In the Arena

I Don’t Know

Over the past week, everyone's been asking me who's going to win. Beats me. I really don't know.

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Jacquelyn Martin / AP

After canceling his appearance at a morning campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., President Barack Obama walks toward the White House in a driving rain after returning to Washington to monitor preparations for early response to Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29, 2012.

We’re a week away from the election. I’m in the doldrums, stuck in a Washington hotel while a storm called “Sandy” pummels Bruce Springsteen’s beloved Jersey Shore. I tried to spend a day out with the President and Bill Clinton, but my shirt got caught. We went to Florida last night and the storm kept us spinning right back to DC this morning. 

Over the past week, everyone’s been asking me who’s going to win. Beats me. I really don’t know. The polls seem stalled, hilariously inconclusive. The race  is frozen, more or less, for the next few days–except for the advertising. It remains to be seen whether, in the absence of any other news except the storm, Mitt Romney’s wildly misleading new auto ad will prove to be a problem for him in Ohio and other midwestern states, where people credit the President with having saved their jobs more than they discredit Romney for having opposed Obama’s plan. Chrysler has vehemently refuted Romney’s inference that it plans to move Jeep production to China; it’s actually adding auto production jobs here. In a year where Romney’s campaign has unsheathed a steady stream of false claims, flips and flops, and still managed to find itself in a position where it could win the election, you have to wonder if even an ad this brazen will backfire. (You also have to wonder why the Obama campaign chose not to highlight Romney’s flips and flops. Presidential campaigns are all about character, I believe; Romney’s abdication of any pretense to constancy should have been the  major character issue.)

The Romney ad has a whiff of desperation to it, an indication–perhaps–that the Republican is finding Ohio a difficult nut to crack. But why was the President scheduled to travel to Wisconsin tomorrow (cancelled by the storm) and why is he putting major ad money back into Pennsylvania? I tend not to trust anything that comes out of presidential campaigns at this point in the process, especially attempts by said campaigns to “analyze” how things are going. Both sides seem jelly-legged at this point.

So we’re in the quiet eye of the election. And I promise you, this thing can spin either way when we emerge. There will be a jobs report this Friday. There may be other surprises. But anyone who claims to know who is going to win is blowing smoke.