3. Obama has paid dearly to keep the race static. In the face of drab economic news, Obama has had to attack relentlessly. It’s been costly. Campaign to campaign, Obama has outspent Romney heavily in every swing state—with at least 70 percent of the statewide TV cost in Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Only in North Carolina is the Obama spending blitz below 70 percent of statewide TV cost (65 percent). Obama needs to feed this TV machine, which is why his fundraisers multiply, and when surrogates like the first lady show up in Boston (as she will next week) there is no ceremony or idle glad-handing. To attend, you have to write checks—personal ones. It’s cold and ruthless. Because Obama needs the money.

4. Narratives are coming. We are entering a new phase of the campaign where narratives begin to shape discussions and interpretations. Romney will hit the economy on Friday after the July jobs report comes out and add new specifics to his economic plan (responding to critics like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker). Top aides said that from now on, Romney will talk less about generalities (taxes and debt) and more about middle-class specifics (take-home pay and cost of debt per child). He will also roll out his vice presidential pick (yes, there’s an app for that), and use the GOP convention to fan what appears to be organic small-business fury over Obama’s “You didn’t build that” remark. Obama will have his narratives of “forward” progress, an economy built to last, and breaking the D.C. stalemate. Both campaigns will devote time and energy soon to their own stories—reducing the frequency and intensity of the hour-to-hour skirmishes that dominated June and July.