1. Based on the last week, we can see that Barack Obama is doubling down on the Bain attacks against Mitt Romney despite their earlier failure. Why? Even if Team Obama can’t exactly replicate Ted Kennedy’s success with this strategy, the bipartisan political consulting firm Purple Strategies found that private equity doesn’t poll well in key swing states like Ohio (where 49 percent of voters agreed companies like Bain “only care about profits” to 33 percent who believed “they help America grow”). Moreover, Obama has always struggled to connect with working-class whites and his numbers among blue-collar white men are nothing short of abysmal. Bain potentially gives Obama a wedge issue to hurt Romney’s standing among these voters.
2. There’s also the simple matter that the more time Romney spends explaining his tenure at Bain, the less time there is for him to hit Obama on the economy, jobs, and the unpopular health care reform law. It’s odd that the Romney campaign hasn’t come up with a better response to an issue that has plagued their candidate since his first run for office in 1994. And Romney’s relationship with Bain after giving up his active management role in 1999 is clearly more complicated than either campaign is making it out to be.
3. It’s also worth taking a look at the poll numbers compiled by William Galston in this New Republic piece. Obama is basically reproducing George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection strategy of going negative on an unfamiliar opponent who hasn’t defined himself yet and firing up the base. But Obama must attempt this feat with a base that includes voters who are notoriously hard to turn out, while both his underlying poll numbers and the objective conditions of the country are worse than what Bush faced eight years ago.
Obama’s numbers are especially bad on jobs and the economy. He remains competitive nationally and in the major swing states solely because Romney hasn’t secured a decisive advantage on these issues yet himself. Bain is part of the Obama campaign’s plan to make sure Romney never develops that advantage.
4. To keep the 2004 analogy going, there is also a Swiftboat tie-in. The attribute that was supposed to be John Kerry’s biggest positive — his military service, crucial as the public was souring on the Iraq war — became a negative. Democrats are trying to the same thing with Romney’s business record, which is a bigger part of the Republican nominee’s case for being able to turn around the economy and jobs market than his single term as governor of Massachusetts.
5. Both the ferocity of David Dewhurst’s attacks and the two independent polls released last week suggest that Ted Cruz has become the favorite in the Texas Republican runoff for U.S. Senate. Dewhurst’s camp has blasted Cruz as an “unethical lawyer” while accusing him of “feeding from the trough of Chinese intellectual property thieves” and representing “a child-exploiting, judge-bribing felon.” That isn’t the sound of a confident candidate.
6. Recent polls haven’t been as encouraging for Mark Neumann in Wisconsin. Two polls showed Neumann, a conservative former congressman, running third for the Republican senatorial nomination with Eric Hovde emerging as the main challenger to Tommy Thompson, the former governor, presidential candididate, and Bush secretary of health and human services.
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