President Obama’s team perhaps once hoped to reenact Ronald Reagan’s triumphant 1984 march to reelection. But it’s now clear that they’re condemned to repeat George W. Bush’s much less inspiring campaign in 2004. The playbook is clear: A barrage of negative advertising to define your opponent before he can define himself; a stream of issues and events to mobilize your base; and a meticulous ground game to squeeze every last vote out of the base come November.
Like a lot of liberals, I’m skeptical of the idea that successful businessmen are likely to become successful presidents by virtue of their business experience alone. But there is one way in which business success seems very likely to benefit a future president: fundraising. It’s not just that the businessman knows a lot of affluent people whom he can tap for money, though that helps. And it’s not just that the former businessman is steeped in the social mores of businesspeople, making him deft at rubbing elbows with those he doesn’t know.
One demographic has plagued Obama since his primary duel with Hillary Clinton: white voters without a college degree. Although Obama ultimately won enough white non-college voters to win the presidency in 2008, his performance was underwhelming by historic standards. And over the last four years, Obama’s already tepid support among white voters without a college degree has collapsed. At the same time, the “newer” elements of the Democratic coalition—college educated and non-white voters—have continued to offer elevated levels of support to the president.
You have to feel sorry for leaders of the Michigan Republican Party: They have a tough job this year. They want to promote Rick Snyder, the Republican governor. The obvious, easy way to do that is to highlight the state’s economic record. Since Snyder took over as governor in 2010, Michigan’s unemployment rate has fallen steadily to 8.3 percent, which is only slightly higher than the national average. (See graph below.) That’s pretty remarkable, given the state’s well-chronicled troubles. But nobody seriously believes Snyder’s policies have a lot to do with the Michigan's recovery.
Amid all of the commentary this week on what the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country thinks of the Obama’s campaign attacks on Bain Capital (Democratic blowback!), I’ve seen little analysis of what Obama is actually up to with his critique of Romney. If you take a look at what Obama is actually saying, he’s not only attacking Romney for the infelicitous particulars of private equity, he is more broadly suggesting that Romney’s background as a businessman—the chief asset Romney is running on—does not necessarily translate into being a good president.
Since Lanhee Chen joined the Romney campaign in March last year, his public pronouncements have been liberally seasoned with snark. Tweeting about Newt Gingrich during the first Florida debate, he wrote, “Thanks for explaining why you were forced to resign in disgrace, Mr. Speaker.” In April, he tweeted: “[David Axelrod] says Obama to be judged on his record.
Was President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage crassly political? God, I hope so. Like a lot of people, I worry about the impact that Obama's comments will have on some independent voters, and about whether it will cause trouble when the Democrats hold their convention in North Carolina, which just voted overwhelmingly against gay marriage. But like a lot of people, I'm also hopeful that the gay-marriage endorsement will help Obama pick up some other independent voters.
Republicans in Congress belatedly closed ranks behind Mitt Romney this past week, with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell abandoning their neutrality in favor of the clear nominee. The goal is a happy political marriage until Election Day in November—and, ideally, beyond. Arranged marriages of this sort—between presidential candidates and their parties’ members in Congress—are practically mandated by the election cycle.
Another day, and yet another story about the Romney campaign’s efforts to get their man to open up more to voters. This time, it’s Jason Horowitz’s turn to tackle the subject, in the Washington Post Style section, and he does as good a job of it as anyone, if you ask me, because he correctly diagnoses the problem as one of “trying too hard.” And like previous examples of the “what’s up with Mitt” genre, the piece includes examples of anecdotes that Romney’s supporters ardently believe that the candidate would do well to invoke more often on the trail.