The fact that President Obama not only is comfortably leading this year's race -- a lead that has significantly widened after both the GOP and Democratic conventions -- seems to be perplexing our friends the conservative Republicans.
Let's see if we can explain it to them.
Brit Hume and Co. tried to figure it out -- albeit briefly -- yesterday on Fox News Sunday:
I do think that the Democrats got more out of their convention than the Republicans got out of theirs. And it suggests a couple of things. One is that going second is better. We really saw that four years ago. That the convention held right on the heels of the end of the previous one can step all over the effect of that and re-focus the audience.
It was a better week, I think. You know, the Republicans were in the last week before Labor Day, Democrats started after Labor Day when I think more people are at home and watching.
And I think, you know, that there is something about Barack Obama. There is still a certain magic about him that people will tune in to see. It was notable that the audience ratings were higher for the Democratic Convention than for the Republican . And that it strikes me that his speech, combined with the other presentations at the convention, had some power. And how long this bounce will last, I think it is still essentially a tied race, is anybody's guess. But I do think the Democrats got more out of their convention.
Yep, it's just that inexplicable magic that Democrats are able to pull on unwitting voters. That's it.
You see, what really baffles them is that their own scripted convention actually had the effect, as Sam Wang at Princeton Electoral Review observed, of helping Obama move ahead in the Electoral College vote totals, based on the movements within individual swing-state polls:
The negative GOP bounce. As I stated before, the GOP convention was of no help to them in the Electoral College. Indeed, it appears that the race shifted towards President Obama by 6-15 EV, or about 1.0% of Popular Vote Meta-Margin. From an analytical perspective, a negative bounce is quite remarkable because all the talk in recent weeks has been of bounces being smaller or zero, but always in the hosting party’s favor. It is all the more remarkable because of the relatively small number of state polls over the last week, so that the Meta-analysis’s inputs have not fully turned over (for discussion see comments). So the negative bounce may be larger than what is shown in the graph. Such an event would have been missed in past years (and even this year) because national polls don’t have the best resolution.
All this has led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right-wing side of the aisle. Why, oh why, can't they even win in a year when the sour economy (that their policies created and worsened, and toward the improvement of which Republicans have contributed less than zero) should give them an advantage? That's the question lingering in the air at places like the National Review.
John Hinderaker at Powerline spits disgustedly:
I don’t think the problem in this year’s race is “elite opinion,” which, as Andy says, conservatives have been able to overcome rather consistently in the past, and is probably in more disrepute today than ever. I am afraid the problem in this year’s race is economic self-interest: we are perilously close to the point where 50% of our population cares more about the money it gets (or expects to get) from government than about the well-being of the nation as a whole. Throw in a few confused students, pro-abortion fanatics, etc., and you have a Democratic majority.
Ah, yes, the standard Randian Republican line of logic (as it were): Those leeches on the vaunted Producer/Job Creator class, the
brown-skinned welfare-dependent parasites who prefer their free rides to their freeeeeeeedom(!) -- they are going to lead us all into slavery.
Of course, some of us have an alternative theory.
I am afraid the problem for Republicans in this year's race is long-term socioeconomic self-interest: we are perilously (for conservatives) close to the point where 50% of our population recognizes that Randian dog-eat-dog trickle-down Republicanism is a travesty, and that mutual self-preservation, providing a strong social safety net and a compassionate society that doesn't let human lives be crushed like ants in the economic vice created by the Republican recession, is in fact a good and desirable thing for building a long-term, sustainable society, and we are willing to vote on it as a whole. Throw in a few million angry Latinos, a significant majority of women who are tired of being trampled by right-wing policies, etc., and you have a Democratic majority.
Bet that didn't cross their minds, though.