Mitt Romney's campaign has detailed a strategy shift twice this week, and you can measure the level of faith some conservatives have in it by their very different and very specific recommendations that Romney do something else. The National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru offers a specific slogan for the campaign -- "Romney will deliver for America." The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan offers a name for a new campaign manager -- James Baker. The Washington Post's George Will and The Wall Street Journal's editorial board offer specific lines for Romney to give in speeches -- in quotes and everything.
Why so little faith? Some of the numbers don't look good. The New York Times' Nate Silver writes that Obama's post-convention bounce might not be fading as much as we thought. And if you look at state polls that contact cell phone users, Obama is leading by about six points in swing states.
Then there are the fundraising numbers. Romney raised $66 million in August, which is a lot of money, but is a lot less than the $100 million he raised in June and July. Romney beat Obama by a significant margin those months, but in August, Obama raised almost $85 million. Plus, Romney seems to have a problem with small donors. Thirty percent of Obama's haul came from checks under $200, but for Romney, the share was 14 percent, The Washington Post notes. But there's trouble among some wealthy donors too. The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore explains that 32,000 donors gave Romney the max amount in the primary, but haven't yet donated for the general election.
Then there's the effect Romney's struggles seem to be having on Republicans elsewhere, particularly in tight Senate races. On Thursday, Wisconsin's Tommy Thompson blamed his lower poll numbers on Romney, telling a local TV station, " If your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it's gonna reflect on the down-ballot." Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown said of his opponent Elizabeth Warren, "I know she'd like to run against Mitt Romney, but she's running against me," Roll Call's Shira Toeplitz reports.
Aside from the things measurable by math, another concern is a message centered on gaffe matching. Romney's new strategy appears to have a major emphasis on gaffe matching with President Obama's campaign. The "47 percent" video was matched with a Drudge Report-released video of Obama saying in 1998 that he believes in redistribution. The Romney campaign has been called slow to respond, but on Thursday, it incorporated an Obama gaffe into Romney's stump speech an hour after Obama said it.
National Review's Ponnuru is not convinced:
In recent days the Romney campaign has seized on evidence that Obama has spoken favorably of “redistribution.” If the argument is that Obama knows no way to help people other than forcible transfers of money, then it’s one worth making. If it’s that he’s an un-American socialist, it seems rather less promising.
Even Herman Cain offers this low blow, considering the source. Ask why he thought he'd be beating Obama right now, Cain said, "I have some depth to my ideas."