With unemployment still over 8 percent, household income continuing to fall and trillion-dollar deficits stretching out as far as the eye can see, the 2012 presidential race shouldn’t even be close. In fact, economic-based political models suggest that Mitt Romney ought to be strolling to an easy victory.
And yet Romney is losing. When your campaign pollster is forced to release an “OK, Nobody Panic!” memo, as Neil Newhouse did today, it’s never a good sign.
The same is true of the race to control the U.S. Senate. Of the 33 seats being contested this year, only 10 are held by the Republicans. That means that going into this election cycle, the GOP had 23 chances to pick up the four additional seats they need to claim a Senate majority. Given the public’s deep disenchantment with Congress and the willingness of wealthy conservatives to pump big money into those races, the GOP had every reason to be confident that Mitch McConnell would replace Harry Reid as Senate majority leader come January.
And yet that dream may also be slipping away.
It’s important to note that Election Day is still 57 days away, and things could change. But at this point, Romney and his fellow Republicans are falling well short of what history and logic suggest they should be able to achieve. That fact takes on still more relevance when you consider that going all the way back to 1992, the Republicans have won a plurality of the national presidential vote exactly once. That once-in-20-years moment came in 2004, when George W. Bush rode the post-9/11 wave of patriotic fervor to a very narrow victory over John Kerry.
The modern conservative enterprise is built around the certainty that they represent the mainstream, and that their philosophy and policies are the philosophy and policies of all true Americans. But there has to be a reason why, despite all the immense natural advantages that they enjoy this election cycle, they are in serious danger of falling short.
If they don’t rebound and win under these economic conditions, against this opponent, what would that tell you? To many conservatives, it would tell you that the media are liberal, voters are stupid, Romney’s a bum or the sun got in their eyes. It must never be interpreted as the fault of conservatives themselves, or as an honest conclusion by voters that as tough as things are, problems such as unemployment and the deficit would probably be worse under the leadership and policies offered by the modern Republican Party.
– Jay Bookman