State of the race

Nice summary from Nate Cohn on where things stand 90 days out:

Over the last four years, Obama’s coalition suffered deep enough losses to give his challenger a legitimate path to victory. But those losses were narrow and concentrated among white voters without a college degree, as Obama retains near-2008 levels of support among minorities and college-educated whites. As a wealthy former CEO of a private equity firm with an awkward cadence who could never call himself a great politican, Romney has never naturally appealed to white working class voters, and, as a result, Romney’s ability to capitalize on Obama’s biggest weakness requires him to overcome his own.

With three months to go, these weaknesses are as pronounced as ever. The Obama campaign adopted a strategy to remedy their weakness among white working class voters by defining Romney as an out-of-touch, outsourcing plutocrat willing to close factories, fire workers, and avoid taxes to advance his self-interest. If the Romney campaign possessed effective tools to blunt Obama’s offensive, they weren’t properly employed. Instead, the Romney campaign inexplicably focused on attacking a well-defined incumbent president, while permitting Obama and his allies to broadcast unflattering and uncontested tales about an undefined challenger.

Boston’s ill-advised strategy has endangered Romney’s chances. Romney’s unfavorable ratings remain high and he hasn’t yet consolidated the disaffected white working class voters with reservations about Obama’s performance.

That all strikes me as about right.  I think Romney’s biggest problem– as Cohn highlights– is working to appeal more to the middle without losing the conservative base:

Romney’s deficient conservative credentials limit his ability to tack to the center, a move which would have served him extremely well. Boston’s inability to effectively rebrand their candidate—despite sustained unpopularity since he ascended to national prominence—raises the question of whether they’re capable of improving his image at this late stage. If they couldn’t make Romney popular before, how will they do it now?

Not too long ago, I thought Romney really might win this thing.  It is still a definite possibility, but at this point, I think a fair-minded analysis would have to agree with Cohn’s conclusion: advantage Obama.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

One Response to State of the race

  1. mike from Canada says:

    “…defining Romney as an out-of-touch, outsourcing plutocrat willing to close factories, fire workers, and avoid taxes to advance his self-interest.”

    The problem for Romney is this seems pretty much to be the exact truth.
    But he also forgot to say Romney has been willing to change his stance on any (or every) issue in order to gain power.

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