Political prognostication is more an art than a science, and as longtime readers of this column will know, I’m very far from a virtuoso in that art. Nevertheless, I will cautiously, ever so tentatively offer the prediction that Mitt Romney will defeat Barack Obama this November.
Political prognostication is more an art than a science, and as longtime readers of this column will know, I’m very far from a virtuoso in that art.
Nevertheless, I will cautiously, ever so tentatively offer the prediction that Mitt Romney will defeat Barack Obama this November.
That’s based on how things look to me at this stage of the presidential race. Like most people, I have no prophetic gift of seeing the future. Last year I correctly predicted (as did many others) that Newt Gingrich would certainly not win the Republican presidential nomination. Admittedly he did a lot better than I expected, but his ambitions did not survive the bruising but undeniably interesting GOP primaries.
But I also predicted that Romney would not be the GOP nominee. Contrary to my expectations, neither RomneyCare nor that troubling sense that Romney just might not have a heartfelt and sincere moral and philosophical core have led to the unraveling of his candidacy.
After winning more than enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination, Romney has worked to dispel that troubling sense and to ensure he has his party’s support, both the moderate, pragmatic GOP establishment and the conservative base who went shopping for some other candidate during the primaries. Whether enthusiastically or reluctantly and resignedly, it appears that the GOP has united behind their presumptive nominee.
The course of a campaign often takes unexpected or unpredictable turns — for a while one candidate seems to be on top, then the next week his fortune changes. For most of this year things have not been favorable to Obama’s re-election. The economy remains dismal, unemployment remains high, and Obama’s approval rating remains below 50 percent. As a general rule, incumbent presidents do not win re-election under those conditions.
The “enthusiasm gap” is another sign that Obama’s re-election bid is in trouble: polls show conservatives and Republicans are much more motivated to vote this fall than liberal and Democrats. Naturally, that has been translating into a fundraising gap, as Romney has caught up with Obama in the money race and is now poised to overtake him.
Other things that do not augur well for Obama include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s triumph over a well-funded recall effort, Congress finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, Obama’s invoking executive privilege to prevent Congress from learning the truth about Fast and Furious, and the growing list of Democrat officials who are announcing that they will not attend the Democratic National Convention.
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To be sure, Obama has had some good fortune lately, the most important being the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling that upheld "Obamacare" as constitutional. An adverse ruling probably would have angered and motivated many on the left, but overall it would have been a serious political defeat for Obama. Romney would have been able to promise new health care reform efforts, and could have said, “Unlike my opponent’s reforms, mine will be constitutional.” The Obamacare ruling hasn’t harmed Romney, though, and has angered and motivated many on the right, creating energy that Romney can harness.
At this point in the campaign, with the polls still showing Obama and Romney in a statistical tie and Obama having few achievements to show undecideds and independents, Obama’s only hope is to go negative, as he has done. But Robert Trachinski asks, “So why has the Obama campaign launched their attack on Romney so early and allowed it to become so vicious? I think they realize that they are running out of time. If they don’t ‘define’ Romney in hopelessly negative terms now — and by ‘now,’ I mean now — the game is over.”
That’s because, Trachinski says, the Olympics will temporarily overshadow the presidential race while reminding people of how Romney saved the Olympics in 2002. Then will come the announcement of Romney’s vice presidential pick, and then the Republican National Convention. After that, Obama will have precious little time, and very little money, to defend against Romney’s well-funded campaign.
Like Trachinski, I doubt Obama’s smear campaign will work. Unless Romney’s campaign suffers some unforeseen setback or scandal, President “You Didn’t Build That” will have to find himself a new job in January.
And in November we’ll see if I’m right.
Jared Olar may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.