In politics, when you’re explaining you’re losing, and when you’re explaining missed expectations, you’re really losing. Going by what occurred Saturday at Ohio State University, President Obama’s re-election campaign kickoff was a double barreled loss.
The president’s campaign went into its official May 5 kickoff — Marx’s birthday — promising “overflow crowds.” But as we’ve all seen by now in the photo tweeted all around the political world, no overflow was necessary. It looked more like an undertow, with less than half the arena filled. The campaign’s parallel event at Virginia Commonwealth University didn’t do any better.
Let’s be candid: That is a pitiful crowd, compared to what the president’s campaign said they expected. If that event was the kickoff of a big rock group tour, the promoters would be huddling today to figure out which dates they would consolidate, and which would just be shed altogether. They would be looking to move some dates from arenas to smaller, what they would call “more intimate” venues, and they would consider ramping up the advertising to juice ticket sales.
Even the New York Times noticed that the president’s 2012 kickoff lacked the pop of 2008:
[T]he rallies had the feeling of a concert by an aging rock star: a few supporters were wearing faded “Hope” and Obama 2008 T-shirts, and cheers went up when the president told people to tell their friends that this campaign was “still about hope” and “still about change.”
Compared to the massive 2008 event when the Decemberists — a Marxist rock band — helped the then candidate bring out more than 75,000, one word sums up the Times’ take on Saturday: Ouch.
Maybe the aging rock star needs to get his warm-up act back on the road with him to save the tour.