Last week, three separate polls showed President Obama pulling ahead of his Republican opponent, former Governor Mitt Romney, in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia, and Florida. While some have already begun to write the Romney campaign’s political obituary, there are three reasons why the Massachusetts Republican shouldn’t panic about these latest revelations from the campaign trail.
1) THE BOUNCE: There is no doubt, the Democrats put on a spectacular convention in Charlotte. They had great speakers who delivered on-point and well-received speeches (with the only possible exception of the president himself). Former President Bill Clinton did a fantastic job wooing independent voters by spinning Obama’s less-than spectacular economic record and framing it in a way that would appeal to undecided voters. But, Obama’s convention bounce, as all convention bounces do, is beginning to dry up. In national polling, Romney has already made up any lost ground he ceded to Obama over the last two weeks and the race has returned to a dead heat.
2) JOBS JOBS JOBS: As Bill Clinton once famously noted in 1992, the elections is about the “economy, stupid.” Despite Obama’s insistence that the American people are better off than they were four years ago (even though Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley admitted we aren’t and David Axelrod suggested the same thing a few weeks ago), the numbers still don’t add up. There are a record number of people on food stamps, 60% of citizens fret the country is heading in the wrong direction, the median net-worth of American families is at a 20-year low and the unemployment rate stubbornly remains above 8% (which doesn’t even include the millions of Americans who are either underemployed or who have simply given up looking for work). The Fed conceded the point last week when Chairman Bernanke announced the third wave of quantitative easing for the sole purpose of stimulating unemployment numbers. Sooner or later, Romney will be able to use the president’s record as a potentially lethal weapon in the upcoming debates.
3) THE MONEY: The Romney campaign has a distinct fundraising advantage and the overall campaign strategy is starting to shift. Obama’s strategy was to hit Romney hard with negative advertisement early in order to define Romney as a out-of-touch plutocrat before Romney’s campaign had a chance to do so. Now, Romney will have the advantage in this department. He has the resources to blast the airwaves in a frequency that Obama may not be able to match. Hopefully, he will use Ann Romney as his primary television star to try to soften his image.
At the end of the day, the situation isn’t as bleak for Romney as the pundits make it appear. Polls will go up and polls will go down. Romney has already begun to shift his overall campaign strategy as the race moves into its final leg. He will unveil more specifics about his campaign pledges and he should devise a strategy to win over undecided voters who like the president as a person but are disillusioned with the last four years. And perhaps the most important thing for the GOP to remember is the election is still roughly two months away, which is an eternity in politics. Anything can happen.