We are in a referendum election. No matter how much David Axelrod or Mitt Romney's detractors wishes it were not, the referendum will be on Barack Obama's job performance.
In every referendum election, the main questions are Q1) Can I vote for the incumbent based on his record? Whenever an incumbent is under 50, the electorate has made the choice and that choice is nyet . Swing States where the President is currently underwater to 50%: Ohio (47), Virginia (47), Florida (45), Iowa (46), North Carolina (44), Colorado (45), Missouri (42), Wisconsin (44), Michigan (48), Pennsylvania (48), and New Hampshire (48). All poll numbers are from Rassmussen Reports latest polling as reported by Real Clear Politics.
Q2) Is the challenger such a kook or slime bucket, the answer to Q1 doesn't matter? Kook = Dennis Kucinich; Slime Bucket = John Edwards. Axelrod and Burton took a shot at portraying Romney as a slime bucket with taxes, off shore accounts, Bain Capital, Richie Rich, etc. Their boss' numbers didn't move and Romney's actually crept up. They could take a shot at kook but really who is going to buy Romney as a kook? Well, I guess Larry O'Donnell did try this with his shameful Mormon rants so let's not put it past Axelrod and Burton just yet. Restore Our Future might want to put the following ad into circulation just to tamp this down (or show it at the convention).
For those wondering, PolitiFact did call this ad: True.
If a John Edwards moment doesn't arise in the next 3 months, Obama's only chance at reelection will be to get enough voters to re-examine Q1 i.e. defend his record or shift the blame for it.
This might seem to be at first a defense of the Obama record (I am assuming Obama is on the teleprompter). It is not; the Obama administration will look for a scapegoat and that scapegoat will be the Tea Party. The attack will be along the lines of what Aaron Sorkin debuted a couple of weeks ago on "Newsroom" (or Time-Warner stockholders pay Aaron Sorkin to run Obama campaign commercials). To wit, Sorkin ran out the Tea Party was radicalized by the Koch Brothers to thwart the Obama recovery(not to bring about smaller government). The Obama administration will start with our plan worked and we were on the road to recovery until 2010, follow it with a merciless and relentless attack on the tea party and then draw the conclusion "It's the Tea Party's fault not mine". It's a ridiculous lie but selling it, is all they have. Romney being ready to counteract it, is all that stands between him and being the 45th President of the United States.