Buzzfeed staff writer McKay Coppins recently penned an article that aligns with something I’ve noticed reviewing my blog page stats: Mitt Romney is bad for traffic. On the other hand, it is well known that porn is good for traffic. After all, everybody knows the Internet is for porn. To test this theory further, I have decided to remove any subsequent reference in this post to Mitt Romney; instead, any place he would have normally appeared, I will simply use his first name, replacing the first letter with a T. We’ll see how this compares to other Romney articles. Hell, I may just stick with it.
In a recent appearance, President Obama claimed Titts would instantly repeal his decision not to deport illegal immigrants who came to this country as children. In fact, Titts said no such thing. He’s been actively avoiding making any statement at all on the subject– for good reason. Titts is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place: on the one side, he has swing voters, a critical mix of various demographics–including Hispanics–he needs to win over, if he is to have any chance in November. On the other side, his “base”, the rabid, tea party conservatives. They are both his strength and his weakness. They’re a strength insofar as they are never going to vote for Obama–they wouldn’t vote Obama if he was the only name on the ticket; hell, they wouldn’t vote for Obama if they had cancer and every doctor on the planet assured them it was the only cure. They’re a weakness because they are ideologically rigid, incapable of accepting compromise or capitulation on any of their dogmatic political positions–and could, conceivably, not vote at all. This puts any politician who’s relying on their support in necessary lockstep with their stance on anything. On a local stage, this could work. Any place where they hold a majority, cleaving to their positions is a safe bet. On the national stage, this is a recipe for disaster.
The tea party only makes up about 12% of voters, but are opposed by over 30%. A poll earlier this year suggested nearly half of the electorate thinks the tea party will hurt the Republicans in the 2012 general election. I think that’s not completely true; it’s not the tea party that will hurt the Republicans, it is the requisite adherence to their batshit crazy positions. It is clear that the Obama team realizes this, and their strategy will likely attempt to drive a wedge between Titts and his core constituency by exploiting their most unpopular positions and forcing him into a series of lose-lose scenarios. I’ll call this strategy “lift and separate”.
This was the point of Obama claiming Titts would repeal his immigration decision. Even though Titts has said no such thing, he left himself open to the charge by saying nothing at all. This was likely one reason Obama made the decision in the first place; while it has been widely assumed (and argued) that it was purely pandering to the Hispanic vote, in fact he was trying to force Titts into either a) endorsing his position and risking the wrath of the tea party, or b) taking a position unpopular with swing voters in general, and Hispanic swing voters in particular. To date, Titts hasn’t taken the bait and has avoided specifically taking any stance either way. Obama just made that strategy moot. By making the decision for him–and, of course, making it the position least popular with the most voters–Titts has no choice. Either he refutes Obama’s claim or he owns it by default. It’s a great strategy, and really illustrates the difference in the skill game between the two candidates. Clearly, Titts is out of his league.
Expect to see this strategy play out repeatedly over the next few months: Obama will stake out a position popular with swing voters but unpopular among hardcore conservatives. Titts will flop around, trying to avoid taking a position until Obama ties him down to one. Obama knows he isn’t going to win any tea party votes this November, but he also knows that they aren’t completely comfortable with Titts, either. If he can fuel their mistrust, he may be able to keep enough of them home on election day to reduce support for Titts on election day.