President Obama heads into October with a five point edge over Mitt Romney, according to Gallup, 49 versus 44 percent. We are two days away from the first presidential debate and speculation about the outcome runs the gamut, from rumors of mysterious Romney game-changers to the Sword of Bain Capital hanging over the Republican’s head. Will Romney raise the roof or will the roof fall on him?
What is striking to the observer is the perception that the Romney camp is trying to jockey for position while the Obama camp just keeps relentlessly driving its point home. It isn’t Barack Obama who feels the need to change the narrative of the campaign. By claiming Romney’s debate performance would, Gov. Chris Christie is just underlining Republican weaknesses. The perception is universal: Romney is on the ropes.
Appropriately, the first debate Wednesday night in Denver, will focus on domestic issues. And in the category of bad timing for the Romney camp, the latest Gallup poll shows that people believe Barack Obama is better for middle-income Americans by a tally of 53 to 43 percent. This is according to new USA Today/Gallup poll results released today.
That might cause the Romney camp in wince, at least privately. Publicly, they will insist the polls are skewed, but that’s more an appeal to Stephen Colbert’s “reality has a liberal bias” meme than to actual facts. And the facts are that it is difficult to find any poll right now that gives Romney an edge.
It is hardly a surprise when Gallup reports that “Other groups that Americans believe stand to do well under Obama are racial and ethnic minorities, women, young adults, and senior citizens. Anywhere from 53% to 67% of Americans name Obama as better for these groups, compared with fewer than half picking Romney.”
It is hard to feel good about the Republican message when you’ve been kicked out of Romney’s pup-tent and into the yellow rain of trickle-down economics. Love is one thing missing from the Republican platform.
The poll also shows that respondents believed rich folks and investors would do better under Romney.
In other words, the results are about what you’d expect. You could draw the conclusion that either Obama has succeeded in getting his message across or that Romney has failed in getting his across. Or you could conclude that, as RMuse wrote here the other day, Americans are just becoming better informed.
The results were also partisan, as Gallup points out, “with the vast majority of Republicans and Democrats naming their own party’s candidate as better for most groups.”
Gallup, while pointing out that you never quite know how these images are going to play out in the election, does make one thing clear. Obama has a big advantage if the middle class feels they are better off with him at the helm:
Perhaps the most important of these groups for the candidates is “middle-income” Americans, as this represents the broad core of the electorate and, among income groups, is least strongly supportive of one candidate or the other. The fact that Obama has a 10-percentage-point edge over Romney in perceptions of the candidate who would be better for this group may help explain his current advantage in registered voters’ preferences for president in Gallup Daily tracking.
Romney is at a clear disadvantage coming into Wednesday night’s debate. He is behind in the polls, on the defensive because of a wide variety of slip-ups by him personally and those associated with his campaign. Christie perhaps thought he was helping by saying that the debate would change the entire narrative of the campaign, but how can that not ramp up expectations for Romney to shine?
And let’s face it: Romney has so far failed on every occasion, to shine. He is wooden, unlikeable, and can’t seem to say what he means and to mean what he says. His campaign whines that fact checkers are the enemy and his wife whines that everybody should just leave poor Mitt alone and that she worries about his mental well-being.
If Mitt wanted to be left alone, he shouldn’t have run in the first place. If he cannot survive the rigors of the campaign with his sanity intact, than the presidency, more difficult by far, is not the job for him.
Public opinion, as this latest poll only confirms, is not his friend. It is difficult to find a single fact that is his friend. He hurts more often than helps himself. And even his running mate seems to hurt him as much as help him with the comments he makes. We talk about Romney being on the spot but how much worse will it be for Ryan, supporting a guy whose public position puts him at odds with the positions Ryan held going into the campaign? We’ll find out on October 11 when Biden and Ryan meet in Centre College in Danville, Kentucky.
Sure, there is a chance Romney will walk away from Denver on Wednesday victor of the debate, but how many people really believe that is likely?
Obama stood firm in the face of relentless lies told by McCain in 2008. It is unlikely that Obama will be shaken by Romney’s lies in 2012. The polls show people already support Obama and it is difficult to imagine in what way Romney could change the narrative of the campaign except by quitting now, before he’s any farther behind.
The middle class favors Obama. Romney thinks we all make $250k and Ryan says it would take too long to explain the Romney tax plan refers vaguely to studies that support his claims. Given Mitt Romney has already evoked nearly every possible stance on nearly every imaginable issue, it is difficult to imagine him finding anything to say that will radically alter the likely outcome of the debate, let alone Election Day in November.
If the middle class is the key, Romney will have to do more than play a sort of anti-Don Quixote because right now, Americans clearly find his bizarre windmill-jousting less than convincing.
Photo from CSMonitor