Romney flips voters, editorial boards with economic message

posted at 5:21 pm on October 26, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Another Florida newspaper went from an Obama endorsement in ’08 to a Romney endorsement in ’12. I’m skeptical as to how much such endorsements matter, but certainly the ones that are switches from 2008 in swing states are most interesting. Just seeing such changes of heart in print could validate the feelings of regular voters leaning that direction, but the tone the Orlando Sentinel and this paper have taken has been pretty devastating:

Four years into Barack Obama’s presidency, economic growth is sputtering. Family incomes are down. Poverty is up. Business owners are reluctant to assume risk in the face of unending uncertainty. Many are holding on by their fingernails, desperate for signs of an economic recovery that will help them provide for themselves, their employees, their customers and their communities.

When President Obama came into office in 2009, the economy was in freefall and though untested, he inspired us with his promise of hope and change. Now, four years later, we have little reason to believe he can turn things around.

So while we endorsed Obama in 2008, we recommend voters choose Republican Mitt Romney on Nov. 6.

Yes, the jobless numbers from September showed a drop to 7.8 percent unemployed, the first time in almost four years that it’s been below 8 percent. But the numbers are deceiving because more than 4 million Americans have given up looking for work since January 2009.

Behind those numbers are the faces of your neighbors, your family members, perhaps even yourself. Good people who want to work, but who cannot find jobs because job creators have lost faith in the nation’s economic direction.

The Sun-Sentinel is also unimpressed with the president’s newly released, glossy booklet of a plan, saying “rather than articulate a compelling vision for growth, the president falls back on the tired talking point of increasing taxes for the wealthy,” which they peg rightly as unlikely to create economic growth. The paper’s coverage area includes counties whose names you might have heard before, like Broward and Dade.

Jazz Shaw collected the rest of the notable endorsements last week, and the president continues to clumsily court the Des Moines Register‘s endorsement by giving them an off-the-record chat that later became on-the-record once the campaign realized off-the-record was a liability, which led to this possibly passive-aggressive response from the Register. It’s all very Sam and Diane.

The WaPo/ABC tracking poll has garnered two days of stories on the shift toward Romney on the issue of the economy. That question has been the fascinating undercard of so many polls, including snap polls of debate watchers and voters who thought Romney won on the central issue of the election even if they thought Obama won the debate, overall. Romney’s numbers on the economy and handling the debt/deficit pretty consistently outdid his numbers in other areas, even over the summer, but then they were a mere glimmer of potential. Yesterday’s 50-47 lead for Mitt Romney in the WaPo/ABC tracker suggests that potential may be coming to fruition. Today’s tracker is out at noon.

The fact that Romney’s gaining on the issue of “economic empathy,” a perennial strong point for Obama, signals a growing general comfort with Romney as an alternative to a dismal status quo. The Washington Post reported that the movement toward Romney on the economy comes from Independents.

Romney’s improvements on the economy — and on empathizing with the plight of those struggling financially — has been fueled by gains among political independents. Independents now side with Romney by campaign highs on both the economy (61 to 34 percent) and on understanding people’s problems (52 to 42 percent).

ABC, reporting a day earlier on the trend, said it came from white men:

One example is white men, in particular those who lack a college degree; almost all of the recent shifts in trust on the economy and perceived economic empathy have occurred in this group. Romney’s support among white men is its highest of the campaign, a 2-1 margin, 65-32 percent. That compares with 57-41 percent, McCain-Obama, in the 2008 exit poll.

While it’s closer among white women, 53-44 percent, Romney-Obama, that very broad support among white men lifts Romney to a new high among whites overall, 59 percent. And it expands the gender gap to a new high as well: A 17-point lead for Romney among men, 57-40 percent, compared with a 15-point advantage for Obama among women, 56-41 percent.

Both can be true, as white voters make up a large percentage of independent voters a) because they are a large part of the overall population and b) because minority voters are more likely to identify as Democrats or likely Obama voters, making the swing voters everyone’s going after more likely to be white. One national political reporter wonders:

Fournier engaged on Twitter with right-leaning voters after this tweet, which I appreciate, but get ready for more coverage of this angle. Chris Matthews outright asserted last week that “racial hatred” is behind growing support for Romney and eroding support for Obama. Are all these white people who formerly supported Obama just now becoming racist? Did the Orlando Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel just turn racist, too? Of course not. The newspapers very clearly state the many reasons voters of all stripes could lose faith in President Obama. But I look forward to a “Hardball” special: “How Mitt Romney’s campaign creates racists and racist newspapers.”

In the end, which is more likely? That swing voters who formerly backed Obama are looking at the same man and suddenly deciding they don’t like his skin color? Or that swing voters who formerly backed Obama are looking at the same man with the same plan and deciding they don’t like that?


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