Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Panic! At the Campaign

Did you know that the Democrats are panicking? It's true. I know it because I read it in the media. Obama's campaign is panicking. FOX News says that Obama's panicking. Even Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager (and I'm pretty sure the other half of Loggins and Messina) worries about Democrats panicking.

Why the panic? Jobs numbers, dumb comments about the private economy being fine and a general sense that Obama just isn't on his game obviously have the progressive left in a panic about the president's chances in November. A closer look at what's actually happening with the campaign shows that there is no need for panic, and, indeed, there is reason for optimism.

The conventional wisdom, until last week that is, was that Obama's ads attacking Romney's record at Bain Capital were doing more damage to Obama than to Mitt. Surprise! That's not the case. In fact, the attacks have had their intended effect. More people have a negative view of private equity firms according to the latest polls. Imagine that; negative ads that produce negative responses towards your opponent. Perhaps the Republicans should try that.

The real wonder is that Democrats would entertain the idea that a negative ad aimed at Romney highlighting his past actions would somehow be off limits (do you hear me Bill?). This is the point in the campaign where you'd better define your opponent or they will define themselves. It's exactly what the Romney campaign is trying to do on the economy and it's what Obama needs to continue to do until the conventions.

The blabbering media narrative from last week also focused on the effects the dismal job numbers and Scott Walker's win in Wisconsin would have on the president. What's the reality? The latest polls show Obama holding on to his lead, though it is reduced from a month ago. Obama's approval ratings? Gallup has him +4 and Rasmussen at -4, which are pretty much where Obama was a couple of days after the economic reports were released. Conclusion? The president is in decent shape. Even the folks at Intrade have Obama with a more than 52% chance of reelection. That is hardly a reason to panic.

The latest state polls also provide good news for Obama. He's +6 in Pennsylvania, and a poll on Wednesday showing Romney ahead in North Carolina by 2 was really good news for the president because it also showed him inexplicably with only 78% of the African-American vote. Really? Anybody who believes that Mitt Romney is going to rack up 20+% of the African-American vote in November is either dreaming or on bath salts.

Ultimately, this race will be about the economy and jobs, and right now Obama has a jobs plan and Mitt doesn't. Obama has a pragmatic foreign policy record and Mitt just wants to throw bombs at the world. Energy prices are down, marriage equality is up, and even Obama's gaffe might help him in the long run.

I'm not panicking. This was always going to be a close race for a variety of reasons, and for all of the problems the president is currently having this month (with the health care ruling still to come), Obama is in good shape entering the summer. Romney has yet to tell us what he'd do as president and most polls say the public sides with Obama when it comes to balancing cuts with revenue and long-term investment in America.

Still, we all have those nervous moments. If you feel a panic attack coming on, let me soothe you at: www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives and on Twitter @rigrundfest 

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