What Does Romney Have To Do In The Last Week To Beat Obama?
Although the president has his own to-do list heading into Election Day, Romney has time working against him as he tries to close the gap in battleground states. Here are some points the former Massachusetts governor must focus on as he heads down the stretch.
It's The Economy, Stupid
A recent ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll revealed that 52 percent of likely voters thought Romney was better-suited to handle the economy, compared to 43 percent who chose Obama.
The economy continues to linger as the first or second-most important issue among three quarters of voters, while the budget deficit is also a major concern among 23 percent of voters. This is clearly Romney's strongest area to emphasize when trying to persuade voters he is the man for the job, so he should continue to drive that point home.
Mo Mourdock, Mo Problems
As much as Romney needs to emphasize his perceived strengths on the economy, he must also side-step around issues like abortion and immigration, which could cost him precious votes among women and Latinos. Controversial anti-abortion remarks by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have been albatrosses for the Romney camp as it tries to close the gap among women voters.
Despite Mourdock's comments about pregnancy resulting from rape, the Romney campaign has decided to stand by the Indiana Senate candidate despite stating that it holds differing views from him. Democrats have worked to link Romney's campaign with Mourdock in their pitch to women, so he must be prepared to withstand the attacks.
Portray Himself As The "Work Across The Aisle" Guy
Romney's endorsement from the Des Moines Register, which is the first time the largest newspaper in Iowa has backed a GOP candidate since Richard Nixon in 1972, lauded him as the candidate who can find bipartisan solutions to balance the budget and put Americans back to work.
Over the next week, the former business executive must try to persuade undecided voters that he is the candidate better-suited to end the gridlock on Capitol Hill. Romney must highlight his experience working with a state legislature in which Democrats held 85 percent of the seats during his time as Massachusetts governor.
He can also try to chalk up the stalemate in Congress -- thanks to a stubborn GOP-led house -- as a sign of Obama's inability to bridge the partisan divide. In short, portraying himself as "The Massachusetts Moderate" could be Romney's best ploy to court independent voters in the days ahead. He has sustained a sizeable lead over Obama among independent voters, and building on this momentum will go a long way toward victory next Tuesday.
Navigate Around Sandy
Superstorm Sandy's destruction of the northeast has steered media attention away from the election just one week before America votes. For Romney, the timing of this diversion could not have come at a worse time, as he continues to make a final push to sway undecided voters and surpass Obama in key battleground states.
As president, Obama is in a position to use Sandy to demonstrate that he has the leadership skills to handle a crisis and steer the country for another four years. On the other hand, Romney must be wary of being seen active on the campaign trail during a national emergency, despite what little time he has left.
Romney must find a way to demonstrate compassion for the victims and sensitivity toward the event. Most importantly, whatever message he delivers regarding Sandy must not come off as an attempt to politicize the situation.
Road To 270 Goes Through Ohio
No Republican has ever captured the White House without winning Ohio.
In theory, Romney can still reach the 270 mark needed to win the election should he miss out on the Buckeye State's 18 electoral votes. However, he would need to pull off unexpected victories in Democratic-leaning swing states like Wisconsin and Nevada to do so. One in eight jobs in Ohio are related to the auto industry, and Romney must be ready for Obama campaign attacks on his opposition to using government money to bail out car companies.
With limited time remaining, Romney must devote the bulk of his time to the Columbus media market, which is centrally located within the midwestern state and encompasses 19 of Ohio's 88 counties. He is likely to capture the majority of counties in the western part of the state, while Obama is poised to secure the counties that make up the Cleveland area. Voters in the suburban counties will hold the key to Romney's White House bid.
Read more Neon Tommy stories on the 2012 election.