Few expected a foreign policy debate to draw 69 million viewers, particularly against Monday night football and the 7th game of the National League playoffs. And even fewer thought that the debate’s often obscure topics could give Obama or Romney any boost. Yet Obama schooled Romney on foreign policy, leaving the GOP nominee hanging on for dear life. The debate and a better ground game puts Obama in a strong position to win.
I recently wrote that this was the most surprising presidential election in decades, and this again proved true following this week’s debate. After winning the first debate and maintaining his momentum following his losing second debate, Mitt Romney could not maintain his effort and badly fell apart.
Some compared Romney’s performance to a boxer clinching and holding on for dear life while waiting for the bell to end the fight. But there are still nearly two weeks before Election Day, and Romney lacks the lead that would allow him to run out the clock to victory.
Obama (Finally) Changes Tone
Comparing Ground Games
Where is Romney’s ground game? Romney has 40 campaign offices in Ohio to Obama’s 131, and 47 in Florida to Obama’s 106. This is a far cry from the remarkable ground operation Karl Rove put together for President Bush in Florida in 2004, an effort that the GOP began building in 2005.
Romney’s Super Pac’s are pouring money into television ads not field operations, and effective electoral outreach campaigns cannot be created overnight. And while many believe that Republican voters don’t need reminders to get to the polls, Romney needs less fervently committed independent voters to win.
Obama’s ground game advantage is particularly strong in Ohio.
In 2004, Democratic nominee John Kerry had no real field operation in Ohio prior to September. While the Ohio economy was hurting, Kerry had done nothing in particular to help the state while serving in the Senate. Despite this, and Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell’s shenanigans, Bush barely won the state.
Obama had a huge Ohio field campaign in 2008 and it is even bigger this year. He has two other key advantages: his saving the auto industry provided a major boost to Ohio workers, and early voting—barred in 2004—will continue in the days leading up to the election.
It’s hard to see how Romney can match Bush’s Ohio performance, and we know that Obama’s field campaign is much stronger than Kerry’s. Considering that no Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, Romney’s weak field campaign in the state could decide the race.
Posted: Thursday, 25 October 2012