Today is July 4th, when Americans commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. As families across the nation gather for good company, food and fireworks, some of them will also see the latest political ads on TV. Here’s what President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has cooked up for you.
Both are highly patriotic, as expected. You’ve got flags slo-mo blowing in the wind. You’ve got lofty ideals as expressed by the candidates, values that everyone can agree on. You’ve got Regular Hard-Working Folks of Varying Color, Gender and Age in almost every frame of the ads, all of them carefully selected by the agencies that produced the ads. You’ve got stirring music. You’ve got smiles and veterans and leadership and barbecue and America. And obviously this is the right way to approach July 4th; on this day, no one wants to see candidates barking at each other. If this were a late-night talk show, you wouldn’t want Letterman. You want Leno.
But tomorrow is July 5th. And here’s how the race stands right now. According to Real Clear Politics, Rasmussen has Romney ahead by 3 percentage points… but most polls have Obama leading, which means that the RCP average shows Obama with a 2.6 percentage point lead. Very close, obviously, and it doesn’t say much. However, Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has worked out a presidential election model that has encouraging news for the President; among other things, Obama has the same approval rating that George W. Bush had in July 2004. There are still many ways that loads of shit can hit a fan somewhere (all of them concerning economics), but the fact of the matter is that Romney is not catching on with voters, regardless of how breathlessly angry Republican pols and rightwing pundits are with the Supreme Court’s health care decision.
No matter how beautifully produced that TV ad is, Mitt Romney still looks like John Kerry in 2004. Nothing he has done has changed that perception.