Sunday, April 22, 2012

Who Won the Week (Apr 15-21)

This past week certainly has not brought about any major developments in the campaign.  If anything, the two candidates still seem to be in the same position as they were last week: stuck in the game to define one another.  Mitt Romney is attempting to paint President Obama as being out of his league, and Mr. Obama is doing his best to remind voters just how far right Romney has placed himself, and in doing so, Obama never ceases to mention all the flip-flopping Romney has done to get there. 

But while the news was sparse this week, there were a couple of flare-ups, first of which came from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.  In an interview, the Governor said that the reason Mitt Romney has trouble talking about his father’s upbringing and heritage (George Romney was born in Mexico) is because it would remind people of the polygamist community. 

While the White House certainly had to distance itself from Schweitzer, it is probably safe to assume that the flap doesn’t’ help Romney.  It seems as though Mitt Romney has decided that he should not embrace his religion and should instead hope that it never gets mentioned.  Therefore, the Romney team was likely very unhappy (from a political and personal perspective) to hear about the Governor’s comments.

In other wacky news this week, a passage from President Obama’s book went viral.  Apparently, as a six-year-old child living in Indonesia, Barack Obama had eaten dog.

What is the significance of this, you might ask?  By now, Mitt Romney’s story of strapping his dog to the top of the roof of his car is well known.  The belief then, was that this story about the President once eating dog would neutralize the “dog vote” and it would help Romney. 

However, I think it played out somewhat differently.  Sure, animal lovers probably won’t be thrilled that the President has eaten dog, but the issue did more to just bring up the issue of dogs, including Romney’s dog.  The more people are reminded of Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus, the worse it will probably be for Mr. Romney.  In the end, neither candidate was probably benefited from the story.

In a bit of good news for the President, the Obama re-election team announced that it took in $46.4M in March, nearly quadrupling the amount Mitt Romney raised during the same period.  While lower than his 2008 haul, the amount helps to put the President at a significant cash on hand advantage: $104M vs. $10M.  As the primary is essentially over, it is likely Romney’s fundraising pace will increase, but the same could be said for Obama’s.

Finally, to polling: a slew of new polls were released this week showing a very tight general election matchup between the President and Mr. Romney.  Though Barack Obama is up a bit from last week in RealClearPolitics’ average (+3.3% vs. +2.4%), the change is more likely to be statistical noise than a clear shift towards the President. 

However, hidden in many of those polls are breakdowns of voter groups and whom they support.  While the President is not performing well among white men, Mitt Romney is performing very poorly among latinos and women, as I noted in yesterday’s post.  In short, Romney cannot win the general election if he does not improve among these two key groups.

Who won the week?  President Obama

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