GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney hyperbolic rhetoric may play well with his base, but won't play well with the persuadables. The persuadables is a group of undecided voters who make up about 10 percent of the electorate.
Persuadables aint paying attention to politics
The persuadables really don't care about politics. They don't live, eat, and breathe it like Buzz and me. Some of them may not even know that Mitt Romney is the all-but-certain Republican nominee. Unlike the old Miller Lite commercials where Billy Martin says he "feels strongly both ways," the persuadables don't feel strongly any way. They are just not that into it, politics that is.
Romney is still working the base
Romney had to pivot to the right, the far right, in order to win the Republican primary. The Romney of 2012 is a far cry from the former Governor of Massachusetts, and even a farther cry from the "liberal" Republican who ran against Ted Kennedy for US Senate in 1994.
At a campaign event in Ohio this past month Romney said, "Barack Obama's attempt to denigrate and diminish the achievement of
the individual diminishes us all. "We're a united nation, he divides us. He tries to
divide America, tear America apart. He tries to diminish those who have
been successful in one walk of life or another. It's simply wrong."
Romney surrogates have gone even further. Although he later apologized former New Hampshire Governor and former Chief of Staff to President George H.W. Bush said, "The president clearly demonstrated that he has absolutely no idea how
the economy functions. I wish this president would learn how
to be an American.”
These comments are tame compared to some of the crap out there where Republicans, conservative bloggers, Fox News, and others have continually referred to President Barack Obama as a "Kenyan," "a Socialist," a "Halfrican American," "Incompetent," and other over the top and base motivating terms.
It seems like the Romney, under the guise of running the "issue oriented" campaign is instead engaging in hyperbolic rhetoric. They take everything to the extreme. It is hard to believe that this will sway the persuadables.
Obama remains personally popular
Although Barack Obama's job approval has been in the mid to high forties over the past few months, his personal popularity remains in the mid to high fifties. Obama's ratings in both job approval and favorability vary widely with party identification.
Democrats like Obama and the job he is doing in great numbers. Conversely, Republicans don't care for the guy and think he is doing a terrible job. The Independents, the ones who make up the vast majority of the persuadables may be divided on the job Obama is doing, but they generally like the guy.
This shows that making the race about the issues and not the personality may have a much strongly influence on the persuadables
Persuadables will decide the election
Who are these persuadables? Well, as we've said before, they are the people who aren't watching cable news 24 hours a day. They are watching the Olympics, they're watching the Phillies try to claw their way out of the NL East basement, they're buying school clothes for their kids, they're on summer vacation. They are doing everything but paying attention. They don't feel strongly any way.
Neither Obama nor Romney have jumped above the high forties in the polls. The persuadables make up the difference. (Except in the Rasmussen Daily Tracking Approval Poll, which always adds up to 99 to 100 percent) The persuadable universe seems to be made up of about ten percent of the electorate. They will decide the election.
All the millions, if not billions, of dollars being spent on the campaigns are being spent to convince a majority of the persuadables that they should vote for either Romney or Obama. Obama doesn't need to spend a dime to get the diehards to support him, just as Romney doesn't have to spend a dime to get the Obama haters to support Romney.
If Romney hopes to win the persuadables and thus the Presidency, cut out the hyperbolic rhetoric. The persuadables generally believe Obama is doing his best, that he is an American, that he loves this country, that he doesn't hate the free enterprise system, that he's not a socialist, and that he is at least marginally competent to be President.
Buzz and I would like to (and so would the persuadables) hear Romney say Obama has done and okay job with the hand he was dealt, but that he (Romney) can do better. And, the I can do better stuff should be specifics and not this Ayn Rand "let free enterprise be free enterprise." Persuadables don't read Ayn Rand, or for that matter Karl Marx. They want jobs, a reasonable tax rate, reasonable government regulation, reasonable gas prices, and they don't care if the one who gives it to them worships at the altar of Ayn Rand or all those "evil" European Socialists.
