The Fix Live

Sep 28, 2012

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest in political news.

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Sorry for being late. But I am here now. Let's chat!

Hi Mr. Fix, Any thoughts that President Obama might be peeking too soon? This election seems like a marathon (longer than Ryan's run even) and if one side relaxes too soon I think it can be passed at the finish line.

Good question.

I mean, the election is in only 40 days so I am not sure it's too soon. But I do think it is likely we will see some sort of Romney comeback narrative emerging in the next 7-10 days.

Chris, what is the status of Republican effort to trim voter rolls, require photo ID and other "reforms" aimed at reducing Democratic turnout? I'm especially interested in Florida, given its history and its importance in this race.

Here's a handy chart on which states have which laws:

I have to admit, I don't understand the Romney campaign. Now I can't tell whether he is for the Healthcare law or not. He says that he will repeal it day one, but shows his empathy in that he is proud that he provided universal care.

I think he has struggled in the last few weeks to find a steady message because his campaign knows they are behind and they are looking for something -- anything -- to change the narrative.

That back-against-the-wall-ness means that you have a tendency to put up a lot of different things in hopes that something sticks.

Are undecided voters really undecided or are they just people who probably won't vote?

Little of both.  And some aren't even really undecided. They know who they are voting for. They just don't want to say it publicly (or maybe even privately) yet.

At some point, doesn't Romney now need to specify exactly what he will do?

Not sure.

I don't think the path to Romney winning the election is to offer a ton of specifics about what he would do in office.

I think the far clearer path is to re-focus the campaign on President Obama and his handling of the economy.

Given the early voting and how few undecideds there are, will the debates make a difference?

They're probably the last, best chance to make a difference because the audience for them is so big -- as compared to what the candidates can draw at any other time between now and election day.

That said, there is some historical polling evidence that debates tend to change the dynamic of the presidential race much less often than they don't.

I'm writing a post about it later today.

While I agree that an analysis of previous elections would tend to indicate that the election should tighten before the vote, is it possible that Mitt Romney's gaffes are starting to turn this race into the one that featured the last Mass. governor as a nominee? The man simply seems uncomfortable in his own skin when addressing crowds--not unlike the Duke. That's a perception I've been hearing from my Republican friends, and they're not too happy right now.

Maybe. But remember that Dukakis was running in a world in which Reagan had just won two huge electoral vote victories in 1980 and 1984 and the country was, almost inarguably, a conserbative-tilting one. 

I think we are now in a time of deep (and narrow) division between the two parties that didn't exist then. And that reality makes a narrow result much more likely than a blowout.

If in the last few weeks of the campaign it looks like Obama has it all but locked up, will he do what Clinton did in 1996 -- basically campaign for downballot races?

He didn't really in 2008 when he was way ahead so I doubt he would do so now.

Hi Chris, I love your writing and am reluctant to criticize. However, it has been said many times that political pundits concentrate too much on the horse race part of an election.Your well written column of yesterday which had as the main point that Obama may not have as big a victory as the last election supports that belief. What was the point or importance of that article? If that happens does he get a smaller office or a smaller statute in the Hall of Presidents at Disneyworld? Who cares? If the Miami Heat win a second championship in a row, should someone write that the second championship took more games? Will history care? Thanks

Well, I think it's worthwhile to note that for all the talk of the Obama lead in swing states right now, historical trends suggest the race will likely tighten rather than widen.

That was the point of the article -- nothing more, nothing less.

And, for those who missed the piece in question:

Can we start a narrative that the Republicans would have been better off with Rick Perry as the nominee? I really miss him as a candidate.

There's three reasons that won't work: 1. He isn't a very good candidate 2. He isn't a very good debater and...well I forgot the third reason.

Rank from most likely to be in the Senate in 2013 to least likely to be there: Joe Donnelly, Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, Richard Carmona, Chris Murphy, and Jon Tester?

