The federal budget deficit might make for more fertile ground. The Post poll found that it was the issue on which Americans give the most credit to Romney over Obama, and it’s certainly an issue liable to stir the Republican base. But this has its own potential problems: discussion of income inequality and taxes has displaced much of the political debate over deficits, despite its dominance of the political realm for most of 2011. In December, Gallup found that only 12% of Americans ranked the federal budget deficit as their top concern. This could change as the recovery picks up and economic concerns abate, but it’s hard to say.

Back in 2010, during the same speech in which he predicted that the economy would improve, Romney previewed what his case against Obama might look like. “I think, however, that the American people have established a perspective on the President which is going to be lasting — that he has not understood the nature of America, in some respects,” he said. “That the values I’ve described of love of liberty, of freedom, of opportunity, of small government — that those values he doesn’t share.”

This is pretty thin gruel, and it’s of the same variety that Obama recently dished out in his State of the Union address with his promise to “reclaim American values” of fairness (and invoking, of all things, the unity of Navy Seals targeting Bin Laden).