Prognosticators of the coming elections have many good arguments as to why former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be our next president. Clearly he has incredibly huge funding. He will benefit from certain groups’ ongoing, aggressive dislike for President Barack Obama. And he has the stumbling economy, which seems to get only incrementally better as the election approaches.
But despite all that, there are at least six good reasons why Obama will be re-elected (or more accurately, why Romney will lose):
1. Romney, to gain the GOP nomination, essentially sold his political “soul” to the right wing of his party. On issue after issue he pandered to the right to “prove” his fidelity to their beloved causes. Thus, on such issues as immigration, gun control, abortion, smaller government, less taxes (especially on the wealthy) and virtually every other major issue, he is now wedded to the right. But his largest concession was his abandonment of his own Massachusetts health-care plan, and one he is having trouble explaining. Moreover, the right wing in America today is really on the fringe of political thinking; moderation is much more an American preference. How Romney can unhitch himself from the far right will be difficult, and probably impossible.
2. Regarding the issues, several that Romney now espouses are not popular with key voting segments. Among those his position on immigration, which is offending Hispanic voters; and his inability to gain any traction with other minorities (notably blacks and Muslims). His total refutation of the Affordable Care Act is not going to be popular with most Americans once they learn how some parts (already in operation) will affect them. Finally, his loyalty to the wealthy on tax issues is definitely not a popular stance with voters, most of who feel the wealthy are being given unnecessary and unneeded advantages when it comes to paying a fairer share.
3. Also in regard to his new-found fidelity to the right, Romney now presides over a fragmented and poorly unified party. This will not deter Republicans of all stripes from voting for him, but it may diminish their enthusiasm in the electoral process. The right is still suspicious of Romney, despite his continued pledges of loyalty. But that turns off moderates, who feel their voices are no longer heard in the party. The upcoming party conventions represent the unity that resides in each party. Former President George W. Bush will be absent from the Republican gathering; former President Bill Clinton will headline the Democratic convention. Additionally, while Romney’s funding has come in massive amounts from a limited number of wealthy donors (unlike Obama’s), small contributions seem lacking. This seems to indicate wide, but shallow party support for his candidacy.
4. Romney has shown a surprising aptitude for committing gaffes and errors – especially in nonscripted venues. As a matter of fact, in his trip to England and Israel he lurched from “explaining” his position on the Brits’ Olympic preparation to his apparent hostile view of the Palestinians (hardly a template for future negotiations), and expressing his unqualified view of a possible Israeli strike at Iran. All of which he has walked back. These add to numerous other statements going well back to the primaries. His most telling gaffe then was his on-camera $10,000 “bet” with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. It said volumes about his background and mindset.
5. This brings us to the heavy baggage Romney carries into the election. His wealth alone is not necessarily a deterrent to winning, but his claims of “creating jobs” while at Bain have been mitigated by the facts. Additionally, his nondisclosed bank accounts, — presumably in Switzerland, the Caymans and elsewhere — are raising eyebrows, even among Republican supporters. This is exacerbated by his refusal to open more tax returns. Why his reluctance? We don’t know, but voters can probably assume why he objects. Beyond that, Romney has clearly lived a life virtually no American can even imagine, let alone identify with. That cannot be an asset.
6. Finally, and the biggest reason Obama will win, are the three October debates in which the two candidates will engage. That brings into play virtually all the aforementioned reasons: Romney’s alliance with the right wing of his party; his true results while at Bain; several of his less-than-popular stands on the issues; his propensity for gaffes; and his lack of transparency on his taxes (and potential off shore holdings). All will come into focus with a skilled moderator in the debates; and all will be difficult for Romney to explain on highly watched prime-time venues. Adding to this are the skills and confidence Obama has in the debate arena.
No doubt, this election will be won by a razor-thin margin – the polls show that already. There is not much potential for movement (the undecideds are already just a fraction of likely voters), so incremental movements — especially in the last days of the campaign — will decide the outcome.
Like a good horse race, the race for the presidency likely will be decided down the home stretch. Given that, I see Obama winning by a nose.
Myles Spicer of Minnetonka has spent his business career as a professional writer and owned several successful ad agencies over the past 45 years.