By Matthew Vadum
What a difference a week makes.
Before Republican candidate Mitt Romney gave President Obama a historic shellacking in the first presidential debate of the season last Wednesday, some prominent GOP operatives were reportedly close to striking the colors in the battle against Obama.
It was just a few days ago more than a few GOP-leaning pundits were claiming Republican power brokers were on the verge of abandoning Romney in order to salvage the party’s effort to capture the Senate.
But now even Obama idolator Andrew Sullivan, who previously called the president “the Democrats’ Reagan,” and wrote an article titled “Why Are Obama’s Critics So Dumb?” has fallen into a deep pit of despair.
Romney “is kicking the president’s ass,” Sullivan wrote earlier this week. New polls show that “[o]n every single issue, Obama has instantly plummeted into near-oblivion.”
Sullivan wrote that he had “never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in (sic) the way Obama did last week.” The president, he opined, has been “too arrogant to take a core campaign responsibility seriously. Too arrogant to give his supporters what they deserve.”
Sullivan is hardly alone in his bitter disillusionment.
Other signs portend electoral disaster for Barack Hussein Obama, who, incredibly, reportedly left the debate stage believing he had cleaned Romney’s clock.
For the first time, Romney has taken the lead in the much-watched Real Clear Politics poll average, scoring 48.0 percent to Obama’s 47.3 percent at press time Tuesday night.
According to Scott Rasmussen, the most accurate pollster in the 2008 race, as of yesterday Romney was ahead of Obama by 49 percent to 47 percent in the critically important 11 swing states won by President Obama four years ago and considered to be competitive in the 2012 contest.
Representing 146 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory, those states are Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), and Wisconsin (10).
Not surprisingly, Romney also appears to be leading in states that in recent decades have backed Republican presidential candidates. Those states, worth 172 electoral votes, are: Alaska (3), Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), and Wyoming (3).
If Romney wins the 11 swing states identified by Rasmussen and the traditionally Republican states, this brings the former Massachusetts governor’s Electoral College total to 318 votes and he will be sworn in as the 45th president of these United States on January 20.
Of course a lot could happen between today and Election Day but it’s safe to say that with the debate last week Obama’s media-created aura of invincibility evaporated.
The voters’ overwhelming belief that the country is on the wrong track, coupled with the president’s mediocre approval ratings, have long suggested that the American electorate has been open to the possibility of new national leadership.
But it took a televised 90-minute debate to sell voters on Romney — assuming that is indeed what is underway in the nation.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign keeps “losing” the news cycle.
Every day brings new revelations of official incompetence in connection with last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. There is credible evidence that the Obama campaign has been illegally accepting contributions from abroad. (Only donations from U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are allowed.) Reports indicate that the Obama campaign is engaged in an eleventh hour campaign management shakeup.
Across America there is anecdotal evidence that Obama supporters believe their candidate is losing as Romney-Ryan bumper stickers and yard signs are defaced. The bettors at the Intrade predictions website put Romney’s likelihood of unseating Obama at 38 percent last night, dramatically up from 21 percent before the debate.
The bad news for Obama goes on and on and on.
All the president’s campaign can do is strike out at straw men and fictional characters, hoping to distract the public from Obama’s failed policies.
In August we heard endlessly about the Republicans’ “war on women” and how expensive birth control supposedly was. In September we heard endlessly about the Romney “47 percent” video, which, even though it showed the candidate matter-of-factly discussing strategy, was twisted into supposed proof that the Republican candidate was an unfeeling monster.
Now in October, it’s Big Bird. Over and over and over again.
In the debate Romney slammed useless government spending on public broadcasting. He said “I love Big Bird,” referring to the large yellow bird character from TV’s “Sesame Street” show, adding that taxpayers shouldn’t be borrowing money from China to pay for its on-screen exploits.
As Obama himself mockingly raised the Big Bird comment in speeches, his campaign started running a bizarre, politically tone-deaf TV ad, that suggested Romney’s priorities were out of wack.
In what could have passed for an ad parody on “Saturday Night Live,” the ad showed images of über-embezzler Bernie Madoff and corporate crooks.
Then in a jab at Romney a narrator says ominously, “And the evil genius who towered over them?” as Big Bird appears.
“You have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday. “I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs.”
If the latest polls are to be believed, the American people are beginning to agree.