Last night I turned on CNBC just in time to hear conservative host Larry Kudlow talking about a “postmortem” on the Romney presidential campaign. Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves here? It’s still seven weeks until election day, and the two candidates are separated by an average of less than 3% in the polls — 48.4% for Obama versus 45.5% for Romney, according to the web-site Real Clear Politics. That means if Romney can just convince one out of 20 voters to take his side who haven’t done so yet, over the next 49 days, then he will win the popular vote on November 6.
As for the Electoral College, things are hardly looking hopeless there either. Recent polls show the Republican candidate ahead in such key battleground states as Colorado, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina. Sure it’s close in those states, but the only places where candidate Obama is ahead by double digits are states everyone expected him to carry. Shouldn’t the pundits be asking why Obama’s only ahead by 2% in Michigan — the state whose economy he supposedly saved with the bailout of GM and Chrysler?
Don’t get me wrong, I may join everybody on MSNBC and vote for Obama. But when I look at a candidate whose job approval has seldom topped 50% since 2009, presiding over a nation where 60% of voters think their country is on the wrong track, during the weakest economic recovery of my lifetime, it’s a little hard to believe his challenger in the presidential race is done for. A more plausible interpretation of this week’s campaign developments is that Obama is peaking too soon, and the media narrative will soon shift to stories about a “resurgent” Romney.
Isn’t that the way it happens in every presidential campaign? The challenger makes some mis-steps while transitioning from the primaries to the general election and then gradually gains a more secure footing. Meanwhile, the incumbent leverages the advantages of being in office early on, becomes over-confident, and then makes a mistake that gives his opponent an opening. When you’re 60 years old like I am, you can remember this script playing out many times in the past. When you’re 30 as many of the media pundits and online commentators are, the notion that everything can change overnight seems less plausible — because you can’t remember all the times it did.
Like I said, I may vote for Obama. But the oldest lesson of American politics is that when the economy is weak, the incumbent loses. This economy is weak and Obama is the incumbent. Republicans don’t need to start forming a funeral cortege just yet — unless, of course, they’ve decided they don’t really believe in their party’s message.
Find Archived Articles: