Why is Romney doing so badly?

The Bread and Peace model predicts that based on the fundamentals, Barack Obama should lose to Mitt Romney. However, when one looks at current opinion polls, it is Obama who has maintained a steady lead. So why is Romney doing so badly and what can he do about it?

Romney’s problem is the same one that John McCain faced in 2008, that he just does not seem to be able to take the lead in the polls. By this time in 2008, McCain too had been steadily lagging behind Barack Obama ever since the two of them had sewn up their respective nominations, and nothing seemed to be shifting the numbers significantly, as can be seen from this graph of poll averages from June 1 through August 1.

Now compare the above graph with this year’s election poll averages for the same period.

The similarities are striking. The big difference is that while McCain’s numbers were consistent with the expectations of the Bread and Peace model, Romney should be ahead and thus is significantly under-performing. It cannot be a comfortable situation for him.

If Romney were a political scientist, he may have been able to grit his teeth and hope that the fundamentals will win out on election day and that he will coast to victory as long as he does not do anything rash. But seeming to be permanently stuck behind is always a temptation to do something, anything, to shake things up and avoid looking like an inevitable loser this early in the game. The Europe trip may have been one attempt that did not work out as planned and I suspect that in the coming days he will try other ways to make a splash.


  1. Francisco Bacopa says

    If Romney were offering bread and peace on the campaign trail, then the bread and peace model might apply. Romney offers more diamonds and horses for the wealthy and nothing for the rest of us. And Romney doesn’t seem to offer much hope of peace either. Given there’s no viable alternative, people are sticking with Obama.

  2. Brick Steakface says

    Romney is 1)offering a tax plan that will take more bread out of my pockets; 2) threatening to expand the Middle East conflict to Iran; 3) reignite the cold war; 4) spend the same, if not more, money on the military complex; 5) an inveterate liar, a shallow and callous man; 6) looking out for the 1%. Is the bread and peace model taking any of this into effect?

  3. Mano Singham says

    No, the model ignores all these things. It assumes that while those things may sway individual voters this way or that, the underlying dynamic is governed by objective measures of the state of the economy.

  4. MNb0 says

    Basically Romney is suffering from the same problem as Al Gore – underperforming for an unknown reason.
    Of course we can speculate, like you did, but to improve the model you’ll have to introduce a factor that explains Al Gore’s loss as well.

  5. richardrobinson says

    If I recall, the bread and peace model basically says that voters will vote for the incumbent when things are good and against when things are bad. I think part of the problem is that a Democrats can ask opponents with rather a straight face, “Which of Obama’s policies that couldn’t be implemented because of a deliberately obstructionist Congress do you think contributed most to the continuing depression?”

    Republicans have stated quite plainly that their plan is to “make Obama fail.” I think that buys him a great deal of leeway at this point.

  6. says

    Blaming the obstructionist Congress, while true, is too sophisticated an argument for the public at large who only tunes in on soundbites, so I don’t think this is working. What is working is that mittwit just can’t connect. He’s a phoney as a $3 bill and most people know it (but many ignore it). He offers no vision, no inspiration, just I’m not-Obama. The bread and piece model explains why it’s even close given how awful a candidate mittwit is.

  7. 'Tis Himself says

    One of Romney’s main problems is he neither knows nor cares about the wants, desires and fears of the 99% and makes this obvious. He brags about his wife’s horse which saves him $75,000 in tax liabilities. The majority of Americans don’t make $75K per year.

  8. dukeofomnium says

    The strategy of repeating “I’m not the incumbent” by itself was a huge failure for John Kerry.

    There’s also the fact that Romney has about as much eloquence as my beagle, only he doesn’t make up for it with the long ears and adorably dopey expression. Every time he says something definite, he makes a mistake; and his bland platitudes are even worse.

    The models show that Obama would lose to a generic Republican. Unfortunately for the GOP, the generic Republican isn’t running.

  9. slc1 says

    Although Al Gore did underperform, his loss was due to the confusing ballot in Palm Beach Co., Florida where more then a thousand ballots were invalidated because confused voters voted for both Gore and Buchanan. This is the reason that the networks declared Gore the winner in Florida as one of their sample precincts was in Palm Beach Co. which indicated a much larger Gore margin then he actually obtained, due to voters, whose ballots had been invalidated, telling network questioners that they had voted for him. Given an unconfusing ballot in Palm Beach Co. Gore wins Florida and the election.

  10. says

    The models show that Obama would lose to a generic Republican. Unfortunately for the GOP, the generic Republican isn’t running.

    That’s because the generic republican isn’t crazy enough. Which ought to make the rest of the republicans pause and think, but it won’t.

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