One of Romney’s great skills is the ability to turn around failing enterprises. He did it with private firms while he ran Bain Capital, he did it for an indebted Massachusetts, and he did it for the Olympics. He needs to do it for his campaign now.
Neil Newhouse, Romney’s pollster, attempted to soothe worried Republicans last week by stressing that the race remains extremely close. But the fact that Romney’s pollster isn’t worried is itself worrying. By rights, Romney should be ten points ahead. His campaign seems to think the bad economy will automatically win this race for the Republican.
It isn’t as if voters are unaware that the economy stinks. Yet the morning after the Democratic convention, the dismal jobs report did not prevent Democrats from getting a bigger bounce than Republicans had received. Reflect that three and a half years of miserably high unemployment, slow growth, increasing poverty, falling labor-force participation, record-setting food-stamp dependence, and an average 5 percent decline in household income has not persuaded most voters to support Mitt Romney.
On the contrary, the Gallup job-approval rating for Obama topped 50 percent after the jobs report for the first time since 2010. Job approval tends to be a good predictor of an incumbent’s share of the vote. By contrast, George H. W. Bush, the last incumbent to lose reelection, stood at 39 percent approval at this stage in 1992. And Bush’s economy wasn’t nearly as dismal.
The Romney campaign has failed to make the case that Obama is responsible for the economy, whereas Clinton/Obama have made a spurious but perhaps effective argument that Republicans got us “into this mess” and will pursue policies that will be no better and may be worse. The Democrats argue that Republicans want only to help their rich friends, not the middle class.
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