Much to the Obama campaign and the Time’s chagrin I would suppose. You see, the economics and politics of unemployment are personal, and most of those who find themselves in that position don’t care about Bain Capital or Romney’s tax returns. That’s essentially the message the most recent NYT/CBS News poll reported:
Despite months of negative advertising from Mr. Obama and his Democratic allies seeking to further define Mr. Romney as out of touch with the middle class and representative of wealthy interests, the poll shows little evidence of any substantial nationwide shift in attitudes about Mr. Romney.
Personal situations trump political rhetoric, especially when the political rhetoric has no bearing on that personal situation. Apparently, unlike the media, most of the public still realize what is important. They aren’t caught up in the politics. They want answers to the hard questions … the questions the Obama campaign would just as soon ignore.
Thus the distraction game.
But, apparently, that game isn’t working.
The new poll shows that the race remains essentially tied, notwithstanding all of the Washington chatter suggesting that Mr. Romney’s campaign has seemed off-kilter amid attacks on his tenure at Bain Capital and his unwillingness to release more of his tax returns. Forty-five percent say they would vote for Mr. Romney if the election were held now and 43 percent say they would vote for Mr. Obama.
When undecided voters who lean toward a particular candidate are included, Mr. Romney has 47 percent to Mr. Obama’s 46 percent.
Now that’s pretty much dead even with the challenger, despite all the negative ads and stories, having the slight edge.
Frankly, given history, it shouldn’t be this close at this point. Even Jimmy Carter had a lead at this point in his re-election campaign.
The poll is another among many indicators that the Obama presidency is in trouble. Take it for no more than that. It’s a temperature check. A snapshot.
However, when put together with all the other temperature checks, you begin to see a campaign that isn’t at all healthy.
I can’t say I’m shedding too many tears over that. And it also says that the voters are, at least to this point, able to push aside the distractions, focus on the key issues and hold a president accountable that desperately seeks someone (or something) to blame his failure on or an issue to distract from that failure.
If you’re wondering where all this nonsense about Bain Capital is coming from and why, Jen Rubin of the WaPo gives you the low down:
The Obama team knew months ago that the economy would not sufficiently improve before Election Day to justify his reelection. Its polling showed simply blaming President George W. Bush wouldn’t be sufficient. The president and his political hacks concluded that it was too late and too risky to adopt a whole new second-term agenda. (It would risk offending either the base or centrists and reveal his first-term agenda to have been entirely inadequate.) So what to do?
Extend the Republican primary by running ads hitting Romney and encouraging Democrats to vote against Romney in Michigan and elsewhere. Then, before Romney could fully get his bearings, unload a barrage of negative attacks, scare mongering and thinly disguised oppo attacks through the mainstream media, taking advantage of many political reporters’ relative ignorance about the private equity field and their inclination to accept whole-hog President Obama’s version of “facts.”
We here at Q&O have addressed the problem of media ignorance many times in the past. I’ve seen in manifested in both the military reporting and, of course, economic reporting. In fact, what that ignorance produces is a steno pool that pretty much reports what it is told vs. having the knowledge and experience to spot inaccuracies or disingenuousness put out in press releases or talking points.
When you add a bias, this becomes a very dangerous but potent means of accomplishing the twin goals of discrediting your opponent and distracting the public from the real issues (economy) and the President’s record (abysmal).
Obviously our latest attempt at distraction is Bain Capital. With the 800 pound twin gorillas of 8.2% unemployment and multi-trillion dollars of debt, you can bet that this is really the only avenue open to the Obama campaign and, as soon as they’ve gotten all they can get from this distraction, they’ll have another lined up and ready to go (my guess is it will have something to do with the Mormon faith).
Rubin is of the opinion that the Obama campaign has “shot its wad”. They don’t have the money the Romney campaign has, the Bain nonsense isn’t resonating with voters and the polls have not moved significantly since they’ve started it. I say, not so fast.
When you have a compliant media ready, willing and able to be your stenographer, money really isn’t a problem. Romney’s campaign may have more money by you can bet it won’t get as much free press engaged in taking down Obama. In fact precisely the opposite will be true.
It is a mistake to believe that the Obama campaign is pretty much done with its apparent failure to see Bain swing the voters to their side. They know they have to stay away, as much as possible, from unemployment and the economy. My guess is we’ll see the new line of attack begin to unfold within days, if not weeks. Because here’s what they’re faced with (according to a Democratic strategist):
On the one hand, the last round of Bain attacks has clearly rattled the Romney campaign, and a smattering of survey evidence suggests that the sustained ad campaign in swing states has scored some points. On the other hand, the Pew survey found no shift since May in swing-state voter preference.
But it’s not too early to say that Obama’s vital signs look dicey. Over the past 33 months, his job approval has been lower than George W. Bush’s at a comparable time in his presidency for all but one week. Bush averaged above 50 percent in the quarter before his successful reelection campaign, while Obama has been stuck in the 46-48 percent range for months. And the famous “wrong track” measure now stands at 63 percent, versus 55 percent in the days preceding the vote in 2004. If these two numbers don’t improve for Obama, his presidency will be in jeopardy. And they probably won’t — unless the economy perks up noticeably.
The economy won’t perk up noticeably by November. And that means they’re not done with the distraction campaign … it’s all they have. That means it is only going to get nastier and nastier.
Mark my words.
The smell of desperation in the air is clear and significant.