Romney vs. Obama: History Favors Romney

Shrey Sharma, Political Science '13 April 12, 2012 Opinion 6

In my last article, I outlined the reasons why I believe Mitt Romney still has the best chance of the remaining GOP candidates to win his party’s nomination. While it may be far too early to predict the results of the election, the intrigue of this hypothetical matchup begs for more in-depth analysis. Assuming that the former Massachusetts Governor does indeed win the Republican nomination, it is only appropriate to begin assessing his odds for the presidency.

The race between President Obama and Governor Romney will ultimately come down to the country’s economic health and whether or not voters see improvements in the economy as a result of the president’s policies. According to a Gallup poll conducted February 10-14, 2012, Romney and Obama are in a deadlock with each taking 48 percent of registered voters, with the president also posting a 45 percent approval rating. These numbers indicate the country’s growing frustration with the President’s handling of the economy. Also the fact that Obama – who soundly defeated John McCain in the 2008 election by winning nearly 53 percent of the popular vote – is in a close contest with a candidate who has not even won his own nomination, yet. Following this line of reasoning, it seems as though President Obama will be re-elected if the economy shows tangible improvement based on the government’s policies. However, a failure to reboot it will likely hand the presidency to Romney, who should benefit from his background in the private sector.

Courtesy of DonkeyHotey via Flickr

This year’s economic outlook seems bleak as the United States will have to face a variety of internal obstacles − including a record high federal deficit, stagnant growth, and political squabbling in Congress − and external ones − namely slowed growth in China and a burgeoning debt crisis in Europe. Unemployment has only slightly decreased. Meanwhile, college graduates saddled with tremendous debt from student loans are voicing their dissatisfaction with the current job market. The administration’s delaying of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that would bring in thousands of jobs and reduce the United States’ dependence on Middle Eastern oil, in favor of environmental concerns could be a political blunder on the President’s part as well.i It appears as though Obama will have to either convince the American public that the economy is improving or hope that an aggressive campaign against the GOP frontrunner will work to his favor. Overall, the mediocre projections are an ominous sign for the incumbent and the future of his presidency could be tied to the country’s economic health.

While foreign policy may not be the focus of the 2012 election, it will be crucial to determine which candidate is better suited to keep the United States at the top of the global hierarchy and protect US interests abroad. President Obama has had mixed results in his foreign policy and has scored a few notable successes, including the deaths of terrorists Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Alwaki, the end of the Iraq War, increased cooperation with the international community, and the overthrow of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya. Conversely, critics say that he has been too soft on Iran, damaged relations with Israel, weakened the military with budget cuts, failed to protect the border with Mexico, allowed China to manipulate its influence on the global economy, and has been unwilling to concede that radical Islam poses a major threat to American national security.

Romney favors aggressive policies rooted in American exceptionalism similar to those enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt at the beginning of the twentieth century, by using America’s “big stick” − naval supremacy, technological superiority, and combat readiness. He plans to do this by adding more ships to the naval fleet, increasing the size of the military, and pushing the defense budget to 4 percent.ii He even went as far as to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on February 16 titled “How I’ll Respond to China’s Rising Power,” which was consistent with these hawkish principles, yet, cognizant of the need for China and the United States to engage in mutually beneficial trade. Romney and Obama will most certainly clash on illegal immigration, seen as a national security issue. This could have an impact on the outcome in swing states with a large Latino population, such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. Both candidates have the opportunity to score a victory on foreign policy with the voters and it will be interesting to see whether any new global developments can change the tone of the election.

Social issues will likely take a back seat to the more pressing concerns on the economy and national security, yet it is likely that the presidential debates will spark discussion over the legalization of gay marriage and medical marijuana. Both issues have passed in several states legislatures and could become a national reality. Romney could also be stumped on abortion, where he currently takes a pro-life stance despite earlier liberal leanings. Any discussion on health care will surely give each candidate the opportunity to take aim at one another as the Obama administration passed a widely unpopular health care law based on one signed into law by Romney during his tenure as governor. Romney will likely be a target for flip-flopping, while Obama will have to answer to concerns over deficit spending associated with the law and its widespread unpopularity. Particularly, Obama will need to quell the economists that are skeptical about the projections made by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates that the new law will actually reduce deficit spending. In all likelihood, these issues will not dictate the outcome of the election; however topics with economic consequences such as health care could serve as a litmus test to see which candidate the nation views as more competent in reducing government spending.

If the economic recovery remains stalled during 2012, then President Obama faces an uphill battle to be re-elected. Considering he was an inexperienced Senator with no substantive record to speak of when he won the election in 2008, Obama will have a difficult time defending a new record. On top of that, he will find it hard to be held accountable for the disappointing state of the economy and overall dissatisfaction with the federal government. While bashing his predecessor was acceptable at the beginning of his presidency, President Obama can no longer take comfort in blaming Former President George W. Bush for the country’s economic woes and instead will have to shoulder the blame himself. And though it is true that Obama has more than three times the amount of campaign funds that Romney has, it is also worth noting that Romney will absorb the money from the other candidates once he is nominated for the general election.

