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On October 4th 2012 we woke up to a chilling prospect. A man who hired for his advisors most of the foreign policy team that thrust America into a disastrous Iraq war; a man who pioneered the outsourcing of American jobs to China; a man who stashed away untold millions of his personal fortune in secret Swiss bank accounts; that man could actually become the next President of the United States. By steamrolling through the first Presidential debate and denying his own positions on key issues, Mitt Romney for several weeks was promoted as the likely next American President.

The media class in America, our political sportscasters, suddenly had that horse race they were always dying to cover, and they guarded it like a dog would a steak bone, lest someone try to take it away from them. In the process they redefined the political vocabulary. Momentum was no longer a vague and transitory phenomenon. Now it could be measured precisely. When it came to the 2012 Presidential race, momentum was determined by comparing the poll numbers for each respective candidate from mid September 2012, after Obama’s high water Democratic Convention bounce peaked; with whatever polling numbers were henceforth recorded daily.

No other poll fluctuations mattered. If Obama went up and Romney went down from one day to another it was immaterial to political reporting on Mitt Romney’s “continued momentum”, So long as Romney showed any continuing sign of retaining more support now then he dad back when pundits were calling his campaign a total train wreck, Romney was said to “have momentum”. Three subsequent nationally televised debates occurred after October 3rd; two more Presidential debates and a Vice Presidential debate. Polling pretty clearly established that the Democrats won all three of them, but no matter said the talking heads. The public was no longer effected by updated public perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama because, they assured us, though President Obama may or may not win “a small bounce”, Mitt Romney had momentum. And momentum trumped anything even “The Donald” could do to change the dynamics of the race.

There was plenty of data indicating that Mitt Romney maxed out his much reported on popularity surge long before the Atlantic Ocean stormed into people’s homes and lives during Hurricane Sandy. Coming into the last two weeks a presidential race that had been predicted to be tight for at least a year previously turned out to be, surprise surprise, tight. With all of the endless talk about “bounces” and “momentum” the pundits neglected the most blatant poll move of all. Call it “the dip”.

For a month or so there between the Republican National Convention and the first Presidential debate, the Mitt Romney campaign almost imploded. For that brief political period Barack Obama’s presidential prospects seemed, in hindsight, artificially strong. Obama’s unexpected strength coincided with that temporary Romney dip. That was the real story, just an aberration from the close race always expected . By fixing on that brief skewed period as the basis for all subsequent comparisons, an ongoing political narrative was born: the myth of Mitt Romney’s potentially unstoppable political momentum. Far more unstoppable than whatever momentum Romney came out of the first debate with however was that myth itself.

Inside the media bubble, “buzz” feeds back on itself until virtually nothing can be heard above the resulting screech: Not a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, not a sharp rise in Consumer Confidence, not an improving housing market, and certainly not a stubborn pattern of swing state polling that showed Barack Obama holding on fast to the leads he needed in enough of them to secure a second term. That “buzz” of course was Romney’s continually referenced momentum. We all have experienced that shrill feedback spike that happens after microphones go ballistic. That loop continues to amplify until someone or something intercedes and cuts off the volume. That something was Hurricane Sandy.

The incessant chorus of pundits amplifying a self reinforcing meme was finally drowned by a force more primal than their mono-tone drone. It was a force that many, including New York City’s Mayor, believe is a harbinger of global climate change, any real discussion of which was itself drowned out during this election by “white noise” emanating from the Tea Party. All of that has receded now, faster than the flood waters that changed the North East coast and the lives of millions of citizens

This week the fever broke and reality set in. America witnessed the legitimate purpose of government in a way mere words can never quite convey. And we watched President Obama once again take charge during a time of real crisis. That is how his first term began. That is how his first term is ending. And it reminds the electorate that we already have the leader we will need to face the next four years. The momentum now belongs to Obama.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "It was a force that many, including... (10+ / 0-)

    .. New York City’s Mayor, believe is a harbinger of global climate change, any real discussion of which was itself drowned out during this election by “white noise” emanating from the Tea Party. All of that has receded now, faster than the flood waters that changed the North East coast and the lives of millions of citizens."

