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Under the guise of analyzing the final stages of the 2012 Presidential race, ABC News Political Director Amy Walter has furthered the spin of the Democratic National Committee and Obama campaign.
Expressing confidence in their status in the states that had formed the battleground in the campaign thus far, the Romney team decided to "expand the map", putting money and staff into new states in order to widen their anticipated margin of victory. The campaign may also have had an unusual problem: an excess of money to spend at the end of the campaign.
When Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Ed Rendell warned that his state could see an upset, the two campaigns began competing in the state. As the Romney blog put it:
What a difference a few days makes. Not only has Minnesota been moved to “Lean Dem” and the Obama Campaign is up in that state with a significant television buy, but the Chicago gurus have heeded Governor Rendell’s plea and are buying television in Pennsylvania and sending the Vice-President in to help prop up their fledgling campaign.
Romney is not the kind of politician who would be content with a 50.1% win if he has the resources to pursue a wider margin.
The Obama campaign declared Romney's move to compete in more areas to be a sign of desperation. Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama 2012 Stephanie Cutter:
Romney decision to go up in PA proof positive they can't make current map work to get to 270 - throwing out lifelines to PA, MN.#desperate— Stephanie Cutter (@stefcutter) October 30, 2012
As The Fix said last week (6:30 am October 31, 2012):
In addition, at some point, the law of diminishing returns takes effect. Rather than spend that extra $1 million in expensive areas like Northern Virginia or Columbus only to have it lost in a bevy of campaign ads, why not take a flyer in Minnesota, where polls suggest an upset is possible — if not likely?
Beyond the bravado and bluster of campaign operatives, most observers believe Romney is likely to win Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, once considered battlegrounds.
Enter ABC's Walter, who theorized, in a post (Oct 31, 2012 9:14 am) entitled "Mitt Romney’s Expanding Map: Desperation or Realization?"
Ohio is a lost cause so Team Romney needs another path to 270: Despite the plethora of media polls showing Obama ahead in the Buckeye state, GOPers not affiliated with the Romney campaign say they have polling showing a dead heat or Romney slightly ahead. In that vein, we are left to wonder whether Romney’s decision to run a blatantly false ad in Toledo – re: Jeep factory moving to China – is a hail Mary or a way to try and tip this very tight contest?
The Romney Jeep ad says nothing about a factory, and after studying published reports does not appear to me even to be false.
The Walter post uses the false-choice fallacy, asking which of two negatives apply, when it's possible neither does.
DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse tweeted on Friday:
ABC News' Walter echoed the DNC. In a show of apparent solidarity with Democrats, she wrote (Nov 4, 2012 6:47pm):
Obama and Biden are making 18 stops across seven states — Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, and Florida. Romney and Ryan, meanwhile, are making 24 stops across 10 states — New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, Minnesota, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
The fact that Team Romney is making forays into Pennsylvania and Minnesota suggests that they are not particularly confident that they can get to 270 electoral votes if the playing field is restricted to the eight battleground states where this campaign has been waged for the last six months.
The Romney and RNC explanation that they can compete in areas thought safe for Democrats seems to hold more water, given Walter's concluding paragraph, which contradicts her conclusions:
Overall, the Romney/Ryan schedule suggests that they are more focused on wooing independent voters than simply firing up the base.
If Romney is not trying to fire up his base, it must mean that he already has done so. Clearly, Romney is on offense. Whether that is because he is indeed stymied in the states once thought to be the keys to his victory or is trying to achieve a larger margin will made clear by voters on Tuesday.
Walter's bias is not as striking as some, and it may very well be that she is only guilty of having an Democrat frame of reference: believing that success in this election is only limited to winning by the barest of margins, she cannot see that one side has a good chance to win by significantly more.