I began this campaign tipping Rick Perry – so the following should be treated with a large pinch of salt. I just have an inkling, a very politically unscientific sense, that Romney is not out of this one. Okay, he’s behind in at least 8 of the 11 swing states (and he’ll probably need at least six of them – i.e. about twice what polls suggest he has now). His path to 270 electoral college (EC) votes is much harder than Obama’s. Bookies give the incumbent an over 80 per cent chance of re-election. And yet …
If Romney does win (either popular to EC vote or both) this will be why:
The economy. No president since FDR in 1936 has got back in with numbers like Obama’s. Hoover, Carter, Bush Sr – the last three one-termers all foundered on the rocks of recession. This president is a recession president.
Obama. The incumbent has become a rare thing in politics: a candidate that people will come out to vote against. I can remember no president (not Clinton, not W. Bush) who was so hated by the other party’s base (and W really was hated). This is compounded by a much less energised Democratic base compared to 2008.
Romney. He is approaching polling day have established that he is a competent economic manager and not the vulture capitalist of Democratic caricature. He is not a risk, four more years of Obama is.
Polling fatigue. Undecideds will break for Romney and have been hiding their intentions from pollsters, hoping for a quiet life. Quiet Americans, to paraphrase Nixon, will have an impact few anticipate because their intentions are so hard to measure.
Polling inaccuracy. Okay, this is a stretch but the polling technocracy to which we all seemingly defer (including me) may have spent too long measuring itself and too little time reflecting on the national mood. We have sacrificed reflection for measurement and have produced no better polities and societies thereby.
I still reckon Obama will get back in – but if he doesn’t at least some of the foregoing will explain why.