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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:55 AM ET, 10/29/2012

The Morning Plum: On the auto rescue, Mitt Romney has run out of answers

Last week, Mitt Romney told an Ohio rally that Chrysler was considering moving all its Jeep production to China — a false claim based on a faulty interpretation of a Bloomberg article that said no such thing. It was easy to assume the Romney camp had simply made a mistake (which would not necessarily have justified running with such an incendiary claim without checking the facts first).

Now, however, there is no longer any doubt about what’s happening: The Romney campaign is deliberately misleading people with the Jeep-to-China claim, in a last-ditch effort to turn things around in Ohio, which benefitted enormously from the auto bailout Romney opposed. The Romney campaign is running a new ad that claims:

Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, and sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China. Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.

Sam Stein and Jonathan Cohn give us the full story on why this is so misleading. I wanted to add that this reflects, again, that on the auto rescue, Romney has simply run out of answers.

It’s worth recapping the Romney camp’s efforts to deal with the simple and unalterable fact that Romney opposed a policy that helped save an estimated one in eight Ohio jobs. At the most recent debate, Romney tried to fudge his differences with Obama, suggesting he agreed that the government should have acted up front to save the industry, which simply isn’t true. Confusingly enough, despite Romney’s suggestions that Obama followed his course of action in rescuing the industry, his running mate Paul Ryan is out there criticizing the auto bailout, claiming Romney and Ryan don’t favor government “picking winners and losers.”

Meanwhile, Romney political director Rich Beeson is trying to minimize the political impact of Romney’s opposition to the auto rescue, deriding the Obama campaign’s constant hammering of it as a “one trick pony.” Needless to say, if this were really a “one trick pony,” the Romney campaign would not need to run an ad deliberately misleading voters into thinking the result of the auto rescue will be that American Jeep jobs are getting shipped to China.

* Romney favored returning disaster response to states: With Sandy set to grind the political world to a halt today, Ryan Grim comes up with a nice find: During the GOP primary, Romney agreed that FEMA’s disaster response responsibilities should be transferred to the states. As Grim notes, a Romney spokesperson confirmed that this is currently his position.

There’s another nugget here worth highlighting, though. In that appearance, Romney also suggested it would be “even better” to send any and all responsibilities of the federal government “to the private sector,” disaster response included. So: Romney essentially favored privatizing disaster response.

* What both campaigns fear most: Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny sum up the worst case scenarios envisioned by both sides:

The biggest fear for Mr. Obama’s team is that a large number of voters suddenly will get so fed up with the back-and-forth of the campaign, the economic outlook and the partisan rancor that they break for Mr. Romney, if only to try something new in Washington. The biggest fear for Mr. Romney’s campaign is that he is coasting on a wave of enthusiasm rather than building upon it. Or in the words of one top campaign adviser: “Did we peak too soon?”

The race remains remarkably stable right now, suggesting an end to whatever gains Romney made, and the number of undecided voters has dwindled, though a last minute shift remains possible.

* Could Hurricane Sandy swing election? A bracing reality check from Adam Serwer, who cites a study by political scientists:

According to their study, Al Gore lost an estimated 2.8 million votes to George W. Bush in certain states because of drought or excessive rain.

* Obama leads in Virginia: This weekend’s Washington Post poll found Obama leading in Virginia by 51-47, again underscoring an overlooked fact about the race: According to the averages, it is tighter in Virginia than it is in Ohio. The Real Clear Politics average of Ohio polls puts Obama up 2.1 points; its average of Virginia polls shows a tie.

Romney probably needs both Ohio and Virginia to win; he is losing in one and is only tied in the other. By contrast, Obama probably needs only one of those states, and he is leading in one and tied in the other.

* Mixed polling in Ohio: The state’s news orgs released a poll yesterday finding the state tied at 49-49, which generated a lot of attention. But that poll was taken from October 18-23, and while that certainly doesn’t mean the poll should be ignored, it’s worth noting that CNN’s Ohio poll from Oct 23-25 found Obama up by 50-46. A Public Policy Polling robo-survey from Oct. 26-28 found Obama up by 51-47.

All of this is consistent with a lead of just over two in the Ohio averages. Pollster.com’s average has Obama’s lead at three points.

* State polling averages usually get it right: Why focus on the averages of state polls? As Nate Silver documents, they have a good history of accurately predicting outcomes. Silver notes that there has been a lot of polling on Ohio, and concludes:

There are no precedents in the database for a candidate losing with a two- or three-point lead in a state when the polling volume was that rich...it is misinformed to refer to Ohio as a toss-up. Mr. Obama is the favorite there, and because of Ohio’s central position in the Electoral College, he is therefore the overall favorite in the election.

As I wrote here on Saturday, the state averages are very clear: Whether he ends up winning or not, right now Obama holds a small but meaningful edge in the electoral college.

* Right wing opens fire on Silver: With Silver’s method showing Obama on track to victory, it isn’t surprising that conservatives are now accusing him of cooking his numbers. Paul Krugman likens the attack to BLS trutherism and explains its larger significance:

On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive. This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn’t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.

* For the Obama camp, it all comes down to execution: A new Politico Battleground Tracking Poll finds Obama with a slight edge among likely voters nationally, 49-48. That’s a three point swing since last week, but it should be pointed out that this remains consistent with national averages, which show a dead heat. In the Politico poll, however, Republicans still hold an edge in intensity:

Sixty percent of those who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 73 percent who back Romney. Among this group, Romney leads Obama by 9 points, 53 to 44 percent.

This is why you keep hearing Dems claim that the race now comes down to whether Obama’s grassroots and turnout operation perform up to par — a goal that has been literally years in the making.

* The “makers” that could help Obama win reelection: Nice E.J. Dionne column on how a different sort of “maker” — midwestern factory workers — could be key to an Obama victory, again thanks to the auto bailout.

* No end to the Romney dissembling: You’ll be startled to hear that Romney’s “major economic speech” last week relied on misleadingly cherry picked data. Glenn Kessler sets the record straight.

* And still more Romney tax avoidance: Bloomberg’s Jesse Drucker has the latest: Romney used a tax shelter that allows the wealthy to “take advantage of the exempt status of charities without actually giving away much money.” Experts have speculated that the real reason Romney didn’t release his returns is because they contained evidence of “aggressive tax sheltering.”

What else?

By  |  08:55 AM ET, 10/29/2012

 
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