Four years ago the Republican Party was in danger of losing status as a national party, pundits said. It was too white, too southern and too old. The GOP still has a long way to go with minority voters, but after President’s Obama four years in office the Republican presidential ticket is appealing to women, voters in blue state strongholds and independents.
Resurgent Republic released its latest survey in conjunction with Democracy Corps.for National Public Radio. The top line number shows Mitt Romney with 48 percent and President Obama with 47 percent. But the striking thing about the polls, Resurgent Republic’s Luke Frans tells me, is that “Romney is making significant gains among Independents, increasing his lead over Obama (51-39, up from 46-42 in September) and improving his image (54 favorable/40 unfavorable, up from 42/48 in July).” Mitt Romney’s big lead with independents in virtually every state and national poll suggests the center-left coalition that lifted Obama into office has been decimated. The story of the election appears to be the reassembling of the center-right majority for the GOP presidential ticket.
It is not hard to see why. David Brooks, the quintessential upscale moderate who fell hook, line and sinker for Obama in 2008, now explains: “The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.” This makes conservatives shudder, and it is far from clear that Romney, if elected, will move so assiduously to the center (much depends on the composition of the House and Senate). But in any event, he now lays claim to be a pragmatic dealmaker. This is the flip-side of Obama’s angry, leftward lurch: Obama has sacrificed the middle, a great number of women voters and the critical independent vote.
You see the transformation geographically as well. Consider the following states with Obama’s 2008 margin is in parenthesis: Ohio (Obama +4.6), Florida (Obama + 2.8), Pennsylvania (Obama + 10.8), Virginia (Obama 6.3), New Hampshire, Colorado (Obama +9), Wisconsin (Obama 13.9), Iowa (Obama +9.5), Indiana (Obama +1.1), North Carolina (Obama +.3) and Minnesota (Obama +10.3). In the most recent public polling Romney is ahead or within the margin of error in every single one of these. Put differently, it is possible Obama loses all of them.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Obama must spend money to gin up the numbers in Philadelphia and dispense Vice President Biden to try to hold onto working-class whites. McClatchy reports: “A conservative group, Americans for Job Security, has reserved at least $454,150 worth of time on Philadelphia broadcast stations and more than $200,000 worth on cable channels in the Philadelphia market, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday. Obama gave interviews Friday to Philadelphia-based, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and to April Ryan, the White House correspondent for Pittsburgh-based American Urban Radio Networks.” No wonder Gov. Ed Rendell (D) says, according to McClatchy, “I want a Bill Clinton robo-call to every home in Philadelphia and every home in Pittsburgh. I want the president one more time, even for an hour, in Philadelphia.”
The race remains close, but Obama has presided over the Democratic Party’s shrinkage demographically, politically and geographically. The only question is whether Romney can capitalize and make it past the 270 electoral vote marker.