"The Sunday Political Brunch" -- August 26, 2012

RNC Tampa.jpg

(Tampa, Florida) – We are on the road this week for the Republican National Convention in Florida. Hurricane Isaac is an “uninvited” delegate, and severe weather could be a factor. It has already delayed the official start of the convention until Tuesday. But politics is always full of stormy waters, so this should be an interesting week.

“Florida, Schmorida!” – The conventional wisdom has always been that Republicans must win Florida to win the election. Not so! If Mitt Romney wins eight of the final nine “toss-up” states, but loses Florida, he will win the election (assuming both candidates win all the states where they currently lead comfortably). The Electoral College vote count would be Romney 272, Obama 266. So Florida is not the deal breaker. On the other hand, for Romney to win all the other battleground states of Nevada, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire, would be a pretty tall order.

“Akin Achin’” -- This is the kind of mess that drives politicos nuts. You may be the presidential nominee; you may be the potential Senate Majority Leader; but you can’t force out of the race a guy from Missouri who put his foot in his mouth. Two weeks ago one poll had Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) up by 11 points in his bid to unseat Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in one of the nation’s most vulnerable Senate seats. Based on the latest polls, a Republican win there would make the Senate 50-50; and if Romney wins, Paul Ryan would be President of the Senate, able to break any tie votes, putting the GOP in the majority. But, one guy in Missouri - who spoke before he thought - may derail the whole thing. Wow!

“Jerry Springer, Political Analyst?” – The people at CNN wonder why their once honored network has fallen to the bottom of the news ratings. Here’s one reason: This week Piers Morgan had shock-TV host Jerry Springer on to do political analysis concerning the horrendous rape comments made by U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). Springer knows politics, having once served as Mayor of Cincinnati. He also knows scandal, having resigned his seat on the City Council after getting caught with a prostitute. But having him on the air to seriously discuss a crucial U.S. Senate race and the presidential campaign was about as shallow as it gets. CNN is (was) better than this. Maybe Springer should just have had Todd Akin and the “legitimate rape” discussion on a more appropriate forum, say “The Jerry Springer Show!”

“On the Road Again” – There used to be a tradition that when one party had its convention, the other party stood silent that week. Not any more. With the conventions now back-to-back and in late August instead of mid-July, the whole landscape has changed. Vice president Biden will campaign in Florida this week, but not in Tampa due to tropical weather. President Obama will be in Virginia, Iowa and Colorado – all toss-up states. There is no more down time when its’ crunch time. Four year ago after a rousing acceptance speech, President Obama temporarily lost his momentum when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate the very next morning. No one on either side can play it safe; no one can rest on his laurels, lest momentum be stolen away again.

“Poll Dance” – The latest Real Clear Politics composite poll has it 46.8 percent for Obama to 45.5 percent for Romney. That’s just a 1.3 percent margin. It’s a tie! I think we’re in a very tight race right up until November 6. Minor party candidates are probably garnering about 3 percent of the vote right now, meaning about 5 percent of voters are still undecided. The onslaught of TV ads we will see for the next two months will be geared especially to those who’ve not made up their minds. I wonder what the cost per undecided vote will be. Someone will do an estimate, I’m sure; and it won’t be cheap!

“Mitt’s Problem; Barack’s Problem” – Both candidates have an Achilles heel right now. For Mitt Romney, it’s the battleground states. While all nine are close, he is ahead in only one - North Carolina. He has to do substantially better in the toss-up states, or he’ll lose. For President Obama, it’s his popularity. Right now, Mr. Obama is polling at about 47 percent for reelection. Coincidentally, his approval rating also hovers around 47 percent in most polls. That means that he may have hit his ceiling. If President Obama does not break 50 percent in the raw vote, he may not win the election. If the majority of the undecided trend to Romney – and they very well could – he’ll be the next President.

Stormy Weather” – Call me crazy, but wouldn’t it be something if Hurricane Isaac disrupted both conventions? A few times in my career I have seen hurricanes loop around in the Gulf of Mexico, cross over the Florida Peninsula, go back out in the Atlantic Ocean and regain their strength. It happened just a few years ago. Hurricanes are weird and unpredictable that way! So Democrats, who are chuckling at their soaked Republican counterparts in Florida this week, may want to pack raincoats and umbrellas, too. It’s that time of year!

I will be reporting from Tampa all week. Please post your thoughts and comments at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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