Saturday, November 10, 2012

Not Yet, Not Now

For those of you too young to remember when Cadillac was a metaphor for class and success, think Lexus.   It used to be said that ambivalence is watching your mother-in-law driving off the cliff- in your new Cadillac.

Never having had a Cadillac, a Lexus, or a mother-in-law I would want to have drive over a cliff, I'll have to be satisfied with an election which turned out far better than I expected.

Barack Obama was re-elected with an Electoral Vote margin (assuming the inclusion of Florida) far greater than I expected, my prediction of 294-244 the product of splitting the difference between facts and logic- the estimation of Nate Silver and other brilliant experts- and my hunch, which was that this could (improbably) end in disaster.  I felt very good about the Senate overall, but saw a possible problem for any or all of the Democratic candidates in Montana, Wisconsin, and Virginia.     And I never, ever thought the Democratic nominee would win in North Dakota.  (What must the great Byron Dorgan be thinking?)

I neglected to project Democratic gains in, though failure to win control of, the House of Representatives.   Nor did I bother to predict that it will snow in Boston and Chicago this winter, nor that Florida will receive little or no snow (which I refuse to call "the white stuff.")

The post-mortems continue as Republicans continue to assess the reason(s) they lost the presidential race to, as they see it, to Lucifer, and had their tails handed to them in the United States Senate.    Many of them are somewhat valid- but not this one from many of the Party's young bucks.  BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller writes

But some of the younger generation — people in their twenties and thirties, digital natives, committed conservatives — reported another feeling: relief. The time had finally come to push aside the television-centric operatives who have run Republican campaigns for a generation, to reset the party’s values around race and sex, and to adapt its tactics to the era of Twitter. Politics has always been ruthlessly competitive, with one cycle’s guru the next cycle’s washed-up cable news commentator. Mentors have always had to keep an eye out for protégés wielding daggers. And now the daggers are out. 

Television is just so yesterday.   Some of these cool geniuses choose not to recall

Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney gained ground on Democratic President Barack Obama after a strong performance in their first debate heading into the Nov. 6 election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after their prime-time face-off.

Romney is now viewed positively by 51 percent of voters, the first time he has enjoyed a net positive in the U.S. presidential race, the poll found. Obama's favorability rating remained unchanged at 56 percent, according to the poll.

Romney moved ahead of the president on several core issues after Wednesday's debate, which was widely seen as a victory for the Republican candidate.

Voters now see Romney as a better bet to boost the economy, spur job creation and manage the budget deficit, the poll found. He narrowed Obama's advantage on taxes, the Social Security retirement program and the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

That debate was not held on Twitter, Facebook, the IPad, the IPhone, or any other variant of social media or instrument of new technology.   It was held on television.

Ipsos pollster Cliff Young had said of Romney "If he has more debates like this, is able to push through his message and target undecideds, we might see movement in voting intention, but he needs a lot more of this."

He didn't need a lot more, only a little more, and failed to get it as Obama clearly got the better of his challenger in the second and third debates, as Joe Biden did of Paul Ryan in the vice-presidential debate.   Romney's problem was compounded when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fawned over President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.   No one knows yet whether the federal government's response to to Sandy will be viewed as highly effective but has been lauded for his response.   Obama's appearance on television enabled him to project leadership, and praise by the GOP governor- viewed by tens of millions of Americans on television- enhanced Obama's claims to bipartisanship.

Miller observes

Indeed, the fact that new forms of communications remain a relatively small fraction of campaign spending rankles many.

“We still haven't learned the lesson of the Obama campaign of 2008: The Internet and technology, by lowering transaction costs and barriers to entry, can empower individuals to be more impactful to the political process in general,” said Soren Dayton, a Republican consultant who specializes in new media. “Obama turned activists to organizers. Republican campaigns still treat activists as ATMs and phone-calling automatons.”

I am no more certain of the impact of old technology on future elections than I was of Virginia and Colorado on this one.  Nonetheless, it appears those enamored of the new because it is the new (or because they understand, and can utilize, it better than their elders) are either unaware, or loath to acknowledge the obvious.  The 2012  race was almost won by a singularly unlikable candidate, who had marginalized himself in the primary campaign, because of his performance on television.  And then, having failed to repeat the highly effective television performance, he remained in contention until the ravages of Hurricane Sandy were brought to voters in Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and Colorado by silly old TV.

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