Cook says all of the factors favor Romney over Obama - a poor economy, most voters think the country is headed in the right direction, high unemployment and a growing dissatisfaction with Washington. He says it's puzzling that Romney isn't doing better. But, he thinks there are four reasons why, including Romney's negative advertising and the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Until his campaign finally began airing biographical ads a few weeks ago, his election effort seemed to studiously avoid trying to establish any bond, any connection, or any level of trust between him and American voters. His campaign seemed to hold the view that any day or dollar spent focusing on anything other than the economy was a day or dollar wasted. Presidential races are not likability contests, but a candidate does need to be “likable enough,” to borrow Obama’s phrase. Voters need to feel comfortable with the person they back.
Finally, as much as conservatives are thrilled with Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, anything that takes the focus off the economy and Obama’s handling of it is not a good thing for the GOP ticket. A presidential campaign is the last place in the world to try to hold a serious and intelligent discussion about any substantive issue. Bringing Medicare, Social Security, and deep spending cuts into the conversation only distracts from the focus on the struggling economy and makes Romney’s path to victory that much more challenging.