(Charlotte, North Carolina) – From Providence, Rhode Island, to Tampa, Florida; back to Providence; and now, to Charlotte, North Carolina. The campaign trail winds along; and - although I am dead tired - I loved the excitement of the past week and what’s ahead this week. So who has the advantage? Read on:
“The Bounce” – Republicans appeared to get a small bounce out of their convention. The latest Rasmussen Poll on Saturday has it Governor Romney, 47 percent, to President Obama, 44 percent. However, the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll has it 46.4 percent for Obama to 46.1 percent for Romney. Still, the poll is trending slightly to Romney in the past week. Obama started with a lead of 1.9 percent Sunday, slipped to 1.7 by midweek, then to .5 percent Friday, and to .3 percent on Saturday. That’s a paper-thin lead, but the trend is the thing to watch. Advantage Romney.
“Just the Facts Ma’am!” – Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan created an unnecessary distraction by messing up the facts surrounding a General Motors plant closure in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. The plant was closed in late 2008, during the Bush administration, not the Obama administration. To be sure, the closure was a corporate decision, not the fault of either President. But what Ryan missed was a golden opportunity to ask President Obama why he did not insist on the plant reopening under the GM bailout plan the President okayed in March of 2009. Ryan turned what could have been a major advantage in a toss-up state into a self-defeating gaffe. As a former speech writer to the late Jack Kemp, he should have known better. Advantage Obama.
“Can I Change My Mind?” – For the past couple of weeks, I have been saying it would be a one-state race, with Nevada deciding the winner. I wish to change my mind slightly. It will still be a one-state race, but Iowa – and not Nevada - will pick the winner this year. Here’s my logic: Obama now has a 3.3 percent lead in Nevada, which is not huge by any stretch. Moreover, Obama now leads in Iowa by only .2 percent. The other clue to Iowa's importance is that Romney and Obama are now making more visits there than to perhaps any other state. Advantage Romney.
“Star Struck” – Forget the Clint Eastwood debacle for a moment. The real embarrassment at the GOP convention was that the most-interviewed person was one who was not on any ballot. Academy-Award-winning actor Jon Voight was in Tampa, stumping for Romney in both the convention hall and in the press center. He was everywhere, and dozens of reporters (most of them from overseas) were trailing him all over and peppering him with questions. No one else (including the politicians) had this much press, not even close. Then, a reporter came rushing into the ABC News area, where I was working, and breathlessly declared, “I just got an interview with Robert Downey, Jr.!” Folks, celebrity culture has nothing to do with the debt, deficit, unemployment rate, or Medicare shortfall. That reporters keep chasing it - as if it were significant - is embarrassing. Advantage nobody!
“Two Left Feet!” – The most awkward dance in the Democratic Party remains between the Obamas and the Clintons. They may not like each other, but they respect each other. The fact that Bill Clinton will place President Obama’s name in nomination Wednesday night is huge, and I am sure he will give a speech with fawning praise. If it weren’t for term limits, Clinton could win a third term tomorrow. He remains that popular, despite all his baggage. Oddly enough, an Obama loss this year would create a better opportunity for Hillary Clinton to win the White House in 2016; but Bill Clinton will “take one for the team” Wednesday night. You may recall that Al Gore asked Clinton to “sit on the sidelines” in 2000; and the Democrats lost both their states - Tennessee and Arkansas. A win in either state would have put Gore in the White House even though he lost Florida. Advantage Obama.
“The Disillusioned” – In Tampa, I spoke with a number of Ron Paul delegates who were showing only tepid interest in finally backing Mr. Romney. In recent weeks, I have also found numerous “20 somethings,” who have no jobs and are thinking of staying home Election Day, instead of voting again for Obama. These potential defections pose serious threats to the efforts of both parties to win. Advantage nobody!
“Deadlock” – So there you have it: two advantages for Obama; two advantages for Romney; and a group of potential voters on each side who may neutralize one another. No wonder this race is tied and will likely remain tight on November 6.
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