With polls and intrade suggesting President Obama has all but sealed the deal on his re-election, history says Mitt Romney has one last, best, shot in the form of tomorrow's debate. According to Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at The BlackBay Group, viewers will know whether or not Romney still has a shot almost as soon as the conversation gets started.
"The first 90 seconds should really dictate where this election is going," says Schoenberger in the attached video. The key will be Romney's ability to define the issues and turn the focus to the President's weaknesses in regards to the economy. After four years under Obama, Schoenberger notes that GDP is at stall speed, unemployment remains high, personal income has shrunk, and 1/6th of America is on welfare. Romney needs to attack those points aggressively and immediately or Schoenberger says Obama's re-election is fait accompli.
The problem for the Republicans, and perhaps why Wall Street thinks the election is over, is that the President has the stock market on his side. Stocks are up over 50% since Obama was sworn in and more than 100% since the lows made in early March of 2009. Americans tend to vote based on how their stocks have done under the incumbent. That gives Obama a natural edge.
As for the the rest of the economic mess, the Democrats have already laid out their response: it could have been worse. The argument is Obama saved us from a depression, saved General Motors (GM) and generally did the best that could have been done with the mess he inherited. As a general rule "it could have been worse" is a weak forensic strategy but the onus is still on Romney to pick it apart on Wednesday.
The best way to counter generalities is with specifics. Assuming he survives the first 90 seconds Schoenberger says Wall Street wants to hear specifics of what Romney would do to improve on our uninspiring economic situation. If Romney can come out swinging and make it to the specifics without the President effectively finishing the election inside of the first 2 minutes, Schoenberger thinks the election is still in play.
If the President is unscathed after Romney's opening assault, Schoenberger thinks Wall Street will take it as a given that there will be four more years.