Let's just face it. Paul Ryan puts Florida out of reach for Romney. Mitt's hard-right stance on basically EVERYTHING that he has not moderated ONE IOTA since the primaries functionally ended has put him behind with women, young people, moderates, and a whole bunch of other groups. The Romney Campaign just doesn't make sense to me. Are they actually playing to win? Is there something I'm missing here?
First of all, it is entirely possible that the Tea Party's influence made it nigh impossible for an electable candidate to make it through the nomination process. In order to win, Mitt had to flip from his "Massachusetts" electoral strategy to his "rabidly knee-jerk conservative" electoral strategy. (I'm not even going to call them his "views" at this point; you need at least SOME consistency to have them, after all!) Even though the media has strangely ignored this metamorphosis, if the butterfly went back to being a caterpillar so to speak, that level of mendacity might actually be flagrant enough to prompt the media to actually do its job. One can only hope.
What this means is that the customary "pivot to the center" that we see after primaries couldn't happen in Romney's case. Primary voters were so eager to see their nominee pass so many litmus tests that they backed poor Mitt into too many corners. They have locked themselves into a "turn out the base"-type of electoral strategy and the Ryan pick fist perfectly into that reasoning. Ryan has built up his cred with the social conservatives, even though his "Objectivist" philosophy would lead him to think these issues are silly and distracting. Ryan also fires up the Deficit Chicken-hawks and he's good at repeating the bold-faced lie that Obama is to blame for the country's debt woes.
Given polling trends and the Electoral College map, it is hard to believe that Team Romney is this stupid, however. They can't give up on big states like Florida willy-nilly and their hard-right platform has saddled them with a growing deficit in most polls. There's got to be something more here and I have a few ideas on what it might be:
1. They are going "Goldwater" on our asses, conducting an "ideologically pure" campaign strategy because they are either deluded about their own righteousness or they want to stoke their egos and lay the groundwork for another Nixon-type campaign or a Reagan-style movement in the future. They know their chances of winning are slim; either the economy isn't as bad as they thought it was going to be or the unexpected enthusiasm of "base" (on so many levels) voters in the primaries shot their whole election strategy to hell. If they're going to lose, they'd rather make a statement and try to "reboot" the Conservative Movement before they become increasingly irrelevant.
2. They are counting on all the Super PAC money, voter suppression and false balance in the media to compensate for their shortcomings. Ever since the Citizens United ruling was gifted to the Republicans from their appointees on the Supreme Court, they might have believed that they had a lock on all future elections. Their dream of letting corporations dictate any and all policy decisions they could want would finally come true. All they would need was "some guy" with a nice smile and a functioning signing hand in the Oval Office to pull it off. However, they seem to think that money is a good substitute for a political strategy and are now paying the price for their shortsightedness.
3. There's still time for an August / September / October Surprise, mind you. There's still the real possibility that Israel could attack Iran. The Republicans could be holding out hope that the Eurozone will crash or that China's growth will stall out, pulling the U.S. economy and Obama's chances of winning down with them.
Regardless of what's actually bouncing around in Team Romney's brain, we can't take things for granted. The average person knows that the Super PAC ads are mostly false and spurious, but their memories and attention spans are short. We need to give Team Obama the resources they need to fight against all that misinformation and continue to set the record straight. We need to send a clear message to the oligarchs that our democracy is NOT up for sale and we are prepared to fight to make it happen.