These numbers are the natural consequence of a risk averse strategy by a challenger who seems afraid to spell out and defend detailed policy proposals. To be sure, such details would open him up to attack. But it seemed at first that Romney’s choice of Republican policy guru Paul Ryan to be his running mate meant Romney was ready to go bold. Instead, Ryan has been forced to restrain himself to assimilate into the ticket, while Romney has continued with his cautious strategy. Only about 200 words in Romney’s roughly 4,000-word acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention focused on his economic proposals — supposedly the primary rationale for his candidacy.

If Romney continues on the current course, he will be unlikely to break through 50 percent threshold, overtake Obama in key swing states and capture the presidency. But if he explains his policies in more detail in his upcoming stump speeches, ads and debates — and if he unleashes Ryan so that he can work from his strengths — Romney still has a chance of winning. And more importantly, he’ll also be in stronger position to enact those policies if he is elected, because Americans will be ready for them.