1. The circumstances (even taking account demographic changes favorable to the Democrats) are favorable to a narrow Republican win. The circumstances of 2008 were the most favorable for a Democratic win that I’ve ever seen. So Romney has that going for him.
2. I don’t know what to make of the slight rise in Obama’s Real Clear Politics average job approval from the 47%-48% range to just about 50%. How many people who approve of Obama’s job performance are going to vote Romney? I figure about 0%. That means that Romney has to run the table among those who don’t approve of Obama’s job performance - even those who disapprove of Obama very mildly. I don’t know what is driving this rising job approval. Maybe the slight decline in the top line unemployment number + the rise in the stock market has something to do with it. Maybe some fraction of the persuadable public bought the argument (made at the Democratic convention) that Obama did reasonably well given the undeniably bad circumstances he inherited. They sure didn’t hear a compelling critique or alternative from Romney at the Republican convention - unless you consider the story of George Romney’s roses a compelling governing alternative (no, I’m not done mocking that.) Maybe the real possibility of a President Romney has concentrated the mind. I wouldn’t rule out that some people who are on the fence about Obama have talked themselves into very mild approval for Obama’s job performance as a way to rationalize voting against Romney. We are only talking about a shift in approval of one in fifty of the people in the polling universe.
3. In a below thread John asks what I mean when I talk about the impact of Ryan talking to people at campaign events (and to some extent on television.) Here is how I think about it:
I think that, almost without really thinking about it, the people at those Ryan rallies will pick up how he talks about issues, about what is important, and about the arguments for the most important policies, and they will want to hear more of those arguments from other Republican candidates. Over the course of the campaign, this is going to add up to hundreds of thousands of Americans. The vast majority of these people would have been voting Republican anyway, so the effect won’t show up in the 2012 election results. But these people will still be part of the Republican constituency after November. Some of them are (or will become) activists. Some of them will run for office. A process of intraparty education can change what the party’s elites and members want and, when that party has an opportunity to govern, it can change what a party does with power. I think that is a reasonable hope anyway. It would have been better if Romney himself had taken on the mantle of conservative reformism. He had the microphone to speak to both Republican-leaners and persuadables who pay modest attention to politics. But that’s not the world we’re living in.