This Wednesday, October 3rd, is the first presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. The focus will be domestic policy with the economy, health care, and the role of government taking center stage.
The debate will be of little consequence here in Mississippi; a vast majority of the state’s voters will support Romney November 6th. Why? Because Mississippi is the most conservative state in the nation, holding firm to traditional family values and the idea of limited governance. Mississippi is also largely dependent on defense spending which under the Obama administration and the fear of sequestration is on unstable ground.
To hear the mainstream media talk, the debate could solidify minds in swing states like Ohio and Florida. But truthfully, in this on-demand age of information who does not have their mind made up? Are there really that many who aren’t decided at this point? I would argue that minds are more or less set; mouths just aren’t telling the pollsters.
Perhaps it is oversimplified, but the choice is clear. Two divergent views of America’s future are on parade – either the nation chooses more of Obama’s sluggish economic policies that continue to hold private business growth down while millions remain on the dole and unemployment only improves when including the growth from the government sector OR voters place their hope for a new direction in Romney who seeks to encourage businesses to grow and hire more employees, reduce government dependency, and create a more stable footing for the economy.
Obama’s strength is his base, the 47% Romney mentioned (whether some like the way he spoke of this group or not). That’s a fairly accurate number of Americans that blindly support the President and his liberal, progressive agenda.
Such a number isn’t shocking in Mississippi. Until 2011, it was reasonably understood by those working in Magnolia State politics that Democrats would start any election cycle with a 45% cushion.
For Obama to start with a 47% cushion in today’s political and social environment shouldn’t be surprising.
Romney isn’t as fortunate. The other 53% of Americans, for the most part, don’t drool over themselves for any political leader. They tend to think, read, listen, and make a decision based largely on fact, not some tingle up their leg, which is why Romney and any Republican candidate must continually court what base there is while being intellectually head and shoulders above their Democratic opponent. Romney has to earn every vote, even in the mind of the most die hard Republican.
There is more of an impetus for any Republican on the national level to make their case boldly and specifically than for a Democrat. It is the classic struggle between emotion and fact – liberals want to feel the hope and conservatives want to see the change.
It doesn’t matter who the talking heads deem as the winner of these debates. What matters is if Obama can make his ingrained 47% feel like he’s going to take care of them like a Daddy Warbucks while distracting the populace from his administration’s failures and if Romney can reach the 53% with specific plans, spoken with boldness and clarity, and translate that into votes.
Emotion will trump fact and Obama will win if the 53% aren’t convinced that Romney can and will do what he says. And if they aren’t convinced, if they see only slight distinctions between the two, they won’t likely vote for Obama; they will simply stay home.
That’s why GOTV (get out the vote) efforts are so important in this election.
Go ahead. Watch the debate. But know this – it isn’t a fair playing field. Romney will be held to a higher standard than Obama by both a majority of Americans and the media.
And that’s just how it is.