Here's something you may not know from reading the political press, says Jonathan Chait at New York: President Obama is winning, Mitt Romney's rise in the polls stopped two weeks ago, and Team Romney's "downright giddy" claim of election-winning momentum "is a bluff." Of course, conservatives don't agree. But according to Chait and fellow liberals, Team Romney has cleverly employed a few head-fakes about leaving battleground states supposedly in the bag, vague talk of expanding the map, and lots of bluster about inevitable victory. Indeed, "Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy." And it might be working. With the national polls tied and Obama enjoying a clear advantage in the Electoral College math, Romney and his allies seem to be successfully "suckering the press corps with a confidence game." Is Romney's momentum a clever ruse?
The shameless spinning is tricking the media: Even after Obama's wins in the final two debates, the highly crafted tale "is congealing... that Romney is going to win the election," says Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Of course, "in reality, Obama is the favorite." But give credit to conservatives: "They are creating a reality," and have been since the first debate. Feed reporters "a few poll results, a few morsels from the trail," and many will parrot your line. The real goal is to "make Democrats fearful and jittery and reactive," so Dems should calm down and reassert reality.
"Reality vs. 'reality'"
Maybe Obama is losing steam: "Can't two things be true?" says David Weigel at Slate. Can't Team Romney be "overstating its momentum" while at the same time putting him in a position to actually win? After all, they knew Obama's strategy 14 months ago — paint Romney as a heartless plutocrat — so all they had to do was defuse that in the first debate. They did. And while Romney's poll numbers are just okay, "the numbers beneath the horse race" show that his likability numbers really have surged. "If voters have largely warmed to you, all you need to do is win the 'momentum' storyline" to seal the deal.
"How real is Mittmentum?"
The expectations game is bipartisan: Of course Team Romney is spinning the media, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post, that's what campaigns do — execute messaging "strategy bound loosely by reality." And Team Obama is doing it, too. The difference is that Romney is "emphasizing momentum" while Obama's side is underscoring how tight the race is, "how possible it is that the president might lose." Why? Psychology. Republicans won't vote if they're losing and Democrats won't vote if they're winning, so "Boston wants Republicans confident and Chicago wants Democrats scared. Keep that in mind as you read the spin."
"Romney wants Republicans confident... Obama wants Democrats scared"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- You should be furious about Hollywood's gutless retreat on The Interview
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
- One girl's extraordinarily wild world
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
Subscribe to the Week