Steve Levy: Top Ten Game Changes of the 2012 Election

We welcome our newest contributing recovering politician to the RP:  Steve Levy, who served as a Suffolk County Executive from 2004-2011, a New York State Assemblyman and was a Republican candidate for Governor of New York in 2010. Steve currently is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political, governmental and business consulting firm.

 

1.  Occupy Wall Street

This movement, which started as a grassroots, diverse consortium of the disaffected and ultimately morphed into a cabal of old time anarchists and communists, is what gave Obama his sense of direction.  Obama handlers knew there were few accomplishments to harp on, given the stagnant economy, but by focusing public anger on the 1%, they could help galvanize their base while also pointing the finger at the greedy rich folks they could claim were the cause of the mess they inherited.

2.  The Greatest Convention Ever?

History will show the 2012 Democratic Convention as being the best of this century and possibly any convention over the last fifty years.  It played to every constituency in the base,  motivating them in difficult times and used President Clinton to lay the blame for today’s woes on the Bush administration. Romney could easily have accentuate the hypocrisy of  Democrats blaming the current problems on the Bush administration.  Economists agree that Bush policies had little to do with the crash of 2008.  The culprit  was the deregulation of Wall Street by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, ironically signed by Democratic President Clinton. The Romney campaign allowed the Democrats to establish traction on the term “Don’t Go Back.”

3.  Define Your Opponent Early

Politics 101 is to seek to define your opponent in a negative way as early as possible.  Politics 101A is for the affected candidate to respond quickly and forcefully.  The Democrats wisely adhered to the former strategy, while the Republicans ignored the latter to their detriment.  In the lull after the Republican primary, the Democrats  spent a good share of their money pummeling Romney, defining him through his association with Bain Capital.  He became the out-sourcing, job cutting, detached  Daddy Warbucks who could not identify with the average worker,  It took away Romney’s narrative that he was the sharp businessman who knew how to fix the economy.   Romney could easily have  defended himself as being the saver of jobs.  Staples, Sports Authority and other companies survived because of his intervention.  The initial jobs that were lost after Bain’s acquisitions would have been lost anyway.  By the time Romney finally sought to aggressively erase this caricature at the debate, it was too late.

4.  The Ryan Mistake

Paul Ryan is one of Washington’s true leaders who has the courage to lay out specifics, but he was an awful VP choice. He brought nothing electorally to the ticket. Marco Rubio would have lock up Florida and possibly boosted Romney’s Latino vote by the few points he needed to push some swing states over the top.

5.   Help From Mother Nature

Just when Romney was  gaining momentum, along came Sandy. Obama learned from Bush’s Katrina and made an early landing in Jersey, hugged a few people, including an overly effusive Republican Governor, then got back on a plane to Vegas to campaign. But the photo op was enough to make the President appear to be a strong leader and bipartisan, two areas where he was lacking in the polls.

6.  A 2009 Op-Ed on the Auto Bailout

Romney never would have believed that his op-ed written three years ago on the auto bailout would have come back to haunt him.  This was less an auto bailout than a United Auto Workers bailout.  The union received preferential treatment that few other creditor would.  Romney was merely saying that there had to be true restructuring, which never happened, before public money was on the line.  Obama placed the industry into bankruptcy, just as Romney suggested, but he shielded his political allies in the union the from having to make any significant givebacks, thanks to his forcing U.S. taxpayers to subsidize the union to the tune of $20 billion.  It was the editors at the New York Times that callously gave Romney’s article the headline, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, giving  the connotation that Romney just did not care about the industry, when in fact Obama himself was having the industry go into bankruptcy.  Romney’s mistake was to allow this confusion on the part of the public to go unanswered for months

7.  Biden’s Fortunate Gaffe

When the VP went off script and forced his boss to come out of the closet for gay marriage, it set the President free to tap Hollywood cash and motivate his youth base. Few who opposed the move were supporting him anyway.
Meanwhile the Republicans wrote off a youth demographic that can’t get jobs and has been saddled with unprecedented debt from the administration. The case could have been made; it wasn’t.

8. Right Track Movement

In the last two months of the campaign, the hosing market started showing some life and consumer confidence was on the upswing. It was enough to give hope to some that the worst was over.

9.   The Amnesty Card

Hispanic disillusionment with the lack of immigration reform was replaced with euphoria when the President unilaterally decided that the US government would stop enforcing immigration laws for millions of illegal aliens. Totally illegal, but remarkable effective politically. Ironically, it could be voided by the courts after election, but it accomplished it’s goal for the Obama team.

10.  Calculated Contraceptives

Pundits thought Team Obama was nuts for picking a fight with the Catholic Church – requiring them to violate their doctrine by covering contraception in their policies. But once Rick Santorum took it beyond insurance for religious institutions,  the Democrats, and the media, had their War on Women.

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