You are a candidate. You are losing by 5 points. Your odds of victory are 18%. What should you do?

I put my hypothetical candidate in a somewhat worse position than Romney. But my candidate is still not a sacrificial lamb: the race is merely leaning or likely towards the opponent. The odds are way above 10%, never mind 5%. What’s the best strategy?

McCain reached for a game-changer and gave us Palin. You could try to just do what you’ve been doing and hope for the winds to blow your way. You could say the hell with it and just say what you think, but not all politicians have actual opinions on policy. You could angle for your next office. You could try to set ideological markers down so as to shift opinion, but that doesn’t sound especially effective either.

What should those tottering on the edge of defeat do? This could be a Presidential, Senate or House race.

Point to Truman and say you don’t believe in polls

I say keep your dignity or at least a modicum of it. It’s one of our few possessions that can’t be taken away but most definitely can be handed over. What did McCain get for his stunt?

Do a Bulworth. Touch the third rail. Touch several third rails.

Honestly? Take a steady course and get ready to jump on any downturn under the incumbent. If the market crashes or the electorate gets tired of our embassies being used for target practice, the election falls into your lap. Any sudden moves now and you look erratic and desperate and may not be able to capitalize on even an egregious problem for the incumbent. Don’t do anything that makes you look unpresidential. Play the role and hope for a fumble.

The big thing that pops out at me looking at the polls is Democratic enthusiasm. Romney is doing fine among independents, but for some reason Obama found the magic at the convention and now Democrats are all about turning out.

The key is to demoralize them. The easiest way within Romney’s power to do that is to have great debates. Change the media narrative. Once the media jumps on the comeback story, which they often do whether there’s a real comeback or not, maybe Democratic enthusiasm will drop and Republican enthusiasm will increase.

Democratic enthusiasm, according to the way the pollsters are sampling Democrats vs. Republicans, is at an all time high. As quickly as enthusiasm increased, I can’t imagine it has staying power for two full months. I would be very shocked if Democrats exceed their 2008 turnout numbers.

Never give up, never surrender. The Bulworth option is tempting, but really, the GOP has already gone there.

Of course, there is always the option used in “The Campaign” by Zach Galifianakis: raw honesty.

Nahhh.

What do you do if you’re coming up in the bottom on the ninth losing 4-1?

Simple; you hope the other team’s pitcher makes a few mistakes. You don’t go to the plate dressed as Zorro and carrying a tuba instead of a bat, hoping something weird will happen; you just accept that your chances aren’t good, but that you have a chance if the other guy gives it to you, and you try to hammer that pitch when it comes.

Romney should be staying the course, doing damage control on the 47% thing, and getting ready to try to hit a home run in the debates.

If I’m Romney, I transfer the campaign funds to the Cayman Islands, feign an illness, and go home and relax.

I kind of like the idea of the Zorro costume and the tuba. Hey, maybe there’s a substantial minority of Democrats who have a fetish for that kind of thing!

Why am I hearing the OP question in Dennis Hopper’s voice, with “Eh, hot shot?” added at the end? :smiley:

You throw the Hail Mary, because that’s the only way you have of winning. That’s already priced into your 18%: That’s the chance that something big will change in the campaign, in your favor. You could just sit back and wait to see if it happens despite you, but you’re much better off making it happen yourself.

Take the analogy further, RickJay. You pinch-hit like crazy for your weak batters, even if you have to send a crazy defense defense out there if you tie up the game. You even send an unknown kid up to pinchhit, on the offchance that maybe he has ability you haven’t seen from your regulars. You take chances. You steal bases to avoid the DP. YOU’RE LOSING–don’t go down tamely.

I think this is the only reasonable strategy.

A lot should hinge on the debates except they don’t really debate. Essentially, it has become a mind-numbing series of sound-bite stump speeches that have little to do with the questions posed or the opponent’s statements.

Go populist. Tough break for Romney, he has no idea what that means.

