Two weeks to save a presidency

With less than two weeks to go, it is a very real possibility that Obama could be a one-term president

Take in the view. It could be your last chance
Dr. James Boys
On 24 October 2012 11:43

So the presidential debates are over for another four years and they have certainly proved to be instructive. This is not always the case. All too often they have been dull, lifeless affairs. This year, however, we have witnessed real excitement, high drama and three debates that have greatly helped shape the course of the race in its final weeks.

The first debate was a clear victory for Mitt Romney, the second a tie and the third… well as with all these things, it is possible to take from an event what you bring to it. Opinion appears divided, but my calculation is that even if Obama won on points, he failed to land a knockout blow, and on foreign policy this was telling.

His performances away from an autocue have alternated between petulance and perfunctory. His attempts at humour have backfired and his efforts to assert his stance as president have oftentimes appeared to be condescending. Throughout the debates he has sought – and on two out of three occasions secured – the support of the moderator.

President Obama’s dithering over the Benghazi tragedy has done little to inspire confidence. His inability to present a comprehensive strategy for the next four years, in over fours hours of debates, is equally troubling. 

The president’s performances in these debates must raise questions as to the real nature of his abilities. Four years ago, many hailed his arrival on the political scene as a breath of fresh air. Here, it was proclaimed, was a new type of politician who could get things done, reposition America and initiate a new era in U.S. politics. Four years later, much has occurred to diminish this reputation.

In retrospect it is clear, as it was to many at the time, that almost any Democrat was going to win the presidency in 2008. Arguably, Obama’s great victory came not in November 2008, but in the previous summer when he secured the nomination.

In recent weeks I have considered the presidential debates for The Commentator and for Sky News. I have sought to present a considered perspective on the events and to highlight that even when the debates could be considered a tie, this itself could be considered a triumph for Romney, due to Obama’s inability to derail the Republican’s remarkable last gasp surge.

This has caused my vision and sanity to be called into question by those who felt that Obama’s performance was superior and sufficient to restore his lead in the polls. I have been referred to as a Theatre Critic for focusing upon the candidates’ performance in the debate and less on specific policy details. So, now the polls are in, what do we see?

Gallup has Romney up by 6 points nationally, 51 to 45 percent. This is compounded by a Real Clear Politics prediction that places Romney ahead in the Electoral College for the first time in the contest by 206 to 201 with less than two weeks to go and ahead in Florida, Colorado, and North Carolina.

With the polls swinging in Romney’s favour, the only question appears to be whether there is enough time before the election for the momentum to carry him to victory in the key swing states he needs to win. This is not yet a done deal and I personally think that Obama will be narrowly re-elected, but the world had better wake up and start taking seriously the possibility that Obama could easily become a one-term president.

This possibility has been woefully under-reported in the press and it is revealing how many highly respected political scientist, historians, and supposed experts are openly dismissive of the possibility of a Romney presidency, putting aside their professional training to discount the slightest possibility that Obama could lose. With less than two weeks to go, it is a very real possibility.

Dr. James D. Boys is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. He is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at King's College London, Associate Professor of International Political Studies at Richmond University in London and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Policy Institute. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @jamesdboys

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