‘Romneyshambles’ continues apace. When not dismissing half the US Electorate as layabouts who he won’t even bother canvassing, or having Tim Pawlenty jump ship before the campaign’s even over or consistently being polled as a loser to an incumbent in the worst recession since the 1930s, Mitt Romney can do no right. President Obama is currently comfortably ahead, and without the Democrats counting chickens, and barring serious accidents, looks set for re-election. 2012 could have been there for the taking for the Republicans; instead, they’re eyeing up probable defeat. Being neither lucky, adroit, nor impactful, Romney looks more like ending his campaign without it ever having taken off.
So what’s up with Mitt? He is proving to be a most uncharismatic, downright un-likeable flag bearer for the GOP. While we know he likes making money, and lots of it, his Country Club Republicanism is that of the Golf Club Bore, going on about how the first million was the hardest to make, that he really identifies with the little guy; doesn’t he talk to his Help? When he courts/panders to (depending on your point of view) the Tea Party, how does this Captain of Private Equity square his actions with the views of the little man? Nobody, apart from his family and close friends, seem to really know who Mitt Romney really is.
Eisenhower Republicanism has been marginalised since Richard Nixon’s time and Romney knows this (with perhaps George Bush Senior the last of the Ivy League Brahmins that could appear to be centrist). He can’t get nominated without tacking to the Right, nor can he get boots on the ground or enthuse his Base by moving to the Centre. Both candidate and Party are stuck in a ‘They Eat Horses, Don’t They?’ dance marathon where the end is victory for the Democrats on November 6th.
Yet even the Base is deserting Romney. He has neither the ‘Morning in America’ aura of Reagan, the Foreign Policy Cold War expertise of Bush Snr nor the died-in-the-wool conservatism of Dubya. He is, famously, the ‘etch-a-sketch’ candidate; he is apparently a pollster’s dream, jumping from one focus grouped opinion to another but they all seem to be losing positions. He is failing to make his insincerity effective. He roundly condemns ‘Obamacare’ having implemented much the same while Governor of Massachusetts.
And what of the President? Obama has succeeded in painting his opponent as Richie Rich and his opponent has succeeded in confirming that stereotype. Whether it’s offering $10,000 dollar bets as though they’re mere trifles or writing off anyone who isn’t earning above $200,000, or failing to connect on a most basic level with main street America, Romney has become trapped by his own failings. Barack Obama just has to sit back, look Presidential, and start unleashing some rope-up-dope killer punches. David Axelrod must be thinking that the campaign is running much too easily and will be rightly cautious, but he must be extremely pleased with how all the pieces have fitted smoothly into shape.
There are two big potentials but they’re only ‘ifs’ for Romney. If the ‘Bradley Effect’ is operating and potential voters are just too embarrassed to say they’re voting for the Rich Guy, then the polls could move. The other big hope for Romney is landing a knock-out blow in one of the debates. Both would seem unlikely possibilities at this stage. Who is more likely to be the cooler debater, capable of skewering an opponent: a President that appears to have earned the trust of the electorate or a Republican Candidate with nothing to lose who is increasingly desperate at this stage in the game? Romney is in serious trouble, and President Obama looks like being returned to Office.