How Team Obama Views the Campaign (Or Spins It, At Any Rate)

Aug 23, 2012 2:44pm

Senior Obama campaign officials met with reporters today to talk about the state of the campaign. The spin presented was positive, not surprisingly — but some of their metrics and arguments are interesting, so here’s a blog for you to peruse! Hope you enjoy it.

The officials feel that this race will come down to the 5% of voters who are undecided and a 10% total (including the undecideds AND those who favor a candidate but are “persuadable”) in key battleground states, states in which polls suggest the president has an edge.

Official: “While the president’s standing with these undecided voters is not overwhelmingly positive, it’s much more positive than for Gov. Romney. So we’re going to get our share of those voters.”

Some of the points the team made:

GENERAL RACE = STABLE

Obama has maintained a consistently steady lead, with the pollster.com average as Obama’s 46.3 percent to Romney’s 45.2 percent. (Tapper note: if it’s that close with so many undecided, it’s not really a lead.)

The officials say internal campaign polling suggests that undecided voters have an increasingly negative view of Romney. “He’s one of the least popular nominees in modern American history,” one said.

Obama has an advantage with young voters; women voters (they cited many polls, but Politico/GWU has the gap +15); Latinos (+36); African-Americans (+89 – that’s not a typo); with an enthusiasm gap benefiting the president as well.

PAUL RYAN

Official: “Much as Mitt Romney is the least popular nominee in modern history, Paul Ryan is the least popular vice president nominee in recent history. So in that sense they’re a strong ticket.”

To back this up they had polling of favorability/unfavorability indicating Ryan is 38 percent favorable/33 unfavorable (ABC News/Washington Post) while the average for VP picks from 2000 through 2008 (Lieberman, Cheney, Edwards, Palin, Biden) is 47/22.

Officials noted that in the NBC/WSJ poll more voters were less likely to vote for Romney (23%) because of the Ryan pick than were more likely (22%). For Sarah Palin, the numbers were 34% more likely to vote for McCain, 25 percent less likely.

“Ryan failed the Palin test here,” an official said. “and he is a point underwater.”

That said they allowed that the ticket “may get a boost with some base constituencies” because of Ryan.

On women’s health issues “Paul Ryan is Todd Akin’s ideological twin.”

TODD AKIN AND THE GOP CONVENTION

“We have no reason to believe Gov. Romney won’t receive a bump from his convention,” an official said, noting that the average bounce for a challenger is 7 points. “Presumably he’ll get some benefit from that.” But since the president will be campaigning next week (including VP Biden in Tampa) “we have an almost instant ability to interdict whatever movement there is with our own and spontaneous rebuttal to whatever is done there.”

The campaign predicts any bounces will be short-lived. “[There may be] some bumps around the conventions but I think it will settle back into the basic structure here.”

On attempts to “repackage” Romney at the Republican National Convention, an official sneered at the “skilled group of people from Hollywood and Madison Avenue to repackage him,” referring to it as a “triage unit..I think it’s a doubtful proposition that the new dog food will sell any better than the old dog food.”

“Hurricane Todd has already borne down on Tampa and the damage has been done. And I don’t think whether he stays on or not is that material.. .it’s highlighted what is a completely out of step, out of touch Republican Party.”

On how they think the Romney Campaign views the election: “They have decided they have no chance of expanding the electorate,” an official said, noting that where Romney and Ryan go and where they advertise seems entirely aimed at driving up base turn-out, not reaching new voters, as does the role in helping to write the party platform given to prominent anti-illegal immigration activist Kris Kobach and the speaking role at the convention given to controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “I may pay to live-stream that,” an official said of the Arpaio speech. “That’s going to be a great moment for the Obama campaign.”

THE WELFARE REFORM AD

The “discredited” attack on the president regarding welfare reform has run 5,989 times, compared to the Priorities USA Action ad about Romney playing a role in a woman’s death, which has run twice. (Kantar Media/CMAG)

Official: “I think they’ve lost ground with working class white voters and this is kind of a traditional Republican appeal to drive a wedge between us and those voters. I think that’s fairly clear.”

Quoting a Romney appearance before an editorial board in which he rejected fact checkers’ assertion that the welfare ad is false – Romney suggested the fact checkers are ideologically biased and assessed the ad “in the way they think is most consistent with their own views” — an official said, Romney’s “view is that if you put enough money behind a lie you can persuade people to believe. You’re seeing similar tactic around the Medicare issue. So we’ll be vigilant about beating that back and beating those down.”

The Obama team also maintained that polling indicates the “You didn’t build that” attack had no impact on key economic metrics in polling (“has ideas for how to improve the economy,” for instance) and that voters still favor Obama on “trust more on Social Security and Medicare.”

AD SPENDING: GOP LEADING

The GOP is outspending Obama on Ads: A chart on ad spending noted that while Obama ($173.3 million) is outspending Romney ($77.9 million), GOP groups ($200.1 million) are outspending Democratic groups ($44.7 million) by an even wider margin, so it ends up being GOPers’ $278 million to Democratic paid media $218 million.

WISCONSIN: WAIT AND SEE

Aides shrugged off narrowing of the race: “Democrats have carried Wisconsin for five consecutive elections…. Let’s get a few weeks down past the Ryan pick to see where Wisconsin is in this whole thing.”

-Jake Tapper and Devin Dwyer

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