During a January trip to Cleveland, President Obama greets neighbors outside the home of a family who almost lost their home after falling victim to a predatory lender; White House photo by Pete Souza
As the Republican primary grinds on, the Obama campaign team is taking advantage of its downtime to plan for a general election in which they believe the president will face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“We believe we are making steady progress because of what we are doing, how the economy is doing and what the Republican candidates are doing,” Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod told reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning.
Recent polls, including a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released this week, show that as the primary fight drags on, some voters have gotten turned off, especially independents. One of the most telling discoveries in the WSJ/NBC poll was that an increasing percentage of voters now believe the Democratic Party does a better job of attracting those voters than Republicans.
“We try to appeal to the best in people, [the Republicans] appear to be appealing to the worst,” Axelrod said, adding a dig at Romney. “It’s very hard to unify a party when 90 percent of the advertising is negative, when all you are doing is attacking your opponents, and you see it in the degradation of the Republican Party’s numbers.”
The negative advertising seems to be having an effect all around. Rasmussen released a poll shortly after the call began showing 72 percent of likely voters now hold a unfavorable view of Romney.
While Romney now holds a commanding lead in the Republican delegate count, which his campaign was eager to point out in a memo Wednesday morning calling for his two top opponents to drop out of the race, it has come at a cost that the Obama team is eager to capitalize on.
“We think we are playing on an even more expanded [electoral] map,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said. “If anything our map has gotten more expansive and there are more opportunities.” (Give the NewsHour’s electoral college calculator a try here.)
Axelrod said Romney has damaged himself by tacking to the right during the primary. “They think they can wipe the slate clean, but I think the American people take his words seriously and we are going to hold him to that,” he said. “This is not a game. You are running to be the president of the United States.”