Who would have thought six months ago that the Republican contender would be streaking in the polls. Last October, no less than eight Republicans were tearing each other apart and President Obama was riding the express train to re-election.
That has all changed dramatically heading into May. The “experts” who predicted the Republicans would come out of their bloody primary mortally wounded have been proven dead wrong. Throw out conventional wisdom. This election will most certainly get nasty, but will it be on both sides or one floundering against the growing tide of discontent?
Mitt Romney will win the 2012 presidential election by a comfortable margin; the campaign will be one-sided, nasty and with unpredictable events more than likely contrived to boost the president.
Romney will win because his candidacy will be relatively predictable, issue-focused and conducted as a not-too-nasty campaign. He wins if he runs precisely in this fashion. If he allows his campaign to degenerate into a nasty, name-calling travesty, he will lose.
Democrats are better at the nasty game and the Axelrod campaign strategy will be exactly that.
If Romney can speak directly to the American people, as Ronald Reagan did so brilliantly in his battle with Jimmy Carter in 1980, he can transform the election from petty bickering into a national referendum on Obama’s abysmal record. Stay with the issues and avoid the smears.
Consider these figures:
In the first quarter of 2012, Romney was facing a tough primary season with multiple opponents all gunning for him as the targeted front-runner. In stark contrast, Obama had relatively clear sailing, no primary and a quiet Congress. The economy was in better shape than it had been during the rest of his presidency with no foreign catastrophes.
Rough going for Mitt while Barack enjoyed pastoral serenity from raging Republicans. But he barely improved his status at all. On January 1, 2012, RealClearPolitics cited Obama’s average lead against Romney at 46.6 to 45 percent. Today, he’s up 47.5 to 44.6 percent.
But the difference now is Romney has the momentum.
Obama’s job approval hasn’t benefited much considering the often bitter and highly contentious Republican primaries that threw everything it could at leader Romney. The battle six-month battle only ended two weeks ago with Romney the presumptive nominee. Those key months were the time Obama should have soared in the polls, gaining a firm upper hand and setting the agenda for his re-election.
Nothing of the sort came close to happening. The latest polling may have been Obama’s high water mark through next November. It seems unlikely that more than 47 or 48 percent of the voters are going to want Obama’s re-election in November.
That means its Mitt Romney’s race to win or lose.
Romney must continue look and act presidential – more like a leader than a campaigner. Allow Obama to lower himself as campaigner in chief rather than commander in chief. Let Obama’s campaign be loud and obnoxious promising every known faction nonexistent tax money while Romney calmly explains the unsustainable debt America has compiled.
Make the campaign adult v child without blatantly announcing it. Allow Americans to make up their own minds by watching and listening to the alarming differences in style and substance. Instead of constant rebuttals to Obama attacks, give serious speeches concerning the Constitution, entitlement sustainability, the role of the Supreme Court and tax reform.
Adult speeches that allow Americans to act and feel like adults.
Romney should leave the attacks to the attack dogs, specifically his super-PACs and the RNC, while he focuses on real issues far removed from the ear-deafening ruckus. Treat his opponent with respect not contempt, sobriety not snark and good humor not sarcasm.
Win over voters who voted for Obama in 08′. Don’t intimate they’re stupid as John Kerry suggested in his 04′ campaign against incumbent George W. Bush. Many political insiders considered that the key factor in his close loss that year.
Romney has the momentum
Study Ronald Reagan’s brilliant presentation in the 1980 campaign. Not only was he low key in his approach to the highly unpopular incumbent, he praised the American people and “forgave” them for their ill-advised 1976 vote with a subliminal approach. Voters came away feeling a vote for Reagan was a vote to reverse their past errors free of bullying or ridicule.
The tepid economic recovery and voter pessimism will keep Obama keep his job approval under 50 percent. Instead of running on speculation and promises, as was the case in 2008, a hardened Obama who has gotten a taste of the real world being president. His campaign cannot run on his record, so distraction will be the strategy.
Even with all the help the 2008 economy gave Obama, he only garnered 53 percent of the vote. He won by only seven points. Today his job approval ratings are about the same as they were in April, 2010. In November of that year, the Republicans defeated Democrats by almost the same exact margin to take the House.
Romney needs to hold the swing voters who defected in the 2010 elections. His campaign strategists know the case against Obama. Now the electorate needs to hear the case for Romney.
It won’t be that hard.