So, what is Mitt thinking, grabbing another blandly offensive white guy as his running mate?
I’ve seen a few theories bandied about: Mitt wanted someone even less thrilling than he is, so as not to be a distraction. Mitt wants to win Wisconsin. Mitt genuinely believes in Ryan’s let-old-folks-die budget plans.
Truthfully? I think it’s this: Mitt already knows he’s lost among 80% of the people who are not straight, white, male and Christian. He already knows that 80% of the working-class white folks voting for him are doing so because they’re Obama- and immigrant-hating racists, hardcore social conservatives and/or isolated from reality enough to think the Cold War is still on, and America’s greatest threat is communists.
Any choice, therefore, of someone who doesn’t further Mitt’s idea that only people like him ought to have economic and political power would have actually screwed his base. He’s literally doubling-down on the white-guy thing to shore up the people who were already planning to vote for him. But as a political strategy, that seems off, for one reason: demographics.
The folks who fit Mitt’s Chosen People demographic are actually a minority. Cutting out women, people of color, non-Christians and queer folk automatically drops his base down to maybe 30% of the population. Yes, there are a lot of white women out there whose racism or hatred of the poor, queer folk, etc. is so intense they ignore the threat to their and their daughters’ reproductive rights. He’ll definitely get votes from some of the suburban religious housewives who already think birth control is for sluts. And of course, there’s always the self-hating gay and PoC contingent–mostly rich ones who think their money will protect them. But even so, those crossovers just aren’t enough. Besides: there are a lot of straight, white Christian guys who DON’T like the fact that Mitt thinks they should be the only ones in power. Even rich ones. Ooo. So theoretically, even being generous, the chances of Mitt being supported by more than 40-45% of the population are incredibly low unless he does more outreach to the middle.
But, as we all should know by now, population data is meaningless. One, because only 2/3 (tops) of eligible voters bother to get off their backsides and do it. And two, because the popular vote doesn’t matter for presidential elections. Only electoral votes matter, which means concentrating effort in a few swing states he thinks he can nab. Wisconsin, definitely–though I’m not so sure that’ll pay off–but there’s also something else the GOP machine has been up to: voter suppression efforts in places like Ohio. The GOP knows Mitt can’t win fair and square without demographics in his favor, so they’re doing the best they can to alter the demographics of the voting population.
So, that’s why Mitt’s not bothering to appeal to the middle in any way. He believes he doesn’t need them, because he thinks he can win by merely disenfranchising enough would-be Obama voters in swing states that he can tilt the vote. If he can get out every single person in his base, plus hold back Obama voters in swing states, he can, actually pull this off.
So, what can Obama supporters do to dismantle this? Well, deploying ground troops to gut the voter-suppression efforts is a good start. Chipping away at Mitt’s women is probably also helpful (and Ryan is as good a gimme for that as can be expected–the dude wants to ban the pill! Yes, that method of birth control that even suburban, Christian housewives use!)
I also, though think it’s worth appealing to what smidgens of honor some folks in Mitt’s base might have left. Surely, there must be some ex-Boy Scouts, military, non-hardcore-Christians, etc., who think that it’s unpatriotic to deny eligible voters the right to have their say. Most folks already know Mitt plays dirty pool with economics, but if he’s shown to also be a dishonorable cheat who can’t win elections without screwing people out of their right to vote, I’m guessing even some of his fellow Mormons might change their minds about him (as it is, having Harry Reid and Jon Huntsman to hang their hats on might well be pulling less-conservative LDSers away from creeps like Mitt. Not that this’ll matter for Utah, but it might for some Mormon voters outside of that state.)
Mitt’s appeal with people on the fringes of his base comes largely from the idea that he’s a clever fellow who got rich and powerful from a combination of clean living and shrewd business deals. He sells his foul plans with an image of upstanding American manhood. Making it clear that he most definitely is not Captain America, and is instead a pathetic little man who has to lie and cheat to get where he wants to go will turn off a lot of people.
Given that a lot of GOPers are voting for him while holding their noses, just because they think Obama is that much worse, those folks aren’t necessarily as solid as Mitt might think. If they’re shown just what a tool he really is, given an alternative for where to put their vote–Libertarian Gary Johnson, for instance–they might well defect, hoping to get someone more palatable in four years.
Romney’s election strategy is bold. He’s stopped hiding his belief that women, minorities and the working class don’t deserve power. His choice of running mate is a huge reinforcement of this. And it’s also cynical, because it’s clear at this point that he doesn’t even care about paying lip service to the middle, and instead just wants to cheat his way into the White House. I can’t imagine that 50%-plus of the country really hates Obama that much that they’re willing to tolerate such nasty election tactics.