How Romney can win
This is the second in a three-part series on the state of the race. Yesterday, I laid out the reasons why Barack Obama will win the presidency. Today, I press the case for Mitt Romney.
The basic argument for why Romney is being written off far too early is pretty simple. He trails the incumbent president by 48.2 percent to 45.3 percent in the RCP Average seven weeks before the election. There are very few races that have been this close, this far out from Election Day, that would be characterized as anything other than a tossup.
Of course, we can dig quite a bit deeper than that:
1) The economy is still lousy, but as I noted yesterday, it is not so bad as to make Obama an automatic loser, as many pundits assumed. The years that have been catastrophic for presidential parties -- 1980 and 2008 -- have been years when the economy has actually been contracting during the election year.
At the same time, most years with economies similar to this one -- 1960, 1976, 1992, 2000, 2004 -- see party power transfer, albeit in a reasonably close election. The one outlier here is 2004, where an incumbent president won by a healthy share in a mediocre economy. But Bush lost voters who cast their ballots based on the economy by over 60 points that year.
What saved him was that 47 percent of voters either voted on moral issues (such as gay marriage) or terrorism or taxes. Those were the only issues that Bush beat Kerry on in the exit polls, but it was enough.
Again, Obama probably gets graded on a curve here given the mess he inherited. Whether that is the equivalent of the War on Terror in 2004 remains to be seen.
2) Most of what we’re seeing in the polls is consistent with a close race. Rather than cherry-picking favorite polls (“Obama is up 8 in Pew -- landslide!” “Obama is down 2 in Rasmussen -- he’s doomed!”), let’s just look at simple poll averages. Obama is up 2.9 points in the RCP Average. His bounce peaked at 49 percent, which is just barely below the threshold ...