The CW (Conventional Wisdom) Takes a Hit

By Dave Andrusko

Romney takes the stage in Hartford, Conn., on April 11.

National Right to Life News Today is doing two follow-ups to the story we wrote yesterday about three national polls. As you recall, pro-life Mitt Romney led pro-abortion Barack Obama in two polls (by 2 points and by 3 points, respectively) but was clobbered in a CNN poll by 9 points. In “CNN Poll Showing Obama up by 9 points–a ‘fantasy’?” we explore the reasons CNN’s results were so different.

The Washington Post provided a couple of very thoughtful items today in its “Campaign 2012: White House” column—“Why the presidential race is going to be closer than you think” and “Mitt Romney is the least popular presidential nominee in three decades. So what?” They reinforce the points we have made in this space over and over and over again. Here are just four:

#1. Most important, the CW (Conventional Wisdom) is “only true until it changes.” And the CW for some reason has been that Obama has risen, like phoenix from the ashes, and is now the favorite, perhaps a strong favorite. This never made ANY sense and the results of Gallup’s first match up of Romney and Obama showed not only that Romney was ahead by 2 points but also that he led among Independents (45% to 39%) and among supporters who said they would definitely vote for their respective candidate  (80% of Romney’s to 76% of Obama’s ).

#2. The LONG Republican primary took its toll on Romney, as anyone who has watched electoral politics for more than one cycle anticipated. “But the Republican primary is over now,” write Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake. “And so this moment is likely to be Romney’s low ebb (or close to it).” And it is obvious that the state of the economy will play a key role. Right now, the public does not see a steady hand on the till.

#3. A variation on Romney’s high unfavorability standing among the electorate as a whole. Plenty of presidential challengers have had very solid favorability ratings at a comparable point in the campaign and went on to lose. By contrast Bill Clinton—who was even at 37% favorable and 37% unfavorable—went on to win not one but two terms.

#4. Over the next few months Gov. Romney will be reintroduced (or introduced for the first time) to the electorate. That offers enormous possibilities.  And the most significant point was the conclusion of a post Cillizza wrote on his own:

“But, Obama’s favorable rating — it is currently 11 points higher than his unfavorable score among registered voters — may actually be more predictive as it relates to whether he will win a second term.

To which he added

“And, remember that the election isn’t for another 203 days. Lots can and will happen between now and then.”