Strategy should dictate tactics. When the strategy is ever changing can you execute effective tactics? Does the strategy change based on conditions or does the strategy attempt to define conditions? Can the tactics keep up with strategic changes?
Benghazi is unraveling. The potential for this story to blow up on the President is imminent. The strategy was to blame it on a video. No one with the possible exception of the NY Times buys that communication strategy now, the facts are slapping it down. Reports indicate the White House is in semi panic mode over what could hit the news next.
Dissembling. Pending new, harsher, EPA regulations have been put off until after Election Day. Addressment of the Fiscal Cliff has been pushed off till after Election Day. The Benghazi investigation; yup, results after Election Day. The President’s plan for another four years will not be fully realized until after Election Day. Will undecided voters accept an unspecified future that is defined only after Election Day?
The Ground Game. The much discussed ground game for the President’s reelection campaign may or may not be as solid as reported. The President has, in most cases, bypassed existing ground game options. He has not tied himself to existing political structures and voter lists maintained by Governors, Congressman, Senators or local political organizations. Gov. Romney has embraced those pre-existing structures. Take a hard look at President Obama’s campaign stops compared to Gov. Romney. Local officials are, relatively, absent at the President’s events; they populate Romney events.
The media. There is little question that the majority of the MSM operates in support of the President; no surprise, fully expected! But, the credibility of the media continues to decline. Foot dragging on Benghazi could be the point of crystallization that collapses their general narrative in support of the President. If the facts demand that they turn on the President, those who still rely on the MSM for their news will be shocked into reconsideration.
War on women. Recent numbers indicate this strategy has been a comprehensive failure, yet the theme continues to be prevalent in the campaign. Despite slow movement from pro-choice to pro-life over time the base directed appeal has moved the overall women’s vote to a near tie from a 16 point lead. The fundamental assumption seems to have been that contraception and abortion are the key issues concerning women. No addressment of economics and jobs. Women have suffered mightily over the past two years in the jobs market; the numbers indicate that economics not contraception and abortion dominate women’s thinking. This is a surprise to no one outside of the President’s campaign. Women are not one dimensional; they are smart and perceptive, that is what defines the change in the numbers related to women. The campaign’s focus evolved into a left-handed insult to women’s intelligence; never a good idea.
Credibility. In the last days of the campaign the 46% to 48% on either side is fairly well entrenched. Benghazi is a major credibility problem and it’s getting worse. Of the 4% to 6% that remain, theoretically, undecided the attempt to dissemble Benghazi will hurt the President. When the President did make a definitive statement about ‘fixing’ the impending Sequestration; “it won’t happen”, his campaign backed off the statement the following day. Hard to fathom moving the President away from a declarative commitment!
Defining Romney. Tens of millions of dollars were spent to, as the campaign stated early on, ‘kill Romney’. One debate was all it took to waste those dollars. The Governor, his wife, family and those he touched gave lie to the ad campaign attempting to define him as a dangerous reactionary.
Upon reflection. Blaming Bush, if only by implication, four years after the fact is weak and getting weaker. Some may remember that six of the eight Bush years saw a stable growing economy that survived an early recession, Katrina and 9/11. Some may remember that Bush attempted to correct the overreach by Fannie and Freddy that was so instrumental in the housing and subsequent economic crash.
Economy. The President cannot make a strong case for the economy. He can only attempt to convince us that it could have been worse;. We have all, at one point in time or another said ‘it could have been worse’ we usually say that when things are bad. The argument is tired and lacks resonance; the President has trapped himself within its confines. The President’s new pamphlet essentially guarantees even more spending, there is nothing new here.
The 50% equation. A candidate under 50% at this point in time has never won. President Reagan, as a challenger to President Carter was well behind the incumbent at this point in time. Carter was leading but not above 50%. Romney is much closer than Reagan was at this point in time.
The contradictions. You can’t escape the irony. The Left depends, to a significant degree, on youthful ignorance and energy. The irony is that despite being dependant on youthful ignorance the Left insists on doing everything possible to limit production of the young.
Not about the numbers anymore. We all know the economic numbers; it’s not about the numbers anymore. It’s about the plan. The President’s plan has not changed in any fundamental aspect other than to double down on his economic views. More of the same is one thing; the President is essentially promising a lot more of the same.
Energy. Not approving the Keystone Pipeline is illogical to most. Shutting down Coal production carries the same perception. A suit has been filed to expose pending EPA regulations that could further damage domestic energy production and will not be released until, wait for it……………after Election Day.
The President’s words. Ads featuring the President’s own words have been the most effective ads on the air. Not a good position to be in.
Actions speak louder than words. The President is reported as advising his field organizers in Florida that perhaps it would be better if they moved to Ohio. The President’s problem is that he also has to consider advising them that they may also have to move to Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New Hampshire. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Ground that no one in the President’s campaign anticipated having to fight for. Fund raising in the first half of October is comprehensively in favor of Governor Romney. People are voting with their dollars; actions speak louder than words. The money is indicative, the surge is clear. I know specifically of individuals who can’t afford to contribute, they have done so anyway. I receive the President’s fund raising pleas. They grow more desperate sounding by the day inclusive of whining and complaining. In the last days of the campaign according the Obama campaign manager Jim Messina the Romney campaign has a $4 million dollar a day advantage. Who thought that would be the case eight months ago?
One party rule. The President’s signature accomplishments: Health Care, Stimulus, Dodd Frank were all passed with no or insignificant Republican support. The President, when faced with significant opposition has reverted to regulation and Executive Orders to move his agenda. The American electorate has, historically, tended to flee from one party rule and to accept it only on a temporary basis. They understand, at a gut level, the necessity for conflicting pressures.
The President, as an incumbent should be, will either be elevated or trapped by his record, his words and his demeanor. At the bottom line the harsh reality of the economy, the strategic changes, the absence of new messages, the unwillingness to change course argues for trapped as opposed to elevated.