Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mitt's Problems

     Photo: Little Face Mitt

Mitt has problems too.  Problems that require finesse.  Finesse does not come easily to a man with such a small face.

An Uphill Fight
It is hard to unseat a President.  In recent history, it happened in 1932, 1976, 1980 and 1992 (and I wouldn't count 1976 because of the unusual circumstances).  Incumbents have lots of tools unavailable to challengers.   The economy may be in the shitter, but Obama has a solid approval rating and is personally popular.  He doesn't need to act Presidential.  He is Presidential.  These are inherent advantages no challenger could match. 

GOP Base
Unlike the Democrats, who are unified behind Obama, the GOP base is fractured.  It is held together by duct tape and a shared loathing of Obama.  Its more like a collection of factions than a party.  A short list of those factions:  Washington Insiders, Eastern Establishment Aristocrats, Banksters, SuperPAC Funders, Elderly Whites, Conservative Christians, Free Enterprisers, Small Business, Immigration Foes, Working Whites, Pro-Lifers, Industry Interests, Tea Partiers and the Rich.  There is obviously some overlap between factions.  While these factions agree broadly on key policies like taxes, health care and social issues, their interests diverge.  For example, the tax cuts wanted by the rich would have a negative impact on working whites who would resist cuts to programs they use. Some industries need illegal immigrants to support their business models.  Elderly whites don't want Medicare touched.

Then there are people like Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin.  There is always a wingnut Republican who will say something outrageous.  They usually don't do as much damage as Representative Akin, but they are out there,  a sound bite away from derailing Romney's campaign for a day, or a week or a month.  Given the Republican strategy of disenfranchising minority voters, and the rabid hate for Obama among the base, we can expect a parade of race issue misstatements through the fall.

Lastly, Romney has a credibility problem with the right wing of the party.  Mitt espoused some pretty liberal views when he was Governor of Massachusetts.  He was pro-choice, supported gay rights, and introduced the first public health care in the US.  It became the model for Obamacare.  Although Mitt is pretty flexible when it comes to what he believes in, he needs to convince the base he believes what they believe. Not convincing the base will risk disillusioned Republicans staying home on election day.

The Double Pivot
One of the most difficult moves for an American Presidential candidate is the post-covention pivot.  Unless you competely control the party, you are going to have to say things in the convention that are more partisan than the campaign you want to run.  Meaning you have to move from the right or left towards the center after the convention.  The difficulty lies in not appearing two-faced to the party members or the electorate. And not saying anything to the party that will come back to haunt you in the campaign.  Above average communicators like Reagan did this really well.  Mitt is not an above average communicator.  And Obama controls his party, so he won't have to pivot at all.

In addition, Romney is going to have to pivot going into the convention.  He has to prove his conservative bona fides to the GOP base.  He has to pivot from center-right to far-right going in, and from far-right to center-right coming out.  That's one more pivot than most teams can handle.