Hail Mary passes are stupid and more often than not end in embarrassing losses. It isn’t just Romney’s campaign at stake here. Romney’s campaign blunders have been effecting other Republican campaigns. Even if Romney can’t pull out a win he has to at least stop embarrassing his team.

Steady out, attack weak points and hope for a major blunder from the other team.

He should have thought of this before he made the mistake of being born.

It would probably help to know why you were down by 5 points. Is it the economy? Is it demographics? Is it because no one likes you?
Hoping for your opponent to screw up is well and good, but if you don’t keep the pressure on she isn’t going to. There must be a weak point - try to make the campaign about that. Try to encourage your demographics and discourage him.

And FUD often works.

Has a Hail Mary ever worked? Actually, I’m sure it has in sporting events (basketball gives the clearest examples). But I would think that “Shaking up the campaign with a vetted strategy” might be more plausible. As boytyperanma there are downballot races to consider.

Heh. To tell you the truth though, what was in the back of my mind was that my side could be losing by 5 points - or even by 18 (NYT, 1984). So the question is a broad one.

But that’s just another way of saying, “What could turn this around?” In Romney’s case, the fundamentals favor him by a half a percentage point, based on July data and the Fair model. We’ll only know the actual fundamentals next year when the final GDP figures are released. In Mondale’s case, he beat the fundamentals by a respectable margin, but still got creamed. The Fair model only become widely known during the last decade though, so that 1984 loss was usefully traumatic for the Dems. Usefully from my view only, as it persuaded the Dems to curb the loons in their ranks.

Anyway, I’ll summarize the options:[ul]
[li] Hail Mary: Go full nutty: you need to shake things up. Otherwise you will lose.[/li]Justification: Big losses are the same as small losses. Either way, you lose.
[li] Probe weaknesses: try to change the game and hope for further opportunities either from events or from errors by your opponent. It probably won’t work, but it won’t FAIL either. Remember there are down-ballot races to consider. [/li][li] Keep an eye on the long game. Try a Cassandra Approach, like Gary Hart did in 2004. [/li][li] Have fun with it, and stay breezy. It will be fine. [/li][li] Demoralize the opposition. Keep hammering away. A 4 point loss is better than at 10 point loss. [/li][li] It ain’t over until it’s over. (Sheesh, it’s mid September: it’s a long way to Nov 4.)[/li][/ul] Nice discussion, gang.

If it’s close to the election (say, inside two weeks) I’d go seriously, seriously negative. I would pour on every type of smear, every half-baked conspiracy theory, every dirty trick I or my even more slimy advisors could think of. It wouldn’t matter if I could convince anyone to vote for me, all I’d be looking for at that point would be to keep people from voting for my opponent.

Of course, you can’t do that too far before Election Day, because of the inevitable backlash, so timing is everything.

I made it a 4-1 lead on purpose. * You don’t take chances on the basepaths if you’re down by more than a run.*

To really extend the metaphor, the thing about a baseball rally is that the other side has to make a mistake for you to come back; the pitcher must fail somehow, either in walking you or giving you a hittable pitch. Aggression is worthless in baseball without first winning the battle of the strike zone; you cannot steal first base. That’s the position I believe Romney is in. He must have Obama make a mistake, maybe two.

Romney is not dead but he needs a broad, nationwide change in the polls to win, but while he needs a very wide shift, it doesn’t have to be deep. He’s losing, nationwide, by about five points; that means that if 1 out of 30 voters can be switched, he wins. But it has to happen all over; no state-specific targeting strategy is realistically going to work because he is losing ALL the swing states, except North Carolina, maybe. His best chance, in my honest opinion, is to play it safe and hope to win the debates and turn the narrative around in early October. win a point there and then, with the debates framing the narrative for 2-4 weeks, win a point every 14 days. See if he can get a few men on base and hit a homer. But that means he has to hope the Democrats blunder.

That gives him a 10% chance of winning, maybe. It’s better than nothing.

The OP, who obviously works for the Romney campaign forgot to add “Need answer fast!”