    It wasn't merely the tea party who kept climate change out of conversation during the campaigns. We shall now see if the smidgen (and that is all it is so far) of discussion of climate change manages to keep going now that none of the excuses given for it to be invisible are viable. I am hopeful, but skeptical.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:52:51 PM PDT

  •  Our short national nightmare isn't over (9+ / 0-)

    until it's over.

    *knocks wood*

    Do you not see that it is the grossest idolatry to speak of the market as though it were the rival of God?

    by kismet on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 07:57:46 PM PDT

  •  Thinking back to the Republican convention (6+ / 0-)

    ...Mitt Romney was the candidate that the right-wing activists across America most hated.

    They boosted one alternative after another to the top of the race. Bachman, Perry, Paul, Santorum, Grigrich -- even the very weiird Cain and Trump -- all won the polls at some point. Romney was middling at best, most of the time. He was regarded as a RINO -- a traitor in wingnut speak.

    But, during the debates, the candidates had to talk. They all disgraced themselves, one at a time. One of Ron Paul's paste-on eyebrows found its way to the center of his forehead. And, finally, only Mitt Romney remained.

    In the GOP hierarchy, it was "his turn." There was never any other choice in reality world. The GOP primary "parade of shame" debates were just kabuki.

    And, here we are. Republicans are only voting their media-pushed hatred, for they have no policy positions to vote for. It all remains vapor. Are their enough delusional haters in America to win an election?

    A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five. -- Groucho Marx

    by Pluto on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 08:05:46 PM PDT

    •  There are enough delusional haters... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, stevej, side pocket, ardyess, G2geek really really really f*ck things up even after Mitt crashes and burns. That particular problem will not be solved by ANY election. Come Nov. 7 it's time to "get real," as the cliché has it. We have a plethora of crises that must be dealt with and we are ill-served by those who have sought at best over the best three decades to maintain us in a holding pattern, fighting only occasionally beyond rearguard actions to keep past gains from being dismantled.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 08:23:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  how'bout this: the "now make me do it" agenda: (0+ / 0-)

        It's often been said that Obama's position on a lot of our issues is similar to FDR's:  "I want to do it, but you have to make me do it."  In other words he's not going to back issues that don't have strong grassroots support, because that would be a waste of time and political capital on things that won't end up actually getting done.

        So what we need is a national progressive agenda, and the ability to make it heard loudly and clearly enough at the White House and in Congress, to put it on the table in a serious way.

        There are two elements we need to deal with here:

        1)  Agreeing on the agenda items.  Whatever they turn out to be, they will need to be expressed in terms of proposals for Executive actions and as bills in Congress.

        2)  Agreeing on how to promote them successfully.  About this I have a modest proposal.

        The idea that "membership" in anything is only a matter of signing up and paying a fee, is getting old and making "membership" meaningless.  "Membership" needs to include "doing the work of the organization" in order to make it truly meaningful and effective.  

        So I'd like to propose that TPTB here on DK put in place a requirement of all persons who are signed up as paying members:

        The requirement that each of us bring at least FIVE new people onboard as new registered users (paid or unpaid shouldn't matter) AND that each of us PLUS our five new registered users, write to a) President Obama, b) our two Senators, and c) our Representative, about EACH item on the "now make me do it" agenda.  

        Markos can make us do it, and we can make our government do it.  

        Get a call from GOP GOTV? Talk their ear off! Keep 'em busy! Plus one long call to a progressive = minus two or three calls to undecideds!

        by G2geek on Sat Nov 03, 2012 at 02:31:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with Kismet. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ardyess, G2geek

    Let's save election post mortems for after the Romney campaign has passed on.  

    •  I respect your opinion... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, ardyess, G2geek

      I just think that we gain more by demolishing the myth of Romney momentum now, before election day, than if we waited until after Tuesday to point it out. For the same reason that Romney was so desperate to push the idea that he was surging before Tuesday, I think it helps our side to deflate his false claim before Tuesday arrives..

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