Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How come Romney isn't running away with it?

So if this is indeed the worst economic recovery in the history of economic recoveries, how is it that Mitt Romney isn't destroying President Obama in the polls?

Three possibilities:

One speaks to voter myopia. While the recovery's weak, it's picked up some steam (albeit slightly) of late. I.e., it's trending better. And a better trend would support the status quo. In the reverse, think candidate Al Gore: The Democrats, you'd presume (coming out of the roaring '90s), would have had economically-inspired political mojo to burn. However, by election-time 2000, things had begun to cool (albeit slightly) - ushering in the presidency of GW Bush.

Two would simply be Mr. Romney's physical stiffness. He appears anything but comfortable in his own skin. And while his promises are grand, the longer it takes him to come up with detail, the more platitudinous they become. Remember Al Gore's lack of swagger?

Three would be the most disturbing (regardless of whom you support). That while both candidates make their promises, it may be the President who's promising all the right things (in a getting-yourself-reelected context). Consider:

According to the Pew Research Center*, in 1999, 74% of Americans agreed (to some degree) with the statement "Most who want to get ahead can make it if they are willing to work hard." As of 2011, that figure had fallen to 58%. Of course there's a stark economic contrast between the above periods. Folks in 1998 were living one of human history's greatest booms. Folks in 2011 just experienced all-time's second greatest bust. And the latter were exposed to a cronyism that its perpetrators (Washington and Wall Street) could no longer keep hidden. Thus it makes sense that Americans might be losing that old bust-your-butt spirit, at least for the moment. And when 42% of the populace feels hopeless, which campaign style do you suppose will attract the most votes?

With the debates, who knows how many more gaffes, attack ads and employment numbers to come, we're a long way from November 6.

*First saw the Pew stats in A Capitalism for the People.




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