Saturday, July 14, 2012

The "Bain" of the Campaign...

Hi all,

Lots happening during the summer doldrums...
  • Another poor jobs report - advantage Romney
  • Supreme Court essentially upholds the Affordable Care Act - advantage both Obama and Romney
  • Focus on Bain Capital - advantage Obama
  • Condi Rice floated as potential VP - advantage Obama (but it won't happen)
If this election is about Mr. Obama's stewardship of the economy, he will be in serious trouble as the economy is usually THE driving issue of any presidential election.  The economic recovery has been unusually weak and more importantly, the public perception is that we remain mired in recession.

This being the case, if I was advising the president, he would be conducting the campaign exactly as he is. He has to make this a choice, not a referendum.  Since the middle of June several strategic decisions have been implemented to these ends.
  • The executive order on allowing illegal immigrants meeting certain criteria to stay has bolstered the president's support among Hispanic voters and may help with turnout in essential states such as CO, NM, NV, and NC.
  • Endorsing same-sex marriage helps with the liberal base and fundraising.
  • The recent statement on allowing the tax rates on those earning over $250k to increase to 2001 levels is a clear shot at Romney and helps with the narrative that Romney is wealthy and out of touch. 
  • And to top things off, the recent story that Romney was listed on Bain Capital's SEC documents after he left the company in 1999.  This also supports the assertion that Romney oversaw job outsourcing resulting from Bain's M&A activities.
All in all a good month for President Obama. The conversation is mainly about Romney and not on the tepid economic numbers.  One of the top rules in a campaign is to define your opponent.  Romney is in danger of being defined in the most unflattering of terms.

The president's team has been impressive in creating a picture of Romney morphing into Gordon Gecko.  There have been huge ad spends in swing states focused on Bain Capital's outsourcing of jobs.  This message may resonate among working class whites who otherwise may be Romney supporters.  It also undermines Romney's main argument - that he is a businessman and knows how to promote economic growth.  Romney is on defense and playing constant defense in a campaign means that you are not winning.

However, overall polling numbers remain close, although Romney's negatives are ticking up somewhat.  Several news organizations have concluded although Romney remained Bain CEO on paper, that he was not part of any management decisions and was focused on the 2002 Winter Olympics. That can be difficult to explain though and does not neatly fit into a 30 second ad.

This week Romney has (finally) got out there in the media to make his case.  He needs to make his case and shift focus back to the economy and soon. Additionally he needs to shape his own definition - waiting until the Republican Convention in six weeks may be too late.

The danger for the president is that he can be painted as a negative campaigner and trying to do anything possible to distract from the economy.  If Romney can get this message out, he may be able to parley the past several bad weeks into an advantage going forward.

Next post - VPOTUS (Vice President of the United States) picks and prediction.


The Prof

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