Jewish World Review August 10, 2012/ 22 Menachem-Av, 5772
Shouldn't Mitt Romney be ahead by now?
By Roger Simon
It is an open question whether presidential candidates have a special relationship with the Almighty, but at least Romney was in “gaffe-free” territory, it being unlikely that there were many pro-drought activists ready to pounce.
And Romney soon ended the “localizing” of his remarks and reverted to his stump speech.
“President Obama came in with a lot of promises,” he said. “But it is now 42 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.”
The unemployment rate under Obama hit a high of 10 percent in October 2009 and has never done better than 8.1 percent during any full month of his presidency. (It was 7.6 percent in January 2009, but Obama didn’t become president until the 20th of that month.)
And as has been pointed out many times, no president since FDR has been reelected with unemployment greater than 7.2 percent.
Further, more than 60 percent of Americans feel the nation is on the “wrong track” under Obama.
I could list other gloomy figures for Obama, but they all leave me with one question: So why is Obama still ahead in the polls? And not just in national polls, but also in key states that are needed for an Electoral College victory.
Shouldn’t Romney be wiping the floor with Obama? By the measurements Romney uses again and again in his speeches — prolonged high unemployment, a failed economy and the unpopularity of “Obamacare” — shouldn’t Americans be rallying around Romney by a significant majority by now?
After all, how long can Romney wait to catch fire? The election is only about three months away. True, Romney gets the opportunity to make a stirring convention speech — but so does Obama. True, Romney gets the opportunity to make an invigorating choice for his running mate, but Obama has already selected Joe Biden, who has shown himself to be a vigorous and popular campaigner.
True, the events that, in my opinion, actually could turn things around — the presidential debates — lie ahead in October. But there is little to suggest that Romney will be a dead-bang winner in those.
In the Republican primary debates Romney did win, he usually won by appearing more presidential than the others in the very weak and sometimes wacko Republican field. And now Romney will be standing on stage with a real president with almost four years of experience in that office, making it difficult for Romney to lay back and pull off the “more presidential” ploy.
Obama has had the advantage of taking national security — usually a Republican strong point — off the table with the killing of Osama bin Laden and America’s weariness for more lengthy wars of occupation.
But Romney is running on prosperity and lunch-bucket issues, and just about every analyst I have read believes domestic issues will determine the outcome of the November election.
“A lot of people in the middle class are falling into poverty,” Romney warns. And President Obama, Romney says, just doesn’t know how to change that.
But what do the Great Gods of Politics, the opinion polls, show?
They show a country that still likes Obama more than it likes Romney. And by quite a bit.
As I have written for years, I have a simple — OK, simple-minded — way of determining who is going to win the presidency: The more likable candidate wins. Not always, but almost always.
On Aug. 2, a survey published by the well-respected Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found Obama was leading Romney by 51-41 percent for the presidency, the eighth time in a row since January that Obama has led Romney by between 4 and 12 percentage points.
But more importantly by my Simple Simon standard of likability, Romney’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 37/52 compared with Obama’s 50/45. Which means Romney had a net unfavorable rating of 15 points while Obama had a net favorable of 5 points.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post and ABC News released a poll showing 40 percent of voters approving of Romney and 49 percent disapproving. When it came to Obama, 53 percent of voters approved and 43 percent disapproved.
Which gave Romney a net disapproval of 9 points and Obama a net approval of 10 points.
Two different polls don’t exactly establish a solid pattern, but the Romney people must be very, very worried.
Romney said in that Des Moines auditorium, “The American people are tired of being tired.”
But if the recent polls are correct, the American people also may be tired of Mitt Romney.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate