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The Hack Gap Revisited

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Republican operatives are plunging ahead with nonsense about how Romney was just fine in the two debates he lost, now tied to the idea that he will cruise to victory when he’s still clearly behind. I agree that this is what’s going on:

In recent days, the vibe emanating from Mitt Romney’s campaign has grown downright giddy. Despite a lack of any evident positive momentum over the last week — indeed, in the face of a slight decline from its post-Denver high — the Romney camp is suddenly bursting with talk that it will not only win but win handily. (“We’re going to win,” said one of the former Massachusetts governor’s closest advisers. “Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”)

This is a bluff. Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Over the last week, Romney’s campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative.

On one level, this makes sense; there does seem to be some evidence for a bandwagon effect. Mitigating this, however, is the possibility that Republicans may convince themselves of their own bullshit. My favorite recent example is Karl Rove’s decision to waste resources in New Jersey and California in the last weeks of the 2000 election, which could very well have squandered the gifts he was handed by Florida’s ludicrous electoral system and St. Ralph. Alas, as Chait points out Romney’s current gambits aren’t really sacrificing anything but are merely taking advantage of journalists who need to have “the race is tightening” stories.

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