For the Romney campaign, these Fundamentals stand out:
1. In six of the last 10 national polls, Mitt Romney is tied with Obama or ahead by 1 percentage point. As a practical matter, all 10 polls are tied because they are within the margin of error. Romney advisers don’t see how they can lose running this close to an incumbent president in times of economic distress.
2. Romney is running ahead of where Kerry was as Bush’s challenger. Romney’s RealClearPolitics.com average is 48.1 percent to Obama’s 48.5 percent. When Bush beat Kerry in 2000, his election-eve RCP average was 48.9 percent to Kerry’s 47.4 percent. Bush won 50.7 percent to 48.3 percent. In victory, Bush added roughly 10 million voters to his 2000 total. No one expects Obama to add 10 million vote to his 69.4 million total in 2008. In a smaller universe with less space between the challenger and incumbent, Team Romney smells victory.
3. GOP voters are consistently more enthusiastic than Democrats. No national poll suggests otherwise and Democratic anxiety is currently confined to this variable. If GOP voters and GOP-leaning independents swamp current Democratic turnout/modeling, Romney could prevail. Enthusiasm is fundamental to victory and defeat. Plenty of savvy GOP operatives, namely Karl Rove in 2006, predicted that ground-game superiority would blunt voter enthusiasm. It didn’t. The GOP got rolled and lost the House and the Senate. Presidential campaigns are different, but enthusiasm is the most treasured commodity down the stretch.
4. Independents appear to be leaning to Romney.