Jim Geraghty is in his time machine this morning in his “Morning Jolt” (subscribe for the free newsletter with exclusive content here):
Picture it: It’s December, and folks like you and I are celebrating the recent presidential campaign victory of Mitt Romney. It wasn’t a landslide; something on par with the electoral college map of Bush vs. Kerry, and Romney winning the popular vote by two or three percentage points.
In that scenario, do you envision President Obama accepting defeat gracefully? Do you picture him congratulating President Romney on his victory, and pledging to do everything possible to ensure a smooth transition? Do you think the president will be ready to move on to post–White House life, focusing upon memoir-writing, building his presidential library, some charitable and foundation work, and plenty of golf?
Or do you think President Obama, and David Axelrod, and Valerie Jarrett, and all of the true believers will find some reason to believe the result is illegitimate? Some combination of super-PAC spending and voter-ID laws that they believe nullifies the results? I don’t mean a constitutional crisis, I mean just a narrative of “Romney cheated” that will reassure liberals that their views really are popular, and a return to the natural order of their eternal string of victories is one election-law change away. (In liberals’ view of the world, they never suffer a legitimate defeat.)
Seeing that rotund, irate Iowa woman storm the stage at the state fair to berate Paul Ryan, I can’t help but suspect we’ll see a lot of lefty rage in response to a Romney victory. Romney, Ryan, Speaker Boehner, and Majority/Minority Leader McConnell will have a full plate, and they may see Wisconsin-style protests on a national scale. Occupy Wall Street may not be completely deflated; a “stolen election” makes a heck of a rallying cry.
If there’s anything we’ve seen, it’s that President Obama loves to campaign — to hold fundraisers, to attend rallies, to attend “town meetings” where the questioners mostly ask why people aren’t smart enough to see how great he is. In January 2013, former president Obama would find himself with a lot of time to do all that.
These images do remind us: Not only is there a lot of work to do between now and November, there will be even more after Election Day. As Jim suggests, I don’t suppose the mainstream reaction — never-mind the Democratic party’s base — will be to find the silver lining in a Romney victory.