100 Day Sprint: GOP needs a whopper convention

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have had a fairly great couple of weeks, with Ryan clearly energizing the ticket and giving Romney himself an extra step in his stride.

But even with the Romney bouncelet, the basic dynamics of the race remain unchanged.  The contest is tied nationally among likely voters (Obama has a strong advantage when all registered voters are polled) and the president has a sizable advantage in the electoral college standings.

This EC advantage for the Democrats has, however, eroded somewhat.  Before August, the Democrat’s lead was a mile wide an an inch deep.  Now it’s a mile wide and half an inch deep.

According to the latest polls (and these are very fresh indeed), Obama currently leads by 3 points or more in states that give him 246 EC votes, just 24 shy of the total needed to win.  Again, most of these polls now frame “likely voters”.

Obama leads more narrowly in states that would give him a total of 303 EC votes — 33 more than he needs to capture a second term.

The great news for Romney is that he’s closed the gap significantly, even in states like Wisconsin and Colorado that had seemed to be creeping out of reach.

With 72 days to go before the election, overcoming 2 and 3 point deficits looks much more feasible than overcoming 5 and 6 point gaps, obviously.

But there is a problem for Romney:  The electorate seems pretty stubborn this year.  Nothing is moving the needles very far or very fast.  And Romney has yet to fully capture an important state.

His path would be much, much easier if, say, Florida or Virginia had shifted firmly into his column.

So far, the Republican appears to have locked down Missouri and North Carolina.  But those states are merely keeping him in the game.

Right now, if nothing changes, Romney will have to run the table on election night, winning upset after upset.  Where Obama just needs one or two key wins, the Republicans will have to capture five or six make-or-break states.

That’s doable, but it’s a high-wire act and it’s not where the GOP wants to be.

So the stakes for this Republican convention remain sky-high.  If Romney and Ryan can build on the flutters of momentum that we’ve seen in recent days, this becomes a barnstormer of a contest in September and October.

That means softening his corporate image.  It probably also means laying out a more positive, more specific vision for the country, one that includes some specific policy ideas — and not just a repudiation of Obama.

The GOP will also have to find a way to talk about social issues — abortion, contraception, and Christian traditionalism — in ways that won’t alienate independent voters in states like Colorado, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

I’ll also be interested to see if Republicans can find a message that softens the alienation they’re experiencing currently with women and Hispanics.

If not, Romney 2012 may begin to look more and more like Kerry 2004:  another Massachusetts challenger who set the stage for a possible upset, but couldn’t quite close the deal.


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34 Comments on “100 Day Sprint: GOP needs a whopper convention”

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  1. Gary says:

    Most voters have made their decision on how to vote. A few are undecided and they will be less influenced by the negative ads and more by their quality of life. Buy any gas lately? I’ve also noticed how many goods are getting more expensive as the result of transportation costs. In all polls Mitt rates higher than Obama in his ability to turn the economy around. As these numbers grow the race will get even more interesting.

  2. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Republicans will also have to find some new ways to talk about the role of government. The convention will be held in the Tampa Bay Times Forum. According to Wikipedia: “The government paid $86 million and the Tampa Bay Lightning paid $53 million for the venue’s construction and infrastructure”

    Who built that?

  3. Peter Hahn says:

    It does seem the bad luck/news has gone against Romney lately. First the Akin fiasco and now the hurricane coming to Florida. He is going to have a hard time making people love him – especially since they are telling him to be harder edged to solidify the white working class who don’t yet like as much as they liked John McCain. Tough needle to thread.

  4. TomL says:

    Do conventions really do anything anymore? Like VP candidates, an bad one can certainly hurt you (I remember Pat Buchanan’s 1992 ‘culture war’ convention speech), but a good one is a boring one. The major TV networks only will cover ONE HOUR A NIGHT of the conventions. Sure, one can watch cable news or listen to NPR coverage, but I suspect that only the already committed will do that. No minds will be changed.

    For Romney, having Sheriff Arpaio, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee etc. speak at Tampa can make trouble for him. And who knows what the Ron Paul army will do? Marco Rubio and Mrs. Romney might be a help but I can’t see there speeches will help much.

    The Democratic Convention will be ignored by one and all.

  5. Snowflake says:

    As a republican female I will be voting Obama all the way and I encourage all other republican women to do the same. Neither candidate has sole control of the economy but Obama gets it that it is the middle class that is the economic engine of this country. Romney just wants lower taxes for the wealthy under the guise that it will encourage more investment. It might, but there is no guarantee that it will not be overseas. The republican party used to about fiscal restraint and economic prosperity. Now it’s a front for the Christian Right and the instigation of a Holy War. I’ll have none of it.

  6. Larry says:

    I’ll be interested to see NJ Gov. Christie’s keynote speech and what effect it might have. He’s easy to dismiss as a buffoon but he continues to surprise people in positive ways. He will either galvanize the Republican Party or energize the opposition. Hard to know which it will be, but it probably won’t be boring.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    A problem for Mitt is that there is so much more for ordinary voters to learn about him.

