Published on TheHill.com on October 30, 2012
Voters have figured out that President Obama has no message, no agenda and not even much of an explanation for what he has done over the past four years. His campaign is based entirely on persuading people that Mitt Romney is a uniquely bad man, entirely dedicated to the rich, ignorant of the problems of the average person. As long as he could run his negative ads, the campaign at least kept voters away from the Romney bandwagon. But once we all met Mitt Romney for three 90-minute debates, we got to know him — and to like him. He was not the monster Obama depicted, but a reasonable person for whom we could vote.
As we stripped away Obama’s yearlong campaign of vilification, all the president offered us was more servings of negative ads — ads we had already dismissed as not credible. He kept doing the same thing even as it stopped working.
The result was that the presidential race reached a tipping point. Reasonable voters saw that the voice of hope and optimism and positivism was Romney while the president was only a nitpicking, quarrelsome, negative figure. The contrast does not work in Obama’s favor.
His erosion began shortly after the conventions when Indiana (10 votes) and North Carolina (15) moved to Romney (in addition to the 179 votes that states that McCain carried cast this year).
Then, in October, Obama lost the Southern swing states of Florida (29) and Virginia (13). He also lost Colorado (10), bringing his total to 255 votes.
And now, he faces the erosion of the northern swing states: Ohio (18), New Hampshire (4) and Iowa (6). Only in the union-anchored state of Nevada (9) does Obama still cling to a lead.
In the next few days, the battle will move to Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (15), Wisconsin (10) and Minnesota (16). Ahead in Pennsylvania, tied in Michigan and Wisconsin, and slightly behind in Minnesota, these new swing states look to be the battleground.
Or will the Romney momentum grow and wash into formerly safe Democratic territory in New Jersey and Oregon?
Once everyone discovers that the emperor has no clothes (or that Obama has no argument after the negative ads stopped working), the vote shift could be of historic proportions.
The impact on Senate races could be profound. Give the GOP easy pickups in Nebraska and North Dakota. Wisconsin has been a roller coaster. Once an easy win for Republican Tommy Thompson, then a likely loss as Democrat Tammy Baldwin caught up, and now Republican again, it will probably be a third pickup. Romney’s surge in Virginia is propelling George Allen to a good lead for the first time all campaign. In Montana, Republican Denny Rehberg holds and has held for some time a small lead over Democrat incumbent Jon Tester. And, in Pennsylvania, Smith has powered his campaign to a small lead over Democrat Bob Casey Jr.
The GOP now leads in these six takeaways. But it is also within easy striking distance in Ohio and Florida, where incumbents are under 50 percent and Republican challengers Connie Mack (Fla.) and Josh Mandel (Ohio) are only a few points behind. It may even be possible to entertain daydreams of Rhode Island (Barry Hinckley) and New Jersey (Joe Kyrillos) going Republican.
Republican losses? Look for a giveback in Maine and possibly in Indiana and Massachusetts. In Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock had established a 5-point lead over Democrat Joe Donnelly. But his comments about rape knocked him back to a tie. With Romney carrying the state by 15 points, however, Mourdock could still make it. In Massachusetts, Brown has been in hand-to-hand combat with Elizabeth Warren. Down by five a few days ago, he’s now tied, but the undecided usually goes against the incumbent.
The most likely outcome? Eight GOP takeaways and two giveaways for a net gain of six. A 53-47 Senate, just like we have now, only opposite.
Barack Obama’s parting gift to the Democratic Party.
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