Back in the ancient political days of January 2011, I co-authored a piece with the title 12 Reasons Obama Wins in 2012.
Now that Mitt Romney has a lock on the Republican presidential nomination, this is a good time to revisit the 12 original reasons and (unfortunately) add 10 more.
First, let’s see how the 12 reasons from that January 2011 piece have stayed relevant over the last 16 months.
1. The Power of Incumbency
This reason stood tall and is still #1. For more on this important factor here is a piece I wrote back in mid-2011.
2. Love Story Continues
Yes, the mainstream media is still in love with “The One”, and they do not seem to be embarrassed about it either.
3. Billion-Dollar Campaign
Obama’s campaign may not make it to the $1 billion goal but close to a billion will sure come in handy and more than likely surpass Romney’s take. (Although Obama’s Super PAC is falling flat in its fundraising and the strength of Romney’s Super PAC could even the playing field.)
But one of the reasons Obama’s actual campaign could out-raise Romney’s campaign is Obama’s campaign is playing a little fast and loose with credit card donation security measures. In other words, there are none. This makes it easier for foreign or illegal funds to grease the wheels of Obama’s money machine.
4. Experienced Campaign Organization
All that money has bought, and will continue to buy, loads of media, staff, and offices resulting in an Obama campaign organization that is battle-tested and ready. While Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were beating up on Mitt Romney (and he was beating back) Team Obama was busy building a campaign machine second to none, spread across the fruited plain and especially heavy in battleground states.
5. Obama Charm Offensive
Yup, Obama is still charming and personally likable, especially to the gullible. This is a strength that should not be underestimated. His latest favorability ratings revealed a ten point spread with 53% favorable vs. 43% unfavorable.
Meanwhile, the First Lady is playing an integral part in sustaining the First Couple’s Charm Offensive.
6. Economy is Improving
That was the trend back in January of 2011 when the unemployment rate had dropped to 9%. Now, the latest March 2012 rate has dropped again to 8.2%. This official number is still very high by historical standards but the trends are in Obama’s favor.
However, the most negative factor dogging the Obama recovery are rising gas prices. This is the issue on which the election could hinge. No surprise there.
7. They’ll Be Back
This was referring to the demographics of the voters who did not show up en mass in the 2010 mid-terms. These were liberals, minorities, and younger voters, otherwise known as Obama’s 2008 core groups. But for the 2012 general election they will be back in a voting booth near you (with or without picture ID).
8. Obama, “The Moderate”
Of course this premise is absurd to any conservative but perception is reality for most general election voters.
At the time this piece was originally written, 44% of independents called Obama a moderate. Now Obama is playing the moderate card in a high stakes game by saying the GOP has moved so far the right that even Reagan could not make it through the primary process. This talk makes Obama appear moderate by comparison which is of course his strategy in what is still a center-right nation.
9. Republican Sparring Match
This one we called spot on, but more on this later.
10. Never-ending Campaign
Organizing for America, Obama’s high stepping virtual army is still marching in overdrive. But more important is the “Campaigner in Chief” himself who has attended more fundraisers at this point in an election year than any president in history. As a result, Air Force One is badly in need of an oil change and a tire rotation, all on the taxpayer’s dime of course.
11. Hispanic Vote Growing
Still growing and the growth could be a huge problem for Romney. It has been calculated that he must win 40% of the Hispanic vote if he is to win the general election. McCain only won 31% of this vote, compared to Obama’s 67% in 2008.
Consider a recent Fox News Latino poll that is disastrous for Romney. It shows him capturing only 14% of the Hispanic vote with 70% voting for Obama.
12. Several Paths to 270
Obama has several different paths he could travel to arrive at the 270 electoral votes needed to win. Meanwhile, Romney has to get through what is the political equivalent of the eye of the needle. If for example, he loses Florida it is over. If he loses Virginia than it’s back to Bain Capital instead of the US Capitol.
In early 2011, I also wrote about Obama’s path to 270 and that has not changed.
Now, speaking of Romney’s political “eye of the needle” here are 10 new reasons that can be added to the aforementioned 12.
1. Romney Is Losing Woman Voters
This fact has been dissected in the media ad nauseum, but the poll numbers are still chilling. With Obama leading Romney by 9 points in swing states, women voters could be the difference between defeat and victory. The “women problem” would not just hurt Romney’s election prospects but also prevent Republicans from keeping the House and winning the Senate.
