A couple of months ago the hue and cry among conservatives about Mitt Romney trailing President Obama in the polls was deafening. Articles were written in most major mainstream publications attempting to figure out where Romney was failing. Blame was pointed all over the place at various members of Romney’s team and at the candidate himself.
I recalled something I saw over the summer about the meta-strategies of the two campaigns. Here’s a summary of what I remember seeing:
Having intently studied the 2004 race, when President George W. Bush won re-election after defining Mr. Kerry on his terms during the spring and summer, Mr. Obama’s advisers are convinced that the most crucial advertising period is already over, and that they accomplished what they had to by introducing Mr. Romney to the nation as a rapacious capitalist.
Mr. Romney’s team is betting that early ad spending is largely wasted, and that a final and furious campaign will move the race in his direction when it most counts. The campaign’s belief is that continued disappointing economic data will feed its slogan, “Obama Isn’t Working,” and give a new edge to the question that Mr. Romney is posing at every opportunity: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Mitt Romney delivered on a nationwide stage exactly when he planned to deliver – face to face with the President. People knew who President Obama was, what they didn’t know was who Mitt Romney really was; just what they heard about him from the Obama and supporting SuperPAC ad machine. When Romney acquitted himself as serious, presidential, and far different that the caricature portrayed in Obama ads, he vaulted in front of the President. Of course long-time supporters already expected Romney to be ahead of Obama due the poor economy, but as Romney himself said in the 47% video’s people like Obama as a person and those who voted for him on 2008 have to be gently walked to dropping their support.
His performance in the first debate effectively destroyed the Obama campaign’s big summer spending campaign. Romney is now outspending the President in advertising in swing states, and has turned that debate performance into serious momentum. Notice that the whole shift, both in focus and results, is in line with the strategy that the Romney people laid out months ago.
New polls show Romney with big leads in Virginia and Florida, states he was struggling in a few weeks ago. Other “leaning Obama” states are moving back to toss-ups. In the second Presidential debate Romney polled well ahead of President Obama on the issues, especially the economy.
The Romney campaign took a big gamble on a big strategic plan and its paying off. Obama’s strategy was a gamble as well, but in following that plan he’s put himself into the trailing situation he’s in today. There’s really no new plan for either, the two campaigns are essentially locked into their strategies. The good news for Romney is that his strategy is focused on these final weeks. The bad news for Obama is that his strategy was focused on destroying Mitt Romney over the summer, not closing the deal in the final weeks.