The nail that seals Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s political coffin may have been driven this week by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has vacillated between being a Democrat or a Republican but has long espoused a moderate political view that probably reflects the views of the core of independent voters.
That his decision to endorse President Obama for reelection comes because Mayor Bloomberg sees the president as a leader on climate change and has praise for him in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is fascinating. Hurricane Sandy robbed pollsters of several days polling opportunities, and though they are likely to get back on track by the weekend, some of the hard hit areas on the East Coast will remain hard to measure. That leaves polling uncertain for the final weekend. Still, we can see trends that are running against the Romney campaign.
Up until now, climate change has been almost entirely neglected in the election debate, which has focused nearly exclusively on the state of the economy. In fact, when addressing energy Romney says little more than that he likes fossil fuels such as coal, likes domestic drilling for oil, and is skeptical about clean energy from wind and solar, once infamously commenting “you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.”
Climatologists are careful not to blame Hurricane Sandy solely on climate change, but the correlation is difficult to ignore, and with it Romney’s derision over the president’s desire to stem the rise in the oceans now falls flat.
Meanwhile, until now Romney has led the president in the public view that he has a better idea of how to fix the economy. But that lead on the economy may have eroded with new numbers showing that consumer confidence is now at the highest level since 2008, that the economy continues to grow, if slowly, and that unemployment, at least in the battleground states, is on the decline. Depending on what happens with October job numbers, the public concern about the economy may continue to ease. Already, Tuesday, the BLS announced that urban unemployment rates were lower in September than a year earlier in 345 of the nation’s 372 metropolitan areas.
So where does that leave us? President Obama gets better ratings than Romney on likability, on foreign policy and on having the backs of the middle class. If the economic issue is even slightly defused, the Romney momentum will likely stall. That will give the edge to the president who, though tied nationally with Romney, remains ahead by a hair in the battleground states.
As to dealing with Hurricane Sandy, President Obama’s swift and aggressive response, putting federal assistance programs into quick operation, has also surely caught the attention of undecided voters. That is likely to mirror the view of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (though a Republican) who was effusive in his praise of that response, saying, he wanted to thank the president for his “personal concern and compassion,” in dealing with the crisis.
That federal response shines especially in comparison to Romney’s position that FEMA should be defunded and the states put in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters. Ask citizens of New Jersey if they want that now.
Thus with only a long weekend between us and the presidential election, across the board the issues seem to be trending in Obama’s favor and so, too, likely the election.