THIS is what’s coming in November… any questions?
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that a new Bloomberg poll showed Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 53 percent to 40 percent amongst likely voters. This poll surprised of almost all observers, since most of the polls conducted lately show the two candidates either tied or within a couple of points of one another. The average of the polls has Obama leading Romney by 2.2 percentage points, at 46.6 percent to 44.4 percent for Romney. Since direct general voting isn’t the basis of presidential elections in the USA, this narrow gap doesn’t give any clear indication of either candidate’s strength in Electoral College votes. Still, most of the polls show that neither of the two has sewn up the 270 electoral votes needed for election. Pundits regard up to 10 states (and 110 to 115 Electoral College votes) as tossups.
The 13 percent margin (although not directly convertible into Electoral College votes) virtually guarantees Obama’s re-election. The Bloomberg results show a picture that’s much more favourable for Obama than even the results of his landslide victory in 2008. At that time, he received 53 percent of the general vote compared to 46 percent for his Republican opponent John McCain (a margin of 7 percent). However, everyone knows that the 2008 vote was due to widespread anti-Bush sentiment and the even-more widespread hopes for “Change We Can Believe In”. Since then, Barack Obama demonstrated that there’s little difference between him and his predecessor in foreign policy, and if there’s any difference in handling domestic issues, it hardly speaks in his favour.
Therefore, experts are probably right to raise their eyebrows at the results of the poll. Then, how are such results, which contradict both common sense and the logic of American politics, possible? One simple explanation is that such things do happen from time to time, and the polling methodology, however elaborate and well-tested it might be, doesn’t always guarantee correct results. One can see the hint of another possible simple explanation in the Reuters report itself as it observed, “Reuters is a competitor of Bloomberg News”. In that case, it would be only too logical for the agency to grasp at the blunder of its competitors, and one could regard the whole story can as part of the media wars. Nevertheless, apparently there may be deeper reasons for the whole story. The nomination campaign in the GOP is over and the intrigue died a long time before the Party Convention. As for the Democratic Party, there was no mystery since the very beginning. However, this is something the American media isn’t ready to put up with. The “Show Must Go On”… but what show can there be during the summer hiatus? Therefore, stories like this are likely to appear… not because they reflect the reality, but just because they attract public attention.
Another item in line with the above is a piece of news reported by the Washington Post on Monday saying that Barack Obama has tapped Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, to play Republican Mitt Romney in mock debate rehearsals. For a long time, most considered John Kerry one of the Democratic Party’s most skilled debaters, and his performances in more than 25 debates in the 2004 race earned plaudits. Some credited his strong debates against President George W Bush with tightening the race in the closing weeks of the 2004 campaign, the Post wrote. Also, being a US Senator from Massachusetts, Kerry knows the tics and tricks of the former Governor of the state, Mitt Romney. Consequently, this may be a good choice both in terms of rehearsal, but more so in terms of attracting public attention.
Oddly enough, Kerry’s skills as a debater actually did not help him much… Bush eventually won the 2004 election with a comfortable margin. More so, some commentators point to the fact that the 2004 campaign was one of the dullest in recent history (second probably only to the 1988 “dull and boring” George Bush Sr– Mike Dukakis campaign). All this leads to another, quite plausible explanation. Despite what pundits say about popular polls, Mitt Romney has clearly demonstrated his superiority over Barack Obama in one respect… that is, fund-raising. So, maybe the explanation for all of it’s simple… since the presidential election isn’t just a media show, but also big business, the publications of results showing a wider-than-expected gap between the candidates may serve the end of redistributing the flows of sponsors’ money between them. Whether this explanation’s true or not, it puts things in the right order.
21 June 2012
Voice of Russia World Service