On the eve of the 1992 election, the unemployment rate was 7.4%. Bill Clinton ran a campaign on the economy, and with a little help from his little friend, Ross Perot, his message resonated.
On the eve of the 2012 election, the unemployment rate is 7.9%. Mitt Romney has tried everything he can to make this an economy election, but he hasn’t been able to seal the deal. Why not? Because 2012 isn’t just an election about the economy.
When Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, unemployment was 7.2%, but Walter Mondale didn’t stand a chance against Reagan. Why not? Because people genuinely liked Reagan; more than that, they liked his broader “morning in America” message.Obama in 2012 isn’t Reagan in 1984; but neither is he Bush in 1992. He will not win in a landslide over Mitt Romney, but he will win. The reason is simple: this election is about much more than the economy. The nation is deeply divided on most issues. From healthcare to gay marriage to energy, people tend to take the view of the left or the right. Some talk about America as being Red and Blue, but really America is Black and White. People do not see the nuances of the issues. They see only see in sound bites.
But enough people believe that more than just the economy is worth fighting for, and that’s why Obama wins re-election. If this was just an economy election, maybe Obama loses, and maybe he even deserves to lose this election. But a majority of Americans do not believe that Mitt Romney is the right man for the job. (In private, if Republicans were honest, most would admit that they aren’t voting for Romney so much as they are voting for party – or more accurately, voting against Obama.)
The Republicans have been looking for the next Ronald Reagan for the past 25 years. So far, no one has been able to fill his shoes, and most likely, no one ever will. Like Cinderella, Reagan is a fairy tale, and the reality of the Republican party is this: Most of its members are more suited for filling the role of the evil Step-mother than they are for fitting Reagan’s slipper.