Obama’s relentless negativity
While the more meek Mitt Romney has stuck to challenging the President on the issues of the day, like Obama’s feeble economic record, Obama’s campaign has spent weeks attacking Romney on everything but the issues.
Thus far, we’ve heard Obama disingenuously charge that Romney is anti-education and accuse him of not wanting to invest in the future — while also ridiculing Romney’s personal wealth. We’ve heard Obama aide Stephanie Cutter make unsubstantiated and off-the-wall claims that Romney could be a felon for allegedly not paying his taxes. Vice President Joe Biden has tried to convince voters that Romney wants to return to the days of slavery, and a pro-Obama Super PAC, Priorities USA, released an ad that accused Romney of causing a women’s death by shutting down a steel plant. Plus, there’s the whole spurious “war on women.”
Polls do show that Obama’s smear campaign against Romney has worked to a degree. But not without harm to himself: While there has been an uptick in Romney’s negatives, both candidates have suffered. Surprisingly, the negative tone of the campaign has taken a greater toll on Obama, the man responsible (if indirectly) for most of the vitriol. According to an NBC/WSJ poll conducted in late July, “very negative” views of both are now at a record high, with 32% holding a “very negative” view of Obama, and 24% of Romney.
Those numbers represent unusually high dissatisfaction this early into the race. They’re also tough to turn around this late in the game.
First, voters aren’t stupid. They understand when a line has been crossed and attacks get so vicious and detached from reality that the negative attack triggers the opposite of the intended result. The electorate tends to side with an underdog when lines are crossed by his opponent. [snip]
Secondly, when the primary issue for voters is the economy, harping about tax returns and charging that your opponent hates women and children makes Obama look out of touch. Never underestimate how savvy the electorate is when it comes to the economy. If people are hurting like they are now, they want answers about the doom-and-gloom employment situation, not personal jabs.