The president was elected on promises to fix the economy and unite a divided American public, yet three years later the economy remains broken and the country is only more divided. The 2012 election has hardly even begun and in this technology-driven era, media twists and shocking revelations can twist the course of the election in a matter of seconds. That being said, the numbers cannot be ignored: since Gallup began tracking presidential approval ratings during the Truman Administration, only three presidents facing re-election with an approval rating under 50 percent remained in office for another term: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.iii More importantly, each of these incumbents faced extremely weak candidates (George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Bob Dole) and ended up winning landslide victories.iv This election does not bear the same resemblance as these previous three, seeing as Romney fares well against Obama in the polls and has stronger organization than the aforementioned challengers. Additionally, the panic over the economy and the nonstop media coverage of Mitt Romney’s campaign distinguish this year’s election from those of the past. Considering historical trends are squared against President Obama, it appears likely that Mitt Romney will win the election in November and become the next President of the United States.

______________

i “The Impact of Developing the Keystone XL Pipeline Project on Business Activity in the US.” <http://www.transcanada.com/docs/Key_Projects/TransCanada_US_Report_06-10-10.pdf>. The Perryman Group, accessed 23 Feb 2012

ii “National Defense: An American Century.” Mitt Romney, accessed 23 Feb 2012. <http://www.mittromney.com/issues/national-defense>.

iii “Presidential Job Approval Center.” (2012): Gallup, accessed, 23 Feb 2012. http://www.gallup.com/poll/124922/Presidential-Approval-Center.aspx?ref=interactive.

iv Ibid.

email

6 Comments »

  1. DT April 17, 2012 at 3:04 am -

    Romney and Obama are both idealogically exactly the same: they try to outdo each other in military agression, they’re both Keynesians and big deficit spenders, they both support NDAA, they both support the bailouts, they’re both supported by the same corporations, they both don’t know anything about the Constitution. I just can’t see how in the world Romney can beat a sitting President with exactly the same policies. The only single candidate, who can beat Obama and make a real change is Ron Paul.

  2. Shrey S. April 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm -

    Thanks for the comment.

    I agree with your contention that Romney and Obama can be seen as similar candidates, particularly as they both tend to adopt positions that are popular at the time and both have enacted similar health care laws.

    However, you couldn’t be more wrong on several points. Both candidates have starkly different approaches to foreign policy, even if they have the same goal in mind. I’ll let you do your own research and see for yourself.

    I don’t know where you get off saying that Romney is a “big deficit spender”; you either need to present some facts or admit that you simply made up this point out of thin air. Romney faced a $3 billion deficit his first year as Governor of Massachusetts and cut that deficit in half. By the last two years of his term, he had actually run a surplus of over $600 million. In 1990 Bain & Company was having serious financial difficulties: Romney was made CEO and within one year the company was profitable again. As CEO of the Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games, he was faced with being nearly $400 short of the revenue benchmarks. By the games’ end, they had cleared a $100 million profit.

    So to me, it seems like Romney is a guy who is proven to come into horrific financial situations and turn them around (making a deficit into a surplus). Does this sound like a deficit spender to you? Romney is uniquely qualified in this regard and it has served him well in both business and government.

    I respect your admiration for Ron Paul, but if you think he has any chance of winning this election, then I really must wonder which polls you are following. To the best of my knowedge, Rep. Paul has won a whopping 34 delegates and approximately zero primaries. I like his ideology, but put into practice, it can have disastrous results. He has some outrageous proposals (or lack thereof) on foreign policy as well as some domestic policies. I think the fact that he is perfectly fine with Iran having nuclear capabilities shows how sadly misguided his policies can be. There is a reason he does so poorly in the polls and has a following limited to only his strongest supporters. In an election with Obama, as the polls have reflected, he would get destroyed. Even Republicans would choose simply not to vote or would vote for Obama in that scenario. In good conscience, as an American first and foremost, I would probably do the same.

    I’d like you to clarify what you mean on the Consitution and both candidates being supported by the same corporations. I don’t like it when people speak to me in generalities and then expect me to agree with their points.

    In short, I do agree with you however that we need a candidate focused on preventing the size of government from expanding, adamant about preserving our national security and interests abroad, prepared to reduce the deficit and help the economy get back on track, and willing to act only within the scope of the constitutional authority. I believe Mitt Romney more aptly fits the bill than Ron Paul.

