Mitt Romney and his top aides are running an essentially faith-based campaign. Whatever the polls say at the moment, whatever the pundits say, whatever some nervous Republicans say, Team Romney simply does not believe President Obama can win re-election in today’s terrible economy. The president may appear to be defying gravity now, but he can’t keep it up through Nov. 6…

This is a true test of Romney’s resolve. He’s like the pilot of a plane rolling down the runway for takeoff. There’s a tree line at the end of the runway that he has to clear. He’s sure he’ll make it. He’s gaining speed, getting some lift, but he’s still not high enough, and at about three-quarters down the runway, a lot of passengers are getting scared. Does Romney keep going according to plan, confident he’ll clear the trees when the time comes? Or does he try some last-minute maneuver?

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“The net result of both conventions is that President Obama has established a lead that is outsized against where he has typically been against Romney,” said Steve Schmidt, GOP nominee John McCain’s top political adviser in 2008. “When you get behind in a race where there are as few [persuadable] voters as there are in this one, the chances and opportunities to make up ground become more and more difficult.”

Of the conventions, he added, “The numbers didn’t break the way you wanted.”

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One day after the Democratic convention ended here, and a week after the Republican convention wrapped up in Tampa, and American politics is basically all tied up. Here’s the top line on Real Clear Politics 60 days before November 6: The RCP average for the presidential race shows a dead heat (Obama +0.7 percentage points), the Senate is 46-46 with 8 tossups, and the generic congressional ballot is tied…

“I don’t think one statistic popping up on a Friday during this campaign is going to be monumental,” said Ryan, the day before yet another rotten jobs report came out. “People in their gut know that we’re on the wrong track in this country. They know that the president is going hard left. This is not a Bill Clinton Democrat, and I think people know that. So I just don’t think some statistic that comes out on any given day is going to be the primary motivator of this campaign. I think the die is cast, the trajectory is set, and the choice of the two futures is clear. We just have to make it even more clear, and we have to go to the country and ask them for permission to fix this mess.”

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The economy isn’t the No. 1 issue, despite what people say. The more I watch of this election, the more I incline toward this last explanation.

True, when asked to rank issues, voters mostly put the economy at the top of the list. And yet when asked to make a choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, their choices don’t seem to be economically based

For many women, the suspicion that banning abortion, if not contraception too, would be item No. 1 on the Romney-Ryan to-do list trumps all other considerations. The Obama campaign played this card with great success over the summer, with more than a little help from Rep. Todd Akin.

Or maybe, just maybe, this election is boiling down to a contest between white non-Hispanic men and everyone else. After all the high hopes of 2008, it will be depressing if that is the outcome of the Obama presidency: an electorate split along the dividing lines of race and sex.

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1. President Obama’s numbers were mired at or below 47 percent nationwide and the key swing states, despite the fact that he is universally known and has been running many ads to develop a lead…

5. After the convention bounce fades and after pollsters shift to likely voter screens, we should see a tightening of the race, and with it an adjustment of the conventional wisdom.

6. In terms of the national polling, Romney has regularly been even or ahead of Obama in the registered voter polls conducted by ABC News/Washington Post, Gallup and CBS News/New York Times. It stands to reason that if these polls had been likely voter instead of likely voter polls, he would have had a small national lead…

Obviously, all of this could change. Historically speaking, convention bounces tend to be exactly that – bounces that fade over time. Romney enjoyed a modest bounce, and so far it looks like Obama is enjoying a 4-point bounce or so. My instincts tell me that by the time of the debates, we will be back to precisely where we were in August – both candidates essentially tied and stuck 3-5 points below 50 percent. Time will tell.

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Romney’s convention speech did not change the unfavorable stability of the campaign. Romney softened his image through biography; he did not broaden his appeal with unexpected outreach. There were no innovative policy initiatives directed toward Hispanics or suburban women. The speech was humanizing but ideologically uncreative.

With less than two months until the election, Romney is left with dwindling opportunities to reshape the dynamic of the race. This places extraordinary pressure on him in the presidential debates that commence on Oct. 3. He was an able debater during the Republican primaries. Obama is a weaker debater than his reputation — often professorial and elliptical. But Romney has the harder task. He must do more than hold his own. He will need to shake and shift public attitudes. And it is not easy to be aggressive during a debate without appearing overbearing or desperate.

