The Reality Check Election

JEZ COULSON captainamericaromney

Yesterday, I tried not to think about the election for a day. The off-grid-because-no-grid experience helped me see there was little use at this point in obsessing about the tiniest of details that will be washed away by whatever reality flushes out on Tuesday or thereafter.

But that flush will be instructive. The narrative in the GOP blogosphere is of imminent triumph, even landslide. All the independents are surging toward Romney, the swing states are trending Romney, and the total failure of Obama's four years is so obvious you have to be a liar to believe that deficits have slightly declined on his watch, despite a collapse in revenues caused by the Great Recession. And so state after state is falling to Romney even as I type. Hinderaker – who still believes that George W Bush was a great president – sees one outlier poll in Pennsylvania as something that will be "sending chills down David Axelrod’s spine". It's one poll – and the only one that doesn't give Obama a clear edge. The poll of polls puts Pennsylvania as 50 percent Obama, 45 percent Romney, and it's been very stable. Minnesota? That's also got Hinderaker atwitter: he thinks both Minnesota and Pennsylvania could both "very possibly end up in the red column." All the polling suggests otherwise – but I guess they're all rigged.

Then there's Michael Barone's rather amazing forecast. Michael knows every inch of every district in a way few others do; he's deeply knowledgeable about the electoral process, and, his latest column predicts a Romney landslide:

Bottom line: Romney 315, Obama 223.

He gives Ohio to Romney on the following grounds:

Many polls anticipate a more Democratic electorate than in 2008. Early voting tells another story, and so does the registration decline in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County. In 2004, intensity among rural, small -town and evangelical voters, undetected by political reporters who don't mix in such circles, produced a narrow Bush victory. I see that happening again. Romney.

Does Michael remember a cynically placed gay marriage amendment in Ohio in 2004 that brought out the fundamentalists in droves? He also gives Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa to Romney – which must mean a sudden enormous change in the polling is happening as we speak. 'Tis possible. I deeply respect Michael's expertise and integrity (unlike the rabid propagandist Hinderaker), so this is really a fascinating test case. I suspect it will be very tight nationally, and I try not to give predictions. But if Romney gets a landslide in the electoral college, many of us will have to reassess our entire understanding of America, politics and polls. And if Obama wins, Michael will presumably acknowledge where and how he was so, so wrong. There might even be a crack in the cognitive dissonance and epistemic closure across the right. I mean: the central issue in this campaign is Benghazi, remember?

The great thing about reality is that eventually you hit it. We are about to.

(Photo: Captain America comes to Romney's rescue on Halloween. By Jez Coulson, whose full portfolio of Americana can be found here.)