For a couple weeks, headlines have screamed the presidential race is over. I started to think everyone had already voted even though I don’t remember going to the polls.
But then again, maybe it is over. Unless Mitt Romney does something extraordinary– which we have yet to see from Romney in his five years of campaigning for the presidency– President Obama will be reelected.
Romney’s problem is that he hasn’t done much. Romney’s campaign is: "Look what a bad job Obama's done, and I'm not that guy." The polls are showing that strategy is not good enough.
Polls show Mitt Romney falling behind in battleground states like Florida (Obama +7%), Ohio (+5%), Virginia (+5%), Colorado (+5%), Iowa (+8%), and New Hampshire (+7%). Of the battlegrounds, if President Obama wins Ohio and Florida, the race is over.
Since the Republican National Convention, four things occurred changing the race: 1) The flop that was the Republican National Convention which produced no bounce for Romney; 2) President Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention explaining the distinction between Obama and Romney; 3) Romney’s intemperate response to the September 11th attack on the American consulate in Benghazi; and 4) the videotape calling 47% of Americans that do not pay income taxes moochers.
That Romney doesn’t get many of that 47% are Republican voters makes him seem even more out of touch. Unfortunately for Romney, he has done a better job at defining himself as an out-of-touch rich guy than the Obama campaign has.
We have heard Mitt Romney tell Americans that we will need "shared sacrifice," that all of us will have to give things up to make America better. The problem is that he hasn’t detailed what the sacrifice will mean; which likely means it will likely hurt middle-class Americans. He has said he will lower taxes while also doing away with certain unnamed tax deductions. What does that mean? Does that mean that the mortgage interest deduction– which millions of middle class Americans utilize– is gone under a Romney presidency?
That is Romney’s problem: he hasn’t told us. And unfortunately for Romney, as Bill Clinton laid out a couple weeks ago in the Democratic National Convention, the math doesn’t add up. Romney’s pencil sketch on what he wants to do, lower taxes, including taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while raising defense spending, doesn’t add up. When asked how he was going to make that work, Romney wouldn’t give an answer.
And that’s why we see the shift toward President Obama. The "Look at what a bad job that guy has done and I’m not him" strategy is clearly not working. We are 36 days from the election and we still do not know what a Romney presidency will look like. That’s why the polls are breaking for Obama.
36 days is roughly 17 lifetimes in politics. So, Mitt Romney has a lot of time to change the momentum. But he has to use that time to lay out his plan for Americans. He has to give us something other than "I’m not that guy" while pointing at Obama to win.