By no means are the 2012 elections decided. By all accounts, this election is too close to call, and, as a political analyst (or at least a self-styled one), I am fully aware that attempting to dissect the polls this far out from November can be folly. Watching the 2010 elections unfold was as elating as watching the vast zombie turnout of the 2008 elections was depressing. But 2012 is a completely different animal when compared to either of those.
There are a lot of things that point to a good year for conservatives.
To start, Obama’s job approval ratings are stuck. They’re not even fluctuating as would be usual for a president at this point in a term. I believe this is because there is a base of said previously mentioned zombies that would vote for Obama even if he came to their house and ate their family pet (which I have heard is not so far-fetched!) But their numbers are far fewer than they were in 2008. According to pollster Scott Rasmussen, who is very regularly accurate, Obama’s total approval ratings have been stagnant at roughly 47% since the summer of 2009, with a very few points breaching the 50% barrier briefly. This would be very bad for any president’s re-election prospects, but it also shows that 47% is likely the low side for Obama, which probably buoys his campaign’s hopes. The problem for Obama is the stark difference between those who strongly approve of his performance and those who strongly disapprove. Only 25% strongly approve of this president, while 41% strongly disapprove. This is a problem for Obama because those who feel the strongest are also the ones most likely to vote.
In 2008, conservatives had McCain on the presidential ticket, who I like on a personal level. The man is a war hero. He was a prisoner of war. He has given a lot to this country. But many conservatives, including your’s truly, have a low opinion of him on a policy level. The media may have slammed him in 2008 as some sort of wild-eyed conservative hack, but prior to that they were drooling all over him as a “maverick”. McCain was the “rational” conservative that they could love, until he ran against the anointed one. I refused to vote for McCain and I abstained from voting on the 2008 presidential ticket. Staying home was a mistake that many of us made, and I don’t believe that mistake will be repeated. I’m not saying that Romney is any better on a policy level. There are certainly some things during Romney’s term as Massachusetts’ governor that would give any good conservative pause. But the last 3 1/2 years has served to open many conservative eyes to the damage to our country that a full-blown liberal is capable of doing, and, while Romney may not be so perfect a candidate, even the hardest conservatives are coming to understand that he would be much prefered to the disaster that is the Obama administration.
In 2010, much like 1994, the public had developed a clear case of “buyer’s remorse”. We had the wind of the Tea Party carrying us despite, or perhaps abetted by, the media attempts to villainize us at every turn. With Obama not on the ticket, and Democrats running from him as though he had contracted leprosy, we sailed to a clear victory. We fell short of taking the Senate, but those were very uphill odds, anyway, and we had the biggest sweep of the House in my lifetime.
Obama is on the ticket this time, and though many Democrats are still distancing themselves from him, we can not count on the afore-mentioned “Obamazombies” to stay home this year. It’s going to be close, but we have a lot to be excited about. The Tea Party retains influence, much to the chagrin of liberals and the old-guard media. National polls show a dead heat between Obama and Romney, and within margin of errors for battleground states. At this point, this is a great thing for Romney, because polls generally over-sample Democrats, but also because Romney isn’t even legally allowed to spend presidential campaign money until after the Republican convention this August in Florida. He is still operating on funds from his primaries. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign, undeterred by a primary contest, has been free-spending like no tomorrow on negative campaign ads in contested states, with little effect on the poll numbers, if any. Obama has held a record number of fund-raisers, more than our last five presidents combined, and yet some reports have his campaign coffers in the red due to his profligate spending. Most strikingly, unions, his most historically stalwart supporters, have chosen to reduce direct campaign contributions in favor of contributing to general election funds and Super-PACs, where Romney has a clear lead.
Another cause for hope is that Romney has yet to choose a vice-presidential candidate. Choosing a really strong one could be a huge boost for him in the polls, while even an uninspired pick would likely not be damaging, at least not in that area. Personally, I hope that he doesn’t choose a lackluster candidate like Pawlenty or even Portman, though Portman could at least help in Ohio. However, unless the Romney camp spins wildly and chooses someone who makes the media have a collective coronary–someone they can easily demonize such as Sarah Palin–there will be very little risk to Romney.
The primary focus in this election for likely voters is the economy, and the Obama economy is a disaster. He has been able to hide himself from that issue most recently, but as the elections loom closer his ability to do so will wane considerably. Even the media will not be able to shield him from his dismal economic performance. Couple that to the fact that his signature health care legislation remains very unpopular, with the Supreme Court exposing his duplicitous claims that his mandate was never a tax, and even the most stalwart Democrat political strategist would have to admit, if only privately, that Obama is in grave danger this year.
As long as we stay vigilant, and there is no major “October surprise” to derail the elections, we have every hope of removing Obama from office this year and taking back the Senate.
Please stay vigilant.