Chris Murphy






NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? If he can turn Paul Ryan and Scott Walker in favor of unionized workers over management, it has to make you wonder...

He makes for a really good nominee.  Unfortunately, we alreadt announced a "winner":

Chris, I realize that there are some folks out there speculating that Romney can change the game in this debate, but honestly, what can he say in that format that he hasn't being saying for months on the campaign trail and in his GOP debates? Does he have some pithy one liner or some salient fact that no one else has heard him utter? Seriously, unless the President literally falls off the stage or drips with so much sarcasm and contempt that he turns off voters, can Romney really right this ship in a single moment?

Larger audience is the key. As in some people who haven't been paying much attention will watch the debate and if Romney does well may be swayed.

But, I do agree with you that the idea of debate as game-changer is rarely born out. Both candidates are very well rehearsed and tend to play it pretty safe....lowering the possibility that any sort of campaign-altering event occurs.

Despite being a Neanderthal, doesn't he have a real chance to win? Do you think the Republican establishment will start funding him again, or do they think that reversing themselves would be too costly elsewhere?

I don't think he really does. I know there is polling that shows the race somewhat close right now but remember that McCaskill has just started to run ads making mention of the "legitimate rape" thing so where the race is today and where it will end up are not the same thing.

Akin obviouslty benefits from running as a Republican in a state Mitt Romney is going to carry but I just don't see how he gets to a majority of the vote given the negatives McCaskill can bring to bear on him in these last 40 days.

Why is Romney spending time in Pennsylvania today?

I saw that and was genuinely perplexed. It seems to me that PA is close to out of reach for Romney so it doesn't make much sense to me.

Maybe raising money?

Is the Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice really all that? Do I need to try it for my world to be complete?

Are you kidding me? Is this a real question?

The answer is yes. A million times yes.

Isn't this the same story we hear from the trailing campaign every four years - poll X is oversampling party Y, so our candidate is within the MoE, therefore he's tied?

Yes, yes it is.

I have noticed that the polling has started to tighten up in a number of republican held seats in the Senate. While the Democrats aren't going to Utah, Wyoming or Tennessee, the race has been tightening in Arizona. The Democrats have a fantastic candidate in Richard Carmona, Vietnam vet, former Surgeon General during the Bush years, etc. and the Republicans have, well, Jeff Flake. As the race tightens and the fact that the Democrats will do well with the Hispanic population, is there a chance that Carmona will eke out a win?

Absolutely. Though like Obama in Arizona, I think Carmona will come surprisingly close but lose.

That said, I have been wrong many times before...and I will be wrong many more times.

Do you think Romney will release any more tax returns?

Um, no.

Fix: Who do you think will win the first debate?

The American people.

Do you think the reason conservatives are buying into the oversampling conspiracy is because the conservative echo chamber is convinced all Americans hate Obama as much as the far right does, so there's no way he could "fairly" be ahead in the polls?

No. I think the natural tendency when polling shows your side is behind is to blame the polling not your side.

It happened in 2004 with John Kerry.

At what point do you think donors, party leaders and candidates decide Romney's campaign has passed the point of no return, and start shifting the focus toward congressional races?

Not yet.

And I think maybe not ever. I think the desire to oust Obama is so strong in the activist and donor world that they may well stick with Romney until the end no matter what.

I don't see a repeat of what happened to Dole in 1996.

See, I flatly disagree with this: Refocusing on Obama's handling of the economy without offering clear alternatives just leaves more space for the "changes will only improve things for those at the top" narrative to keep growing. I think the disappointed-in-Obama independents need to have something to vote for and "let's get a CEO in there" is clearly not enough of a positive motivator.

Fair point.

As Chevy Chase once put it: "I was told there would be no math."


As Checvy Chase, quoting the zen philospher Basho, also once put it: A donut with no holes is a danish.

