Republican strategist David Winston asked an interesting question in a recent survey of 1,000 registered voters: “In thinking more specifically about how the economy is doing, which comes closer to your view?” Twenty-six percent chose “The economy is getting better, and the rate of progress is acceptable.” Thirty-two percent agreed with “The economy is not getting better at all.” A plurality, 40 percent, chose “The economy is getting better, but the rate of progress is still unacceptable.”
The result is at once heartening and chastening. This is a winnable election for Mitt Romney. But he can’t win simply by asserting that things are worse than they’ve ever been. He needs to win most of the 40 percent of the public who think things are getting better, if at an unacceptably slow rate. If Romney fails to present a compelling alternative, most of those 40 percent could say this: Well, we’re not happy about the pace of progress under Obama, but that rich Republican guy who’s sniping at the president doesn’t seem to have any better proposals or a clear vision—so perhaps we’d better stick with the guy we’ve got.
Sticking with the guy we’ve got would be a disaster—and not just because he’ll waste some more money on foolish solar energy projects. If Romney explains why where we are with Obama is unacceptable, why whither we are tending is even worse—and why his own alternative path forward is superior—then we trust the American people to make the right choice in November.