Swing State Pres

Friday, August 10, 2012

Election Week in Review (August 10, 2012)

The week started off with last Friday’s employment report, which was a classic “mixed bag,” with the good news of an additional 163,000 jobs, offset by the bad news of the unemployment rate ticking up a notch to 8.3%.  This set up a news cycle comprised of each side picking one of the numbers for its own purposes – until wily old Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid managed to steer it back quickly to Romney’s taxes.  Reid claimed that he had a credible source who told him Romney “didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.”  The source was both unnamed as well as unverified by a second source, and thus it was a rather unscrupulous charge.  But, no matter, Harry hijacked the news cycle, Romney was forced to talk about his taxes for a few days – with firm denials to the charge --- and the economic news was backburnered.

Romney’s fundraising prowess lit up the scorecard in July, bashing Obama for the third straight month, $101 million to $75 million.  But Obama continues to outspend Romney in his quest to “define” Romney with a deluge of negative ads in swing states.  And it seems to be working, judging from the polls.

Speaking of polls, there were three new ones this week that all told the same story, more or less:  Obama’s lead is widening.  Reuters/Ipsos:  Obama +7, CNN/ORC: Obama +7, and Fox News: Obama +9.  All these polls were among registered voters, who tend to be a point or two more favorable than other polls that are among likely voters.  But 7-9 points is quite the margin....well outside the MOE (Margin of Error).  Wow.

Which leads, naturally, to thoughts on Romney’s vice-presidential selection.  My theory has been that if the race was close, Romney would play it cautious with either Senator Rob Portman of Ohio or former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.  But if Romney started slipping, he may be forced into a more provocative choice from take your pick:  Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Condoleezza Rice or Chris Christie.  Given those recent polls, the odds on the latter group are rising, despite major problems with each.

·         Senator Marco Rubio from Florida is too young (he was born a few weeks before the Watergate break-in…he’s 41) and Romney can’t put someone on the ticket who is less experienced than Obama (can he?).

·         Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is not a gray hair either, at 42.  He is the author of the budget plan embraced by Romney and most Republicans, and a Tea Party darling.  But while Romney needs more right wing cred, he can’t put someone on the ticket who is ultra-conservative (can he?).

·         Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has plenty of experience but a whole host of negatives.  She would be a very high profile choice, but Romney can’t put someone on the ticket who is so identified with George Bush and so pro-choice (can he?).

·         New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is the Republican darling and wannabee candidate for 2016, but Romney can’t put someone on the ticket who is so volatile, un-Mitt-like and only about Chris Christie (can he?).

My bet is that he remains the cautious man and goes with Portman, despite the poll slippage.  He likes Portman, Portman is “ready to be President," and is from crucial swing-state Ohio.  The fact that he doesn’t seem to help the ticket in polling of the hypothetical ticket in Ohio is nagging at Mitt, I’m sure.  But Mitt is the anti-McCain, and he’s not going to lose this thing because he threw an ill-advised long bomb.  The risk is, he throws a down-and-out, and ends up there.  We'll see soon....maybe even this weekend, certainly before the convention begins on August 27th.

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