Has begun in several states. Do you think it will eventually become the norm to allow folks to vote over a period of time rather than one big day? Or is it just a trendy campaign strategy to bank the votes early so you can concentrate on the laggards come Election Day? (from an Iowa voter who submitted an absentee ballot this week and mutes every political ad on tv)

Hope so.  Solely because I think it means more peope taking part in the democratic process, which is a good thing no matter which party you are in.

Do you see Tom Davis making a comeback in 2014? If Mark Warner doesn't run for re-election, Davis would be a strong candidate to take the seat since the Democratic bench is thin in Virginia.

But can Tom Davis, a self acknowledged moderate, get through a primary or, worse for him, a party convention, to win the GOP nod?

Love reading your articles before bed over here in UK. If Obama does lose on the 6th do your think he would run again in 2016 or leave the door open to someone else like H.Clinton?

I think this will be his last campaign either way.

As for Hillary, I think she probably runs in 2016 if Obama loses in the fall and probably doesn't if he wins.

How is the fall tv season so far treating the Fix household? Any new favorites?

I am pro that show about all the power going out. Also kind of getting into the Voice this year.

I watched all of the debates of the Republican primaries & did not think Romney did all that well. It seemed as if they were all just pushing each other further "right". Does everyone truly believe that, with all his positions changing constantly, Romney will actually do well?

Disagree. I thought Romney was, without question, the class of virtually every one of those debates. And I watched them all...

What do all the conservative commentators firing off "advice" for Romney hope to accomplish? It seems this kind of chatter can only hurt a campaign. Do they expect Romney to fire Stuart Stevens or other key personnel this late in the game? Do they think a campaign struggling to find a winning strategy all summer is going to read one of their columns and say, "Wow, we never thought of THAT! Thanks!"

Good to know the Romney campaign is signed on to the Fix chat.

If the election was this week who would win the house?


He's run what you've labeled one of if not the, worst Senata campaign ever. Yet the polls are still close. What does it mean if this guy wins?

Again, the polls are close because McCaskill has not yet begun the assault on Akin over his "legitimate rape" comments. 

Let's see how things look in 2 weeks after McCaskill has bombed Akin out on TV over those comments.

Also what is the soundtrack and where are you chatting from?

Am at a Panera in tenleytown -- just finished the Diane Rehem show before doing the chat.

No good music. And there are flies everywhere. The thinfs I do for you people ;)

Why release it now? To counteract Romney's own version or to start closing the deal almost a month out from election?

30 states vote early. 40% of total vote will be cast early.

That is all.

you often make me laugh.

Thanks, Mom.

It's not like he listens to anyone else, but would Todd Akin be best served by simply not campaigning? The "Republican" next to his name on the ballot might get him elected if folks would forget his campaign to date.

I have said before that if Akin had never campaigned or said anything publicly after he won the GOP nomination in August, he'd almost certainly have beaten McCaskill.

Now? Not so much.

What is the probability Akin wins and if he does what does that signal about the political future of Missouri?

Very very low.

He might be more inclined this time given the Republican obstructionism he encountered while President.

Maybe. But I doubt it.

"some sort of Romney comeback narrative" How about we have journalism that focuses on reporting the facts, not predicting the future? It almost sounds from your first response that there's some deliberate or contrived arc to all of this. Isn't this supposed to be a matter of the voters sizing up the candidates, determining which one best aligns to values, interests and preferences, and punching a ballot accordingly? What does that have to do with a "narrative?" Tell us who these people are and what they stand for -- and do it with insight, depth and intelligence to help us sort fact from fiction -- then get out of the way!!

Damn media!

Also, is there anything better than convenient scapegoating? I say no.

Favorite Bruce Springsteen song?

Darkness on the Edge of Town. Then the entire Nebraska album.

we all like to see a good brawl, and am enjoying the nv senate race, which i view as the toughest, most vicious contest (so far). which races do you see as the 'most negative'?

Starting to get pretty ugly in Massachusetts...

