That’s where the electorate stands in this cycle, each in the cell of himself, in the words of the late, great W.H Auden, or say the insiders, alert to a downturn in the public mood.
Republicans want to try to turn that collective solemnity into an argument that President Barack Obama has failed to inspire the country and intends to get re-elected solely on a strategy of negativity heaped on his opponent, GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
“It was all hope and change when he ran in 2008,” said Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore said Obama. “Now it’s hope for change.”
Gilmore this week hosted a Lakewood fundraiser for Romney.
“We had 700 people who were very enthusiastic, and where there was a lot of electricity,” said Gilmore, chairman of the largest Republican county in the state.
Gov. Chris Christie was stumping for Romney out of town at the time, but state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) gave a well-received speech.
Republicans want huge numbers out of Ocean and Kyrillos’ own Monmouth County, in addition to a tepid response to Obama for Democrats in South Jersey.
But the trouble the GOP has is trying to convince voters that their party embodies anything better than what’s in the White House now, as they quietly acknowledge Romney’s troubles to date in trying to connect.
In short, the face their own exhilaration – and that’s being generous – gap.
While Kyrillos has excelled on the fundraising front, Romney has no campaign in New Jersey that might provide the Republican with overlay infrastructure to take on an incumbent like U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
The Obama Campaign likewise shows no sign of competing here, mostly leaving Menendez to his own devices as the presdient’s handlers focus on winning neighboring Pennsylvania.
The Menendez calaculation is that in a world of apathy, Democrats win with naturally larger registration numbers. The Republicans hope the lack of Obama energy here prompts the Democrats to simply fold up and go to sleep.