Heard on NPR news this morning that in response to Romney/Republicans outraising Obama last month, approximately, $100 million to $75 million, Obama’s campaign is making a “desperate” appeal to supporters. Of course, taking advantage of this news to open up wallets is nothing less than I would expect, but I daresay this fundraising gap does not make things desperate for Romney. The money key in any campaign is to have enough to get your message out and to effectively combat your opponent’s ad spending. Does anybody doubt that Obama has enough for that. Let’s put it this way, if the average Ohio voter ends up being exposed to 9 Romney commercials a day, but only 6 Obama commercials, do you really think that’s a meaningful advantage for Romney. Now, if it were 9 to 1, that would be meaningful.
In fact, one of my favorite findings in political science literature is that incumbent congressional candidates who spend the most are more likely to lose. Why? Because this means that they are locked in a tight race with a well-financed challenger and have the need to spend a ton. Of course, more money is always better than less, but when you are looking at two clearly well-financed campaigns, it is not that big an advantage to have more. John Cassidy also brings this up in a nice post today, appropriately titled, “Romney needs a lot more than money”
In today’s politics, money is a necessary condition for success, but it’s by no means sufficient. From Steve Forbes in 1996 to Meg Whitman in 2010 and Rick Perry last year, the political landscape is littered with the detritus of well-funded campaigns that self-destructed because the candidate wasn’t up to it, the opposition was too strong, or the objective conditions were unfavorable.
He then goes on to make the case that Romney is in real trouble:
Right now, Romney is in grave danger of joining the list of money-rich candidates who ended up as roadkill. Look at the polling data. According to the Real Clear Politics poll of polls, Obama is up about three and a half per cent in the national race, his biggest lead in quite a while. At the state level, the numbers are even more worrying for the G.O.P. Just last week, Rove himself acknowledged that Ohio and Colorado, two key swing states, had moved from “toss up” to “lean Obama,” and that Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, three states Romney desperately needs, were still too close to call. If the Republican candidate doesn’t win Florida and at least two of three from North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, it is very difficult to see him getting two hundred and seventy votes in the Electoral College.
Cassidy’s prescription for Romney:
In his convention speech and in his other appearances, he has to show the American voters not only that he’s a highly competent businessman with a perfectly honorable record but also that he’s a decent, honest person who understands some of the challenges faced by the less fortunate.
If Cassidy is right about that’s what it will take for Romney, than he really is in trouble. I honestly don’t think he fundamentally understands the challenges faced by the less fortunate. Regardless, money is not going to help him with his problems of how Americans perceive him. Money can’t buy you love or a new personality.