Last post, I discussed how an enthusiasm gap was instrumental to Tom Barrett’s defeat at the hands of Scott Walker. The recall election has caused many predictions about the landscape in November – notably Reince Priebus’ assertion that Wisconsin is now in play – yet the shared characteristic between Barrett and Romney receives little discussion.
The GOP primaries have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt the lack of enthusiasm for Willard. The Anyone-But-Romney movement saw Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich all enjoy mass amounts of popular support amongst Republicans sympathetic to different elements of The Crazy. Granted, since becoming the presumptive nominee, there has been a coalescing around Mitt Romney, as indicated by his ability to out-fundraise Obama over the latest cycle. However, Romney’s assumed electability has been his saving grace to Republicans unsure whether he is really ‘severely conservative’ or, as feared, the ‘etch-a-sketch’ whose positions form to suit his audience.
CNN exit polls from the Badger State show Obama likely to prevail in November despite Walker’s victory. It strikes me as odd that a state that once again selected a Tea Party darling as governor would also support a so-called socialist for the presidency. This dichotomy illustrates a few (sad) truths about American politics.
General public comprehension of policy must be close to non-existent. If this is an election primarily about the economy, how can one person possibly support Obama’s relatively centrist view of the economy and Walker’s approval of austerity? The nearly thirty percent of union members in Wisconsin voted against their own economic interests. Illogical.
Maybe Scott Walker himself had the perfect answer. On CNN, he cited his willingness “to make the hard choices” as a key to his win; something that resonated with voters. Perhaps this qualification is a higher priority than policy for most of the electorate. In that case, Obama ought be seen as a man of action on several fronts (healthcare reform, evident progress in eradicating Al Qaeda, repeal of DADT). Can Romney make that same claim? Or is he the candidate who will faithfully rubber stamp his party’s legislation – and nothing more?
By campaigning on the notion that November is a referendum on Obama the GOP is employing the same strategy that failed for Democrats in Wisconsin. They’ll rely on surfing a wake of anti-incumbency to the shores of the presidency by means of negative campaigning, while failing to emphasize and explain the particulars of their vision for the country. Thus, a Mitt Romney presidency means that the influence of the Tea Party has outstripped that of organized labor.
Short of the Mayans being correct, I fail to see a more disturbing conclusion that could be proved during 2012.
For polls relevant to diary and other entries, visit: