Published on TheHill.com on November 5, 2012
Yup. That’s right. A landslide for Romney approaching the magnitude of Obama’s against McCain. That’s my prediction.
On Sunday, we changed our clocks. On Tuesday, we’ll change our president.
Romney will win the states McCain carried in 2008, plus: Florida, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
In the popular vote, Romney will win by more than 5 points.
The Obama campaign made the following key mistakes:
• It bet the farm on negative ads in swing states. It didn’t realize that Mitt’s convention speech and the three debates would give him the chance to live down the charges and demonstrate — through facts and his demeanor — that they were baseless.
• Obama had no Plan B if the negatives didn’t work. He never really laid in a convincing defense of his record, except to recall the mess that he inherited and to try to make people believe things were better. He had no vision for his second term, except more of same. He never moved to the center — the shift that reelected Bill Clinton.
• Obama drew his list of swing states too narrowly. He did not contemplate that he would be forced to defend Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan or Minnesota and squandered his money contesting unwinnable states like North Carolina. When Romney bypassed Obama’s “firewall” states (like the Germans did the French Maginot Line in World War II), the president had not laid in the necessary prophylactic irradiation of negative ads, and three of the states embraced Romney.
• By focusing on the negative, Obama sacrificed first his personal popularity and then his dignity and presidentiality. No longer was he the hope and the change. He became nothing more than a nasty partisan, throwing epithets at his rival. A president does not let himself be quoted as saying that his opponent is a “bullsh–ter” or that voting is the best “revenge.” Even his dress was wrong. Instead of appearing in a dark suit, he dressed in an open-neck white shirt, trying to be everyman but succeeding only in not looking like a president.
• Since he offered nothing more than a negative campaign and a grab-bag of special-interest pleadings for single women, unions, college kids and minorities, Obama failed to inspire the turnout that he needed. Against Santorum and Gingrich, Obama could have made the case that their prospective presidencies were sufficiently dangerous that liberals and Democrats must rush to the polls to stop them. But against the congenial Romney, the warnings rang hollow.
• In the first debate, Obama was terrible. We’ll likely find out what his excuses are after the polls close. Did he have the flu? Was it the altitude? Had he, as Bob Woodward suggested, just received a dose of bad news? Why did he appear distracted?
• Obama should have gotten the facts out quickly about Benghazi rather than let them drip, drip, drip out over six weeks. He could then have handled the crisis and won points for determination and toughness. Instead, to the very end, he looked like he was covering up the fact of a terrorist attack. Because he was.
• After Sandy, Obama visited New Jersey and surveyed the damage with Gov. Chris Christie (R). He should have stayed on the storm, superintending relief efforts, urging FEMA on, absorbing the lessons of Bush’s failure to cope well with Katrina. Instead, he returned to the partisan wars and the strident speeches in swing states.
None of this should take away from Romney’s brilliant campaign. By staying on the economy and not being tempted into side issues like Libya, Mitt kept the focus where it needed to be and never let up. His campaign’s foray into Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Wisconsin was vital to his chances of victory. More about what Mitt did right in my post-election column on Thursday. But for now, let’s celebrate the new president we are about to elect.
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