I write this with a certain amount of caution-it's easy to get overconfident. Still it's a corrective over the constant media "caveats" that Romney can still win and that there's still plenty of time. And, of course, they always point out, with that economy Obama remains vulnerable.
That's what the Slate guy said on Rachel Maddow last night. That the President is still vulnerable due to the economy. Part of this I'm convinced is a Super Bowl mentality. The media can't admit it's over because they want to hype the game till November 6. He then actually appealed to John Kerry in 2004-of all races to appeal for consolation!.
He pointed out that Kerry like Romney fell behind after his convention. Indeed, Romney joined Kerry as the only two candidates in the 48 years this has been studied to actually lose a point after his convention. Like Bush in 2004, Obama then followed up with a gain. So this put Bush ahead during September-as it has done for the President. The Slate guy pointed out that Kerry had a very strong first debate at the end of September and pulled even after trailing by 10.
Yet, I find this misleading in a number of ways. I'm not sure that Kerry trailed by 10 in every poll-is he comparing apples to oranges? I also do think that there's no way that Obama gets lapped by Romney the way Bush was by Kerry in 2004. More fundamentally, it's important to keep in mind that Kerry polled much stronger than Romney has. Kerry often led the race in the Summer-something Romney hasn't done since 2011 according to the Real Clear Politics cumulative average of polls.
Then again it's important to remember that Kerry wasn't able to maintain the momentum in the next two debates and ended up losing the election. That I think is most important after all. The historical data all suggest that for Romney to win now requires him to achieve an unprecedented rally. History shows that the candidate who leads after the convention wins the election. The poll numbers are a lot more accurate now than they were prior to the convention.
Recent polls have shown the President doing much better in likely voters as opposed to registered-before the two diverged a lot now they have converged a lot more. The poll also show that his approval rating is more closely resembling his poll numbers. The truly undecided voters are becoming few and far between. Indeed, all the historical data suggests Romney needs to do something unprecedented. Consider:
1). Since 1900, there is a very strong bias for the incumbent-provided he wasn't primaried. Believe it or not, only Herbert Hoover has lost in this time without being primaried. Of course, Romney's whole campaign is based on trying to make Obama Herbert Hoover. However, the polls show that Americans aren't fooled-George W. Bush was Herbert Hoover.
2). When the stock market goes up, the incumbent wins. While the economic numbers have not been too exciting for the most part, the stock market is often heralded as a forward indicator. I think if you look at it's performance since 2007, there's a good amount of validation of this view.
3). As we pointed out above, the candidate winning after the convention-whether or not the candidate who's trailing manages to catch up or take the lead at any point.
Reagan is actually a terrible comparison for Romney because he often led in 1980 and there's a case he led for most of the race. There was a poll that showed Carter leading the last week but other polls showed otherwise. That race was also a lot more volatile than this one as we didn't have the level of polarization between blue and red state America we have today.
No doubt the race this most closely resembles is 2004. Like 2004, the incumbent has been able to define the opposition early and has not been hurt by the level of disdain the opposition has for him. Indeed, as we saw above, it's even worse for Romney, as Kerry actually was a stronger candidate poll wise.
Still, while I agree the race most closely resembles 2004, is is not widely recognized that this race in many ways also resembles Clinton-Dole in 1996 and Nixon-McGovern in 1972. True in those races the margin was much wider. However, just as this year, in those years we saw the incumbent lead the challenger from wire to wire. Just like this year, the challenger was never able to gain any traction.
Overall, certainly Obama has not led as strongly as these other two campaigns. Yet he has been stronger than Bush in 2004. So really 2012 has been the intermediate position between 2004 where the incumbent has been more dominant and 1972 and 1996 where he has been less so.
So this campaign is like 2004 except even worse for Romney with an uncomfortable resemblance to 1972 and 1996.
Meanwhile we haven't even touched on the ultimate trump card: the Romne Tapes. How is he going to survive the last 57 days with this being viewed constantly?