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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses supporters at the InPro Corporation in Muskego, Wisconsin, March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Hauck
Not Reagan.
The Romney campaign and Republicans have had to acknowledge the cold reality—they are losing. But they have to rally the troops and keep them engaged and motivated, so they have to spin it somehow. And nothing motivates the wingnuts more than zombie Reagan.
Romney aides believe strongly that this race will play out like the 1980 campaign, in which President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan for much of the race until Reagan broke through just before the election.
There are lots of reasons the analogy won't work, though perhaps Mitt Romney will ship off some Bain laid-off workers to Iran to try and relive that bit of history.

The reason it doesn't work is because it's not true. Pres. Carter did not lead Reagan for much of the race until a final break through just before the election. Here's polling composite trendlines from that race, compiled by GWU political scientist John Sides:

Trendlines of Reagan-Carter polling in 1980
As you can see, Reagan took the lead in late May/early June. He got a massive bump out of his convention, with Carter languishing in the mid- to high-20s. Ouch! Then Reagan let his big lead slip away, but he held a narrow one all the way until the end, when his final-week debate victory (among other things) sealed his victory.

Obviously, Romney hasn't enjoyed any leads, nor is Obama stuck in the 30s. Instead, we have this:

There's one last point. Reagan was able to overcome Carter because people liked him. Mitt Romney is the first GOP nominee in modern history to have underwater approval ratings. And the fact that he's a dick without a compelling personal story to inspire people ensures that he'll stay unpopular.

Of course, this isn't the first time that a foundering GOP campaign has looked to Reagan's bid for inspiration. The last one to do so? The McCain campaign.

We all know how that turned out.

Originally posted to kos on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 11:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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