Donald Lambro
President Obama's entire campaign strategy is based on an age-old political trick that he can overcome his weakness on the economy by changing the subject.

His strategists concluded more than a year ago that he was unlikely to win a second term based on his promise to restore the economy to full health and put tens of millions of long unemployed Americans back work.

So they fashioned a divisive campaign that was heavily focused on single issue voters -- women, for one, and the large Hispanic vote, for another -- in a handful of critical battleground states he needs to clinch a second term.

The latest polls suggest this divide and conquer trickery seems to be working, at least for now.

Nowhere is this clearer than in Virginia, a key state Mitt Romney must win if he has any chance of beating Obama.

But a new Washington Post poll found that Obama now has "a 19- percentage-point lead (58 to 39) among female likely voters" in Virginia, while he is trailing Romney by six points among men. Obama's significant advantage among women is the reason why he leads his Republican rival in the state by eight points.

Heading into this year's election, Virginia was a toss-up state where Obamacare was unpopular and the economy and jobs were the top issues.

But the Obama campaign concluded they had little if any chance to persuade voters to change their minds on those issues. Instead, they decided to play Machiavellian politics with an issue that didn't make the top 10 concerns in voter surveys.

So during late summer, his campaign ran virtually non-stop ads attacking Romney for his opposition to abortion and taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood (who spent nearly $2 million on similar ads).

There were no ads to speak of that dealt with jobs and eight percent-plus unemployment, the declining economic growth rate that was barely moving. The ads were entirely aimed at painting Romney as someone who would strike down Roe v. Wade and make abortions illegal again.

But you would have to look high and low to find remarks by him on this issue. Despite Romney's pro-life posture, which remains the GOP's long held position, it's not an issue he talks about in his stump speeches. Whatever signal that sends, it's a subject that was missing from the entire 2012 election dialogue until the Obama campaign resurrected the issue for its own political gain.

It's highly unlikely the high court is going to revisit Roe v. Wade. It remains the "settled law of the land," Justice John Roberts testified in his Senate confirmation hearings.

Nevertheless, Obama's pro-choice attack ad has proven effective and not just in Virginia but in other battleground states where he has pulled ahead of Romney or solidified his lead.

And not just in the presidential race, but down ballot, too. The Post's Virginia survey now shows that for the first time Democrat Tim Kaine is leading Republican George Allen in the Senate race, by 51 percent to 43 percent.

The Post reported Thursday that "Kaine appears to have a clear edge, helped by a growing lead among women."

Can Romney overcome this growing gender gap in the seven remaining weeks of the campaign? It's a daunting challenge, to be sure, worsened by the bombshell video tape of Romney telling a closed door meeting of donors that 47 percent of Americans, who pay no federal income taxes, "believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them."

Worse, he seemed to write off this 47 percent of the electorate, saying, "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney forgot the cardinal rule of politics: Never say anything, even in a presumed private closed door event, that you would not want to read in the nation's newspapers or hear on the nightly news. He should have known better.

Actually, Romney draws strong support from a significant part of the nation's low income voters and seniors who are the among the largest recipients of entitlement programs, according the Gallup Poll

"Romney still gets about a third (34 percent) of the vote among those whose household incomes are less than $24,000 a year," Gallup's tracking data revealed this week. He gets 43 percent support from people earning between $36,000 and $48,000.

As for seniors, "a detailed analysis of voting choice by age shows that Americans 70 and older are among Romney's strongest voter segments," Gallup said.

This is especially true among the ages of 70 to 79, 53 percent of whom say they are voting for Romney -- a 12 point lead over Obama.

Gallup said "that among those voters aged 65 and older who have $24,000 a year in income or less, Obama wins, with 49 percent of the vote," but Romney still receives 43 percent of their support.

Romney would have been better served if he had been briefed on the political demographics of his supporters before wading into a needless analysis that dismissed a major share of his own voters.

But since this story broke, big, new developments have given Romney two explosive issues that could cut deeply into Obama's support.

Obama was caught on a newly released 1998 audio tape telling a Loyola University conference in Chicago why "I actually believe in [government] redistribution" of the nation's income -- i.e. taking money from wealthier people and giving it to lower income Americans "to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

The other is a Congressional Budget Office report that 6 million mostly middle class Americans, 50 percent more than was forecast in 2010, will have to pay a penalty tax under Obamacare if they do not purchase insurance. CBO says the average tax penalty will be about $1,200 in 2016 and rise substantially over the ensuing years.

The first flatly verifies Obama's deep ideological belief in socialism which has impoverished more economies than any other economic system in world history. The second says he lied when he said he would not raise taxes on the middle class.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.