Along with enough people to fill the Grand Hyatt Ballroom to black-hole-of-Calcutta density, I heard Mitt Romney do his campaign thing in New York this morning. There were three classes of people: the VIP donors, the proletarians like me, and the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators chanting outside. To squeeze into a smaller room so packed that you couldn't get to the coffee, the VIPs paid $2,500 apiece; the proles paid a measly $500 to stand sardine-fashion in the ballroom to hear Romney speak. I'm told that the OWS types outside had to kick in $50 each to the campaign to demonstrate against him, but that might be an exaggeration.
First, Romney didn't look nearly as plasticized in person as in the TV debates. In front of a sympathetic crowd, and without notes, he sounded a lot more genuine, enthusiastic, and Reaganesque than the carefully-coiffed figure we hear on the tube. Second, he addressed the tough issue up front: Obama, he said, would beat on him for being wealthy. And in return, Romney would beat up Obama for his lousy economic track record. There's no hint of defensiveness on the class war issues, and that's a good thing. All in all, I was reassured about the man's electability after seeing him in person.
Afterwards I went to hear a famous political consultant speak at a think-tank meeting. Famous Consultant was asked whether Romney might suffer from a low turnout among evangelicals. No way, FC replied: the evangelicals may think that Romney's Mormon faith is a cult, but they hate Obama so much that they will come out to vote for him. Obama won, FC continued, by eliciting a huge turnout from three groups: 1) Blacks, 2) Latinos, and 3) younger voters. No more: Obama's approval ratings among Latinos and the young are down to 44%, about the same as his rating in the general population. African-Americans know better than anyone else how badly the economy has done on Obama's watch. They will still vote for him, but they won't turn out with the same energy.
That's encouraging, for a change. I'm not endorsing Romney, first of all, because analysts should stand above the fray, and secondly because I am equally happy with Romney, Perry, Cain, Gingrich and Santorum. Whoever can beat Obama has my blessing.
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