Republicans Catch on that Negative Advertising Works

People who knew Mitt Romney, or worked with him in business or government, in many cases considered him one of the most decent people they ever knew. But starting in the early spring of 2012, months before Romney had officially secured his Party’s nomination for President, many millions of dollars of attack ads were running in key states such as Ohio, Virginia, Florida and Colorado suggesting that Romney was a despicable, greedy Wall Street banker. He was accused of buying up companies, firing the workers, then closing or selling the companies off, getting very rich in the process. He was also accused of causing people to die of cancer after workers lost their health insurance and were presumably denied treatment.

One might think that Romney’s Bain Capital had discovered a formula where he could get rich more quickly through the failure of the businesses in which he invested, than from their successes. People who have spent their lives outside the private sector and have nested within the Democratic Party, seem to assume that private equity companies mostly invest in businesses that are already winners and if they invest in struggling companies, they should be able to turn them into winners 100% of the time. If some investments go bad, then it must be because the private equity companies make more money by destroying healthy companies than rebuilding them. To be fair, Newt Gingrich, had launched a similar demagogic campaign against Romney when his fortunes began to sink after the early primaries in 2012, though he did not go so far as to accuse Romney of causing cancer patients to die without insurance, and his attack ads did not run in many states.

Even before the first Republican Party primary in Iowa, in the fall of 2011, left wing groups had created a campaign known as “Occupy Wall Street” designed to highlight the 1% (especially the Wall Street variety) versus the 99%. One does not need to be a cynic to believe that the Obama campaign team fully expected Romney would be their opponent in the fall of 2012. The Occupy Wall Street campaign was an easy AstroTurf exercise to change the subject -- from the glaring failures of their first term to the inequality in America, symbolized by a rich white guy like Mitt Romney.

A history of the relationship of certain economic data with the results of re-election campaigns over many decades, suggested that the Obama economic record likely meant defeat in 2012. The country had the weakest economic recovery on record after a major downturn, with continued high unemployment and slow economic growth despite a near trillion dollar stimulus injection. Obama had run up trillion dollar plus deficits every year, and forced through an unpopular new health care reform plan, passed entirely with Democratic Party votes using “parliamentary” maneuvers after Scott Brown’s election to the Senate from Massachusetts. Obama’s approval score in the low to mid 40 percent range suggested he was a very vulnerable incumbent.