The greatest trick that the devil ever pulled, as the saying goes, was in convincing people that he did not exist. That could well be the situation with Mitt Romney in the upcoming elections unless the Democrats are careful. In all the euphoria over Romney's stunningly stupid missteps over the past few weeks, President Obama's team and the press have all but written off the Republican contender. That is a big mistake.
For one thing, there are still seven weeks left to go till the election, which gives Romney plenty of time to get his act together and reshape his message to be less elitist (it won't be easy, but it can be done). Secondly, the massive furor over the "47%" remark will fade in the coming weeks whether we like it or not - it's just the reality of our short attention spans and frantic news cycle. Then there is the X factor: the possibility that anything could happen between now and the time we vote, including economic trouble, international or domestic crises, or just plain errors on the part of the Democrats. Strange things have always happened in the history of politics.
But finally, and which is the reason that I am writing this, Obama's status as the frontrunner could be his biggest hindrance to actually winning the White House. The reason is that the more likely it becomes (and the more the Democrats and the press talk about it) that the President will win a second term, the more it will galvanize Romney's far-right conservative base, including possibly the Tea Party, to bring out the vote and keep that "horrible socialist Obama" from getting four more years to destroy the country. While Romney's bizarre antics may well have sealed his fate with independent voters and moderates, not to mention minorities, the ability of conservative voters to sway the election should not be underestimated.
Obama's advisors should also be careful not to let the GOP's bashing of its own candidate fool them. The Republican Party is nothing if not pragmatic, and given the choice between Obama, whom they hate, and Romney, whom they just don't like, they will go out of their way to support their guy. The Tea Party is obviously a wild card since they consider Romney too much of a wimp and too close to the Washington establishment for their tastes, but once again their desire to get Obama out of the White House is so strong that they are very likely to close ranks with the GOP just to get this one job done.
So Democrats, take heed. Enjoy the positive press and the writing on the wall but don't take it for granted. There is still a lot of work to be done between now and November, and just because the devil has convinced everyone that he is down and out, does not mean that he has really ceased to exist.
Sanjay Sanghoee has worked at leading investment banks Lazard Freres and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein as well as at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. He is also the author of the financial thriller, "Merger" (available below). Please visit www.sanghoee.com for more information.