When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan I wrote an article that it reflected that he was trailing and needed to energize the conservative base, but that Ohio Senator Rob Portman might have proved a better choice. Ryan has not been as damaging to the Republican ticket on issues like Medicare as I thought he would largely because the Obama campaign has been incompetent in many areas and Romney has managed to actually lead in polls in who people trust more with Medicare.
That said, the NY Times ran an article today stating that there is 50/50 chance Ohio will decide the election. This is not that unusual – Ohio decided the Bush-Kerry election with Bush winning Ohio by less than 2% of the vote. But if Ohio decides the election and if the vote in Ohio is close, Romney will spend the rest of his life wondering had he picked Ohio’s Senator would he have carried the state. Vice-Presidential candidates rarely matter – but it mattered for Kennedy when LBJ helped him carry Texas and it might well be the decision to not put Portman on the ticket might cost Romney the election.
Obama’s biggest risk now is a total stock market collapse before the election. The market has been weak lately and if there is any kind of flash crash or 10% or more move down from here– the election is going to Romney. Romney was going to win most of the investor class anyway, but any kind of catastrophic domestic economic event will move the undecideds to Romney.
We also have a risk of one man winning the popular vote and another the electoral vote. Not only would that conjure memories of Bush vs. Gore, but had Bush lost Ohio against Kerry he would have won the popular vote, but Kerry would have been President. It will be interesting to see if this happens if the electoral college can survive. It might only survive because our political system is so paralyzed over more trivial things, there will be no consensus to change it even if the public feels there is a problem electing Presidents who get less votes than their opponent.
If Obama loses it will be he who lost the election. Romney has managed the “etch a sketch” with precision and has only been able to get away with his ever changing positions or a tax plan on vapors – eliminating deductions without specifying one – because the Obama camp has been incompetent in holding this against him. That Obama might have had a credibility lead over Romney vanished with Benghazi. If he just would have said from the beginning it was clear some people fell down on the job and there would be an investigation as to whom and when – he would have been able to delay the results of that until after the election while accepting responsibility as opposed to something that is starting to look like Watergate in terms of a cover up even if there is no criminal culpability.
The Democrats have been terrible defenders of Obamacare – incapable of pointing out the most unpopular piece of Obamacare – the mandate to buy insurance was not only in Romneycare in Massachusetts, it was proposed at the federal level by Richard Nixon back in 1974, supported by Newt Gingrich when he was the House Republican leader and supported by the last four Senate Republican leaders preceding McConnell. It is an essentially a Republican idea that candidate Obama ran against and then accepted when he was President.
While some people are amazed how close the race is and that Obama is still in the running with an over 8% unemployment rate and is leading in states like Nevada with the highest employment rates, it is actually more amazing that Romney’s 47% comments have not cost him the election at this point. It goes to the partisans being heavily partisan in spite of facts. California and Rhode Island are going to vote Democratic no matter how high the unemployment rate. The anti-Obama sentiment is so strong among the people who hold they will vote for anyone running against him no matter what. The undecided are undecided because they know in the hearts neither of these guys is going to solve our problems.