The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 43%. Why is Obama still ahead? His negative ads are clearly working.
Romney’s favorability is a full 14 points lower than Obama’s where the President leads 49 to 35. But the fact that Obama’s favorability is well ahead of his vote lead indicates doubts about Obama that are directly linked to the economy, the only issue on which Romney leads.
On the economy, Romney is favored 43% to 36%. That he leads on the economy tells a great deal.
Romney’s lead on the economy is what keeps people from reelecting Obama. Obama’s favorability lead far exceeds his vote lead, but the election is still a toss up because voters are torn.
On the one hand, they strongly prefer Obama man to man. On the other hand, they have continuing and substantial doubts about his leadership on the key issue facing the country – the economy.
This points to a fundamental weakness of Romney. He is favored on the most important issue facing the US, yet is well behind in the vote.
Why? Attacks have clearly hurt him, but the truth is that Romney has yet to tell us what he is going to do to fix the economy. He has neither given the American people an economic plan, strategy or set of concrete proposals that anybody has heard or understood. Consequently, they feel that he will be vaguely better on the economy, but they still have no clear sense of what he will do.
This is why Romney’s lead on the economy has yet to translate into votes the way that it should. As the economy is clearly the central issue in this campaign, Romney is missing out on support from Independents and swing voters he is capable of getting because he hasn’t put forward a clear plan to address our economic position.
This should serve as a warning sign for Romney that he has to be proactive when he returns from his international trip about what he will do to help the economy. He has to get his positive rating up and he has to articulate a vision.
Indeed, the poll appears to have a partisan advantage for Democrats of about 10 percent or more. This is almost certainly too high based on past trends and likely assumptions that can be made about turnout. Still it indicates that there is a palpable lack of enthusiasm on the Republican side which must be addressed urgently – before the convention in fact.
Romney needs to understand that the relentless negative attacks will not let up any time soon. The Obama campaign will conclude exactly what I’ve argued here: the negative ads are working. If Romney doesn’t articulate a vision to fix the economy before the convention, he will never be able to close the deal with the American public. Articulation of a clear economic message and strategy is an increasingly important, and arguably essential, first step for Romney if he is going to win this election in November.