It's about time for GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney to release his damn tax returns. Stop the bull, man up, and get it over with.
It's not like this is the first time the guy's run for office or the first time the issue has been raised. His latest response is that he released 2010 and will release 2011 when it's completed and no more. He claims that the Democrats and President Barack Obama will just pick his tax returns apart and make an issue of them. Yeah, duh? That's called POLITICS.
Romney's a rich guy... we know that
If there's nothing out of the ordinary in the tax returns, then the American people will say what we all already know: Romney's a rich guy, a very rich guy. Obama and company will then be forced by the American people to move on to something else or risk losing total control of the campaign narrative.
Romney's problem is much deeper than being a rich guy. We elect rich guys to office. President Franklin Roosevelt, President John Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy in the past and Senator Mark Warner, Congressman Darryl Issa, Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senator Jay Rockefeller in the present, just to name a few.
Romney is afraid of something in those returns becoming public
Romney has made a calculated decision not to release his taxes and endure the complaints of lack of transparency, because whatever those tax returns show are a lot more damaging. Since Romney won't tell us, Buzz has suggested we should put together a Top Ten list of why he's protecting those tax returns like a mother bear protects her cub.
Remember, it was Romney's dad George Romney who set a modern day standard by releasing 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President in 1968. The former head of American Motors said that one year's returns could be a "fluke" made to look better for political reasons.
We tried for ten, but only came up with nine. Here they are:
Top Nine Reasons why Mitt Romney won't release more than two years of tax returns
9. He's played fancy and loose with some overseas accounts.
8. His effective tax rate is usually lower than the 14 or 15 percent he's paid over the past two years.
7. He has made statements that are easily contradicted by the returns.
6. Some years, because of "loses," he paid no income tax at all.
5. He gave a heck of a lot more than the standard 10 percent tithe to the Mormon Church.
4. He violated tax laws or IRS regulations.
3. His 2000, 2001, and 2002 returns show that he was still collecting a management salary from Bain.
2. Some of his business or charitable deductions just won't fly politically.
1. There is just something (not illegal) in there that can't be explained politically.
In 2008, Romney gave the John McCain campaign 23 years of returns while they vetted him for the VP slot. McCain chose Sarah Palin. Maybe McCain's decision had a little more to do with what he found than just a dislike of Romney personally.
It is often said, "be careful what you wish for because it might come true."
Republicans seem to be elated that even though Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare,) he declared it a "tax." Republicans are happy to run against this new "tax'" but "be careful what you wish for."
Roberts wrote the Obamacare opinion for a divided court, and ended up siding with the four liberal justices in holding that although the individual mandate did not pass muster under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, it fell within Congress' power to "tax and spend."
This is not a win for the Republicans for a number of reasons.
The mental gymnastics in differentiating Obamacare from Romneycare will make your head spin
Whether GOP Presidential candidate admits it or not, Obamacare is Romneycare on a national level. And, the original mandate idea came from the Republican think tank The Heritage Foundation as a Republican alternative to the universal health care proposal of President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s, affectionately known as Hillarycare.
Even the Romney camp is having trouble determining whether the mandate is a tax or a penalty. Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on cable news to declare that the mandate of Obamacare is a penalty and not a tax, only to be contradicted by Romney himself.
Roberts may have given the Democrats an early Christmas present by ruling that the mandate falls under Congress' ""Tax and Spend" powers -- hence, making it a tax.
Who exactly will pay this new tax? Freeloaders.
Right now if you do not have insurance and end up in one of the many overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, you will be billed for medical services. If you can't pay it, the hospital eats the cost and passes it on to those who have health insurance. In other words, those with insurance pay higher premiums to pay for all of those "freeloaders" who don't.
The only penalty for the freeloaders now is a damaged credit rating and possible bankruptcy. In either case, the bill doesn't get paid, and insurance rates continue to rise.
