It’s almost become a joke at this point for me. I’ve been saying it for months now, long before Romney started building momentum following the very first presidential debate in October.
I even have a potentially humiliating bet going with an ultra-liberal close friend: if Romney wins by eight percent of the popular vote or more, he’ll don an embarrassing amount of camouflage and go shooting with me, while if Romney doesn’t “cover the spread” I’ll throw on a rainbow wig and march in an LGBT parade.
I’m confident, obviously, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous. Election day is tomorrow, folks, and it’s the sheer magnitude of the importance of tomorrow’s vote that has me nervous. That, and I’m nervous because the source of my confidence is anything but quantitative.
My months-long prediction doesn’t come from any specific polling numbers. Much is derived from polling over decades which shows that there are nearly twice as many Americans on the right than on the left, and from that my belief that, in this incredibly polarized time, this year’s election was more about shoring up and exciting each party’s respective base than about wooing independents. Since the birth of the Tea Party following Rick Santelli’s CNBC rant in early 2009, we have seen a Resurgent Right in this nation, and it is that resurgence that has me as confident as I am.
At the same time, however, I have this lingering doubt, and therefore a worry that I am dead wrong. A few weeks ago, I wondered aloud whether my confidence came from my domicile in decidedly red South Carolina. We rarely even see campaign ads during prime time television here — incredibly different from being in Pennsylvania in 2008. Could my confidence be geographic? Am I projecting some of the common sense conservatism surrounding me on areas of the country far less sensible?
I hope not.
I see things like Mitt Romney’s rally yesterday in Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and between that and his mention of a woman from Philadelphia during the final presidential debate, I wonder if the Keystone State–which has been trending right for decades–has finally tipped the scale and will go for Romney tomorrow.
I see things like Barack Obama doing events today in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin, and I consider both Paul Ryan’s impact on the latter, as well as the union-busting steps taken in Wisconsin by the recall-surviving Gov. Scott Walker, and I wonder whether the president is on the defense. Certainly, his “voting is the best revenge” comments insinuate as much.
And then, I see the crowds — not in tried-and-true red states like South Carolina, but rather in places like West Chester, Ohio … Red Rocks, Colorado … Morrisville, Pennsylvania.
If Barack Obama stands a chance at this tomorrow, it is only because a tremendous amount of momentum for both Mitt Romney’s campaign as a whole and the account of the September 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi were building exponentially — and stopped by Super Storm Sandy. In Sandy, the media had a genuinely big story (this was no small storm) that could reasonably distract from the gains Mitt Romney had been making, and the president’s vulnerability on Libya.
The thing is, I see this as a year for challengers. The status quo is unsustainable. Unemployment is at 7.9%, though the overall feeling in this country seems to match the untold numbers, as joblessness and underemployment seems to touch everyone at least tangentially. Economic growth as a whole is anemic, and to the extent that the numbers reflect at least some marginal growth, again the overall dynamic here in America says otherwise. And, of course, foreign policy — does anyone trust their government anymore?
Compared with some of the statistical, well-thought-out work I used to do here at AR, it feels awkward to feel so definitively about what’s going to happen tomorrow solely on a guess. But, even though President Obama is on the wrong side of so many vital performance benchmarks, this is an election about basic ideology, about the proper role of the federal government as it pertains to those more specific benchmarks. This isn’t so much about which candidate we think can build jobs and turn around the economy and keep us safe — this election is about WHY one particular candidate can do the job, and the other one cannot.
In that, I believe that this supercharged election will ultimately be good for America. We’re finally asking WHY, and we’re not necessarily content with the answers we’re given. Maybe some poll says otherwise, or maybe it’s just that I’m surrounded by hard-working, right-leaning Palmetto Staters all the time, but I feel as though our electorate is for the most part as informed and prepared for tomorrow as they ever have been.
Sure, there are still some mental midgets who want to vote for Obama because he’s black, or vote for Romney because he isn’t, but for the most part people seem to have at least a pedestrian understanding of various issues. And, golly, I’d have to say that informed voters favor the right. These are people who are looking at numbers, listening to ideas for job growth, not people who are easily incensed by reckless rhetoric about contraceptives.
The people are prepared. (And, if you know someone who isn’t, have ‘em check out John Feeny’s nine-part series deconstructing in detail the last four years.) The people are excited. And there are more of our people than there are of their people.
So, that’s it. I remember sitting at my house in the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the eve of the 2008 election. I wrote so much more then; I was probably up until 3:30 a.m. that night. I remember being terrified for our nation should Barack Obama win, and I recall knowing in my heart that John McCain was going to lose.
Much has changed. I still worry endlessly for our republic in the case that President Obama prevails, but in my heart, I believe that Romney is going to win.