As To Where Will This Lead?

As To Where Will This Lead?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.


With the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Health Act behind them, the political seas are now starting to roll to the fall. While some serious fights still need to be faced between now and November 6, it will be the political issues which will now clearly dominate both the Obama and the Romney teams.

For Romney the most critical decision he faces is the selection of a Vice-President as well as the proper timing of the event and the secrecy he attaches to the selection process. Romney also needs a smooth uneventful convention with little or minimal disruption from the Tea Partyers.  Presumably, all the key convention time slots will be negotiated carefully and Romney’s speechwriters will insure that he delivers a superior speech to his delegates, his supporters, and the nation to launch his fall campaign.  Especially given the fact that he will then have the President and the Democrats running against the Romney post-convention bounce as they convene for the own Convention during the week of Labor Day, and their own subsequent bounce in the polls.

The President needs to hope that by the time he gets to the Convention the economic numbers have turned more in his favor. The direction of the unemployment numbers by Labor Day could well seal his fate. The Democrats will also be activating a massive voter registration campaign not only among African Americans but Hispanics to try to insure some of the swing states. Historically, international incidents in the midst of a campaign generally favor an incumbent, as challengers rarely like to second guess a President during crises, although after the fact criticism is de rigueur.

It is the political impact of the Supreme Court’s decision which will bear much watching. Will the Republicans intensify or modify their confrontational style in light of the Court’s basic sustaining the President’s healthcare program?  Romney knows that he himself—as opposed to some of the GOP leaders—will personally have a tough time running against the President on this issue in light of his clear record on health care as Governor of Massachusetts; campaign rhetoric aside.

In addition, there have been some subtle signals that maybe the extreme drift of the Republican Party may not carry them into the sunset in November, at least not in Congress. Senator Orrin Hatch in Utah defeated a challenge from his right and several House races seem to be shying away from the Tea Party nominees. Much of all this politics will play out as the economic numbers confront the Republican congressional style.  Both sides then will face the pending items still on the “must do” agenda between now and the October pre-election congressional recess as they curiously already began to do last Friday before adjourning for the Fourth of July recess. 

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