Washington Update - October 8, 2012
Vianovo | Oct 8, 2012
Two events that could have changed the presidential campaign trajectory collided last week, appearing to cancel each other out. President Barack Obama retains a narrow advantage for reelection with four weeks until Election Day.
Mitt Romney used Wednesday night's debate to turn toward the political center, favoring tax reform over tax cuts, supporting government regulation of financial markets and declaring his Massachusetts health care bill - upon which President Barack Obama's health reform was based - a model for the nation, state by state. President Obama delivered a flat performance; Romney's debate victory tightened the race.
On Friday, the Department of Labor reported unemployment declined to 7.8 percent, the first time it has been below 8 percent since George W. Bush was in the White House. The report slowed or stopped Governor Romney's momentum, making remaining presidential and vice presidential debates the Romney campaign's next hope to get the wind back in their sails. The candidates for vice president will debate Thursday night.
With more Americans feeling the country is on the right track, financial markets posting five-year highs and unemployment symbolically falling below 8 percent, recovering momentum will be difficult for the Romney campaign. As early voting in more than half the country continues apace, momentum shifts later in October will have diminishing impact.
All year, events in Europe and the Middle East have stood out as possible campaign game-changers. Tightening sanctions fostering civilian unrest in Tehran and divisions within the Israeli government appear to have made an Israeli attack on Iran less likely this year. While the fate of the economies of Spain and Greece are still up in the air, both governments appear to have sufficient cash to remain liquid through the end of November – after Election Day.
With four weeks to campaign, the election looks to be President Obama's to lose.