Much has been made over the past few weeks of Mitt Romney’s dip in the polls. President Obama’s lead now has eclipsed the margin of error. Some may chalk this up to Obama’s convention bounce or the missteps the Romney camp has had recently. A new tape of Romney at a fundraiser claiming that the 47% of Americans who pay no income tax will automatically vote for Barack Obama doesn’t help his cause. However, the reason Romney is dipping, or even susceptible to such dips, is an issue of his fundamental campaign strategy.
The Romney general election strategy is based on the notion that no President with an economy this bad can be reelected. In this scenario, all Romney would have to be is a credible alternative and theoretically he should coast to victory. It’s the strategy that Chris Christie used in his 2009 New Jersey Gubernatorial win. He relied on the unpopularity of Jon Corzine to win. Anyone can look at numbers that say a good majority of Americans say the nation is on the “wrong track”. You can look at numbers giving Romney a generally positive economic rating while giving Obama a mediocre to low score. All of the evidence says that Romney should be winning. Yet, he is not.
The reason behind this anomaly is Romney is only giving reasons to fire Barack Obama and not giving many on why he himself should be hired. It’s true that many Americans are willing to replace Obama, but they have to simultaneously have a reason to replace him with Romney. After Paul Ryan was chosen as Romney’s running mate, many conservatives, myself included, rejoiced that finally this election would transcend Mitt Romney’s tax returns and what the Obama camp alleges he did while at Bain Capital. The Ryan pick allowed Romney to go big. Ryan is by far the best explainer in the conservative movement. He’s able to break down cumbersome policy into bite size portions. Romney should let him do that. This election should not be about two men, it should be about two sets of ideas and ideologies.
Oddly though, Romney seems to be placing his bet on issues he can’t win. His focus on biography opens up attacks on Bain and his tax returns. His push on likability reveals Obama’s massive lead on that score. He should focus on issues. Paul Ryan’s budget is now linked to Mitt Romney, so defend it. Make that the clear alternative to a President who hasn’t signed a budget in over 1,000 days. This is only the beginning of a real contrast between two ideologies not simply two men. Romney need only pick up the sword and fight.
If Romney intends to make this election a 1980 style incumbent defeat, he must do what Reagan admitted, “It wasn’t that I was a great communicator, it’s that I communicated great things.” Romney must start talking about the great things he brings to the table, not simply his resume`. That is how Romney wins this election. Or put another way, it’s how Mitt Romney gets hired for the job of President of the United States.
*The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.