It is highly unlikely that the president can win this election if he is losing Independents by double digits. And there aren’t any indicators suggesting that Democrat turnout will be large enough to compensate for that.
Which leads to the third point: voter enthusiasm and energy is with the GOP. A recent Pew poll had Republicans with a 14-point lead over Democrats in terms of vote likelihood.
Put these three elements together — Obama’s current vote share, Romney’s lead among Independent voters and overall GOP enthusiasm — and it strongly suggests that Romney will win the popular vote.
Republicans have never been more confident that President Obama will lose re-election, according to the latest National Journal Insiders Poll, but Democratic conviction their party’s leader will earn a second term still hasn’t wavered.
On average, GOP insiders polled by National Journal gave Obama slightly less than even odds he’ll occupy the White House another four years. The 4.6 average score – based on a 1 (no chance at re-election) to 10 (virtual certainty) scale — was a precipitous drop since the last Insiders Poll, a late September survey in which Republicans pegged the score at 5.8. That poll was taken before the first presidential debate in early October, after which Mitt Romney’s support surged. In April, Republican Insiders rated Obama at exactly even odds…
“This is the first time that I really feel the momentum swinging to Romney,” said one Republican. “It has been a slow progression for the Republican since early September, but it is steady and no matter what Obama throws at him, it doesn’t hurt.”
Said another Republican, “The trend is definitely in favor of Romney — with independents leading the way.”
Republicans look and sound notably more energized and exuberant than their Democratic counterparts as they swagger with self-assurance toward the electoral finish line. They point out the recent expansion of the swing states map, with one-time Democratic strongholds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota suddenly rated as toss-ups, and receiving money and attention from both parties. The GOP also notes that the Quinnipiac Poll giving Obama a big lead in Ohio showed Romney with a similarly comfortable advantage (five points) among Ohio independents—and in a state so closely divided between Republicans and Democrats the candidate who carries independents will almost certainly prevail. Moreover, new unemployment numbers due for release on Friday won’t help the president much if they show another slight decline, but can hurt him badly if they push up once again above 8 percent (as many economists expect)—putting a serious, last-minute dent in the administration argument about steady, relentless improvement.
Meanwhile, the sharply contrasting tone of the two campaigns as they make their closing pitches to the American people hardly suggests greater confidence on the part of the Democrats. Though Romney talks of “big change” and grand plans for the future, the Obama machine continues to emphasize the harshest possible personal attacks on the character of the GOP nominee. Most recently, Democrats have even pushed the absurd idea that Mitt wants to abolish FEMA and to leave disaster-stricken citizens to their own devices. While the Republicans released the single most optimistic and inspiring ad of the whole campaign (a little masterpiece of mood and editing called “Momentum”) the Democrats continue with the surly, hostile, aggrieved attitude that served the president so poorly in the third (and final) debate.
If Romney wins, or at least if he peels off a significant number of those who voted for Obama last time, it will be precisely because lots of people “never really voted” for Obama in 2008. As should be painfully obvious, an awful lot of people pulled the level for Obama in 2008 because they were tired of Republicans; because they were bored by the wars; because they didn’t like McCain or Palin, or both; because Obama seemed optimistic and reasonable; because the financial crisis hit in September; because they didn’t listen to a word the Democratic candidate said but were nonetheless convinced by the vapid “hope and change” stuff and the (always empty) promise to rise above “politics”; and, yes, because he was black. (Why this is so controversial is beyond me: I know people who are very proud of themselves for having been, as they put it, “part of history,” who admit that Obama’s race was a considerable factor in their vote, but who recoil when you feed back to them what they just said in plain English.)
One of Obama’s biggest mistakes — perhaps his biggest mistake — was to conclude that he had a mandate for his brand of progressive change. He did not. The Obama campaign was always, in fact was deliberately, divorced from his politics. A smarter, less egotistical man would have realized as much. Obama did not.
But let’s say Gov. Mitt Romney ekes out wins in virtually every battleground state. What will Democrats say to make themselves feel better about themselves the next day?
1. The economy just sucked. It was too badly broken for Obama to fix it, or his solutions (targeting banks early on but not forcing them to help ordinary people more) were not sufficient. In retrospect, how could a president possibly win re-election with unemployment this high and with a stream of forecasts about anemic growth over the next year?…
3. Obama fatigue. As much as they liked him personally, they look back at his presidency and feel a struggle. It’s hard to look back at the last four years and smile; his presidency, through maybe no fault of his own, really, was necessary to get the country back on track, but he had to do a lot of things that were very unpopular, and because he governed from principle, and not politics, he paid a price for it…
8. The idea that Obama could have and should have done better, even given all the circumstances he had. His failed to live up to his promises to change Washington. He was not the Obama people voted for in 2008; he couldn’t possibly be that person.
He thought he had “a gift,” as he is said to have told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He thought he had a special ability to sway the American people, or so he suggested to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
But whenever he went over the the heads of the media and Congress and went to the people, in prime-time addresses, it didn’t really work. He did not have a magical ability to sway. And—oddly—he didn’t seem to notice.
It is one thing to think you’re Lebron. Its another thing to keep missing the basket and losing games and still think you’re Lebron.
And that really was the problem: He had the confidence without the full capability. And he gathered around him friends and associates who adored him, who were themselves talented but maybe not quite big enough for the game they were in. They understood the Democratic Party, its facts and assumptions. But they weren’t America-sized. They didn’t get the country so well.
DAVID AXELROD: “I have put my mustache on the line and I am very confident that I will still have this mustache on November 8.”
Perhaps Mr. Romney’s most appealing trait is his optimism: We have problems, a whole lot of them, but they are solvable. Americans have always believed that. Yet the sentiment seems unusual given the current President who won with large Democratic majorities but has spent four years blaming his predecessors for every ill as if they are intractable.
Mr. Romney has treated voters like adults and offered them a true choice about the future. He is promising change, and for once that abused term doesn’t mean for the worse.