I first got convinced that Barack Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee in 2008 when – after his shocking defeat in the New Hampshire primary – contributions surged, rather than drying up. That’s what conviction politics looks like, as compared to the politics of influence-buying. Such a campaign can bounce back from reversals of fortune.
Mitt Romney has some true believers, and some of them have big bucks. But his fund-raising has always been dominated by heavy donors recruited by bundlers. And of course the Romney-affiliated SuperPacs rely on tons of corporate money. The less it appears that giving heavily to Romney will buy influence with the next White House, the less that money is likely to flow. Conversely, Obama’s SuperPac activity, which has lagged all year, is likely to pick up as some of the big firms decide they don’t want to be completely identified with the losing side.
So it seems to me that this year there’s heavy-duty positive feedback built into the campaign. Even if Romney’s current weakness is apparent rather than real, the appearance can help make it real. The death stench can be part of a death spiral.