Jewish World Review Nov. 6, 2012/ 21 Mar-Cheshvan, 5773
Dems are getting desperate
By Jack Kelly
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A president notorious for talking big but acting small is hanging his slender hopes for re-election on a gigantic gust of wind.
Mitt Romney was on a roll when Hurricane Sandy struck. He'd taken the lead in nearly all the national tracking polls, by 6 percentage points in Gallup, the most respected. Even in the handful of polls where Barack Obama led, he was below 50 percent, a bad place for an incumbent to be the week before an election. Undecided voters usually break heavily toward the challenger.
At least 28 newspapers which had backed Mr. Obama in 2008 switched their endorsements to Mr. Romney. He was drawing larger, more enthusiastic crowds.
The grimmest news for Mr. Obama was a Gallup survey Monday which indicated Mr. Romney leads, 52-46, among the 15 percent of registered voters who have already voted. At the same point in 2008, Mr. Obama led Sen. John McCain 55-40 among early voters.
Democrats must win early voters. Mr. Obama beat Sen. McCain by 7.2 percentage points -- but by only 3 points among those who voted on election day.
Mr. Romney suspended campaigning for two days. That broke his momentum, Democrats hope.
The hurricane also provided the president with "a remarkable last minute chance to campaign for his job just by doing his job," said Ben Feller of the Associated Press.
To demonstrate leadership in the crisis, Mr. Obama horned in on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's tour of communities devastated by Sandy. As is typical, Mr. Obama's leadership is more apparent than real. The federal government provides funds for disaster relief, but once the money's released, cleanup operations are run mainly by state and local authorities.
"When an American is in need, we leave nobody behind," the president said at a non-campaign campaign photo-op at Red Cross headquarters in Washington.
Unless you're an American besieged at the consulate in Benghazi, waiting in vain for air support.
Sandy gave Mr. Obama's friends in the news media another excuse for not talking about Libya. But when Jay Leno jokes that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been revived as the president's "new policy for questions about Libya," their efforts to suppress the scandal have not been as successful as they would like.
Sandy may slow the election's trajectory, but I doubt the hurricane will alter it. Hardest hit are New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Usually, all are reliably Democratic. This year, Pennsylvania isn't. If power outages and flood damage in Philadelphia reduce turnout, that will hurt the president.
The president's campaign people express confidence. But their actions indicate they're trying to stave off disaster. Team Obama made ad buys last week in Pennsylvania and Michigan, which last voted Republican in 1988; Wisconsin (1984); and Minnesota(!), which hasn't gone Republican since 1972.
Frantic liberal pundits spin a scenario in which the president could lose the popular vote, but win in the Electoral College. Mr. Romney may rack up big margins in the South but fall just short in the swing states, so their thinking goes.
But there are many more voters in the deep blue states of California, New York and Illinois -- where, presumably, Mr. Obama would win big -- than in the dark red states. The president could win despite losing the popular vote only if support for him plunged everywhere except in the swing states, which would be weird, because the swing states are called swing states because they more closely mirror national sentiment.
The usual effect of the Electoral College is to magnify the margin of the popular vote winner. But three times it hasn't. Andrew Jackson finished first in a four-way race in 1824 but lost when Henry Clay threw his support to John Quincy Adams. In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes was awarded Louisiana's electoral votes in a deal to end Reconstruction. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore received 543,895 more votes -- one half of one percent of the 101.5 million votes cast -- but lost in the Electoral College, 271-266.
If a candidate wins the popular vote by a percentage point or more, the very remote possibility that he would lose in the Electoral College descends into mathematical absurdity. That Democrats now pin their hopes on a hurricane and an Electoral College fluke indicates what's likely to happen Tuesday.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.
© 2011, Jack Kelly