As I study the news looking for clues as to who is going to win the White House in November, I am struck by how, no matter where I look – from the most obvious to the things only a political junkie finds under a rock or in some tea leaves, etc. – every single indicator (big and small) points to a Romney victory and, in fact, something awfully close to an electoral college landslide. While I will, of course, discuss the polls, the vast majority of my analysis comes from observation and common sense.
Let’s first establish a baseline. Mark Levin asked a room full of folks at the Ronald Reagan library recently, “Do any of you know a single person – even one – who didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 who plans to vote for him in 2012?” The answer, of course, was “no.” Not a single person in the room knew a single person who Obama had, in the course of his presidency, convinced that he was better than they’d expected him to be. Conversely, we all know at least one person – and I personally know more than a dozen (because I ask) – who voted for Obama in 2008 who nothing less than rues the day.
Given that Obama’s 2008 victory was, while large in size, in no way numerically historic, and that he had all sorts of advantages (being a blank slate, following eight years of war after 9-11, etc.) that he won’t have this time, Obama’s chances for a second term are significantly lower based on just Levin’s observation alone. But, for Obama, it gets worse.
Not only is the pool of potential Obama supporters way down from 2008, so too is the enthusiasm amongst those who still, to one degree or another, prefer Obama over the alternative. Whereas, not all that long ago, Obama could pack football stadiums and basketball arenas with ease, not even the lure of attending the big campaign kick-off event was enough for Obama supporters to come, leaving the venue half-empty. If you can’t get your supporters to an historic rally in the spring, there’s little chance they’re going to drive to the polls in the dead of winter.
Worse still for the President is that, in order for him to have pulled off his original victory, he needed unprecedented enthusiasm (manpower, money, votes and more) from a handful of the Democrat Party’s traditional constituencies such as blacks, Jews and those under twenty-five. If these numbers were to simply return to normal, then Obama’s chances of a second term are only further diminished. But logic and evidence suggests Obama’s support from these groups will be less – in some cases far less – than what any and all Democratic nominees can count on. This is because, thanks to his policies, each of these constituencies has a specific and rightful grievance against this president. These grievances not only dampen their enthusiasm for Obama but, in many cases, turn them against him.
Blacks, for example, particularly hard hit by the liberals’ fifty-year war against the traditional family, have taken singular exception to Obama’s clearly politically motivated endorsement of homosexual marriage; Jews are rightly concerned about the most virulently anti-Israel President since the Jew-hating Jimmy Carter, while the young who have (attempted) to enter the workforce are suffering the realities of looking for a job in an Obama economy and can’t be wholly unaware that each dollar of new deficit Obama racks up will be expected to be paid for by them. Will Obama still take a majority – even a large majority – of votes from these constituencies? Of course. But in every way – manpower, financial contributions and votes – not only will Obama fail to receive record support as he did in 2008, or even the usual support a Democrat needs, he will fall short and even see some of that support drift to Romney.
There is one more constituency that Obama had to win – and win big – in order to win the White House in 2008 that is now not only less supportive but greatly disgruntled.
They are the independents (and even some right-of-center Republicans) who might well have disagreed with many of Obama’s policies and prescriptions but who were willing to accept four or eight years of an Obama presidency in exchange for the promise his rhetoric offered of a more civil America. Higher taxes, more wasteful spending, they believed, were an acceptable price to pay for a “post-partisan” America and maybe even a “post-racial” United States.
After four years of the most viciously partisan presidency in anyone’s living memory and the most race-charged administration most of us can ever recall (not to mention the vile tactics so closely associated with Obama and his administration, which are named after his hometown, “The Chicago Way”), those who voted against their policy preferences to elect the guy with “hope” and “change” are and can be nothing less than disgusted with him.
The category pollsters use to measure this sentiment is called “likeability” (or “personal favorability”) and Obama’s rating in this category is plummeting. The only way that a failed president can win a second term is if the people like and trust him. According to the latest New York Times poll, Obama’s tactics have left him “favorable” to only about one out of every three voters (36 percent).
Other recently released data suggest that Obama is in big trouble as well. Not the least of them is the Obama camp’s inability to get people to donate to their campaign. Not all that long ago, a confident (arrogant?) Obama team was predicting so much support that they’d bring in more money than any other campaign in human history – over one billion dollars. So far, not only has Obama not come close to being the greatest fundraiser in all of human history, he’s not even the top fundraiser in his two-man contest for the presidency. In fact, he trails Romney’s financial support by a wide margin.
This is important not just because money is a plus in any campaign (though not nearly the plus that many make it out to be) but because it is a tangible action. Answering the telephone and saying “yes” or “no” ten times to some stranger from a polling company doesn’t require much of a commitment. People who donate to a campaign are likely to do even more for that campaign and they are almost guaranteed to do the one thing that matters most: vote.
And there is more evidence of an impending Romney victory to be found in how each camp is conducting its campaigns. The strategies employed, the rhetoric chosen, all of these things reflect the campaign’s belief about where they stand at any given moment in the contest.
For example, it is simply a truism in politics that a candidate who believes he’s winning stays on the message that put him in the lead. Those who believe they’re losing change their message until they find one they believe is a winner. Romney has run almost the entire time on a single, compelling and positive message. At its heart it’s something like “America is in economic dire straits. I’ve made my fortune and my reputation saving big and complex things (the Olympics, major industries, etc.) from economic dire straits. Vote for me and I’ll save America.” Romney’s staying on that message makes clear that, at the very least, his own internal polling and other evidence has convinced his campaign that he’s winning.
Obama, on the other hand, seems to be premiering a new message just about every week or two. It’s a practice of the desperate not so delicately known as “Throwing sh-t against the wall hoping something sticks.” Clearly, then, the Obama camp’s inside information is telling them the same thing my analysis and Romney’s intelligence is telling us: their messages aren’t working and that they trailing in the election.
Making matters worse for the president is that, while Romney’s message is positive and promising, the tenor of Obama’s ever-changing messages has been singularly negative. As a failed president, since he can’t run on his record, the only option available to him is to try and render the alternative so far beyond the pale that, no matter how bad Obama is, the alternative is just unacceptable. In other words, the entirety of Obama’s message (whatever it is at the moment) is comprised not of words like “Vote for me because” but only “Vote against him because…” Such an unrelenting campaign of negativity – the only option for Obama – only serves to further undermine the only thing that could possibly help him win: his “likeability.” It’s a catch-22 from which Obama is unlikely to be able to escape.
Making matters worse still for the current president is that, in these ever-changing messages, Obama’s case against Romney has ranged from beneath the dignity of a president of the United States to beneath contempt to beneath sanity.
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