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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney trying to create illusion of momentum

Jonathan Chait has a real good piece up right now. In it, he argues that Mitt Romney’s trying to push a “momentum” narrative “in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.” His evidence is pretty damned good:

Over the last week, Romney’s campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative. Last week, for instance, Romney’s campaign blared out the news that it was pulling resources out of North Carolina. The battleground was shifting! Romney on the offensive! On closer inspection, it turned out that Romney was shifting exactly one staffer. It is true that Romney leads in North Carolina, and it is probably his most favorable battleground state. But the decision to have a staffer move out of state, with a marching band and sound trucks in tow to spread the news far and wide, signals a deliberate strategy to create a narrative.

Also last week, Paul Ryan held a rally in Pittsburgh. Romney moving in to Pennsylvania! On the offensive! Skeptical reporters noted that Ryan’s rally would bleed into the media coverage in southeast Ohio and that Romney was not devoting any real money to Pennsylvania. Romney’s campaign keeps leaking that it is planning to spend money there. (Today’s leak: “Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market.” Note the noncommittal terms: intrigued and considering.) The story also floats Romney’s belief that, since Pennsylvania has no early voting, it can postpone its planned, any-day-now move into Pennsylvania until the end. This allows Romney to keep the Pennsylvania bluff going until, what, a couple of days before the election?

This actually plaays well to something I wrote yesterday — that is, that the media is desperate find some action at a time when polling seems to have leveled off. They’ll eat this up — even knowing it’s all bullshit — because they’re afraid that if they don’t tell you something about the race, you’ll change over to The Weather Channel. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to tell and it’s not likely there will be for at least two days, so “Mittmentum” is as good a pile of BS as any.

Chait says “[T]he widespread perception that Romney is pulling ahead is Romney’s campaign suckering the press corps with a confidence game.” But I don’t think the press are suckers or, at least, if they are it’s because they want to be.

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