Election 2012

Democrats Want Obama To Refocus on the Economy

Or anything, really, and pull it together


With Tuesday's debate shaping up as crucial for both candidates—Romney needing to maintain his momentum, Obama needing to regain his own—it's worth pointing out that both campaigns' initial strategies are looking more and more like they were wrong. Romney's theory of the race was that the economy was so bad, he needed only remind voters of this fact to win the White House. But that wasn't working, so Romney corrected course, most visibly in the first debate when he made an impassioned (albeit vague) argument for how he would speed up the recovery.

Obama's theory was that Romney's business career and personal wealth could be used to paint him as hopelessly out of touch with the middle class, with Romney's awkwardness and refusal to release multiple years' worth of tax returns buttressing the charge. As I wrote yesterday, that worked fine—until Romney got it together in the debate. What Romney did right was explain in plausibly specific terms what he would do over the next four years and how he would do it. He talked about big things. He sounded convincing. He wasn't the heartless plutocrat in the "47 percent" tape. Not only has he taken the lead in many national polls, but for the first time more voters view him favorably than unfavorably. Pardon the hackneyed sports cliché—political writers are powerless during election season—but Romney's team made the better halftime adjustments.