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Posted at 08:48 AM ET, 06/04/2012

The Morning Plum: Wisconsin recall fight tightening?

The robopolling firm Public Policy Polling is out with what may be the final survey of the Wisconsin recall fight, and it finds that Scott Walker’s lead over Tom Barrett has shrunk to three points — within the margin of error. As PPP says: “Barrett’s prospects for an upset look better than they have for a long time.”

Other public polls have shown Walker with a wider lead. But those polls predate Bill Clinton’s visit to Wisconsin, the final Walker-Barrett debate, and new revelations in the John Doe probe. Nevertheless, most commentators and news orgs are essentially proceeding from the presumption that Walker has already won. For instance, see this New York Times piece.

I’ve said repeatedly that I’m skeptical that Walker will be recalled. But PPP has concluded that Dems can still win this battle. It all turns on PPP’s key finding, which is that Walker’s slim lead is rooted in the fact that Republicans are more excited about the race than Democrats are, meaning that the cliche that it all comes down to turnout is truer than ever this time.

Here is the bottom line of PPP’s analysis: If the turnout operation Dems and labor insist are superior to that of Walker can make up the difference, and can replicate 2008 Dem turnout, Walker — who’s trailing among core Dem constituencies like women, minorities, and young voters — will be recalled. If not, his lead among men, whites, seniors and Milwaukee suburbanites will enable him to survive.

* The Romney campaign’s double standard on jobs: Last week I noted here that the Romney campaign had begun to use two different standards to judge the Romney and Obama job creation records.

The Romney team is asking the press to focus on the jobs added later in Romney’s term, rather than on the job losses that were taking place when Romney took office. And yet, at the same time, the Romney team is basing its entire case against Obama’s record on the idea that there has been a net job loss during the Obama presidency — a metric that does factor in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the very beginning of Obama’s term, before his policies took effect.

Over the weekend, a top Romney adviser made this double standard as explicit as you could possibly ask for.

Ed Gillespie, on Fox News Sunday, responded to Dem claims that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50th in job creation. He said:

“This is what they’re doing, Chris,” Gillespie said. “You take the first year, which is a low base year when the governor came in and took office, because it was 50th in job creation out of all of the states, dead last … and they’re averaging out over the four years. So, they are bringing down the gains of his fourth year in office, which shows the real impact of his policies and diluting it with the first year in office.”

Got it? The Romney campaign now claims that factoring in the “first year” of job losses under Romney constitutes “diluting” his record, and that the later part of his term is what we should look at to gauge the “real impact of his policies.” And yet, the Romney camp is claiming that the “real impact” of Obama’s policies should be judged by a metric that does factor in the massive job losses that took place at the start of Obama’s term. The Romney camp echoed this last week in a press release.

If Gillespie were to exempt Obama’s first year in office — as he seems to want us to do for Romney — then Obama has created millions and millions of jobs. Is that the metric the Romney camp thinks is the right one? Will anyone ask for clarification on this point? Will anyone ask the Romney campaign to explain why one standard should be applied to his record, and another to Obama’s?

* Obama campaign launches major campaign slamming “Romney economics”: Friday’s dismal jobs report has considerably increased the pressure on Obama to define Mitt Romney in the minds of voters as a totally unacceptable alternative to the president. And here’s the response — a minute-long ad in nine swing states making the most extensive paid-media response we’ve seen yet against “Romney economics”:

The sputtering recovery is likely to make swing voters far more likely to conclude that the time has come to change course without taking too deep a look at the true nature of the alternative Romney is offering. Voters are seemingly open to the premise of Romney’s candidacy — that his experience in the private sector has left him equipped to turn around America like a trouble corporation. And so the Obama campaign urgently needs to undermine Romney’s aura of private-sector know-how by driving home the message to swing voters that Romney represents an actual set of policies and ideas that we’ve tried before.

* Government spending has fallen: Must-see chart of the day: Paul Krugman details that federal, state, and local real government spending per capita has fallen off dramatically since the stimulus. That would seem to complicate the Romney/GOP argument that excessive government is to blame for stifling the recovery, and suggests, well, that the opposite may be true. I hope every reporter and editor covering this campaign looks at this chart.

* The GOP strategy is a “gigantic con game”: Krugman’s column today amplifies the case made in that chart:

the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed.

The point, as always, is that in some key ways Republicans are already getting their way on the economy. And yet, as I said on Friday, the fact that Republicans wouldn’t even allow the Senate to debate multiple Obama job creation ideas that the public supported isn’t even part of the conversation about what’s to blame for our current woes.

* Yet another Romney talking point crashes and burns: Speaking of the relationship between government spending and the economy, Glenn Kessler buries yet another talking point: The Romney claim that cutting 145,000 government jobs is a good way to put people back to work.

* Top Romney surrogate concedes Obama’s policies have helped: As Steve Benen notes, this quote from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell should be big news: McDonnell conceded that Obama’s stimulus helped “in the short run” and that his policies have “had an impact.” This, from a leading target of veep speculation, and in a swing state that could prove pivotal.

* What to watch this week: The Senate is expected to hold a vote this week on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is shaping up as the next battle in the war over women. Romney still has not taken a position on this legislation, even though one of his core messages is that women won’t pay attention to the two candidates’ stances on social issues and should vote Obama out because of how they’ve fared economically under the president’s policies.

* Massachusetts Senate race scoop of the day: A great one from the Boston Globe: E-mails from Scott Brown’s office show that he advocated for a loose interpretation of the Wall Street reform law, so that “banks could more easily engage in high-risk investments.”

Brown touts his support for Dodd-Frank as a rebuttal to Elizabeth Warren’s argument that she would better protect consumers from Wall Street recklessness. But this revelation could potentially undercut Brown’s claims — particularly in light of the J.P. Morgan debacle.

* What Scott Brown is up against: Steve Kornacki boils it down: Brown needs to win in a state that Obama may carry by as much as 25 points. The key is that Brown won in a 2010 special election that had far lower turnout than Massachusetts will show in this presidential year — and that many of the hundreds of thousands of new voters are likely to be Obama supporters.

* And is “Indiangate” a flop? Taegan Goddard notes that Warren remains in a dead heat with Brown in two new polls, after a month of attacks over the controversy about Warren’s heritage.

What else?

By  |  08:48 AM ET, 06/04/2012

 
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