The general election is off to an unedifying start with each candidate vying to paint the other — this week — as anti-women.
Negative campaigns are not new, but so far this one seems more intensely negative. The ratio on positive-negative ads run by Mitt Romney and his PACS were historic for a presidential campaign, and President Obama's campaign has wasted no time in trashing Romney. In fact, the two framing arguments for the campaign are already set and go something like this:
"Mitt Romney has a radical anti-women agenda that would outlaw all abortions and curtail medical preventive services, such as breast exams and pap smears. His call to repeal Obamacare will mean people with preexisting conditions can't get coverage. His economic policies favor only the wealthy; as he showed in business, he is ruthless to the middle class. He wants to end Medicare as we know it and his foreign policy supports endless war in Afghanistan."
"Barack Obama is a failure as president. His mistakes on the economy and in foreign policy have made us weaker. Unemployment has increased and is staying high, despite runaway federal spending that he promised would bring jobs. No jobs, but trillions in new debt. His health-care plan crushes small businesses and many individuals who will be forced into the system. He has ignored the problem in Iran and let the entire Middle East drift in a way dangerous to our allies and our interests. His energy policies are riddled with scandal and responsible for almost doubling gas prices. Now he wants more spending and higher taxes… who's he kidding?"
If you can predict which version of this framing swing voters will choose on election day, then you can predict our next president.