Recent reports that Mitt Romney has lessened or eliminated the so-called “gender gap” among female voters, which once so favored Barack Obama, has prompted renewed speculation that more Americans, regardless of sex, are switching their vote to Romney.
Last week, a Luntz focus group of former Obama voters proclaimed Romney “confident,” “presidential” and “forceful” compared to Obama.
Now a Washington Post/ABC News tracking poll shows a widening gap among white voters that drastically favors Romney, signaling the possibility that some who voted for America’s first black president in 2008 may have changed their minds after seeing him in action.
Amidst media bickering over whether Romney’s momentum is real or fake, building or stalled, the question remains: Are Obama’s voters abandoning him?
Dr. Oliver McGee, once an adviser to Bill Clinton and the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of transportation, went so far as to become a Republican.
“What the Obama campaign presented to me looked like a sharp left turn to me back in 2008,” writes McGee, author of the book, “Jumping the Aisle – How I Became a Black Republican during the Age of Obama.”
McGee sees himself as a “growth guy” and the Republicans as the “party of growth.”
“The economy is always the No. 1 major issue facing the nation,” McGee explains. “Nowadays, it’s about jobs in an age of joblessness. Until we get Americans back to work and small businesses growing and hiring again, not much is going to change. That is the overriding issue, and I feel it’s being under-managed.”
Ivan Kenneally, editor in chief of The Daily Witness, sees a notable change in support for the Republican ticket.
“There has been a discernible shift in independent voters moving from Obama to Romney since the midterm elections,” he says. “There are very few valuable undecided voters left [valuable meaning situated within hotly contested swing states], but enough to make a difference to places like Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania. The momentum since the debate[s] has been in favor of Romney. While most of the movement has been due to increased pessimism regarding Obama’s stewardship of the economy, the recent embassy [attacks] have taken a toll on his favorability ratings concerning foreign policy as well.”
Jamie Miller, president of the political consulting firm Battleground Group, isn’t convinced the data shows a sea change for Romney, but rather a modest transition from the more lethargic support for Romney following the Republican convention to a greater enthusiasm following the presidential debates.
“Prior to the [first] debate, Romney seemed to be getting the support of just 80 percent of Republicans even though Republicans were leading in the ‘motivated to vote’ category by 4-5 percent,” she says.
She contrasts this with the convention, saying Romney “was successful in showing that President Obama is not up to the task to lead our country out of the economic and foreign policy mess. But Romney did not make the sale. So, undecided voters were people who wanted to be for Romney, but really did not hear enough information about him to feel secure that he could lead the country.”
Subsequent to the debates, however, voters already predisposed to vote Romney were, according to Miller, finally convinced.
“During the debate[s], Romney was successful in showing the American people that he is capable of leading, has a plan and has the backbone to be successful where Obama has failed,” she explains.
Democrat political consultant Max Cummings, by contrast, disputes entirely the notion that voters are switching for Romney.
“All the numbers indicate that Romney started the campaign with the advantage due to the economy and the president’s approval ratings,” he says. “However, we have seen Obama maintain control due to a huge, almost 3-1 advertising advantage combined with a strong message. This message has centered around household economics; specifically, how Romney can’t be trusted to protect your future but the president can.”
But Dr. McGee disputes this interpretation, saying that it is precisely Obama’s inability to protect their futures that is causing voters to shift Republican in 2012.
“Democrats raise taxes to support a bigger government, sometimes as high as 70 percent,” he points out. “Republicans believe that if you lower taxes, people and companies will spend the money and create jobs.”
He points to the nation’s staggering jobless rates under Obama and underscores the loss of hope these citizens, these voters, have experienced.
“Sadly, this is not politics – left and right,” McGee insists. “This is economics – top and bottom.”
Of his political affiliation, and the conviction to vote against the party he once supported, McGee voices what many may be feeling: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; rather, the party left me.”