After a Month of Stumbles, Debate Pressure Is on Mitt Romney
Romney is coming off a horrible month. He begins the home stretch of the campaign behind, not only in national polls, but — far more ominously — in the swing states likely to decide this year’s contest. Half of Americans tell pollsters they have an unfavorable opinion of him — the last major party candidate to be “under water” so late in a race was Walter Mondale in 1984. That didn’t end well for the challenger.
All of that puts enormous pressure on Romney going into Wednesday night’s first presidential debate in Denver. His three face-to-face encounters with President Barack Obama are probably Romney’s last opportunities — barring some national crisis — to shake up the race before it’s too late.
The situation in Ohio — ground zero for both campaigns this past month — illustrates Romney’s challenge. The latest Columbus Dispatch mail poll came out Sunday. It shows Obama up by 10 points in Ohio. In the Dispatch’s previous survey, on the eve of the GOP convention, the race for Ohio’s 18 electoral votes was tied.
That turnabout has less to do with any brilliant tactical moves by the Obama campaign than with a series of self-inflicted wounds by Team Romney.