Yesterday Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse penned a memo arguing that despite Obama’s convention bounce, Mitt Romney will be the next president, treating it as a given that Obama can’t possibly win reelection amid such a weak economy. Newhouse cited the 1980 election, arguing that Jimmy Carter was leading Ronald Reagan by a “near double digit margin” before a late break put Reagan over the top.
I find it mildly interesting (and amusing) that only non-Reaganite Republicans like Neil Newhouse make the case that Romney is the next Reagan or this race resembles 1980. Ed Rollins, myself, others who worked for Reagan resist anything but the most basic comparisons.
To the point about swing voters in 1980, Reagan got one third of the Democratic vote! Romney will not get more than five percent of the Democratic vote...
Also, Neil ought to get his polling history right. After the GOP convention, Reagan got a big bounce. After the Democratic convention, Carter got a big bounce and went narrowly ahead.
There were three lead changes in the fall, including the morning of the debate, when the Post published a new poll which had Carter reclaiming the lead, but never was Carter ahead of Reagan by “double digits” as Neil mistakenly claimed.
David Frum points out another difference: In 1980, there was a third party candidate, John Anderson, who took away some of Carter’s support, helping enable his collapse. And Steve Benen adds still more:
Not to put too fine a point on this, but Obama inherited the worst crisis since the Great Depression, taking office after his Republican predecessor failed spectacularly in every area of public life. There is, in other words, a context that the Romney campaign fails to appreciate, and a recent history that most voters are not eager to re-embrace.
I still think this election could go either way. But if Romney loses, the Romney campaign’s apparent inability to imagine that undecided voters might take a complex, nuanced, longer view of the situation — rather than following the simplistic script the Romney camp authored for them — may well be the reason why.