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September 10, 2012

Team Romney: Don't Panic

As Gabe noted earlier there's been a bit of a freak out by Republicans over Obama's post-convention bounce. Apparently it's gotten the attention of the Boston brain trust so they had the campaign pollster put out an "all is well" memo. The fact that they had to do that sort of belies the message but whatever.

Don't get too worked up about the latest polling. While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly. The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.

In his acceptance speech, President Obama did not offer any solutions for the millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed. But his convention speech was not the only big letdown to voters, as Americans also dealt with yet another dismal jobs report last week. President Obama is the only president in modern American history to stand before the American people asking for re-election with this many Americans struggling to find work. The key numbers in this election are the 43 straight months of 8% or higher unemployment, the 23 million Americans struggling to find work, and the 47 million Americans who are on food stamps.

Today, there is no question: Americans are not better off than we were four years ago, and that is why President Obama has struggled in this race. The truth is that some of President Obama’s allies are claiming victory, but others are acknowledging the unsustainable position in which they find themselves. This is evidenced in a recent quote in The New York Times by an Obama Administration official saying, “It’s certainly not what I would call the position we wanted to be in at this point in the race…He’s going to have to make the case that we wouldn’t even be at 8 percent if it weren’t for him.”

He then goes on to list a number of factors, some reasonable, some not so much to buttress their argument.

There are two points he makes that fits nicely with a post I was planning on doing before I saw this memo.

Historical Data: Political campaign historians will recall President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan by a near double digit margin late in the fall in 1980. In that race, the voters made their decision based on the key issues confronting the nation and it determined the outcome. On the economy, the most important issue of this race, Mitt Romney leads by 51%-45%, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.

Targeted Campaign: The Romney-Ryan campaign is running deeply local and targeted efforts in each of the states focusing on the voter groups that will make the difference on Election Day. Anyone asserting a “one-size-fits-all-campaign” effort is being put forward is simply misinformed, as evidenced by the 15 different ads released by the Romney Ryan campaign this past Friday and now running in nine states, including Wisconsin.

My original point was going to be...counter CAC, ENOUGH with the damn poll watching. Polling is an artifact of the campaign, it's the result of what candidates do and say. We and Romney should spend more time trying to move the conversation and not worrying as much about the horse race aspect. If you have solid ideas and make your case for them, you will move the needle.

That's the lesson of Reagan and Clinton, the last two challengers to unseat an incumbent. Yes, they pointed to the failures of Carter and G.H.W. Bush but they also created a vision of the future, a pro-active reason to vote for them. Reagan had restoring American pride and Clinton had an appeal to youthful energy and vision.

Mitt's entire message is, "Obama sucks". This is true but he's yet to make the other half of the case...He's awesome. It takes both parts of the equation to win. There's still time for Mitt to do it but less and less.

Yes, Team Mitt is micro targeting a relative handful of voters in a small number of states but if doing that leaves a larger hole in the greater electorate and election story line, you are putting all your eggs in a very small and fragile basket.

Am I worried about the outcome of the campaign? Of course. It's hard to beat a sitting President, even in tough times. It's harder still when you have a challenger who quite frankly is not a very good candidate or running a very good campaign. But this is the guy we've chosen. I don't think we're going to see a lot of ads featuring the folks from Boston who spoke about what a kind and caring guy Mitt is. I'm not sure why they want to leave that bullet unfired but it appears they do.

And don't tell me he shouldn't have to run ads like that or pump himself up. What you're arguing for then is taking politics out of a political campaign. See the problem with that?

The good news is the first point Team Mitt makes in their memo...historically people break late for a challenger. Its a two step process for voters, deciding they really don't like the incumbent and then later deciding the challenger is an acceptable risk (better the Devil you know and all).

I still think Mitt will pull this out but looking at it now, it's going to be a near run thing.

Crass commercialism...my electoral college map app is available for iPhone/iPad now. It's still available for Android and Kindle as well. Play around with it a bit and you'll see how much of an uphill climb it is for Romney. You can also put your results on your facebook and Twitter feeds directly from your phone/tablet.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:25 AM

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