We can't afford complacency
Watching the Republican primary clown show, the deranged forced- ultrasound laws and other anti-women legislation and gaffes, polls showing massive public support for Medicare, Social Security, and higher taxes on the rich, etc., it's easy to assume that we're looking at a landslide win in November. Unfortunately there's not much evidence of that at the moment. Consider:
Most polls have been showing Obama with only a narrow lead over Romney, occasionally even trailing Romney.
The latest poll shows the recall effort against Walker losing, though by a very narrow margin.
Until last week, Warren was trailing Brown in Massachusetts.
A lot more Democratic Senators than Republican ones are facing re-election this year.
Yes, a third candidate might split the right-wing vote, but the same danger exists on our side.
Republican rhetoric about socialism, "liberty", greedy unions, the rich as "job creators", etc. has a lot of resonance among the paranoids and LIVs isolated from reality in the Fox/Drudge bubble.
And there's still a small but significant number of idiots bleating that "there's no difference between the parties", as if Republicans would have put Kagan and Sotomayor on the Supreme Court, passed the ACA (imperfect as it is), removed DADT, etc., etc., etc. Anybody who still believes such nonsense is probably beyond persuasion; there's no one more naïve than a cynic.
It's hard to know why exactly the Republicans aren't doing worse in the polls, considering how unpopular most of their positions are. True, with the election so far away, many voters aren't paying much attention yet. A bigger factor, though, is that not many people actually decide whom to vote for on the basis of those issues. The huge unpopularity of the forced-ultrasound laws, for example, will have little impact on the election unless large numbers of people who would otherwise have voted Republican switch to voting Democratic because of them, and I've seen little hard evidence of that (most of the people who are really outraged would have voted Democratic anyway, so the outrage didn't change their votes).
In the current economic situation, the biggest vote-swayer is going to be jobs. The fact that most people still blame the recession on Bush rather than on Obama isn't as big a positive as we might think. They're much more interested in who can bring the jobs back than on who is to blame for the problem. If anything, the Republicans have probably been most hurt by the fact that they just talk too much about other issues (the deficit, birth control, etc.) instead of about jobs -- but Democrats have also failed to focus on jobs to anything like the extent that they need to.
Bill Maher is right -- Obama could lose. And this is not just about Obama. Congress is equally important. Personally I think our side will, in fact, win by a big margin -- but I'm far from certain of it, and those who want to claim the contrary can point to plenty of evidence backing up their position.
The point is, we can't afford complacency. Everyone needs to do as much as they can and donate as much as they can. No matter what we believe will happen, we must fight every fight as if defeat were a real possibility and as if everything depended on winning (and there is a great deal at stake). If you know someone who thinks we've got this in the bag and plans to waste his vote on this year's Nader, give him a good talking-to. There'll be time to relax after we win.
[Image at top from Politics Plus]