Many people on the right (including myself for a brief bit of time yesterday morning) were in full freak out mode over President Obama's post convention "bump" in the polls. Then I realized what had happened. Romney's bump never came because with the Democratic Convention coming on the heels of the Republican Convention, the news cycle shifted to the Democrats immediately. The RNC finished on a Thursday, but the Sunday morning talk shows were more of a DNC "preview" than an RNC "review." Conversely, it was the DNC that came second, which contained several good speeches, and was an overall good "show" was able to chomp up the news cycle for the entire weekend following it. Additionally, the daily tracking polls that showed Obama clip or go by the 50 percent mark are already rescinding due to Friday's dismal jobs report.
What the mini freak out inside the "Party Regular" camp which primarily lives "inside the beltway," did accomplish was to illustrate to the Romney campaign some of the things he needs to do going forward if they really want him to beat Barack Obama. Much of what I have to say on the issue isn't a big departure, but I figured I'd put it in letter form...
Dear Team Romney,
It's self-evident that the President received a decent (but historically average) 'bump' from the Democratic Convention in Charlotte last week. I am sure you are not freaking out, because you've never freaked out before. What does concern me however, is the clear perception that your campaign may be slipping back into the bland, "stump-speech-only" type of campaign we started to see pre-selection of Paul Ryan.
Now obviously there is still time and two more jobs reports to come in before the election, and while you campaign seems to be coordinated down to the last minute in terms of crisis management and hypothetical scenarios on your way there, the excitement is fleeting. It was at an all time high for you when you selected Paul Ryan and spent the next week and a half crusading through the swing states talking about your specific ideas on the biggest issue of our time; what to do with our entitlements-because something has to be done about them-and Barack Obama's stated policy is to do nothing. But in the week leading up to the convention, and the week following the convention, you let Obama and his Democrats steal every single headline when there were a few for you, to be had.
You see, what really bothers me is that your stump speeches in every important area of Ohio where you give them are failing to reverberate with the people in Ohio. To me, the reason is fairly simple. It certainly looks like you are content on reminding people that the economy is not where it should be, which is a direct result of the failed leadership of the President, that unemployment is still above 8 percent, and quite simply the suckiness of things is why you should be voted for. Hard truth Mr. Romney and team, this is just not enough.
People don't need to be reminded of the unemployment rate, they know it's bad. What they want to hear is how your policies would help get more people back to work. Talk about your jobs program, about your ideas for the Lord's sake. You do not even have to get that specific! In Ohio, talk up the potential shale boom, that will be a boom if you're elected because you know how to keep government out of business' way.
Above all, for the LOVE OF GOD, stop talking about entitlement programs as if recipients of their benefits are the reason for their demise. People know that Obama is the "Food Stamp President" but guess what, Mitt? People who receive food stamps vote, and a ton of them will never vote for you. I have no problem with you calling Barack Obama the "Food Stamp President" so long as it is instructive. You actually don't have to change the scope of your argument, you just have to change the way you're delivering it. When you call him the Food Stamp President, remind everyone you are talking to, and the TV cameras covering you, that it is their tax dollars that are paying for food stamps, and that the way to have LESS of their money going to food stamps is to elect you President, because you actually know how to produce vibrant economies.
What I am saying is this. The American people now, by-and-large, know who you are, but they also know the problems the nation faces, and that the economy is flat, and while a majority of them won't entirely blame Obama for this, they do think he could be doing a better job. But it's not enough to run your campaign for the final (less than) two months with this equation: "Tell people the economy sucks and it sucks because of Barack Obama - therefore, elect me."
To me, the biggest problem with your message isn't even the message itself, but how you are delivering it. You are trying to curate voters who work in professions where Power Point presentations are never given, voters that may have never seen a flow chart in their lives (except for the ridiculously simple, funny ones in the chain emails they pass around to their 'unappreciative' loved ones). Yet your arguments are always delivered in corporate, Power Point presentation, flow chart type of language. The next time you're talking about why an 8.1% unemployment rate is unacceptable try something like this:
"It doesn't take the world's greatest economists, or even the country's worst President to know that 8.1% unemployment is acceptable in a country with the most powerful economy in the world. Folks, the problem with President Obama isn't that he doesn't know that (50+) months of 8+% unemployment is unacceptable for the United States, the problem with President Obama is that he doesn't know how to create the type of environment that allows companies to prosper again, and hire people!!!! (Cheering) I know the climate needed for businesses to create jobs and the way we get there is by making sure employers know that they've got a government that is going to work for them, not against them! (Interrupt any cheers by continuing) We need a government that passes budgets every year, not every three to four months! The unemployment level will go down when employers have a firm understanding of what their tax rates are going to be today, tomorrow, next month, next year, five years from now, ten years from now! Employers cannot make plans to hire if they are scared their tax rates can change on an almost yearly basis, like they've been doing in this Administration! You see, I know that employers hire new workers when they can sit down and plan, budget, and invest because they know what their tax rates will be, know that a government that functions how it should, won't threaten to pass new regulations that will adversely affect those plans! We know this economy is at its greatest when everyone who wants a job, can get one, and if you elect me, I'm going to bring the kind of stability employers need to Washington so that by the end of my first year, they'll not have to worry about how much they'll have to pay in taxes, but how many people they'll need to hire! (Cheers) Thank you! (Cheers) Thank you!"
There has to be a connection, between Governor Romney and what an economy would look like under him. I'm of the opinion that he spends too much time on the stump reminding people that the economy is stagnant, and that Barack Obama is the reason. People are willing to believe that, but they will respond overwhelmingly when you can connect the fixes, to your candidacy.
I know you're sitting on a pile of cash, too. But this isn't Newt Gingrich in Florida. This is Barack Obama, from Chicago, with a team more ruthless than the city's political game itself. Your post-Ryan surge is akin to your (once) Iowa victory and your dominating win in New Hampshire, and you've rode it into South Carolina to sweep the thing up early. Yet the same thing happened. You mistook a couple of good results as a sign people were flocking to you, and Newt reminded everyone of their worst fears about you, which is like what Obama was able to do with his DNC last week-remind everyone that while he's not the perfect candidate, he will make sure people think you're a terrible option to replace him. You can't just hope to spend your campaign cash in the final six weeks barraging voters with messages you've been telling them for months in hope Obama's support folds under the scrutiny, because he will fight, and he will do what Newt couldn't, swing a big counter punch.
This is why it is so imperative to sell yourself in the vein of Ronald Reagan, reminding people that the sitting President has not really bettered their situations on a national level, that the stagnation and mediocrity in the economy is not the new "norm." Reminding them that you know what America looks like when its economy is thriving, and that you will not accept the divisive politics that serves to manage this stagnation into the foreseeable future. Do that, and I can guarantee, the ads you have to run will just be reinforcement of the decision voters have already chose to make come election day.