Forget the negative ad campaigns and celebrity endorsements: President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign is at its apex. The latest CBS News Poll speaks to a potentially easy two months for the incumbent President.
Slight Lead, but Much More Enthusiasm?
Obama is polling overall at 46%, with Romney just one point behind. Despite such a close race, “just over half of the voters who back the President say they enthusiastically support him – far larger than the share of Romney’s supporters who say the same (35%)." How could this be?
Republicans have come together not because of a common love of Romney, but instead through a common hatred of Obama. This might rally voters now, but will surely backfire. What if Romney did win, and Medicare ended as we know it, and 31 million Americans were deprived of rudimentary health care? What if Romney weren't living up to his promises? Without much enthusiasm now — when he’s already putting his best foot forward — Romney has a slim chance of increasing his personal popularity in the future.
Women for Obama; Soccer Moms for Romney
Once again, Obama holds the upper hand when it comes to American female votes: 10 points separate him and Romney. In response, the RNC has responded by focusing on those females who are married, stay-at-home, soccer-driving moms. Romney recently said, “You’ve got a lot of moms that are driving their kids to school and practice after school and other appointments and wonder how they can afford putting gasoline in the car, at the same time putting food on the table night after night.” His wife Ann spoke at the RNC Convention with that same matronly audience in mind.
Romney is really ignoring a crucial part of equation here. By addressing only the stereotypical domestic female role, he isolates thousands of American females. There are plenty of single, city-dwelling women who admire the conservative economic plan, and they should be easy votes for the Republican party. Mary Ann Carter, director for the Republican Super PAC Young Guns Network, said, “We talk about the economy. We talk about healthcare. We talk about energy.”
But if Romney’s speeches continue to engage only housewives and moms, women outside of the mold will continue to support Obama by an embarrassingly large margin. And when was the last time soccer moms (or, perhaps the more fitting hockey moms) won an election single-handedly?
Playing the Empathy Card
About 43% of Americans believe that Romney “has a clear plan for creating jobs” – a depressing comparison to Obama’s 35% rating. Right below this statistic, however, is one about empathy. 54% say that President Obama “understand problems of people like [themselves],” while only 41% can say the same about Romney.
This juxtaposition is, in my opinion, Obama’s secret weapon. Indeed, the American public may think that Romney is the only choice for economic stimulation, but they know for sure he's not the answer to all. The American public has concerns outside of the financial sector. They care about issues of women’s right to choice; they’re passionate about legalizing gay marriage; they’re more trusting of Obama’s foreign policy record. And Obama understands — and takes action about —such concerns. Romney, on the other hand, only has empathy for those at the top of the food chain.