I hate to admit it, but I’m finding it more and more difficult, each day to pay close attention to the seemingly never-ending presidential campaign.
In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, constant mobile Internet access and all-intrusive social media alerts, we all have the “opportunity” to hear every new campaign-related story hundreds of times before the media moves on to the next issue and, quite frankly, I think I pretty much get it, now.
Stop me if I’m wrong: There are basically two candidates. One, the incumbent, is the first non-white Black president of the United States, who wants Black support at the same level he received in 2008, but who constantly reminded Afrcan-Americans over the past four years that they shouldn’t confuse him with being the “President of Black America.”
In the “other corner,” as I recall, is a very wealthy guy — not $11.8 million wealthy like Obama, but an estimated $250 million worth of wealthy — who happens to be a member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (The Mormons), and a former governor of Massachusetts.
There wasn’t really a Democratic Primary and the embarrassing, negative Republican Primary mercifully ended a few months ago, giving us candidate Romney, it is presumed, even though the official Republican Presidential Convention hasn’t even been held yet.
Black voters, it seems, are still overwhelmingly committed to the incumbent, Mr. Obama, even thought they haven’t really been able to count very much of what their community actually has gained since giving him 96 percent of their vote; even though their vote equated to 13 percent of all votes cast in November of 2008, in an election he won by 7.3 percentage points.
Here’s something else I understand from all of the repeated coverage, day after day: According to a June 12 Gallup report, Obama's support among non-Hispanic whites has declined from 44 percent in November, 2008, to 38 percent today. His support among Blacks, while still exceptionally strong, is down from 96 percent, on November 4, 2008, to 87 percent today.
Obama's support among whites, in fact, according to Gallup, is down in every age category: Down from 52 to 43 percent, among 18-to-29 year-old whites; down from 43 to 38 percent among 30-to-49-year-old whites; down from 44 to 38 percent, among 50 to 64 year-old whites; and down from 40 to 34 percent among whites 65-years-old and older.
Obama’s support is also down among low-income whites, across the board.
Romney’s issues are also very clear and equally challenging. In a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Romney’s unfavorable ratings were as high as 39 percent. His favorable rating was a remarkably poor 33 percent, which is one percentage point worse than George W. Bush’s 34 percent, when he left office as the most unpopular president in U.S. history.
Not surprisingly, Romney has been called the single most unpopular presidential nominee in modern history. You don’t hear that much from mainstream media, who, benefit from a competitive campaign, but it happens to be a fact, nevertheless.
Even worse for Mr. Romney, if that’s even possible, is the fact that one out of three voters say they want to know more about his taxes, which he, thus far has refused to divulge.
One of the very few bright lights for the sometimes-very awkward, certainly uncharismatic, Romney, is the fact that 63 percent of Americans trust him more than they trust Barack Obama to handle the U.S. economy. I guess that’s because Bain Capital, the asset management company he co-founded, has grown, now, to manage $66 billion in investor assets, as compared to Mr. Obama, who has absolutely no private sector management or ownership experience.
So, as I’ve said, I've seen all of these facts, now, far too many times to count, and the new polling data seems to come out from different sources each day, but that only seems to shift back and forth in the range of 3 to 6 percent in favor of one or the other candidate.
Each day, it seems, either Romney has pulled slightly ahead of Obama, in an obscure Republican-leaning poll or Obama has pulled ahead of Romney in the latest Democratic-leaning poll.
It’s wearing me out.
I’m trying to remain engaged; I’m fighting like crazy to appear interested; but, each day, as I watch the news, I’m feeling that I’ve seen the story before, and I'm wondering how I can possibly hold on for another three, whole months.
Don’t blame me. There’s growing evidence that I’m not alone in feeling that way.
As far back as late June, a poll by Pew Research Center revealed that 67 percent of all voters said they expected to find the presidential campaign “exhausting.” Sixty-three percent told interviewers that they anticipated the race would annoy them, and 56 percent said they find the campaign too dull and too long. This was said by both Democrats and Republicans.
I know exactly how they feel.
With the race having started almost two years ago with 24/7 scrutiny by both traditional and new media, the two opposing camps are starting to get hard up for intelligent or interesting things to say about the voters, about their own vision, or about each other.
And remember, the Republican National Convention won’t take place until August 27 in Tampa Florida. Even worse, the Democratic Convention, in Charlotte, North Carolina, isn’t even scheduled to start until September 3.
Can we all hold out that long? Will more and more of us be beaten down eventually by the new levels of desperation that are being employed by both campaigns? Can we endure growing recognition that even the campaigns, themselves, seem burned out?
What else, other than campaign fatigue, can explain the lazy, transparent, racial innuendo inherent in a quote from a Romney spokesperson, in London, last week, who said: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage. And he(Romney), feels the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
What? Romney is Anglo-Saxon, along with all the British people, and the Black guy isn’t? Is that what the British were supposed to recognize, all of a sudden?
The Romney campaign staff must really be getting worn out when it has to resort to that kind of blatant, amateurist, race-baiting at the international level. Romney, himself, denying it shortly thereafter wasn’t enough. It’s out there and will be long remembered, unfortunately for Team Romney.
At the same time, Team Obama hasn’t performed much better, lately; hasn’t risen above blatant negativity in its own increasingly negative attacks on Romney and his private- and public-sector records.
There is growing evidence that voters are reacting against the negativity of the Obama ads as much as they are against Romney, their target. I guess that’s what happens when Bloomberg News informs us that in the seven-day period ended July 23, the two campaigns ran 48,448 campaign ads — the overwhelming majority of which were negative.
And how do voters feel about all of this nonsense? Well, two-thirds of them recently said to Pew Research that they already have what they need to know about each candidate to vote, and only 10 percent of likely voters said they haven’t made up their minds.
With that being the case, isn’t there a way that we can cut this madness shot? Do the other 90 percent of us still have to be exposed to all of this all of the time? Are the two campaigns absolutely obligated, now, to spend all of the billions in campaign funds they have raised?
Maybe there’s a way to have the election actually take place in September. It would save us all a lot of "annoyance."
A. Bruce Crawley is president and principal owner of Millennium 3 Management Inc.