What this 2012 election for president is reminding me a lot of, especially lately, is the Michigan gubernatorial race back in 2006. Long before the economy tanked in the rest of the country the economy in Michigan had already gone down the tubes. Because of this, the governor at the time--Democrat Jennifer Granholm--wasn't all that popular. Besides the economy, being a woman probably didn't help just like being half-black doesn't help Obama with a lot of voters.
Going into the election it seemed to me it should be a slam-dunk for the Republicans. I mean the economy is in the crapper and governor's approval ratings aren't great and about the only accomplishment she could cite is setting up a "Cool Cities" initiative. Even though Michigan is traditionally a "blue state" with the unions and such it had been in Republican hands from 1990-2002, so a return to that seemed likely.
Unfortunately for the Republicans, the guy who bought the party's nomination that year was Dick de Vos. You can make a lot of comparisons between de Vos and Mitt Romney. While both have a connection to the state and both are successful businessmen, they both have the charisma of Kristen Stewart--which is to say none at all. While Romney has the whole Mormon thing people don't talk about too loudly but you know is in the back of their minds, de Vos's handicap is that his successful business was Amway.
A lot of de Vos's energy then was spent defending Amway in the same way Romney's had to spend energy defending his Bain Capital days. Exporting jobs to China was a big thing in both cases.
Anyway, between the lack of relatability because of his wealth and lack of natural charm and the whole Amway connection, what should have been a slam-dunk became a fairly large loss. I think it boiled down to while people didn't like Granholm, the alternative wasn't any better.
For my part I decided to just wash my hands of the whole thing. I voted for the Libertarian candidate because I didn't like Granholm but I didn't like de Vos either. So screw 'em both was my thought. Then no matter who won I could still complain about it, right?
The point of this is that I think a lot of the same thing is happening nationally in 2012. A lot of people don't really like the job Obama is doing (I am not one of those) but they don't see the alternative as any better. I read in a Yahoo! article that 75% of people surveyed found Romney unrelatable, versus 60% for Obama. So obviously Americans don't like either guy all that much but they dislike Romney more for all the reasons I gave above.
The "47% speech" that came out this week has not helped the situation for the Romney camp. When people already think you're a rich snob it's not good to get caught calling 47% of the country a bunch of freeloaders.
Unlike some pundits I don't think the 47% video is going to sink Romney right away, but it's just another piece of a damning puzzle of failure. It's part of the likability issue that is going to continue to plague him no matter how many diners he goes to without a tie and how often he has his wife say nice things about him. In the end politics in the 21st Century are as much about image as anything, something that helped Obama the first time and George W in 2000 and 2004 and it's really hard to change your image with seven weeks left to go.
Just as an addendum it's kind of funny that while de Vos lost in 2006 the next Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, had a lot of the same attributes, except no connection to Amway. But what he did right was to start off with the goofy "It's Time for a Nerd" commercials in 2010. Those were kind of funny and helped him avoid the likability pitfall de Vos fell into, even though I don't think Snyder is any more charismatic. Showing a sense of humor would probably help Romney more in these final weeks. And maybe do a tearful interview on Fox "News" about whatever trauma a rich white guy faces. "And then I found out the wine was only from 1965, not 1905, boo hoo hoo!" "And then I realized the maid had shrunk my silk boxers right before the horse show, sob sob sob!"
Here, I'm going to reassure Michael Offutt about who I'm voting for:
|Yes that's my car. Like I say the good thing about the magnet is I can take it off after the election easily.|
Monday is still more Phony Photo Phun...