Rob Horowitz: President Obama is in Solid Position to Defeat Romney
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
As the Democratic Convention begins, President Barack Obama is solidly positioned to capitalize on his politically successful summer and to continue to build on his slim, but important advantage over his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney.
Despite the nation’s economic struggles, President Obama’s job approval rating continues to hover near 50 percent -- 49 percent according to Pollster.com and 48 percent in the Real Clear Politics Average. His job approval rating is about the same as George Bush’s was when he won a close re-election victory against Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
Obama’s favorability rating -- a measure of likeability -- remains high and likely voters continue to give him good marks for honesty. While most voters are dissatisfied with the state of the economy, there is nearly across-the-board recognition that Obama inherited the most difficult economic situation since the Great Depression.
Just as important, Mitt Romney’s failure to define himself over the course of the summer allowed the Obama campaign to fill in the blanks. Romney’s unfavorable rating has risen to 50 percent as the Obama campaign effectively defined his tenure at Bain Capital as one devoted to outsourcing and exploiting tax loopholes and successfully painted Romney as out of touch with the middle class. While Romney’ s speech and the other speeches at the Republican convention probably helped a bit on this score, he still enters the decisive last 60 days of the campaign as not more than a minimally acceptable alternative to President Obama in most voters' eyes.
Further, Romney missed an opportunity at the Republican convention to put forward a specific policy agenda that differs substantially from still-unpopular George Bush whom most voters still blame for the Great Recession. While his speech, and some of the other speeches, did a good job of making the case against Obama and of filling in some biographical details, it was remarkably free of any new ideas or policy substance.
The Obama campaign will likely use the first couple days of the convention in large measure to demonstrate exactly how Romney’s ideas are the same ones that got us in the fiscal mess in the first place and to show how his policies will benefit the rich and hurt the middle class. Since Romney has not fleshed out his platform, the Democrats will be all too pleased to do the job for him.
Since President Obama is already well defined and voters have a relatively fixed opinion of him, his speech is no where near as important as Romney’s. However, it is still critical for him to give voters a glimpse of what he plans for the next term and also some hope for how he can achieve accomplishments in what will likely remain a divided Washington and a divided nation, no matter who wins the election. Obama needs to go beyond simply saying that if he wins the election, the mandate will be enough to break the DC logjam.
This remains a close race and the difficult economic conditions in the nation still give Mitt Romney a real opportunity to win in spite of his struggles as a candidate. Romney will also be able to substantially outspend Obama in these decisive last two months. All in all, however, as we head into the Democratic Convention, I would rather be the President than his opponent.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
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