Making Stuff Up About the Ohio Auto Industry Might Not Lead to a Romney Landslide

Alex Altman wades into the great debate over Mitt Romney’s misleading (read: made-up) “Chrysler moving jobs to China” ads. His conclusion is a puzzle.

What’s clear from Romney’s remarks at the Hofstra debate is that he thinks the Americans public doesn’t understand the issue — not even the fact that GM and Chrysler actually went through bankruptcy — and is therefore susceptible to Obama’s bumper-sticker attack. Romney may be right.

But the ads aren’t directed at “Americans!” They’re directed at voters in Ohio, especially Toledo, where people have pretty solid ideas of whether Chrysler employs them or whether it’s moved to China. As Greg Sargent points out, some Toledo-area Chrysler employees were spooked enough by the new Romney ad that they called up their union to check its veracity. After they found out that their jobs were safe, do we think they’re more or less likely to jump on the Mittmentum Local? And it’s gotten worse, with a radio version of the Romney ad asking Ohioans “what about the promises made to Toledo.” What about them? They’ve been kept!

Molly Ball has more, and concludes that “Romney appears to have concluded the only way to win on the issue is to mislead voters about its effects.” Josh Mandel, who remains close in the state’s U.S. Senate race without ever appearing to move into a lead, had been forced to do the same thing. It’s the old “attack them at their strength” theory.