Today’s Courier Herald Column:
If the election were held tomorrow…there would be a lot of political consultants and government officials who should be fired for cause.
I spent Tuesday evening with Atlanta’s Red Clay Democrats on a panel discussing the 2012 elections and what potential outcomes we could expect nationally and in Georgia in its aftermath. It was a panel discussion that included House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Emory University’s Dr. Alan Abromwitz and the University of Georgia’s Dr. Charles Bullock. The first question, asked by the AJC’s Aaron Sheinin, cut to the chase: Who will win the Presidential election?
The two professors, both among the best in their field, gave excellent rationales based on current polling and past election trends that President Obama is likely to be re-elected. Representative Abrams agreed, though was quite fair and diplomatic about the challenges that lie ahead for the President’s campaign in order for him to close the deal.
Getting the luxury of going last, I made the most direct prediction. Since I usually spend my time on Georgia Politics, I confidently predicted Mitt Romney would win Georgia.
The truth of the matter is, however, that Romney is currently playing catch up. In an election cycle where the economic news favors a challenger and where the favorability ratings are negative against the incumbent, the math of the electoral college still favors President Obama. Yet despite the fact that early voting is underway in some places already and begins here next week, there’s still quite a bit of the campaign left. For Romney, a change must start with the debates.
Romney essentially won the Republican primaries through attrition. He was the last man standing after almost every other candidate got a time at front runner for the GOP. Romney won not because he presented a bold vision or a detailed plan, but because one by one, the other candidates were found to be unacceptable.
In this general election, Romney and the Republicans have generally made a decent case as to why the President shouldn’t be re-elected. What needs to be communicated clearly, concisely and effectively is why Romney would be better for the country. In short, Romney must make the case for Romney.
When Ronald Reagan was elected during the recession of 1980, he offered a compelling vision of why America still had its best days ahead. He offered the original version of Hope and Change that the country has shown as recently as 2008 it still has an appetite for.
The 2012 election has not been about hope from either side. Neither candidate has inspired the country. Rather than inspire the country to unite as one, each side has essentially played a divisive war of attrition. As the professors pointed out Tuesday evening, the numbers do not favor Republicans in this type of contest.
In his keynote speech to the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had perhaps the best line of advice for Romney as he now enters the final month of the campaign. “Leaders don’t follow polls. Leaders change polls.”
Mitt Romney is currently losing in the polls. Though all expect the race to tighten, the status quo of the campaign does not play into Romney’s strengths.
Romney seeks to lead the nation. To do so, he’s going to have to change the polls.
Between Wednesday night and October 22nd there will be three Presidential debates and one debate between Vice President Biden and Paul Ryan. They will enjoy a national stage to make their case.
Time is running out, and Romney is running behind. Yet the opportunity remains there.
If Mitt Romney is to be the next President, he must spend the next three weeks painting a compelling portrait of why he will be better, not just present the shortfalls of President Obama.