Another Week Lost for the Romney Campaign
I suspect the most damaging impact of Mitt Romney’s 47% percent tape will not be how it directly changes voters’ opinion of him, but that it means another valuable week has been lost for his campaign. With less than 50 days until the election the political news for about a week has been dominated by two unforced errors by Romney.
First there was Romney’s crass September 11th statement about the attack on the embassy in Libya. It become the focus of the political news cycle for several days, receiving significant criticism from a broad section of the media. Almost as soon as that story died down though, the focus of the political world turned to the “47%” tape leaked by Mother Jones. For the last several days the news has been about Romney trying to defend his remarks and a broad section of the writers — including many conservative ones — criticising them.
This was roughly a week not spent focusing on problems with President Obama’s record. This was a week not spent talking about Romney’s past accomplishments or popular proposals. The conversation for a week has been about Romney trying to defend his remarks and pundits pointing out that they are factually inaccurate and/or simply bad politics.
Effectively, this was an entire week wasted for a campaign when they have no time to waste. There are only seven weeks until the election and even fewer until early voting starts.
Barring uncovering a big scandal it is hard for a campaign to significantly move voters with any one action. Every day is a battle. The best a campaign can do each day is to try and slightly move the needle by reaching out to some voters and modestly improving your candidate’s overall image. Days spent playing defense, or talking about gaffes that make the candidate look bad, are days the campaign is not advancing.
This appears to be part of a consistent pattern for the Romney campaign. They seem incapable of setting the narrative. Instead they have almost constantly been on the defense, forced to talk about distractions they would rather avoid. A campaign currently behind in the polls simply can afford to waste what little time remains.