As we talked about this morning, OFA's ever expanding field presence throughout Nevada may be playing the biggest role in this turnaround. However, there's also something to be said about the role of Republicans making the case for their own electoral defeat.
This week, we've begun to see the rollout of Obama's general election campaign. Now that Mitt Romney is increasingly likely to officially capture the GOP nomination in June, it looks like both Obama and Romney are ready to shift to "general election mode". Yet even as Mittens is trying hard to make us forget what happened in the wild G-O-TEA primary ride full of clown car crazy, his "bromance" with Paul Ryan only continues to remind Nevada, along with the rest of the country, of just how radically far right Romney has gone. Even as Senator Dean Heller (R-Tea Party?) is now having second thoughts on supporting Ryan's radical "Tea Party Wet Dream" budget for a third consecutive time, Romney has no choice but to embrace Ryan.
Around this time last year, most pundits were chatting about President Obama's poll numbers against "Generic Republican". At this point last year, the pundits were saying Obama needed to worry about them. But now, it looks like Romney has to. And here's why: Mitt Romney has morphed into "Generic Republican" at exactly the wrong time.
Being generic isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a candidate. But it does make that candidate unusually dependent on factors that he or she can’t control. Romney is now the underdog against Obama because two huge factors –the state of the economy and the image of his party –are now working against him.
The unemployment rate is down nearly a point from the middle of last year, which has given rise to public optimism that the economy is finally returning to life and that the worst of the Great Recession is behind us. As TPM showed today,this feeling is particularly pronounced among independent voters, whose assessment of the country’s economic direction has been steadily improving since last August. Not coincidentally, it was last August when Obama’s job approval numbers also hit rock bottom, and they’ve also improved since then.
Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s image continues to take a beating. After last August’s debt ceiling showdown, the number of Americans expressing a favorable view of the GOP fell to 33 percent in a CNN poll –the lowest score since the height of Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. In CNN’s latest poll,released last week, the number is basically the same, 35 percent. Democrats, on the other hand, clock in at 48 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable. There is also evidence that women –in particular, college-educated women –are now turning strongly against the GOP in the wake of the contraception fight the party recently picked.
When a poll showing an exploding gender gap in the presidential race was released on Sunday, Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, argued that “it goes beyond Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to a partisan gender gap. It’s not Romney-specific. I would argue that it’s broader than that.”
Newhouse is surely right, but that’s just the point: If the Republican Party has a serious image problem –with women or with any other group of voters –a generic Republican candidate is not going to be well-equipped to separate him or herself from it.
So far in digging into PPP's new Nevada poll, the damage looks clear. All of Romney's embraces of Paul Ryan's radical "Tea Party" agenda, as well as bailouts for the fossil fuel industry, abandoning homeowners facing foreclosure, shirking our duty to educate the next generation of American leaders, and jumping feet first into "The War on Women" has done nothing but tie Romney to an increasingly unpopular G-O-TEA agenda. And along with Nevada Democrats' good ground game, Romney's present embodiment of "Tea Party Madness" may be the other key to Nevada being a Blue State again in 2012.