Newt Gingrich's s-pac manservant Rick Tyler broods that in the expansive wasteland of Mitt Romney's total war and scorched-earth campaigns, "there will be no one left to vote against Barack Obama." And Newt Gingrich's manservant may not be far from the truth.
Look at it this way: X.
Which is to say, political psychologists have long agreed that negative advertising's collateral damage, in any general election season, lies in the alienation of independent voters, while in primary seasons its chief aim is to drive all but friendly partisans within the broader partisan camp of party into despair, indifference, and dormancy. This, the GOP's presidential candidates have accomplished admirably: out of Maine's more than 1.3 million residents, for example, scarcely 6,000, or 0.4 percent, bothered with civic duty.
Republican genocide is taking a prodigious toll, and one must ponder its lasting effect. For about a quarter-year now we've witnessed massive air campaigns of charges and countercharges of malfeasance, fiscal recklessness, "serial hypocrisy" and "corporate raiding" and "blood money" -- the war portends no delimitation, only escalation. When, however, this civil war officially concludes, and two-party belligerency commences, one easily envisions Republican enthusiasm as the top-left-to-bottom-right line in an 'X' graph. That is, there will be casualties and durable animosities lingering within the GOP base, which should materialize in lower turnout.
Meanwhile, though, Barack Obama will possess an unmolested, essentially unified and motivated base, translating into the 'X's' bottom-left-to-upper-right line. In other words, the scourge of polarization could actually work to Obama's advantage; or, put another way, the independent vote may prove to be of lesser importance in 2012 than in preceding elections.
With Obama and Mr. X (but probably Romney) blasting away at each other with martial abandon, independents will doubtless experience the selfsame despair the GOP base is now experiencing. In brief, independents could likely stay at home, which would cut into Obama's numbers. Yet while Obama has a unified and (given Obama's stump skills) energized base to work with, the disaffected, demoralized and despairing GOP base -- see Tyler, above: "there will be no one left to vote against Barack Obama" -- could likely stay home as well.
Thus the rough and enduring equilibrium of this nation's left and right camps could be thrown into a vast disequilibrium on the only day that will matter: November 6.