What would a list of your top five Starbucks baked goods look like?

1. Pumpkin scone

2. Blueberry scone

Everything else is, literally, inedible.

Should her Campaign just start putting out a commercial with all of the quotes of Republican leaders telling Akin to get out of the race? Or would it be better to keep mentioning his "Legitimate Rape" comment over and over again?

So many good choices...

I enjoy forwarding fundraising emails to friends not on the lists so they think Beyonce, Bill Clinton, both Obamas, Kal Penn, and Vince Carter are all tight with me.

Vince Carter!

Has there ever been a better basketball nickname than "Half Man, Half Amazing"?

Will you be bringing your talents to Denver to cover the debate?

I will bring my talents to my basement -- watching the debates on TV like 99.9% of America.

I noticed something interesting. If the Hispanic demographic keeps growing like it is and they GOP keeps alienating them, then Arizona, Florida, and Texas may very well swing to Blue. If the democrats have their 237 base plus those states,, then they lock in a continuous 315 vote win every year. Can't Karl Rove and the other GOP strategists add these numbers up?


Read my book. I have a whole chapter on the looming demographic problem for Republicans.


At what age do the young Fixes get their first taste of latte? My wife believes the proper age is 18. I, um, disagree.

18 months? That seems right to me.

How is Mrs. Fix's team doing this season?


But all three losses have come to top 20 teams. We are currently ranked #8 in the country. And, yes, I said "we". Do with that what you will.

I am intringued by your suggestion that whether Obama wins this year determines whether she runs in 2016. Why is that so?

Just want I have heard from people who know.

(And, yes, I am being purposefully vague.)

Romney had an annoying laugh during the primary debates. And it shows up during many of his interviews. I think that it is a "tell" that he is lying during his answer. He would make a lousy poker player.

I think he laughs when he is uncomfortable or to cover up an awkward moment. I talk to cover those moments up. So, in my life, I talk A LOT.

That may be true, but the 2012 GOP primary debates won't be going down with the Lincoln-Douglas debates as the best in the history of the Republic (e.g. Rick Perry's "Oops")

True. But you can only compete against the people running right?

Which campaign is better run, Obama 08 or Obama 12?

Obama 08 simply because they had to win a primary AND a general election. But I think both have been quite well run.

Hi Chris, In a earlier response you say people who not been paying attention will be watching the debates. It seems if you don't care enough to pay attention now you won't be wasting your TV evening watching the debates, but of course you know best.

It's  a fair point. I am basing my thought on the fact that viewership for debates has been pretty high in the past. Doesn't necessarily mean it will be this time though...

If you were to rank the 2016 contenders for the GOP nomination assuming Romney loses, how would the top 5 or so shake out? Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, and Chris Christie? Or is there someone I'm leaving out? Does Rob Portman or John Thune sneak in there? Nikki Haley?





Rand Paul

That seems to me to be the top tier. If Romney wins in 2012 and again in 2016, Ryan is at the top of that list in 2020 -- as a two term vice president.

Gee, you'd think Mom would let you watch upstairs once every four years.

No no. It's the basement for me. It's cool and quiet down there. Plus, lots of room to spread out the 5 sleeves of Oreos I plan to consume during the debate.

If you're surrounded by people who have $5 to their name and you have $7, does that make you rich?

It makes me $2 richer than them.

I want to get off.

40 days left.  It will be over before you know it. And then you will miss it. Trust me. I have traveled these boom-bust cycles before.

The quality of the candidate or the quality of the campaign?

Quality of candidate. Not close.

Who controls the thermostat?

Me.  It's one thing I retain control of in FixWorld.


Yes, yes it did.

And with that, another weekly chat ends.  We are now less than 6 weeks from the election!  I will be back next Friday when we will be....wait for it....less than 5 weeks from the election!

Be excellent to one another and go Catholic University field hockey!!!


In This Chat
Chris Cillizza
Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and sons.
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