Mitt Romney’s campaign slogan might be, “Believe in America,” but winning will require voters to “Believe in Mitt.” And doing so these days is starting to require the supernatural faith of a believer.
The empirical evidence for an Obama re-election is starting to stack up. Whether it is the many polls that sometimes show Romney close, but rarely show him winning (and the swing state polls are the most concerning) — or other random indicators, such as the Wall Street Journal’s report that in Iowa, “Democrats have requested roughly 100,000 ballots, compared with 16,073 ballots requested by Republicans,” the signs don’t look good.
Still, it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where Romney wins. But the problem is that, increasingly, it does require one to imagine the scenario.
Romney boosters rationalize away the mounting evidence by believing a series of possible explanations or scenarios, such as:
… Pollsters are “over-sampling” Democrats.
… A sort of “Bradley Effect” has led people to tell pollsters they support Obama (when they really don’t).
… Presidential races always tighten at the end. People who make up their minds at the last minute will break toward Romney (they always break against the incumbent).
… A biased liberal media is under-reporting the good Romney news and poll numbers, thus skewing our perception. A “silent majority” will arise on Election Day.
… The debates will change everything.
… Some big event will happen between now and November 6.
… Turnout is what matters. Obama’s voters will either be a). less likely to actually show up on Election Day, or b). overconfident that he will win. Either way, Obama will under-perform at the polls
Any or all of these things could be true. But they are intangible. And so, it sounds to cynical journalists like “happy talk.”
I’m always skeptical of credulous political believers who insist they are 100 percent sure something magical is going to happen.
It rarely does.
In essence, a belief in Romney increasingly requires one to “call things that are not, as though they were.”
The problem for Romney, of course, is that it is much easier to believe what is seen than the unseen.
As the evidence mounts against a Romney victory, this perception has real consequences. It can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophesy. There is a bandwagon effect — there seems to be a correlation between who voters predict will win and who actually does win. And just as banks don’t lend money to people who need it, donors and pundits — and opportunists — don’t have blind faith. And so, they tend to jump ship when they assume that ship is sinking.
The bottom line? Miracles do happen. But it’s starting to look like it might take one for Mitt to win. And that perception comes with its own negative consequences.