This analysis requires an admission. Obama’s political strategy has generally worked.

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I would offer this warning to my comrades. Under unbelievably intense questioning from yours truly on BeastTV, Obama Super-PAC honcho Bill Burton melted down and acknowledged (or, under normal questioning, Burton said) that the bulk of the undecided vote consists of non-college-educated whites and tilts female. That ain’t exactly Hussein’s demographic, kids

That demographic overall went 58 to 40 for McCain last time. Given that these people are still undecided, it stands to reason that they’re less anti-Obama than that. But one still must assume that these voters tumble 54 to 46 for Romney, or 53 to 47, something like that. So it’ll depend on how far ahead Obama is as Election Day nears. And of course we have the debates. A ways to go yet.

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The Romney campaign made the extraordinary decision to not try seriously to connect their candidate with voters on a personal level until their convention. As dubious as that decision was, they were rewarded by having a convention shortened by a day due to a hurricane, then compounded the error of waiting until the convention by putting much of what was most needed to be seen in the 8 and 9 p.m. hours, when the only viewers would be C-SPAN fans. Wow! The biographical film and the testimonials of people whose lives had been touched by Romney were powerful, necessary, and largely unseen. Instead, the Romney campaign treated them to the Clint Eastwood debacle and a serviceable speech by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida that should have been made earlier, not chewing up precious broadcast airtime. At the 10-11 p.m. hour, abbreviated personal testimonies and the film introducing Romney’s own speech—which was quite good—would have made for an extraordinary hour of television and very likely have done him a lot of good with voters.

As a result of all of this, while voters are quite open to firing Obama, they remain quite reticent about Romney. Debates can and have been critical, but they work better for candidates who need to demonstrate that they are smart and knowledgeable, tests Romney met and passed long ago; debates are tougher venues for demonstrating empathy and developing trust.

This is a very close race and one that still could go either way. But the odds of Romney capitalizing on this economy, and the opportunity it affords, seem lower than they were before the conventions. If Republicans and Romney supporters are growing nervous, they should be.

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There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Democratic convention was far less successful than the Republican convention. Obama’s speech was a dud and the floor fight over God and Jerusalem was the biggest convention debacle of my lifetime. Immediately following these two events, you then had the release of a disastrous jobs report…

On the flip-side, Romney had a smooth convention, did what he needed to do, and gave a very good convention speech. But what the media did was to grab Clint Eastwood’s speech as a distraction tool. This isn’t Eastwood’s or anyone’s fault; if the media wouldn’t have used Clint, they would’ve used something else. Regardless, the media’s plan was to find something — anything! — to distract from Romney’s message and drive into the ground that the RNC convention was a flop.

In summation: Obama’s bad speech, the Democratic convention floor booing God, and the terrible jobs numbers were given about three hours worth of coverage until the launch of the Inevitability Narrative was coordinated, a narrative that lives on today. Whereas the manufactured Clint Proves Romney’s An Incompetent Boob Narrative still lives on 10 days later…

Don’t you see? It’s all a ploy, a con, a hustle — it’s all about turning a fabricated reality into a real reality by bumming out conservatives — by killing our fight, our willingness to volunteer and turn out.

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Romney still has the debates, millions and millions of dollars in TV ads and weeks of campaigning to try to turn things around. But he faces the immediate threat of both quiet and loud we-told-you-so’s from Republicans who last year had the very worries they fear are being manifested now. Romney is an awkward, unlikable candidate. The author of Romneycare is ill positioned to attack Obamacare. And Romney’s shifting positions make him an easy mark for an aggressive White House.

Until Romney breaks this cycle, he is in danger of living out the Haley Barbour dictum: in politics, bad gets worse. Super PACs might start shifting their money from the presidential race to save the House majority and look to pick up Senate seats. Romney’s own fundraising will take a hit. Stories about Romney pulling up stakes in Michigan and other ostensible battlegrounds will add to the death stench. And there will be an avalanche of suggestions and second-guessing from pundits and Republican operatives and politicians about Romney’s tactics, strategy and staff.

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Via the Daily Caller.

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Via the Daily Rushbo.