After two weeks of startling gaffes by Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, supporters of President Barack Obama’s re-election are starting to talk about “momentum” and “inevitability.”
On Sept. 26, national polls had Obama up by nine points, with respected FiveThirtyEight pollster Nate Silver writing that if the election were held today, “Mr. Obama would have a 97.8 percent chance of winning.” However, in their average of national polls on Sept. 27, Real Clear Politics gave Obama 48.9 percent to Romney’s 44.9 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percent. Additionally, Silver’s Nov. 6 forecast closes the margin dramatically to an Obama win by 3.6 percent on Election Day.
In other words, while apparently most voters have made up their minds, there is still room for voter volatility, depending on debate performances and events out of the candidates’ control. Nonetheless, that feeling of momentum towards an inevitable Obama victory has down-ballot Democrats nervous.
“If it looks increasingly like Barack Obama is very likely to win—and that’s where we are today—as that happens, the [GOP Super PAC] money will shift into House and Senate” races, openly gay Rep. Barney Frank said at a Sept. 22 fundraiser for openly gay congressional candidate Mark Takano. “So Mark’s [four percent point] lead—they will look at this and say, this guy’s ahead, but not insuperably, given that district, given the other guy. So the money’s coming.”
Looking at the mixed gay and straight audience at the Bel Air home of famed employment discrimination attorney Barbara Lindemann, Frank said, “You say, ‘Well, what can I do?’ Help him win. He’s one of a couple dozen races in the whole country—maybe 15—that will decide who controls the House of Representatives. We’re in a very critical position here. So if you care about LGBT rights, about the environment, about rationality in our public discourse, you will contribute to him.”
Takano, a longtime teacher running to represent Riverside’s 41st congressional district, noted that the contrast between him and his Republican opponent, Supervisor John Tavaglione, “couldn’t be greater. I am for full-on marriage equality, and frankly, he’s not. We have the full intention to work with the president to pass a jobs act, which is going to create jobs in Riverside County where we’re suffering from 12 percent unemployment. I’m the only candidate who’s taken a stand by signing a pledge to protect Medicare and to oppose any voucherization of benefits. So we’re about protecting seniors.
“And of course as a teacher and an educator, that’s one of our biggest points of appeal with this district. Latinos and African-Americans have moved into my area—the aspiring middle class, the heart and soul of our future, of California and of this country. They are eager for safer neighborhoods, which we offer in the Inland Empire,” Takano said. “We’re going to raise the college-going rate and we’re going to lower the drop-out rate. I’ve got 23 years of experience as a classroom teacher. And given the frustration with Washington right now, people like the idea of someone with an actual day job representing them in Washington, D.C.”
“Here’s the key: If the Republicans are in power, no legislation in any way supportive of our rights will come to pass,” Frank said. “Mark’s not just running against this supervisor—he’s running against all of the right-wingers who dominate that party and dominate it completely. The Republicans in the House couldn’t pass a highway bill—that’s controversial! And an agricultural bill. They couldn’t pass a bill that the Senate passed to keep the Postal Service going. I knew they didn’t like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson. [But] the Postal Service? That’s George Washington. He appointed the first Postmaster General. These are people who have no conception of the necessity of governance.”
Co-author of the Dodd-Frank finance bill in Congress, Frank’s exasperation is evident. Indeed, electing Takano and taking back the House is about saving democracy itself. “Thanks to the United States Supreme Court’s outrageous decision [in Citizens United] to tear down any barrier to unlimited funding—and by the way, they say that’s necessary for democracy. If that’s the case, America in the last four years has been the only democracy in the history of the world, because neither in our history nor across the borders has that been the case. So that’s what we have to worry about.”
“We need as much money as possible to make sure we get our mailout. This is a direct mail race,” Takano told Frontiers. “The danger for us is if Obama clearly becomes the favorite and it looks like a lock— the money shifts to the House and the Senate, and we’ll expect that SuperPACs that were concentrating on swing states will come to swing districts like mine. So we’ll need as much money as possible. We won’t need to match them dollar for dollar, but we’ll need enough to cut through the muddy waters.”
Takano’s campaign is also technologically set up for targeted remote phone banking—and he’d appreciate door-knocking volunteers, as well. “It’s all about turnout,” Takano said. (Go to his website for more info.)