Forecast: Nasty Out
(Click on image to enlarge, and then return.)
Yes, I know there's a primary today, but really, the GOP nomination looks to belong to Mitt Romney. He's already campaigning against Obama and being coy about who his running mate is going to be. Obama, who owns the Democratic nomination at this point, is campaigning against Romney. Unless something really untoward happens between now and August, we have our candidates.
So, now what?
Well, David Horsey has a prediction, one that (sadly) I suspect is going to come true.
The neck-and-neck race between President Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, will be the most expensive campaign in American history. It will be a battle between two robust political organizations. And it is a good bet things are going to get really nasty.
Why, yes, yes it probably will. And there are several reasons for that.
First, as Horsey points out, neither candidate thrills the base of his party. Romney is seen as a flip-flopper who will say anything to get a vote. Obama broke just about every promise he made the last time around, and yet he keeps promising things we liberals know he has no intention of delivering. That means each candidate will be going after that mythical beast known as the "middle."
With excitement about both candidates dampened, the election will be more of a tactical endeavor. Victory will be won in a dozen swing states among the 10% to 15% of the electorate who are not already solidly on one side or the other. Those few voters will be targeted, researched, analyzed and manipulated by two highly sophisticated campaign operations.
But more importantly, there's a new element in the calculus: unlimited campaign funding because of Citizens United:
With stakes this high, money so available, organizations so nimble and polling so evenly split, it is impossible to imagine either side holding back from using every weapon in their arsenals. The heaviest guns are attack ads. Expect them to become more vicious and more distorted with each passing day.
By the end of October, if you are not sickened by the tone of the election, it will mean either that you do not own a television or you are a political consultant for one side or the other who is making a ton of money trying to mix cheap shots and big fibs into a winning formula, however poisonous it may be to American political life.
Unfortunately, attack ads work. In the past, they weren't hauled out until absolutely necessary because advertising on television is so expensive. Well, that doesn't matter any more. There's no limit to what a candidate can raise (once they formally eschew public financing, which both candidates have done), and there's plenty of money available to both sides as recent required reporting has confirmed. Millions and millions of dollars worth. For those without jobs or without jobs that pay a living wage, that's unbelievable. Sadly, that is the case.
So, we can expect an ugly campaign to get uglier.
Me, I'm seriously considering selling my popcorn futures for antacids. By the truckload.