Compared to many, I’ve not been around the block that many times. The first election I voted in was the 1992 election between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and to be honest, I didn’t really start paying close attention to these farces we call elections until 2004 or so. But this election is strange to me, for a couple of reasons.
For one, Tam has an interesting observation that down ticket candidates are trying to shake off the Obama cooties as much as they humanly can. Yet polls still show this election as a statistical dead heat? I also agree that the only people talking about Obamacare are Republicans trying to hang it around the necks of any opponent they can manage.
Second, I’m not seeing any Democratic enthusiasm. Using the sign wares as a rough gauge of enthusiasm, corners which were previously dominated by Democratic signs now have GOP signs on them. I can count on one hand the number of Obama signs I see in front of houses, whereas I now lose count of Romney/Ryan signs on my way through residential neighborhoods in Chester County, and there are a few in Bucks County too. In 2008, there were far far more signs for McCain, but McCain was giving away lawn signs like candy, whereas anyone who has a Romney/Ryan sign ordered it from the campaign and paid for it. Since Pennsylvania is not being contested by Romney, everything here has been very subdued compared to previous elections. But striking is a complete absence of any notable activity by Democrats, even for down ticket races in the ring counties.
I guess what I’m saying is this doesn’t feel like a close election to me. I see more enthusiasm from Republicans and Democrats, and the President’s major domestic program is still wildly unpopular. Despite polls showing the race in Pennsylvania narrowing, I’m not sure either campaign wants to take the bait. We’re a blue state. That’s conventional wisdom now. We haven’t gone red since the 1988 election (see this funny bit about conventional political wisdom). Perhaps what I’m seeing is the effect of living in a state which both campaigns are conceding as blue. Folks in Ohio may have a vastly different perspective.