The Presidential debate is on October 3′rd, and Scott Erb has a good breakdown of what each candidate needs to accomplish in the debate, as well as what pitfalls could await them. While Romney is behind in the polls, some show a tightening of the race this week, although as Smartypants points out, national vote percentages don’t translate into Electoral College votes. While Romney has had, by any measure, a very bad month, he can use his performance in the debates to help him turn it around. Today, I saw some results from Pew Research which tells me he has a very hard road ahead to do it.
The first is “how well does the candidate connect with ordinary Americans.”
Look at those figures again. Even in the former Republican strong point of foreign policy, Obama has a solid lead. Romney also has some other issues. First, his “favorable/unfavorable” is in negative territory. More people have an unfavorable opinion of him than a favorable one.
No other candidate, at least back to 1988, has had a “net negative” at this point in the race. In addition to that, his supporters aren’t supporting him as strongly or enthusiastically as Obama’s, and of his support, most are voting against Obama instead of for him.
All of these are things that Romney has to try to change in the debate. It’s not just “I landed some zingers,” or being declared “the winner” by the media. Those won’t really help him much, barring any major meltdown by the President. He also has to show that he can connect with ordinary people, that he can be trusted on foreign policy, and is a strong leader. He has to get people to view him favorably, as well as getting people to vote for him instead of against the President.
It’s a very tough road ahead of him on those fronts. Based on his performance so far in this campaign, I don’t think he can do it. The best he can hope for is make them a little better, and not make them worse.