Romney’s advisers say there is no cause for alarm, that the latest polls mostly reflect a convention bounce that will soon dissipate, and that it was Obama who had the worse week, with images of embassies in flames, demonstrators in the Middle East denouncing America and the Federal Reserve confirming anew that the economy is not recovering well.
Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist, said he believes there is a wide disconnect between the views of political strategists and pundits who populate the TV talk shows and the views elsewhere in America. “We feel very, very confident,” he said.
Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, countered by saying that his candidate has now solidified a lead, however narrow. He expects the polls to tighten. “We feel good but are clear-eyed about where things are,” he said.
It’s still possible that Romney will win this election simply because enough voters decide they’ve given up on Obama and are ready for an alternative. That’s been the theory behind the Romney campaign’s strategy from the very beginning. If it’s the economy, stupid; bring on the businessman.
Romney advisers look at the state of the country — the unemployment rate, the dissatisfaction with the pace of the recovery, the suffering among those who have been out of work for a year or more, the opposition to Obama’s health-care plan, the lack of progress reducing the deficit — and conclude that the electorate ultimately will decide to fire the president.
But are voters ready to hire Romney? Judging from all the evidence available, the answer is: not yet. For starters, voters still have little sense of what Romney would do as president. When the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll asked people whether Romney has done enough to provide details about his policies, 63 percent of Americans said no.
Romney has reduced the question of what he would do as president to five bullet points: domestic energy production, education and school choice, free trade, deficit reduction, and helping small business. He mentioned them in his acceptance speech in Tampa. To emphasize his priorities, his campaign ran a series of ads in the battleground states during the summer titled “Day One.” Not much of any of that has stuck.
Romney still has not answered big questions about his economic and budgetary proposals. He hasn’t explained how he would make up the revenue lost by his tax cuts. He will not identify the deductions he would eliminate as part of the comprehensive reform of the tax code he advocates to gain back close to enough revenue to close that gap.