If Susan Sarandon shows up at Mitt Romney headquarters, don’t be surprised, because Mitt is Dead Man Walking. With more than a month to go before Election Day, Romney’s odds of winning the presidency are roughly on par with his chance of winning the Kentucky Derby. Stranger things have been known to happen, but not many.
Where has Mitt gone wrong? Well, his famous “47 percent of Americans are victims” comments didn’t help. That may be why he’s cratering in the polls now. Of course, the more fundamental problem is that Romney never made himself known to the electorate. He allowed the Obama campaign to define him as a heartless vulture capitalist. This may or may not be accurate, but even though he was running for president for four years, Romney never let the public get a sense of what kind of person he thinks he is. People want to like the president, and Romney hasn’t given them any reason to like him. His strategy focused on the economy defeating Obama, not the public embracing Romney.
So what’s left for Romney? The gay-bashing strategy that propelled Bush to victory in 2004 clearly isn’t working this year. Instead, the Democrats embraced marriage equality, for once getting ahead of the demographic curve. Romney can’t talk about his health care law in Massachusetts, since it spawned death-of-liberty Obamacare. He doesn’t want to release any details of his economic policy because he knows they will be unpopular or simply un-mathematical. And he can’t tack to the center without aggravating the dominant right-wing of his party.
So with the first of the presidential debates coming up tomorrow, Romney is supposed to have one last shot at changing the trajectory of the race. Too bad that history shows the debates don’t change outcomes. Much as we like to believe that Reagan came from behind after debating Carter or Kennedy wiped the floor with Nixon, the fact of the matter is that the debates had little impact on the existing direction of the race. And it’s not like Obama is likely to perform so poorly in the debates or Romney that spectacularly that people will revise their opinions of the candidates. Most people have their minds made up.
All of which leaves Mitt hoping for some out-of-the-blue event that makes Obama look terrible enough to lose. Which means he’s left with his original strategy: disaster defeats Obama, not Romney. In the meantime, the political MSM has concluded that Romney’s campaign is losing, and it will continue to look for stories to feed that narrative. Sure, there might be a flurry of Mitt-comeback stories just to keep the drama going, but those will fade as Nov. 6 gets closer. In the meantime, Mitt should saddle himself up and head to Louisville.
Might as well try for the Derby, because the White House ain’t happening.
Photo by Gage Skidmore