One Great Debate Does Not Make a President

One of the only things that could have hurt Mitt Romney and his momentum after the 3rd and final Presidential debate was dear old Mother Nature.

And did she ever rear her ugly head.

The devastation, deaths and severe blow to thousands of families was sobering and sad. The hearts of Americans (and many outside) were heavy last week. Hurricane Sandy was more damaging than we imagined.

Not only did Sandy give President Obama a “Commander in Chief” moment, but no one expected what came next – a heap of praise from Republican and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  He toured the state with Obama and flew on Marine one, which had to have many Republicans shaking their head in anger.

Christie was one of Obama’s harshest critics and the keynote speaker at the Republican convention. He used words like “wonderful” to describe the actions of the President after the storm.  The worry was obvious when Rupert Murdoch wrote this on Twitter recently – “Now Christie, while thanking O, must re-declare for Romney, or take blame for next four dire years.”                    

I’ve always admired how Governor Christie was able to work across party lines, particularly with the Mayor of Newark, Democrat Cory Booker. Mark Zuckerberg credited both of them in his decision to give 100 million dollars to Newark schools. It spoke volumes about his character when Christie wasn’t afraid to give credit to the President.

Before the storm, I thought Romney’s chances were slim as Obama had a strong advantage in the Electoral College from the start. 237 electoral votes are on the side of the Democrats and if Obama wins Ohio (been leading consistently), he would be at 255– only 15 shy of the magic number of 270.  Winning one or two of the remaining swing states gives him the victory. See below for more specifics from an online article:

Obama began the general-election race with a base of 18 states plus the District, totaling 237 electoral votes. Romney began with a base of 23 states, totaling 191 electoral votes. North Carolina is tipping toward Romney and Nevada toward Obama, putting the president at 243 and Romney at 206.

Romney is making a late play in Pennsylvania and Minnesota and will campaign in the Keystone State on Sunday. Both states continue to lean toward the president, but Obama’s campaign has decided to send former president Bill Clinton to Pennsylvania on Sunday for extra measure.

Assuming those states continue to stay in Obama’s column, the president would need only 27 of the remaining 89 electoral votes to win. Romney would need 64 of the 89, which explains why Obama still has an easier — but by no means certain — path to an Electoral College majority. For example, he could win a second term simply by winning Florida, which remains competitive.

The Electoral College math just doesn’t add up for Romney. Needing 64 0f 89 remaining electoral votes is a tall task, especially with Obama having a modest lead in most current polls.

It didn’t have to be that way for Romney as he and his team ran a bad campaign. I talked about his difficulties in my October article called, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”. A passage is below:

Even some Obama supporters must feel for him as his last month has ranged from incredibly stupid (47% comment) to terribly unprepared (untimely attack on Obama administration’s foreign policy)….which was preceded by a snore fest of a Republican convention, where Clint Eastwood was the story on what should have been Romney’s night.

Before these “foot in mouth” stumbles, Romney offered very little of himself or his policies, yet was still in a close race with President Obama.

Romney’s lack of strategy and stumbles had his campaign reeling in September and Obama’s re-election was looking very promising.

The upcoming (and first) debate on October 3rd was his last chance to rescue the campaign and his light couldn’t have been brighter. He was masterful and crushed a non-enthusiastic Obama. He was now back in the game! A passage from my article on that debate is below:

Whether it was on Twitter during the Presidential debate or watching on TV after, words such as “not aggressive, “cool Barry”, “no passion”, “lack of fire” and “landslide for Romney” came fast and furious in describing this massacre.

And yes, it was a massacre.

The President didn’t come to play, was unprepared and failed to adjust in any way during the debate. Romney delivered boldly and beyond expectations. He was impressive.

On October 4, Romney had the momentum on his side, and his standing among women improved tremendously; an area where Obama had a big advantage before the debate.

Obama did improve significantly in the final two debates although Romney had solid performances and still had the momentum.

And then Sandy hit and the focus came completely off of the challenger, went directly to the President and halted any momentum Romney enjoyed. Karl Rove (George W. Bush’s strategist) indicated that Sandy has helped Obama by being seen as the “Comforter in Chief”.

In any campaign, starting strong and maintaining momentum is of the utmost importance although closing can be meaningful. Also, a “Moment of Truth” can be helpful to a winning participant.

Romney started poorly and never made any inroads or progress in the heart of the campaign. Obama wasn’t impressive either although his campaign was strategic and focused, with no risks and very few mistakes. The Obama strategy was to paint Romney as “out of touch”, hoping his missteps would be his downfall.

Romney’s “Moment of Truth” was that first debate. It not only saved his campaign, it also gave him the sizzle he lacked all year long. Obama never really had one although one could argue that his final two debate performances were a mini “moment”.

Any planned closure by the candidates was made impossible as Sandy hit one week before the November 6th election.  Both campaigns had to suspend, react and campaign on a fine line so as not to show any disrespect towards the victims of the tragedy.

Nobody wants to benefit from a disaster although there is not a much more powerful closing week than the spotlight of being President during a country’s time of need. Most polls were positive in how Americans viewed Obama’s handling of the storm.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, Romney is on record for questioning FEMA and the role the federal government plays in distributing funds to states in a disaster. He’s indicated that the power should be with the states and the private sector. That cannot be helpful to the Romney camp.

Could Romney still win? Of course although to do so, he would need to have an improbable run of wins in most of the swing states – a very difficult task, especially if he doesn’t win Ohio.

Here's what a sports columnist tweeted during the weekend:

“Can’t run one race to win nomination and then run a different race to win Presidency. This election is gonna be a blessing 4 Repub party.”
(Jason Whitlock on Twitter)

A prize this big doesn’t come easy. One great debate does not make a President.

My Electoral Vote Prediction: Obama 299 - Romney 239

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Looks like the Donkey will get 4 more years

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