- Support NDN
Why I Am Not Nervous
All of a sudden DC is full of chatter about Democrats worrying about the state of the Obama campaign. While I don't think this election is in the bag, I am not as worried as some of the talking heads around town. The President is winning this election right now, and has better tools to win the economic debate and end strong than the out of touch Romney campaign.
One credible look at the current state of the Electoral College is that if the election were held today President Obama would win, even without five critical states - CO, FL, IA, NC and OH, all states he could end up winning. So he has what I would say is a comfortable lead in the electoral college as of today. Of course the election isn't today, but if it were held today, he would win.
Second I just don't see how Romney can win the economic argument with this President. Republican economic policies did indeed help create the economic distress of recent years; Romney's record in Massachusetts leaves a lot to be desired; the candidate did in fact practice a form of capitalism good for him and not so good for every day people; and perhaps most importantly, he has embraced the nutty Ryan plan which is economically ruinous for the nation, and politically suicidal.
It appears at this point that the Republican strategy in 2012 is to repeat their 2010 campaign approach: argue that Dems have spent too much money, the economy is too weak, their strategy has failed. The problem with this from a messaging and campaign media standpoint is every middle class voter already knows all this while not agreeing that Obama has failed. I keep wondering what value all this money the Republicans have for paid advertising will add to the debate. The rough economic times are already baked into Obama's approval rating, and while disapointed with the President, the American people neither view him as a failure nor do they believe that he is to blame for what has happened. For the GOP to get value out of their campaigns this fall they will have to develop a better argument than what they have now - either a better, newer and more effective indictment of the President, or, god forbid, an argument for what they hope to do to make things better for every day people struggling for far too long.
As for the President, his campaign has spent the last month instilling a lot of new information about Romney's record and economic philosophy into the electorate This has been smart. My assumption is that the next phase of this effort to fill in what isn't known about Romney will move to educating the public about the loopy and disastrous Ryan plan, an act that i think will be devastating to the Romney campaign if handled right.
Additionally, this idea that Obama has no forward looking agenda is absurd. Has any politician in America these last two years given two State of the Unions full of forward looking arguments? Presented two incredibly detailed budgets which would make smart investments while bringing down the deficits over time? Offered a specific set of things for Congress to do right now that would help spur the economy as it is today? While I agree that the campaign may not have yet fully spelled out the go forward agenda in its public communications, the President has. One assumes the campaign will step up its efforts to educate the public about these matters in the coming weeks. And I do think this effort will add value to the debate as far too little is known about the progress which has been made across many different fronts during these last few years.
Using a baseball analogy, the 2012 campaign is in the fifth inning, and the President's team is winning. They may not have won the fifth inning itself, but their lineup and pitching staff are stronger, and they have what they need to close out and win.
I should say before closing that if the economy really turns bad, then of course this all gets tougher for the President. But it is too early to know whether we will head down that road.
So while I may not agree with everything the President's team has done of late, I am confident they have the tools they need to win the election this fall. I cannot say that for his opposition.
My prediction for the next wave of DC chatter - a focus on the Romney's team inability to make progress against the President on the economy, and the cry from GOP circles for a new and better economic argument.
Update - For my take on what the message of the 2012 campaign could be i send along my op-ed, Crafting An American Response to the Rise of the Rest.
Update 2 - Need to make it a little more clear that I am indeed more worried about the current trajectory of the economy more than I am the political strategy of the Obama campaign. While there is some evidence that the economy has slowed of late, I think the likely scenerio for the fall will be that the economy is neither as strong as Obama wants nor as weak as the Republican's are trying to make it. Which is why the current Obama effort to draw attention to the things we could do now to help the economy is appropriate, and smart.