February 1, 2012

Electability is not a winning general election message

Mitt Romney has a 50-something point economic plan.  Can you name any one of the points?  Can you remember 9-9-9?  That guy isn't even in the race anymore, but he had a message that could be distilled down to something simple.  Mitt Romney's talking points perhaps could be distilled down but they aren't being simplified like that.  Why not?

It's simple as to why it isn't simple.  Mitt Romney is busy talking up his electability.  Can I beat Obama?  Yes I can.  Fine.  That might work in the primaries but if Romney wins and goes up against Obama, I can beat Obama is not a general election message.  It's not a reason to vote for Romney in the general election - it doesn't even make sense at that point.  For the sake of consistency, and repetition, that message shouldn't be driving his primary campaign.

Obama is eminently beatable. Despite the dearth of good news on the front lately, it's not a shock.  But Mitt Romney is positioning himself as the only guy who can do it.  It is not the least bit inspirational.  I can win is not a lasting message and if that's all there is to Mitt Romney he does not deserve support.  Who is he?  What does he stand for?  Why should anyone vote for him - what will he do if he does win?  Create jobs? Stop the oceans from rising? For Pete's sake Mitt, HOW?

The type of argument Romney is making is working for now.  But think about Rick Perry's biggest surge earlier in the cycle.  His main reason to attract voters was "I'm in the race".  It was all downhill from there.  It wasn't sustainable when it came to depth.  At least Newt Gingrich has ideas.  True, an idea a minute is not good either.  But at least there's some there, there.

Romney may sense his own inevitability as GOP nominee at this point, but if he does, he'd better adjust his messaging fast because it is not sustainable.  Me good, Newt bad is not simple, it's dumb.  It's not motivating anyone outside of his core supporters and that bodes poorly for the general election.  The very reason he espouses for voting for him now, may harm him in the general election.  True, it may not.  Republicans may hold their noses and vote for him in November anyway. But it won't be a groundswell of support it will be groans of resignation and forced acceptance. But is that what you want to count on when you are running for president?

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