The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

It’s the Obama Campaign. Chronic Overconfidence Is What They Do!


The final Morning Jolt before the Memorial Day Weekend looks at Wisconsin and reports of concern within the Obama camp:

Come On. It’s the Obama Campaign. There’s Always Arrogance!

The headline in BuzzFeed is “Not Arrogant Any More” but . . . come on. This is the Obama campaign. There are still a lot of source-greasing gushing profiles to be written about David Axelrod, still plenty of Democratic talking heads who will gleefully predict an Obama landslide, still plenty of pollsters willing to offer results based on samples that have way too many Democrats in them to realistically represent the 2012 electorate.

A big part of a winning election is convincing everyone — your own supporters, the bandwagon folks in the middle, the opposition — that it is not merely a possibility but likely. Bob Dole never did this in 1996; he came out of the primaries hobbled, Clinton softened him up with the ads tying him to Gingrich, and the whole thing was over by this time 16 years ago. The conventions, the debates, the polls never moved around that much.

Most of the evidence suggests that the 2012 presidential election will be close, but one can see the pieces of a Romney landslide assembling here and there — an unemployment rate that remains stubbornly high, chronic underemployment, Americans dropping out of the labor force and young people unable to begin careers, gas prices that are high enough to pinch the wallets but not getting the hype of 2008, a vagueness to Obama’s second-term agenda, a Supreme Court declaration that Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment actually violated the Constitution . . . and a Republican nominee who, for whatever his flaws, has built his career on finding struggling businesses and endeavors like the Olympics that need to turn things around quickly.

BuzzFeed’s take:

Two difficult weeks for President Obama have shaken the overwhelming confidence of his campaign in Chicago and of Democratic leaders in Washington, and prompted a depressing realization: This is, at best, 2004, not 1996. At worst it’s 1992.

Democrats had taken comfort for months in the Republican Party’s seeming inability to get behind Mitt Romney, Obama’s healthy lead in the polls, and equally healthy job growth. And for a few, fleeting, moments, Democrats thought the election might just be easy. But Republican division appears to have been merely an artifact of primary politics, and Mitt Romney has proved a consistent, if unglamorous campaigner.

And this week, amid poor economic indicators and continuing voter frustration, Democrats returned to the harsh reality that this election is going to be anything but a walk in the park.

“There was this sense maybe a month or two ago that Obama was really riding high — that he had gotten his base behind him and the economy was doing better and it had this Clinton vs. Bob Dole 1996 feeling — that he was going to cruise,” said one 2008 Obama aide who does not work for this year’s campaign. “And now it feels like it’s going to be really tough — a 2004 race.”

Indeed the campaign is shaping up to be a close-combat battle for one percent of swing voters in a few hundred precincts across three or four states.

While not a sign of panic, there’s some indication that strategy and messaging within the Obama camp is being retooled: “President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign cancelled a planned ad buy in Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia this week — the same states where Mitt Romney has gone up with ads. According to an Obama campaign source, the move is just ‘reweighting markets’ which happens frequently, and not a change in strategy. The campaign has launched over a half-dozen television spots in the past few weeks — part of a $25 million campaign in May. The Obama campaign purchased new airtime next week, though the scale is as yet undetermined, according to a media buyer. The new purchase includes both 30 second and 2-minute spots.”

At Hot Air, Allahpundit finds the perpetual confidence from the Obama team baffling: “Were there really any Democrats who thought Republicans wouldn’t unite behind Romney? Conservatives have spent three years lamenting every move the White House makes; when given a choice between Obama and Not Obama, there was never a scintilla of doubt how enthusiastic they’d be for the latter. And Romney’s big selling point, of course, was electability, so there was also never much reason for Democrats to think they’d win easily among the center. Their only strong hands against Mitt were O’s likability advantage, which might move votes at the margins but likely won’t be decisive, and the hope/prayer that a crude class-warfare campaign might get traction among working-class voters. No dice so far. They still might win — Romney’s political track record suggests he needs a big spending advantage to make him competitive and that’s not happening this time — but this is a national election in a 50/50 age after a rough first term economically. Go figure that the polls might narrow.”

But it’s the Obama campaign. Chronic overconfidence is what they do. They spend all day reading their press clippings that declare how smart they are.

Tags: Barack Obama


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