As the 2012 campaign enters its final days, Romney’s chances and the prospects of every Republican candidate will depend on grassroots activists pounding on doors and making phone calls to get voters to the polls. Those activists won’t be coming from the “moderation wins” caucus that holds so much sway in New York and Washington, but from those who want Romney and Paul Ryan to follow through on their promises to restrain government spending, reduce regulation and avoid tax increases.
It’s an oversimplification to suggest that independent voters are turned off by ideological-driven campaigns. Ultimately, they care about results. In 2008, President Obama ran as a liberal who was proposing a national health care plan and won in a landslide. Just two years later, Republicans ran on a limited-government conservative platform promising to repeal national health care and won in a landslide. Independents didn’t undergo a massive ideological shift in just 24 months — they just decided that Obama’s policies were failing.
If Obama wins re-election, it will be because Americans determined that he showed just enough improvement to earn more time. But if Romney wins, it will mean they want a different course.