If the Democrats can stay on message and continue to call the "tax" or "penalty" a Freeloader Tax, that message should resonate with voters who abhor the "freeriders" on welfare. Remember, the penalty will only effect those who can afford health insurance but fail to purchase it under the mandate.
For the Republicans, a party that prides itself on personal responsibility, why aren't they jumping on this?
Bill Clinton made a political career out of co-opting Republican ideas (ending welfare as we know it, balancing the federal budget.) Perhaps Obama and the Democrats can do the same with pushing a tax on the Freeloaders.
Political Journalist Jeff Greenfield once said, when talking about polls conducted months before the election, that "65 percent of people surveyed said the would be 'surprised' if the 'election were held today.'"
Polls, polls, everywhere polls
Polling has become a daily obsession for many political junkies, Buzz and I included. It used to be that you would see a few polls a month, but now we have two major daily "tracking" polls and a plethora of other polls which cover everything from the Presidential race, Senate contest, House contests, Presidential approval ratings, favorability and unfavorability ratings, and even continuing polls on particular issues, such as the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare."
Polling is done through survey sampling, wherein a polling organization randomly contacts people to get their opinions on a single subject or a series of subjects. One such survey is Presidential election preference. It is, of course, impossible to survey every voter, so polling organizations will take a sample of the population and then interpret the raw data into a poll result. The Gallup daily tracking poll is an example of this.
Gallup describes its daily tracking poll as follows. "These are the results when registered voters are asked: "Suppose the
presidential election were held today. If Barack Obama were the
Democratic Party's candidate and Mitt Romney were the Republican Party's
candidate, who would you vote for Barack Obama, the Democrat or Mitt
Romney, the Republican?" Those who are undecided are further asked if
they lean more toward Obama or Romney and their leanings are
incorporated into the results. Each seven-day rolling average is based
on telephone interviews with approximately 3,050 registered voters;
Margin of error is ±2 percentage points"
The latest Gallup Presidential Daily tracking poll shows a two point lead by President Barack Obama over Governor Mitt Romney 47 percent to 45 percent. Since April, Obama's numbers have ranged from 43 to 50 percent. Romney has ranged from 42 to 48.
There are a number of things we can learn from Gallup.
First and foremost, it is readily apparent that both Romney and Obama have a base support in the mid 40s. These voters, in all likelihood, are entrenched and no matter how much either candidate spends or how much conditions change in the economy or any other issue, these voters will not change their preference.
These entrenched voters are solidly in either the Obama or Romney column. Certain voters will never vote for Obama and others will never vote for Romney.
With that said, there is only about 10, maybe 15 percent of the population who fall into the "persuadable" category -- that is voters who have either not made up their minds or will change their minds before election day in November.
How can Obama or Romney seal the deal on these voters?
The Obama camp believes that if the "persuadables" learn the "truth" about Romney, they will vote for Obama. Conversely, the Romney camp believes that if the "persuadables" learn the "truth" about Obama, they will vote for Romney.
Obama has attempted to move the persuadables by attacking Romney's strength -- his business record. Romney believes that his years as a businessman in the private sector makes him the perfect candidate to fix the economy. Obama has portrayed Romney as a "vulture" capitalist who was more interested in making large profits for his investors than creating jobs. He has already spent millions of dollars getting his point across, in an attempt to define Romney before he can define himself.
Romney has said repeatedly that Obama is a big spending liberal who is running up enormous deficits year after year and passing that debt onto future generations. Obama is a big government guy who believes that the capitalist system doesn't work, and the government is the only one who can get us out of a poor economy.
Just too early to tell
The most important thing to know about persuadables is that they are not obsessed with politics. Probably the last thing on the persuadables are thinking about on these hot summer days is politics in general and the Presidential election in specific.
We do know one thing for certain -- the Obama camp, the Romney camp, and their respective surrogates will spend over a billion dollars to persuade the persuadables.