The Political Risks of Cliff-Diving

In his latest piece, Karl Rove describes the political realities of going over the fiscal cliff.  His bottom line is that the result from such an event may harm both the President and Congress, however, the lasting effect could cripple Obama during his second term.

If negotiations stall and Washington plunges over the fiscal cliff, it will weaken Mr. Obama’s ability to bend Congress to his will, hasten the moment when congressional Democrats become more concerned about their standing than that of a lame-duck president, and further poison relations with Republicans.

On top of all that, a second-term president has total ownership of the economy. If the Congressional Budget Office is correct and going over the fiscal cliff causes the economy to shrink and unemployment to rise—while Americans see tax bills going up an average of nearly $3,500—then Republicans won’t escape blame but neither will the president. The damage to him may be long-lasting.

A weakened Mr. Obama makes recruiting and preparing for the 2014 midterms easier for Republicans and harder for Democrats.

 He also spells out the strategy that the GOP should follow in navigating the fiscal cliff issue:

The key for Republicans is to appear flexible rather than intransigent, willing to compromise rather than eager for a political smashup. This requires them to keep offering sensible alternatives and emphasizing that the country’s problem is too much spending. It will eventually sink in with many voters that Mr. Obama previously endorsed the GOP’s approach of generating more revenue through tax reform (not increased tax rates) and that his real goal is bigger government, not smaller deficits.

Republicans, therefore, must continue to volley.  Always put the ball back in the President’s court and make him decide that he’s out of ideas.

State of the race: Trajectory is bending towards Romney (thank heavens)

Michael Barone points out that part of the reason why Romney is gaining ground on Obama is as a result of the voter preference in swing-state suburbs.  He’s seeing a patterns similar to the 1980 election:

What we may be seeing, as we drink from the fire hose of multiple poll results pouring in, is a slow motion 1980.  The Gallup tracking poll, whose procedure for designating likely voters makes it very susceptible to shifts in the balance of enthusiasm, has been showing Romney ahead by 5 to 7 points.  That suggests that since the Oct. 3 debate Republicans have been consistently more motivated to vote than at least temporarily disheartened Democrats.

 Karl Rove outlines diagnoses the state of the campaign.  The good news is that Romney’s momentum is building and the Obama campaign is becoming increasingly desperate.

Wednesday’s RealClearPolitics.com average of polls showed Mr. Romney with 48% support to President Barack Obama’s 47.1%. On the eve of the Denver debate, Mr. Romney had 46% and Mr. Obama 49.1%.

More revealing, in the past week’s 40 national surveys, Mr. Romney was at or above 50% in 11, with Mr. Obama at or above 50% in one. Mr. Romney leads 48.9% to 46.7% in an average of these surveys. At this same point in 2004, President George W. Bush led Sen. John Kerry in this composite average, 48.9% to 45.8%…

This race will be close, depending on a few states. The good news for Mr. Romney is that the ones he needs are breaking his way. He leads in most recent polls in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado.

That puts the former Massachusetts governor at 263 in the Electoral College with Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the great prize, Ohio, still up for grabs. In those states, Mr. Obama has at best a thin edge, while Mr. Romney has momentum, a stronger argument, and time to grab the seven additional electoral votes he needs.

An incumbent president’s final number in opinion polls is often his Election Day share of his vote. Undecided voters generally swing the challenger’s way. So if Mr. Obama goes into Nov. 6 below 50% in these states—as he now is in almost every one—he is likely to lose them and his chance at a second term.

The Des Moines Register writes about a visit by Mitt Romney.  They’re assessment?  “This must be what momentum looks like.”