Tuesday, July 17, 2012


I usually like Harry Enten's work, but I don't get this argument:
Mitt Romney currently trails in the polling average by about 2 percentage points. If Romney got even half of what Kerry received or about the median vice-presidential declaration effect, then he would move into the lead in the polls. It would mark the first time all year that Romney will have lead in a majority of polls. Romney would almost certainly garner good press and perhaps some extra fundraising. It would also stop the Romneys' financials news cycle. 
Well, yes, Romney would likely get a bounce. After which...the bounce would go away; that's the nature of bounces. Yes, he would get good press for a few days, but then Barack Obama's campaign would start pressing him again on taxes and Bain and all, and if he continued to handle it poorly, he'd be right back where he started. If he's able to handle it well, then he should just do that now.

Sure, as Enten says, the VP bounce is also likely to produce new fundraising success. But again: so what? That bounce will happen whenever it happens, and produce whatever fundraising it will produce. There's no reason to think that the Romney campaign has a cash flow problem, so shifting a little fundraising from August to July isn't likely to matter at all.

My own sense of this is that the later, the better. Why? Because the longer Romney waits, the more relevant information will be produced. That's true even if Romney has already reached a (tentative) decision; better to leak it out in order to learn from the reaction. If they really care for whatever reason about keeping the pick a surprise (and why?), they can always leak out two or three other names between now and the final unveiling.

I still can't really see any significant advantage in doing it now.


  1. Hey my blogspot account still works!

    I think you're misreading what I say or I misstated it.

    I don't say he should use it now. Rather, I'm saying he should use it now if there is evidence that the polling data is bad for him. In fact, it's noted in the subtitle "An early announcement could interrupt his bad news cycle, but he may want to save the news he can control for the convention". Later, I write "I believe that a vice-presidential announcement could help Romney in the short-term." Followed by "The issue with naming a vice-president early is pretty simple. John Kerry received less of a convention bounce when he named his vice-president early. Romney has only a certain amount of positive news that he can control. If he chooses to use it now, it just means he will have less of it to use later. Still, if the cycle is so bad for Romney it probably is a good bet to utilize his vice-presidential pick now."

    The argument at least I was trying to frame it is if you want to try and kick the ball down the road, then naming the veep now is a good idea. If however, you see no reason to kick the ball down the road (i.e. the polling data isn't bad and you feel like you don't need extra time to make a decision on the tax returns, bain, etc.), then it probably isn't a good idea to announce now.

    My recent piece, which should be published shortly, makes the point that the polls aren't looking bad for Mitt. Ergo, according to the argument as I wish to have framed it, there is no need to announce now.

    1. My apologies if I misread you.

      But I just don't really see any advantage, at least not a predictable one, in when you roll it out, at least as far as the news cycles are concerned. For all we know, roll out the VP now and it gets buried a bit under the Bain/taxes stuff, instead of the other way around. Or, more likely, it displaces it for a couple of days, but it comes back. I don't see any net advantage.

      Put it another way: my best guess is that any polling dip from a bad campaign week will itself be transitory, so there's no real advantage in snuffing it out quickly. If it's a long-term threat, then a distraction isn't going to change anything anyway.

    2. No, no. That's exactly the type of response I wanted to elicit. If as you believe, any polling dip is transitory, then he shouldn't roll out.

      I guess my point is that if the Romney team feels for whatever reason that they can respond to Bain et al. better in a 3 weeks, then a veep roll out is better now. That was all. Clearly, you don't see that scenario unfolding.

    3. or even worse, depending on what day they choose, if it comes after *another* really bad 2-3 days on taxes and bain or something else (Olympics Crony Capitalism, anyone?), an immediate negative media consensus could form around the early VP rollout, with everyone saying and believing (rightly) that they're just using it to escape their own weak performance.

      And especially given the less than thrilling qualities of the apparent 3-man shortlist, I'd say it's best to take JB's advice, roll him out the week after the Olympics, which gives you a 2-week window to reset going into Tampa. That's entirely in accord with the competent, cautious image Romney wants desperately to be true.

      Alternatively, the July jobs numbers come out Aug. 3 (with Obama's bday the next day). If it's another bad report, the Romney team could choose the next Monday or Tues to roll out Portman (oh sorry, did I give something away?), to leverage and pile on the bad press for Obama.

  2. And here's that piece http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/17/obama-bain-attacks-romney-in-vain


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