Confession: I abhor politics. For all my political-season writeups, I loathe the pettiness of it.

That out of the way, here is the dynamic I think is going on in this election. Mitt Romney's strategy is to do whatever it takes to guarantee a win; Barack Obama's strategy is to do just enough to guarantee a win. I discussed Obama's possible "Northern Tier" strategy before, noting that this would preserve the energy of the campaign, essentially writing off Florida, Virginia, and the West (though not the West Coast, which is taken as undisputed) to garner 270 or so electoral votes (it now looks as though Obama opened up enough of a lead to win Nevada without actually campaigning there anymore, which gives a tiny bit of wiggle room for possibly losing New Hampshire or Iowa, but not much else, certainly not Ohio).

Now, "whatever it takes" versus "just enough" -- what do I mean by that? It's about reinventing political positions as much as seems necessary versus standing pat as much as possible; trying to expand the map of contestation versus trying to contract it. Now, it's not actually true that Romney is doing "whatever it takes" because up to this point it seems he's ignored some opportunities -- long shot opportunities, but ones which ought to be plummed anyway -- in Oregon, New Mexico, and most especially, until very recently Pennsylvania (where he is now advertising, but will only begin to campaign in person this weekend). All that being on the table, Obama is nonetheless essentially focused on that Northern Tier -- with feints into Florida and out West just to force Romney to expend some resources there as well. (Romney's campaign conducted snap polling in Florida right after Hurricane Sandy had passed, and whatever the results of that poll were, they prompted Romney to suddenly switch up his schedule and spend a day hitting stops in that state.) I think it would be a waste of time for either candidate to venture out to Nevada, and I think it's a sucker's bet for Romney to look to Wisconsin or Minnesota instead of Pennsylvania. Really, Romney ought to camp in the Keystone State and spend the rest of the campaign working it until he wins them over, instead of continuing to realize diminishing returns in Ohio. I don't think Romney has the energy to keep bouncing from Florida to, for example, Colorado, to Iowa and back. And I think this minor shortcoming is strictly because of another advantage which Obama has over Romney, and that is caffeine.

Now, thanks to the magic of make-up, it might not be apparent from their appearances alongside one another in the debates, but Romney is a senior citizen -- about fifteen years older than Obama. (In fact, startling as it may be to realize, Romney, having been born in 1947, is now only six years younger than John McCain was when McCain, who was born in 1936, faced Obama in 2008 -- McCain just has a much harder set of miles on him). Romney, being just that much older, is a tad bit slower in step, a bit less able to adjust on the fly, and most vitally at this point, less able to stay up and running and energized during the slog that is the final week of a campaign.

And unlike Obama (indeed, unlike McCain), Romney's Mormonism prohibits him not only from having a beer, but even from drinking coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage)!! And to those of us who know of its magic, well coffee is crisis fuel. And so, in the critical final week, where the outcome of the election may hinge on the number of campaign stops made, Obama has just the slightest comparative youth-and-caffeine advantage.


In node auditing news:

iceowl -- on page 8 of 10.
teleny -- on page 12 of 14.

junkill and jessicapierce are in the queue.

Blessings, all!!

Love is many things. I have learned one thing about it:

If you're ever excited to see somebody, especially unexpectedly, and it puts a smile on your face when you do... but this somebody also causes you terrible pain on a regular basis... it must be true love.

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