate progressive would have to concede the race.
Hopefully we will have a decision by tomorrow morning. In the meantime, try to stay calm.