Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Absent something cataclysmic, the Romney campaign is over

Of course Barack Obama can lose in November, but if you are being honest, you have to admit that Romney winning this election at this point has become very hard to imagine.

Undecided and independent voters have been breaking for Obama for 3 weeks giving him an ever growing lead in every swing state.  Last Friday we looked at the status of the swing states and the Obama trend continues.  A WaPo poll released today gives Obama an 8 point lead in Ohio. 

Think about this:  Romney has NEVER led in a head to head versus Obama in Virgina, Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin or Colorado and in every one of these states Obama's lead is growing.  Romney has been trailing Obama in Florida since May with Obama's lead widening.  North Carolina is certainly competitive for Romney but he's not leading and the trend is Obama.

Bad economic numbers aren't new and are already built into Obama's poll numbers. The fact is that the voters know Obama well at this point, and have decided they would prefer him, warts and all, to Romney.  And with every move Romney makes, voters seem only more convinced to stay with Obama .   This is pretty typical for presidential re-election campaigns. 

Hope's spring is eternal.  I know because I've backed my share of losers.  Romney dead-enders look to the debates for a glimmer of hope, but who are they kidding?  Neither candidate is an especially strong debater, and neither is going to score a knock-out blow against the other.   It's just not happening.  Debates just don't move voters.  As I mentioned here before, Mondale beat Reagan up pretty good in the 1984 debates (one memorable moment here) and come election day, Reagan unleashed a beating the likes of which I don't think any of us will every see again in our lifetimes. George Bush certainly didn't perform well in 2004 debates but in the end, it didn't matter.

And Romney won't find any quarter in getting more specific because the fact is that none of his positions have majority support among voters:  Not tax cuts for top earners, not war with Iran, not increased defense spending, not privatizing Medicare or Social Security.  That Romney's numbers don't add up is something talking heads mention nearly every time they discuss Romney policy.  Republicans have been pushing these issues for the last 10 years and despite getting no traction with independent voters, they keep coming back for more.  Even repealing the Affordable Care Act is a misfire because Republicans keep misreading the public's mood.  The ACA is not the most popular bill to come out of Congress, but many of it's key provisions are popular and a substantial number of those who oppose the act do so because it doesn't go far enough. 

So let's be honest, and admit Romney doesn't have a path to victory barring some sort of improbable cataclysmic event.  

So what do groups like Crossroads do?  They have to either go nuclear with an all out brutally ugly non-stop assault on Obama in hopes of turning Ohio, Florida, Virgina, Colorado, etc. or giving up on Romney and move all assets to encircling Obama with a Republican House and Senate.  

As the name implies, going nuclear is a very high risk bet because if it doesn't work, the down side could be losing House seats you would otherwise win and making the GOP brand so toxic that they lose an entire generation of voters.  Republicans hate Obama, but no one else does and at least Karl Rove knows this.

Bailing on Romney to concentrate fire on the House and Senate seems the smarter move.  And bailing on Romney doesn't necessarily mean cutting him off completely, but rather just spending the bare minimum in his support so as to answer critics that you have not given up.

Feel free to tell me why I'm full of it and outline Romney's path to victory.  What am I missing? 

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