Election Strategy

Election Strategy

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


In trying to examine the 2012 presidential campaign it appears that the Romney team has forgotten that elections are about votes and not scoring points among your friends. While yesterday’s polls certainly suggest that pre-veep selection and pre-convention bump, Romney does not appear even to be holding his own against Obama. He may continue to be solid among the base Republican voters, but he does not seem to be moving enough independents to push the needle his way. It also appears that, as is usually the case, by the time the Democratic convention concludes on September 6 most Americans will have made up their mind for November. This is why Romney’s vice presidential selection and his acceptance speech at the convention may be—except for the debates—his remaining chances to score among the undecided.

This opens up the issue of votes where the Obama campaign appears to have designed the ideal strategy to counter the Romney base. They have sought to solidify their lead among women; try to make sure the new voters especially among African Americans are still registered and turnout; and that they maximize their huge margin among Latino voters, not only in Florida, but in all the key battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, etc.  As the Washington Post cited in an Univision story on polling among Latinos since November 2011, their support for Obama remains around 80%.

Given this solid support, their numbers, and their potential voting clout in key states, this explains why the Obama campaign has spent so much of its money setting up field operations and trails Romney so dramatically in “cash on hand.” If they are right, the field operation and the GOTV effort will more than counter all the millions Romney is pouring into advertisement. Ads eventually do tend to annoy the public more and more; regardless of how clever they may be on first viewing. Most studies have shown that a bell rung and a door opened produces far more voters registered and votes cast than all the advertisements that appear on TV. This in part may explain why the Romney team is reviewing and considering possible Latino vice-presidential options so carefully, although it is not clear whether the Hispanic voters may be a lost cause for the GOP—at least in 2012.

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