Is Bain the Game Changer? Maybe, but Not Yet
Last week’s health care decision is poised to join a long list of supposed game changers that failed to fundamentally reshape the race—from the death of Osama Bin Laden to Obama’s support for same-sex marriage.
Why haven’t historic events changed the election? None alter the fundamentals of the race: poor economic conditions have lodged Obama’s approval rating beneath 50 percent, but Romney has not yet consolidated the pool of voters with reservations about Obama’s performance, at least in part due to his own deficiencies. Big successes or failures can temporarily inflate or deflate Obama’s approval rating, but Obama’s approval ratings return to their moors as soon as attention returns to the lackluster recovery.
While fewer than 50 percent of voters approve of Obama’s performance, not all are willing to support Romney—at least not yet. To some extent, Romney’s low standing with respect to the pool of available voters is inevitable, since a relatively unknown challenger must persuade undecided voters of their capacity to handle the Presidency, and so early opposition to the President need not translate to early support for Romney. On the other hand, Romney’s poor favorability ratings suggest that his problem extends beyond the traditional barriers for a challenger.