07 September 2012

Obama's twin challenges

An interesting article in an Al Jazeera blog poses the question, Who is Obama really running against? The answer isn't Mitt Romney. It's Obama himself, or at least the 2008 version. The author suggests that the 2012 Obama, revealed after four years in office, is so different—as in disappointing—from the earlier version, that he may have trouble getting his supporters out to vote and voter turnout, the author insists, will be critical in this election.

I tend to agree. The turnout in the 2008 presidential election was the highest in 40 years, probably because of the enthusiasm for the young man from Chicago. The polls say the election this November will be close, so if very many of those enthusiasts don't bother to vote this time, Obama will be in trouble.

Obama's second big challenge is dealing with the billionaires. He has been a good boy for the corporations, extraordinarily so for the bankers, but Romney is their main man and they are inundating him with cash. His top super PACs are out-fund raising Obama's by four to one. So far, 32 billionaires have donated to a super PAC backing Romney. Sheldon Adelson, the richest man in Las Vegas, has spent $41-million to date and has pledged up to a hundred million. The infamous Koch brothers plan to raise $400-million. As one wit asked: Is this an election or an auction?

Obama is getting some big money as well. He has a few billionaire sponsors of his own, corporations like to hedge their bets, and organized labour will back him, but he'll never garner the kind of largesse that's flowing to Romney. He will have to squeeze every penny out of his supporters.

He has two mountains to climb—getting out the money, then getting out the vote. I wish him luck.

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