Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Time To Take The Trash Out...

Without question, yesterday was not a boring day, in either the media at large, or the specific corner of the media where politics is the focus.

We'll leave you to click through on your own to read about things like the Petrino scandal erupting at Arkansas, the latest from the Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, or the latest on North Korea's "satellite launch."

In our corner of the media world, on Tuesday, in American politics at the national level, the general election portion of the 2012 Presidential race began in earnest. For at least one candidate, that meant the first of many quiet "trash days" for some of his more extreme viewpoints.

It's true that Rick Santorum's surprise announcement that he was getting out of the 2012 GOP race for President, and President Obama's blistering - and accurate - address about tax fairness dominated the political media landscape Tuesday. Still, some astute media watchers have already began watching for the first signs of Mitt Romney'salmost inevitable pivot towards the center - what journalist Timothy Noah is already calling the "Etch A Sketch Watch."

We've been in complete agreement with Greg Sargent at The Washington Post's Plum Line blog for quite some time on this subject, that Mitt Romney's general election campaign strategy will almost certainly need to have the forgetfulness of the American electorate, if Romney is to gain any traction with so-called independent voters. When Romney's advisor Eric Fehrnstrom confirmed the Romney plan with Fehrnstrom's "Etch A Sketch" comment a couple of weeks ago, it was only an accidental admission of what virtually everyone in politics already assumed was Romney's intent.

We think moving toward the center will damage Romney with the extremists in the Republican party. It's also the only chance he has to gain more votes from independents and moderates. We also believe that that President Obama was absolutely correct when he said that the 2012 election may present the most obvious choice - and most lopsided results - since the Johnson-Goldwater election of 1964.

A perfect example of this showed up this week in what has been a swing state for much of the last decade, Colorado. In a poll released Tuesday, Romney is getting killed in the Rocky Mountain state. President Obama has gone from a statistical tie in December in Colorado, to a thirteen point lead now - and the trendlines for Obama are only going up.

It's a similar story for Romney and Obama with women, nationally. The most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday gave Obama a 27 point lead among women.

Among Latino voters, in a Fox News poll released in early March, President Obama got the support of 70 percent of Latino voters, while Romney got 14 percent - almost half of what Sen. John McCain got in the 2008 election.

And don't even talk to Mitt Romney about the appalling level of Republican voter apathy right now. The Republican enthusiasm gap, as we mentioned recently in another commentary, is yawning like the maw of a giant political leviathan.

We're not saying this election is in the bag for Democrats - not by a long shot. Even if President Obama wins his race, some of the most important races will be in Congressional and state level races - places where Democrats still have a great deal of work to do.

Even so, like Tim Noah and Greg Sargent, we're anxiously awaiting to see how the Romney campaign is going to attempt to toss out some of the extreme positions Mr. Romney vigorously supported throughout the GOP Primary race. As Romney now attempts to court the more moderate, sane, middle-of-the-political road voters - without drawing angry rebukes from the Tea Party/extremist wing of the party - it'll be mighty hard to bury the hatchet and get rid of his previous positions when everyone is watching.

As a very well-known Republican politician once said about another major challenge, "Bring it on." We can't wait.

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