It’s only Tuesday, but it has already been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad week for the Obama campaign. Saddled with increasingly bad economic data, the campaign has been doggedly trying to change the subject to anything other than jobs and deficits. We’ve been treated to a mythical GOP “war on women”, a “debate” on birth control, a “road to Damascus” moment on gay marriage, an “expose” of Romney “bullying” in high school, and the burning question of who is a better pet owner. Unfortunately for Obama and his allies in the media, none of it is working.
Yesterday’s CBS/NYT poll makes it very clear that voters care about only one thing: The Economy. The only other issues that registers in the double-digits? Government spending and deficits–not exactly a winning issue for Obama. Not only do voters not care about the social issues Obama and the media are fixated on, there are signs that focus is backfiring. The biggest shift in voter sentiment in the CBS poll was among women, who, in just one month, shifted their support from Obama to Romney. In April, Obama had led Romney by six points among women. Today, women prefer Romney by two points.
More troubling for the White House is that 67% of registered voters believe his “conversion” on gay marriage, which sent coastal hearts aflutter, was based solely on politics, rather than any personal conviction. This is damning for a politician whose meteoric rise was based largely on his being “above” politics. It is an Exocet missile to his entire political narrative.
Of course, the Obama campaign today is whining about the “methodology” of the CBS poll, as all politicians do when faced with bad polling data. The CBS poll, though, is largely in line with several other polls using different methodologies, so I wouldn’t take the whining too seriously.
All that said, it’s what the Obama campaign tried to do proactively yesterday that convinces me they are in full panic.
Yesterday, the Obama campaign tried to attack Romney’s business experience with an ad focusing on steelworkers who lost their jobs when their company, GST Steel, went bankrupt. GST Steel was controlled by Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital. The story of GST Steel has already been told at least twice: by Ted Kennedy in 1994 and Newt Gingrich in this year’s primary. Every time, it has been pointed out that the bankruptcy occurred two years AFTER Romney left Bain Capital. So, as hits go, it’s pretty weak stuff.
It was the opening salvo in what is expected to be a sustained attack on Romney’s experience in private equity. So, what did Obama do after he launched this attack on private equity? He, of course, jetted to New York for a fundraiser with private equity traders. Natch!
Even the palace guards at Business Insider noticed the bad optics:
On the very same day he launched a sustained attack on Mitt Romney for his work at private equity firm Bain Capital, Obama raised over two million dollars at an event hosted by private equity kind, Hamilton “Tony” James, COO of Blackstone.
The fundraiser had obviously been planned for a long time. There is no way a well-coordinated campaign decides to make the private equity industry as issue on the very same day they are tapping it for money. The hypocrisy is a bridge too far, even for a compliant media. The Bain hit on Romney was clearly a rush job.
Obama’s other big high-profile event yesterday was a commencement address at Barnard College, a women’s college. It is clear the campaign planned to continue its “war on women” fantasy into this week.
But for Obama’s attack on Bain, no one would have noticed, or reported on, his fundraiser with private equity “vampires.”
Remember that at the end of last week, when the news was supposed to be about gay marriage and Romney “bullying” a possibly gay student in high school, Rasmussen showed Romney handily beating Obama in a general election match-up. Romney had not only withstood the full barrage of the Democrat-Media complex, he improved his standing with likely voters. That’s when the panic set in.
Yesterday’s Bain hit was a rushed retread of an already discredited attack. The Obama campaign tried to push it with a hastily arranged media conference call scheduled for 10:45 am EDT, late into the news cycle. If this were a well-planned hit, the call would have been much earlier, or one or two media outlets would have been fed information for corroborating stories.
Yes, it is only May and polls are just polls. It will be a long campaign through the Fall, with many a twist and turn. But, the events of the past 24 hours suggest that Obama is already losing control of the campaign narrative.