Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Vacation From Politics

Just back from a five day family vacation in South Dakota. Apparently, the Romney campaign is now completely falling apart and plummeting toward certain defeat. At least that’s what the pundits and some panicked Republicans seem to believe. However, the pollsters appear to be telling a different story as the Real Clear Politics’ spread has actually narrowed in the last week. Are the polls lagging the “problems” with the Romney campaign or is the perspective of most pundits not shared by most voters? I’m inclined to believe the latter. We’ll know soon enough.

One aspect of our recent South Dakota sojourn that was surprising and somewhat refreshing was the visible lack of politics. The few campaign signs I noticed were for state or local races. There was almost nothing in the way or signs or even bumper stickers to indicate a preference for the presidential race. The only campaign commercial I saw was for a Congressional candidate and it was so bland and non-issue specific that I couldn’t tell which party this gentleman was standing for (later research determined that he is a Democrat who seems to be trying to moderate his way to victory).

Now this could be because South Dakota isn’t exactly a swing state. When you see banners advertising “Friends of the NRA” fundraisers, you figure the place is probably a pretty safe bet to remain red. But even among the many visitors we encountered on the way to and at the many tourist sites we hit, there was little in the way of politics on display. We checked off license plates from forty-three states (a fun game for kids and parents too), but again saw few if any bumper stickers for either Romney or Obama on these vehicles.

We’re only fifty days away from what we’re once again being told is the “most important election in history.” Given that, the general indifference to politics (at least on the surface) that we encountered on the trip seems unusual. Maybe people have just had enough and tuned things out or decided that politics simply isn’t that important to them. I don’t know what this means or what it could portend for November. I do know that those actively involved in politics, those that report on them, and those of us who follow them closely probably put far more emphasis on the importance of every “gaffe”, every “game-changer”, and every “gotcha” than such occurrences actually merit in making up the minds of most American voters.