President Obama's Odds? Uncertain.
If Obama wants to win in November, he has got to hope that his legendary luck holds. His race for U.S Senate was made possible by a draw from a hat, literally. He lucked out in the Democratic National Primaries, when several key party figures convinced Hillary Clinton to drop out of the race, and let Obama go on. He was lucky when John McCain, previously a top notch candidate, chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. All this was grand, in the grand scheme of things. Obama hardly had to run against anyone without the fight being on his own terms.
But this year, the rules seem to have flown out the window. Obama faces a weak candidate in Mitt Romney. The problem is, Obama is also a weak candidate. This election will not be a clash of the Titans. It will be a clash of mice.
Here's why; Romney is not a charmer. He is prone to making some unfortunate gaffs, and so much of what he has already said can be taken out of context. He does not connect with voters on a personal level. Obama's likability rating is higher than Romney's. And Obama has a record of making some tough, risky decisions as President, some of which actually paid off. Sure, Bushes people may have been instrumental in tracking down Bin Laden, but Obama ultimately gave the order to take the bastard out.
Against this record, most Presidential elections would already have been decided. Not this year. Its the economy most Americans are worried about. With a national unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, Obama is going to have some difficulty telling voters how his policies worked. Voters may like the President, personally. But their employment, or lack thereof, matters to them more.
This undoubtedly has the Obama Team Leaders worried. They need to be able to sell the President, not his policies, or they all lose in November. How best to do that? Three things will help Obama in November; the swing states, the turnout of minorities, and Obama himself. As things stand right now, Obama is leading in the number of electoral votes needed to win reelection. The current score; 290- 191.
The swing states are actually fairly friendly ground for Obama. In Ohio, which has never been lost by a winning candidate, the employment rate is below the national average at 7.2 percent. Obama's stimulus saved the auto companies from bankruptcy, and prevented millions from losing their jobs. Ohioans, whose state was especially dependent on the Big Three, can see some tangible results. Virginia and Florida remain too close to call, although Obama is leading in some polls in those states. Both states remain below the national average in terms of unemployment.
Obama's next saving grace could well be the turnout of minority voters. African Americans remain Obama's most loyal supporters. Hispanics, a much larger, far more diverse ethnicity in terms of their political views and interests, will also probably lean Obama. In fact, Hispanics are such a large voting block that they may very well decide the election. The trick for Obama will be to maintain a lead of over 30 points above Romney in the Hispanic vote.
If all else fails, Obama will have to fall back on his greatest weapon: himself. He will have ample opportunity to do so, in interviews with the press, in the Presidential Debates, and on the campaign trail. If you've been watching T.V recently, you may have seen an add in which Obama addresses the audience and frames the election as a choice. Its an add that will resonate well with Democrats. Independents are less likely to fall for it. Still, it is a good move, on Obama's part. It shows that he is fully aware of what is at stake.