Despite all the negative press and the furor over abortion and Medicare the presidential race is still Mitt Romney’s to lose.
The latest national polls are all within the margin of error and while Romney is behind in most of them a good convention and a good debate performance should certainly see him elected.
He should be ahead. The economy, the one measure that is uppermost in most minds, is still pretty lousy. Unemployment is too high and there will be no significant relief in sight by November.
This is a center-right country and Republicans are usually better positioned to win presidential races as a result.
It is amazing to consider how George Bush defeated Al Gore despite the fine economic times under Clinton. The country leans right as its default position.
Given all that, the landscape is pretty much settled and it is overwhelmingly one that favors a challenger.
A wise old GOP figure told me last week that this election will end up one of two ways — a narrow win for Obama or a landslide for Romney.
It is easy to see why. If the issue becomes the last four years and how the economy has performed, Obama will lose badly. If it becomes how flawed a candidate Romney is then it is likely that Obama will hang on narrowly.
Obama is currently somehow staying afloat despite the bad economy and is trading heavily on the perception of him as a decent man trying to do his best in tough times.
He connects better than Romney who seems incapable of real human emotion or appearing in the least vulnerable.
A recent US Today poll noted that a “majority of Americans, 54 percent, believe Obama is more likable, compared with 31 percent for Mitt Romney, giving the president a 23 percentage point advantage.”
All of Romney’s career choices have ended up well for him and he lives a gilded life – but that is not what plays with voters.
They want someone who has a life pretty much like their own, full of struggles and emotion and setbacks and triumphs. It doesn’t matter that they are rich, just that they are normal.
Normal is not what Romney has succeeded in showing us just yet. He has appeared either too perfect or too robotic, lacking warmth and empathy. But given the nature of this presidential year, which is still utterly unpredictable, the race is still his to lose given that the economic fundamentals are not going to get any better.
This race is at best for Obama a 50-50 toss-up.