Across the 12 battleground states the monthly poll surveys, 47% of likely voters said they agreed with the statement that private equity firms “care only about profits and short-term gains for investors. When they come in, workers get laid off, benefits disappear and pensions are cut. Investors walk off with big returns, and working folks get stuck holding the bag.”The Obama Campaign, rightly in my view, went after Mitt Romney's core message. Much like George W. Bush went right at John Kerry's war record as his central national security strength. But unlike Bush '04, which also faced a pundit backlash, the Obama Campaign quit delivering the message. Rove's operation kept it up and sustained it day after day after day, preferring to take the heat from the press. They didn't give a shit about that or the the bashing the swiftboat campaign took from republicans like John McCain. They stuck with it because they knew it would amp up their base and drive a wedge between Kerry and low information voters.
By contrast, 38% agreed that “private investment and equity firms help the American economy grow. They launch new companies and rebuild existing ones, including some of the biggest employers in America. Their work has created millions of jobs, and will help drive America’s recovery.”
That 9-percentage-point margin swelled to 16 percentage points in Ohio, where Obama campaign aides hope that attacks against Romney’s record in private equity will prove potent. The argument carried somewhat less weight in Florida, and was even less useful in Colorado and Virginia, two states where economic conditions are better and Democrats are more likely to be college-educated, white-collar professionals than blue-collar workers. In those latter two states, the two statements drew roughly even levels of support.
Last month, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said in a television interview that he thought the attacks were "nauseating" and "a distraction from the real issues” – a sound bite that soon appeared in a pro-Romney ad. Obama defended the attacks during a news conference after the NATO summit in Chicago, but the issue kicked up again when former President Clinton recently referred to Romney’s business record as “sterling.”I know my good friend Mets102 thinks this election can be won by throwing the laundry list of legislation at the electorate, but without significant improvement in the big issues, which are housing and unemployment, that's just pissing in the ocean. If this were a Reagan '84 election, we'd be seeing indications of it now, just five months out. We're not. This is going to be much more like 2004.
But for all that, the attack on Romney’s record at Bain has “the hallmarks of a classic wedge issue for the president,” Purple Poll analysts wrote. “It consolidates Democrats (64% to 22%) and has a plurality of support among independents (48% to 38%).”
Here's the thing to remember: With the incumbent under 50%, all the challenger needs to do is be an acceptable alternative.
The voters aren't happy because the times suck. The impulse, the gut feeling, it to naturally vote against the incumbent. With a tsunami of negative ads on the way this fall, that sentiment is going to be whipped up to a fever pitch. Add in the fact that we've seen in Wisconsin recall that unlimited money beats GOTV, and you've got a recipe for a decisive defeat. This election can't be a referendum. It has to be a clear, unmistakeable choice.
The Obama Campaign's job is to make that choice easy: by making Mitt Romney unacceptable, if not toxic. The way to do that is not simply to point out that he was a mediocre governor, but to make it known that he is actively and diligently hostile to people who aren't rich. Good and Evil. That's what the choice should be.
So, Mr. Messina, stop being led around the nose by all your friends who live inside the Beltway. Or else, step aside and bring in some fresh blood.