Romney and Ryan: Tampa Takeaways
While national tracking polls and the popular vote grab most of the attention this Presidential election will boil down to a handful of key states and their Electoral College votes.
Contrary to much of the mainstream media, in my opinion, there are 10 swing states at stake:
Colorado with 9 electoral votes
Florida with 29 electoral votes
Iowa with 6 electoral votes
Michigan with 16 electoral votes
New Hampshire with 4 electoral votes
Nevada with 6 electoral votes
Ohio with 18 electoral votes
Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes
Virginia with 13 electoral votes
Wisconsin with 10 electoral votes
It’s reasonably easy to call the other 40 states and they give Obama 201 votes to Romney’s 206. These are the 10 states, with their 131 electoral votes, that will decide the outcome of the election.
In a new swing state poll, released this morning, from Scott Rasmussen tracking eleven states (as noted above I do not consider North Carolina a swing state) President Obama has a 46% to 45% lead over Governor Romney, but 60% of swing state voters believe the country is on the wrong track.
Various estimates place the number of undecided voters in these states at 8% to as much as 20%, so an opportunity for Romney and Ryan to prevail in the majority of these states exists.
Additionally the demographics in three key areas may be more favorable to Romney than Obama; the percentage of Catholics is 2.4% above the national average, the percentage of Latinos is 5.8% under the national average, and the percentage of seniors is 0.8% above the national average.
If Mitt Romney is to win the election there are some critical messages that must be evident after the Republican National Convention is gaveled to a close, and they must address the 10 swing states.
There are six key takeaways for Romney and Ryan from Tampa regardless of the GOP platform that is adopted. They address the specific demographics and current economic climate of the “persuadables” in the swing states while maintaining the core values of the Republican Party.
Economic Stability and Smaller Government
Small businesses provide more than half the jobs in the US and the top issues for small business owners are economic certainty and less burdensome regulations. The Romney plan and his experience to create a fundamentally sound business climate and Paul Ryan’s strength in identifying prudent spending cuts and government reductions should be the hallmark of their economic message. The focus must be on not just job creation but better wages and a climate that promotes higher individual earnings.
While the average unemployment rate in the swing states is 7.7% the notable issue is mean annual earnings in these states averages $44,846 against a national average of $48,040. That’s barely 93% of the national average and, while geography does have a small impact, demonstrates these states have voters who have accepted pay cuts or lesser positions just to have a job and not live off the government teat. Also mean earnings have increased nationally by only 5.4% since Obama took office yet only 3 of the 10 have increases greater than that, and Nevada has seen an abysmal 0.3% increase with Michigan at a paltry 3.6%.These are voters with whom the Romney-Ryan economic plan should resonate.
Energy Independence and Job Creation
Governor Romney laid out his energy plan earlier this week that included support for the Keystone XL pipeline and increases in domestic production of oil and natural gas. His plan could create as many as 3.6 million new jobs and add $500 billion to GDP, while bringing down currently outrageous fuel oil and gasoline prices. All 10 swing states are currently facing fuel oil and gas prices at or above the national average so they should be receptive to any reasonable measures to decrease those costs, and the jobs created is a huge bonus.
Furthermore 6 of the 10 have experienced increases in the cost of electricity over 10% since Obama took office and began his assault on the coal industry. The national average increase in electricity costs over the last 40 months is 2.4% so here again a sound, sensible approach to energy as the Governor set forth should play well in the majority of swing states.
Health Care, Obamacare and Medicare
The Romney plan does not affect Medicare while it is clear that Obamacare will gut $716 billion from the program starting in 2013. Additionally, the Romney plan preserves all coverage’s for any citizen 55 or older. It will be important to focus on the Governor’s plan and emphasize it is the foundation the ticket will adopt so the mainstream media cannot use the Ryan budget approach that, while still valid, can be construed more negatively by senior citizens.
Romney needs to aggressively attack Obamacare, especially in the light of decreasing funds that benefit seniors who have already paid into the program, and speak to repealing the ACA then replacing it with a health-care plan that embraces free-markets and not the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of 15 unelected government officials. With the average senior population of the swing states at 13.8% which is just over the national average of 13%, this is an important message that has to be clear and concise.
Effective and Realistic Immigration Policies
Governor Romney has set forth a fair and reasonable immigration plan founded in the law and reflective of a proper immigration policy’s impact on the economy. A significant portion of his plan calls for a drastic reduction in red-tape and bureaucracy that should be bolstered with Congressman Ryan’s adeptness at downsizing government while increasing efficiencies within its inner workings.
I believe the vast majority of legal immigrants are in favor of sensible policies that recognize those who are abiding by the law and are awaiting the processing of their proper applications. Romney and Ryan must set forth a plan of action that addresses illegal immigration without amnesty but with a concise way to reduce the ridiculous delays the current system imposes on immigrants seeking to enter the US legally.
Religion and the HHS Mandate
The birth control mandate enacted Jan. 20, 2012, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requires employers to provide access to health insurance that covers most forms of birth control, even those that can cause the death of an unborn child. Many religious institutions, and Catholics in particular, have filed lawsuits to have the mandate repealed and openly stated their opposition to the contraception mandate. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who will give the benediction at the convention, has been a very vocal opponent of the mandate even after Obama revised it in February.
With the above average Catholic population in the 10 swing states, and given a historical propensity for voting their conscience not for a particular party, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan who are both men of unquestionable faith must establish a clear doctrine of opposing government intervention in this area and the preservation of religious sanctity.
Sensible Social Issue Policies
Actually there is only one social issue that I believe needs to be addressed since any others open a path for Obama to continue his attempts to divert attention from the real issues important to all voters and in particular those in the 10 swing states.
Regardless of the party platform, the ticket should make an unambiguous statement that, while pro-life, they support exceptions in the case of incest, rape and saving the mother’s life. Additionally the ticket should eschew the inclusion of any type of Constitutional amendment regarding abortion since, here again, this will only bring social issues to the forefront and provide Obama with an opportunity to move the conversation away from the important issues.
It’s typical for each party to see a bump in their polling numbers immediately following their respective conventions and 2012 is likely not going to change that but there is a bigger, and more important, picture. In analyzing various polls from both sides of the political spectrum from June 30, 2012 until today a clear trend has formed, and if the Romney-Ryan ticket can espouse their message clearly and effectively it could continue until Election Day.
By taking the percentage of supporters for each candidate on June 30 (based on the RCP average) as the baseline and comparing it to the latest average, expressed as a percentage increase or decrease of the baseline it is clear the momentum is with Governor Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan.
If this momentum can be accelerated in the ten swing states based on a successful Republican National Convention and the six key takeaways cited above then Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will be well on their way to being our next President and Vice-President.