It’s on. Five reasons Romney can win.
Click here to listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, April 30, 2012.
With a clean sweep of the primaries in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and New York and with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich out of the race, Mitt Romney began the general election campaign in Manchester, New Hampshire Tuesday (04/24) night. Now begins what promises to be the most bitterly fought and most negative presidential campaign in modern memory.
President Obama will be a formidable opponent. First and foremost, he’s an incumbent president and incumbent presidents have a distinct advantage over challengers. In addition, Obama still retains a high level of approval and as of this writing has a very strong lead over Romney in fundraising and cash on hand.
But with this said, here are five reasons why I believe Romney can win.
1. Obama’s 2008 campaign represented a clean break from the fatigue of the Bush years and was historic because Obama was the first black man to have a legitimate shot at winning the presidency. The liberal Democratic base, together with a huge percentage of independents, enthusiastically bought in. Fast forward four years and disillusionment among independents and young voters who can’t find a job, together with a large sense of “been there, done that” among voters who turned out for the first time in their lives because of the once-in-history nature of Obama’s 2008 campaign, and Obama will have much harder time generating the enthusiasm that propelled him to the White House.
2. Presidents get fired when things aren’t going so well. Obama counted on an unprecedented level of federal spending to spur the economy to robust recovery from the meltdown of the fall of 2008. Robust hasn’t happened. Worse for Obama, as the general election campaign now gets underway in earnest, little on the economic front is breaking in his favor and it doesn’t appear as if anything will. Conventional wisdom holds that with respect to economic conditions and their impact on an election, July is pivotal. The economic conditions that prevail in July tend to become the narrative for the general election. That leaves precious little time for weak employment numbers, high gasoline prices and a moribund housing market to turn in the president’s favor.
3. For the first time since Reagan, the Republicans have a candidate that can give a speech. The dreary dirges of Bob Dole, the stumbling malapropisms of George W. Bush and the grumpy mutterings of John McCain won’t be working on behalf of the Democrat in this election. As he demonstrated Tuesday night (04/24) in Manchester, NH (listen here) Romney can give a speech. He is saying things that resonate not only with the base but with independents. Oratory was a huge advantage for Obama in 2008. That advantage is severely muted by Romney’s command of the lectern in 2012.
4. Obama was fresh and unsullied by a record in 2008. That is no longer the case. Obama has a record and it is not a strong one. Try as Obama might to sidestep his record, Romney will force it upon him at every opportunity. Related to the point above, Romney seems capable of doing so effectively. This passage and this passage from Romney’s victory speech Tuesday night are just two examples. Little heat has come the way of the Obama campaign from the GOP as Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, et. al. wailed on one another through a hard-fought winter of primaries. But with the GOP primary essentially over, Romney is now free to contrast his vision for the future against the backdrop of Obama’s record of the past three and half years. Such can only help Romney and hurt Obama.
5. Romney believes that Obama can win but, according to anecdotal reports drifting out of the Obama camp, Team Obama doesn’t believe that Obama can lose. The Romney camp knows that any little misstep is going to pounced upon by Obama and by the mainstream media. The Obama camp, according to reports, doesn’t yet think itself capable of a misstep. Such hubris leads to unforced errors. It is unlikely that the Romney campaign will be as inept as the McCain campaign of 2008. This creates an environment less forgiving of mistakes than that which prevailed for the Obama campaign of 2008.
The polls still suggest that the November election is Obama’s to lose. But only just barely and only because Obama has operated in the vacuum created by the GOP primary. The primary is now over and the general election campaign is on. As the campaign gets underway, it is clear that Obama has more downside risk than upside potential as the race unfolds.