    Okay, he’s rich. Good for him. But does it seem right that he only pays 13% in taxes while at the same time owning homes in Boston, New Hampshire, Michigan, Utah, and California — wait, that’s only 5, I know he owns more; while at the same time most ordinary Americans pay more money in FICA and Social Security alone? Most Americans believe in some reasonable and decent amount of fairness.

    And he claims to not be actively involved with Bain Capital on the one hand while claiming to be active with Bain on his tax forms – both are true, apparently, in a very legalistic manner. It might depend on what the definition of “is” is.


    And then there are all the verbal gaffes; the “corporations are people too, my friend” moments, the “I like to fire people” bits. Sure, they’re just gaffes. I wouldn’t want someone taping every word I say all the time because I say lots of stupid stuff, too. But I think there is something to learn about a person’s unguarded psyche by the types of gaffe’s they make. I think they indicate in Romney an essential cluelessness when it comes to relating to the experience of ordinary people in how their lives are affected by the swirl of events around them. And do we want a President who seems so out of touch with ordinary people making decisions that have profound affects on their lives?

  8. mervel says:

    Obama is having Julian Castro the young, Hispanic, charismatic mayor of San Antonio Texas speak as keynote at the Democratic convention.

    I mean Marco Rubio could counter balance that a little, but Castro is really good and actually governs a large (7th largest city in US) city that votes Democratic, as does all of South Texas.

    I think the Democratic convention will be interesting just to see what they are going to emphasize. The Republican convention will be very interesting for me to see how they handle the Ron Paul people.

  9. Larry says:

    Neither Arpaio nor Trump are scheduled to speak at the Republican convention. Where do you guys get this stuff?

  10. Larry says:

    Your statement: “…most ordinary Americans pay more money in FICA and Social Security alone” is,

    a) Redundant
    b) False

    If you’re going to continue the “bash the rich” line of attack, at least use facts. Speaking of facts, you “know” Romney owns more than five homes, do you? From the Google search I did it looks like three; and what of it? Liberal icons FDR & JFK were very wealthy and owned multiple residences at a time when most Americans didn’t own any.

  11. TomL says:

    Arpaio will be in Tampa addressing Republican convention delegates, but not in the convention center http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0812/80063.html . Good luck getting the public to think there is a difference.

    Here is ‘where I get this stuff’ on Trump: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/donald-trump-republican-convention_n_1813425.html .

  12. Mayflower says:

    When Mr. Romney tossed out a birther ‘joke’ in Michigan last week, his campaign brushed it aside as “just an unscripted moment.” That notion stopped me in my tracks.

    This is a dilemma for this campaign. On the one hand, Romney is considered much too carefully scripted; the most common view of him is that he is somehow an invented figure, crafted for the contest at hand, but unknown and unknowable in any human sense. The tax returns become something of a metaphor: What is he so determined to conceal?

    And yet, Mr. Romney does occasionally depart from the carefully crafted script; and then, so often, he gets himself in trouble. He likes corporate people and dislikes store-bought cookies; his jokes are not funny and his judgments are unwittingly rude. He hints at some odd views about culture and women and the correlation between virtue and wealth. So, when we get these small, “unscripted’ glimpses of (perhaps) the real man, the image is unnerving.

    So now, the central event of this convention will be Mrs. Romney. Her mission, we are told, is to humanize this candidate. Clearly, someone needs to do it.

  13. Larry says:

    TomL., the Huffington Post is about as serious a “news” outlet as Trump is a candidate.

  14. Pete Klein says:

    The conventions will probably bump the polls some for both, as usual.
    The real race starts after the conventions.
    Where a real game changer could occur is when they have their so called debates.
    The elephant in the room for Romney is Mormonism.
    The good news as far as the convention in Tampa is concerned is the female independent contractors who work in Tampa’s nude dance clubs should make lots of money but probably vote for Obama.

  15. Larry says:

    Nothing is being concealed by Romney not releasing any more tax returns than he already has. Why give more ammunition to people who already think being wealthy is a crime? Liberal socialists already have enough information for their misguided quest to scapegoat a small group of people for all our problems.

  16. TomL says:

    (1) go to http://www.google.com
    (2) type search terms Trump republican convention
    (3) select a source that fits your tastes

    You can avoid sidetracking otherwise productive threads by using this simple method of source checking. Just sayin’

  17. Larry says:

    Been there, done that, found nothing but BS from dubious sources about a “big surprise.” The only surprise will be if anyone takes hime seriously. Just sayin…

  18. mervel says:

    I think the heavy hitters are the RNC will be Christy and Rubio. Both good speakers, it should be good! I hope it is.

    I wish they would get rid of the debates, they are utterly worthless and are not real debates anyway.