  3. DT April 18, 2012 at 6:13 am -

    I appreciate your response! But, I respectfully disagree that there is any starkling difference in foreign policies between Romney and Obama :) Both of them endorse the same interventionist foreign policies. Obama has won the election in 2008 being a ‘peace’ candidate promising to end wars. Instead, he has started and escalated more illegal wars and increased military spending. Romney is making a fatal error trying to be more aggressive and militaristic than Obama with Iran. Sure, he might have some support from the old neo-con Republicans, but he has no chance in the general election because of that. Besides, they’re arguing about technicalities of whether the US should invade Iran right away or impose more sanctions (which already are acts of war) and then invade.
    Ron Paul never said he is fine with Iran having nuclear weapons. This unfortunately only shows how sadly misguided people, who listen to the MSM, are about Ron Paul. His position is the Constitutional position – if the people believe that Iran is an existential threat to the US security, then do it as per the lawful process, which is declare the war through Congress, fight it, win it and come home. This process has not been followed since the WW2, so all the wars after that were illegal and have resulted in thousands of lives lost and trillions of dollars of your money spent. When Romney was asked in an 08 debate about whether the President should go to Congress for a declaration of war, he said that “he would let the lawyers sort this out and he’ll do whatever is necessary in the country’s best interests” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSulRyQiNrs). Add his support of NDAA, TARP, healthcare mandate and much more to that for proof of his lack of understanding of the Constitution.
    Ron Paul is the ONLY one to propose cutting spending in real terms. AND doing that without tax increases! Others are just nibbling around the edges with token cuts in proposed spending increases. They’re talking about cutting a trillion over 10 years and maybe balancing the budget in 30. Your debt is now exceeding the GDP. And that does not even cover social security and other unfunded liabilities. And they assume that interest rates will never rise. This issue is more serious than what your MSM is showing you and noone besides Ron Paul is taking it seriously.
    Ron Paul IS beating Obama nationally: http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/polls/221163-rasmussen-obama-and-romney-tied-nationally Yet again, notice the media bias in the title of the article. And again, you don’t hear these things from CNN, Faux and Washington Posts… What else they don’t tell you is that the delegate count that they present to you is just their best guess. Its true that Romney has more pledged delegates to date than Ron Paul, but, when they show Romney having 700 delegates and Ron Paul last with 70, that’s simply not true and those numbers are just guesses. http://www.fox19.com/story/17106888/reality-check-what-do-the-real-republican-delegate-numbers-look-like

  4. Shrey S. May 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm -

    Ron Paul is out http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/14/11701792-paul-says-hell-cease-campaigning-in-coming-primaries?lite

    Now, kindly stop promoting Ron Paul on the comment section of all my articles. He won’t be running for President and he won’t be running for re-election either. Lets stick to the ACTUAL race at hand between Obama and Romney. We can debate whether or not these two guys are presidential material. And this has nothing to do with the “MSM” as you call it. Fact of the matter is that Paul faced a significant spending and organizational deficit when compared to Romney, and he never seriously threatened the GOP frontrunner. Your assertion that Ron Paul is the ONLY candidate that could beat Obama is dead wrong, considering Ron Paul couldn’t even win his own nomination (or a single primary/caucus).

  5. DT May 25, 2012 at 5:50 pm -

    Nope, he’s not out :) http://www.ronpaul2012.com/2012/05/14/ron-paul-has-not-suspended-his-campaign/ And there’s more than a single caucus that he won: Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and more.
    I’m not “promoting”, we’re having a fair discussion about people that are still running. Sure, at this time it isn’t likely that he’ll get 1144 pledged delegates (and probably neither Romney), but did you know that Warren G Harding got the nomination with least popularity and 39 delegates going into the convention?
    You need to get your information from somewhere outside of the mainstream and think outside of what you’re being fed ;) Once you do, you’ll find that there is ideologically no difference between Obama and Romney, and you’re simply being cheated by the few without even realizing it.

  6. Shrey S. June 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm -

    Trust me, by no means do I consider Romney to be a truly conservative candidate. He is not the ideal candidate. But at the end of the day, he’s the best (and only) option we have for this election. You can blame it on the “MSM” or whatever makes you happy, but Romney is going to win the nomination, and this election is going to come down to him and Obama. It’s that simple. I don’t need a refresher course on how the Republican nomination works either.

    I also don’t appreciate the jab about me being “fed” by the mainstream media. I don’t get any of my information from cable news and instead get it from a lot of the same places that you probably do. You seem to imply that I am naive because I am commenting on what the media reports, but then again, you’re the one who thinks that Ron Paul can still be President (He just admitted today that he doesn’t have the delegates to win, as I’m sure you saw in the email he sent you). Sure the media dictates the direction of the election. But it’s always been that way. And as I previously stated, you cannot dispute the fact that Romney had too much money, organization, national prominence, and face time with the media for Ron Paul to have stood a chance. Frankly, I wonder what qualifications you have to be giving me such lectures in the first place….. If you consider yourself to be more qualified, knowledgeable, or more experienced, you better have something to show for it.

    That being said, I appreciate the comments. We can have a reasonable dialogue on a Romney-Obama election. But if you continue to discuss Ron Paul, I won’t respond to your comments.

Leave A Response »

By submitting your comment you are aware of our comment policy:

Comments should respond and relate directly to the article on which they are posted. Commenters should address their responses to authors, as in a letter to the editor. They should not contain profanity of any kind and should take care not to reflect racial, religious or other bigotry. Comments should show respect for authors and other commenters. They should use proper, formal American English. Site administrators will apply these guidelines as needed.