Stacy called yesterday, and we talked briefly, as he and Ali were headed to the massive Mitt rally in West Chester, OH. The call ended when Stacy said, "What's this traffic jam? Can it be for the Romney rally?" Then, "I'm going to have to call you later. I gotta drive." So . . . I'm guessing it was for the Romney rally, given the coverage and the pics I've seen online and on television. I shared what I was experiencing here in Wisconsin, and he said that he felt the anecdotal stuff has value, so here it is.
I don't do television much, but I've been here at Mom and Dad's assisted living place in Wauwatosa, WI, and television provides the ambience. Yesterday, I took Dad to the hospital, and they took him off of IV antibiotics in favor of oral, and took the pick line out of his arm. On Tuesay, he gets to move into his apartment here with Mom, and I get to go sleep on a bed at their place out on the lake. Yesterday, I was able to get away for awhile after the hospital visit, and rake leaves out there. They've got a wooded lot, and lots of white oak, maple and other trees. I'm about 60% done with the raking, and I would guess that I've moved several tons of leaves down into the ravine, where I'm simply going to let it mulch naturally. It's waist high, and I can't help thinking some little kids could have a pretty good time in the pile.
When I take a break and head inside to check out the intarwebz, I'm subjected to endless phone calls from the RNC, AFP and other PACs, and the endless polls and pushes masquerading as polls. I may be unemployed, but I have work to do, so I pick up the phone, find out who's calling, and hang up. I'm going to be poll observing, and my brother Tim and his wife have been knocking on doors and manning the phone banks when they're not at work, helping to GOTV.
I imagine that there are a lot of people who've gone beyond the saturation point, like me, so I'm not putting a lot of stock in any polling coming out of Wisconsin, and I figure it's got to be the same in OH and IA and VA. But Wisconsin was already suffering from politics fatigue before it once again became a swing state. I imagine, too, that there are just a lot of voters like me who have had it with the incessant calls, and who are no longer participating in polling or answering pitches from campaigns.
I'm going to guess, by the behavior of Obama supporters online, that they're more likely to take the time for this stuff, whereas Romney voters realize at this point that the only numbers that matter are the votes cast. I say this because I've watched all kinds of ridiculous online polling from partisan/ideological sites, and in contrast with, say, turning out at candidate events, Obama supporters seem to think that dominating these meaningless polls really means something. So, I'm thinking that things are better for Romney than the polls suggest, on top of the other reasons given by a lot of people, including the break towards Romney of Independents.
What I'm seeing in Wisconsin massive engagement of fiscal conservatives, who might under other circumstances be squishy, because they are somewhat socially liberal. Michael Barone's analysis of Germano-Scandinavian America seems on point to me, and Obama has managed to bring Catholics, Evangelicals and other Christians together as no candidate ever has before. Mind you, when I say that Wisconsinites, Iowans, Dakotans (North and South) and Illini outside of Chicagoland are fiscal conservatives, I don't mean that they're dyed-in-the-wool small government types. They're mostly people who understand the importance of balancing their checkbooks, and who think that government has to too, and who feel that they're not getting value for their dollar from government at the size to which it's grown.
In one of the great Wisconsin ironies, we are watching Herb Kohl depart the Senate. Kohl owns the Milwaukee Bucks, and his family fortune came from the Kohl's department store chain that he sold many years ago, now. Kohl's succeeded in Wisconsin because people here think about value. It's not very hip, and it used to be ridiculed in the Chicago papers as evidence that Wisconsinites just weren't very hip, but it hasn't changed all that much as it's spread across the US. People can buy labels when the economy is hitting on all cylinders; when it's not, they tend to buy what's necessary, rather than what's trendy. It's boggles my mind to see luxury label clothes designers inveighing against other labels draping Mrs. Romney, when their sales are dependent on a well-functioning economy. I guess I could go on and on about Bette Midler and other celebs, but you've read it all before.
High-end goods suppliers demand a high premium for what is often a small difference in quality. If I had millions of dollars, I might, for example, be an audiophile, but to be frank I can find a pair of Acoustic Research speakers that produces excellent sound for far less than I would spend for a high-end marque. Lexus is telling me on television commercials that if only I bought one, my life might be worth remembering, at the end, but I'd just as soon have a Subaru. When I look at liberal print news, such as the New York Times, I see ads for watches and bracelets that cost as much as a new car ought to, and I think, "Utility's not everything, but that's nuts." When I grab liberal free tabloids in just about any college town, I see adverts for escort services and solicitations for young women to earn a bunch of money partying in the Big City over the holidays. Most of us look at this stuff and think, "WTF?" I believe, but distaste at conspicuous consumption is probably a little more pronounced in Germano-Scandinavian America than it is, generally.
Here, if a guy decides to drop $10k on a pool table or a snowmobile, we think, "Yikes. Good for him." But if he dishes it out and doesn't use the thing, he's an object of scorn.
Wisconsinites and their neighbors understand that Obama wants to sell us Yugo services at Ferrari prices, and they're not impressed. Are we cheapskates? Maybe, but most of us are also in the charitable middle. We've been called worse. And we don't feel that anyone ought to compel us to do more, even if they themselves seem to believe they need the compulsion.