  19. Pete Klein says:

    I have better things to do than to watch or listen to either convention.
    Neither do I have time to follow any tweeters.

  20. Don’t worry, I’m sure their convention will provide plenty of whoppers.

  21. mervel says:

    There have been some great GOP convention speakers. Who can forget Buch!

  22. PNElba says:

    Politfact says Romney owns three houses, although it seems he does own a cabin up on Lake Superior where he vacationed as a kid. They also own a stable and boathouse that has living quarters. He sold the ski lodge a couple years ago.

    Still, it’s two more houses than I own (sorry to be “bashing” the rich).

  23. mervel says:

    That guy is as rich as a kennedy!

  24. mervel says:

    Lets face it we all have our favorite rich guys it just depends on who’s side they are on.

    Certainly people like Reagan, Clinton, Nixon, Carter and Obama were not this sort of rich entering the White House.

  25. Common Dreams website has a great essay on the stultifying coverage of modern political campaigns caused by the “suffocating, self-imposed conformity” of reporters and commentators.


  26. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    PNElba, yes, and he’s having his taxes re-done before he releases any more.

    Larry– you sure got me on that one! Yes, redundant! So let’s parse my inaccurate statements.

    As an independent, self-employed business person I pay about 15% in self employment taxes – basically equivalent to FICA. But most people only pay half of that and their employers pay the other half. And it is true that Obama has reduced the employee contribution a couple of percent. So let me correct that portion of my mis-statement: OBAMA HAS REDUCED YOUR TAXES!

    And just to be clear, while Romney has stated he has paid at least 13% in taxes most ordinary people pay about HALF of that in FICA alone plus their other taxes which for most middle-class working Americans adds up to MUCH MORE THAN 13%.

    Please feel free to correct me if you feel my facts are incorrect.

    Meanwhile, I am still waiting for ONE, just 1 Republican to admit that Ronald Reagan and George W Bush increased the national deficit and debt.

  27. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I count a cabin on a lake as a home. Sorry about the ski house, hard to keep up with home transfers.

    But I think that isn’t the point. I don’t have a problem with people being rich. Rich as a Kennedy or rich as Soros or rich as Gates. But they should pay their fair share of taxes. That is all, just a fair share. Is that too much to ask?

  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And let’s all remember that the very wealthy want to eliminate the inheritance tax. So here is how it works for very wealthy people, you use money/capital to invest and the return on that money is only taxed at 15%.

    If you work for your wages that money is taxed at about 15% in FICA or Ss self-employment tax (and that is only on the first $100,000 or so in income, so if you make more than that you get break). After that you are also charged income tax on a progressive schedule to a maximum of, what is it? about 35% now? Of course that doesn’t mean that ALL of your income is taxed at 35% if you max out. You get taxed progressively through the tax schedule and pay the same rate for the same amount as everyone else.

    So people who make all their money through capital investment pay very little percentage-wise compared to wage earners. And their money compounds throughout their lives and is never taxed at the rates a wage earner is taxed. When they die they get $5 million to pass on (correct me if I’m wrong on the number) without inheritance tax. $5 million that has never been taxed at the rate an ordinary wage earner would pay. Most Republicans would like to completely do away with that tax.

    And the $5 million is only for people who haven’t already tax sheltered their money in trusts or Cayman Island bank accounts or in Swiss banks or in complex mumbo-jumbo accounts that nobody without full time lawyers and accountants understands.

    So, yes everyone, I sometimes make mistakes in fact when I post on here because my lawyer and accountant aren’t reviewing my statements before release.

  29. Larry says:

    I only meant to point out that FICA taxes are the same for all. I didn’t understand you were lumping FICA in with income taxes to compare a total percentage. I think the 13% refers only to Federal Income taxes. Doesn’t matter, everyone “knows” rich people don’t pay their “fair share,” whatever that is.

  30. Walker says:

    Well, you know, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)

  31. Mervel says:

    The original thinking was the capital gains taxes hurt investment and investment was the key to job growth. A good case was made, however from what I can tell it has not worked.

    So I would be very much in favor of having one progressive tax rate that treated all income equally, investment income, earned income, etc. Don’t punish capital gains, but don’t coddle it either.

    The other route of course is a a wealth tax if you really wanted to get at disparity in this country.

  32. Sorry Larry boy, but if Obama has to release his birth certificate several times, then Romney has to release several tax returns.

    If he can’t handle the fact that meanie faced poopy heads might criticize him in a manner that he thinks is not 1000% fair, then the presidency is the WRONG position for him. It’s a job for big boys.

  33. mervel says:

    Strategically though, at this point, I would not release them. Everyone already thinks the worst, then he will have to spend a bunch of time talking about them the details. I am sure they show some sort of complex wheeling and dealing, probably taking advantage of overseas tax shelters, maybe in some years he indeed paid nothing. If they are legal that is fine, if there is illegality that is a different matter but I don’t think that has been asserted.

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