Romney’s loss of women is directly related to the issues surrounding the “Republican Brand” and the primary fight which led to the 9 point gap. In my opinion Romney is not personally responsible for the exodus of women, so he might be able to turn it around by November.
2. The GOP Base Is Not Excited About Voting
Currently, there is an 11 point “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans. A poll says 57% of D’s are excited about voting in the fall vs. 46% of the R’s. Obviously the GOP base has had problems embracing Romney as their nominee and this could be cited as a major factor if Romney is defeated.
3. The Gift of Sound Bites
Romney has handed Team Obama the gift of sound bites; “I like firing people,” “Ann drives a couple of Cadillac’s”, and who can forget this one sure to be played over and over in the fall, “I am not concerned about the very poor”.
The Obama campaign will use these little gems to help define Romney in the minds of undecided voters.
4. Battle Wounds
The primary battle terribly wounded Romney’s favorability rating. Now only 34% of voters have a favorable opinion of him compared to 53% for Obama. This is a 19 point gap that could spell landslide but there is plenty of time for a reversal.
Not only must Romney now work to improve his favorability rating but he must also move to what is considered the political and ideological “middle” where general elections are won. Neither task will be easy.
5. Romney Embraces the Ryan budget
This all important budget battle will add gas to the already raging fire of class warfare. Obama is essentially accusing Romney of being a cold-hearted rich guy who does not care about the poor, sick or elderly.
Nothing could be further from the truth about Romney or the budget. The Ryan budget plan is only attempting to inject a dose of reality into a nation close to $16 trillion in debt with federal spending levels that can not be sustained. Romney, to his credit, is trying to fix a problem that no one wants to fix.
However, with a growing underclass, coupled with Obama’s penchant for fear mongering and distortion, Obama’s emotional arguments will most likely prevail and Romney’s embrace of the Ryan budget plan will hurt him with the same voter groups that he needs to curry favor with in order to win.
6. Romney Is Boring
He looks great but his speaking skills are no match for Obama’s. More important, in our pop-culture-obsessed-society is which candidate will win the question of “Who would you rather have a beer with?” Ah, probably not Romney because as a Mormon he does not drink.
This question of course is really about likeability/favorability and we know who is winning that contest.
7. The Digital Divide is Destiny
There is a huge “Digital Divide” favoring the Democrat party and the GOP needs to play catch-up really fast.
8. Right Track – Wrong Track Direction of Country
Real Clear Politics always posts an important question about whether you think the nation is heading on the right track or wrong track. Now that number is heading in Obama’s favor with those who think we are on the wrong track at 60% down from 67%.
9. Intrade Bets On Obama
The Intrade market is currently betting that Obama has a 60.8% chance of winning re-election, while Romney has a 37.4% chance of defeating him. (These numbers are always changing because this is an active futures market.)
Like all self-fulfilling prophesies, if voters keep thinking and betting that Obama will win, he probably will.
10. The Topic In the Shadows
I hate to even bring up this topic and only will because it could be a factor in peeling off votes from Romney. The issue is Romney’s Mormon faith. A widely quoted Gallup poll from 2011 found that 22% of Americans said they would be hesitant to support a Mormon for president in 2012.
Then, just last week, Utah Senator Hatch predicted that the Obama campaign would use Romney’s faith against him. Also last week, Laurence O’Donnell slammed the Mormon faith on MSNBC and then Bill O’Reilly on Fox News slammed O’Donnell.
A political observer can not dismiss the possibility that Romney’s faith could be a factor that lingers in the shadows and could quietly work to undermine him.
Finally, here is the only good news for Republicans and Romney supporters in this entire piece.
When you add these 10 new reasons to the original 12 reasons, it appears that Romney has almost insurmountable challenges to overcome.
But do not despair, for there is still one question with an answer that could land Romney in the Oval Office. That is the infamous question asked by Ronald Reagan in 1980 about President Jimmy Carter in a debate one week prior to the election when polls showed Reagan was losing.
Reagan turned to the cameras and asked the American people, “are you better off today than you were four years ago?”
This moment turned potential defeat into a landslide victory.
So, if voters in late October answer this question negatively, that, more than any other factor, could work in Romney’s favor and overcome a multitude of Obama’s advantages.