Given the numbers, Ross Douthat argues, Mitt Romney isn’t far away from where Ronald Reagan was in 1980, or Bill Clinton in 1992:
The last two times an incumbent president was defeated by a challenger – Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George Bush in 1992 – the hinge moment arrived only in the last few months of the campaign. In 1980, it came after the lone debate, when Ronald Reagan’s smooth, reassuring performance turned a tight race into a walkover. In 1992, it arrived with the Democratic Convention, when the one-two punch of Ross Perot’s temporary exit and the Clinton campaign’s skillful “place called Hope” showmanship propelled Bill Clinton to a lead he never relinquished.
Despite the rhetoric of GOP officials, it’s more than clear that voter ID laws are designed to depress turnout among traditionally Democratic groups. Attorney General Eric Holder has even gone so far as to attack the laws as glorified “poll taxes”—one of the mechanisms used during Jim Crow to keep African Americans from voting.
At this point, I’m actually a little impressed that Mitt Romney has managed to resist the growing calls to release his tax returns. Romney is under a tremendous amount of pressure from conservatives—including prominent supporters—to reveal his finances, and his continued refusal is a sign of impressive, if short-sighted, discipline.
President Obama can’t win re-election without high support and turnout from Latino voters, and to that end he has aggressively targeted them with ads, speeches, and one bold attempt to unilaterally reform immigration policy as it applies to the children of undocumented immigrants. If the latest poll from Latino Decisions is any indication, this strategy is working. Since June, Obama’s Latino support has risen 4 points to 70 percent, while Mitt Romney’s support has declined to 22 percent of Latino voters:
Yesterday afternoon at the National Press Club (the standard Washington venue for events that need a little class), the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget—a bipartisan debt-reduction group—rolled out its “Fix the Debt” campaign, an attempt to push deficit reduction to the top of the congressional priority list. It's hard to overstate the extent to which this was an almost stereotypical gathering of Beltway deficit scolds.
The latest Pew survey shows something of a breakthrough for the Obama campaign. Since last fall's unveiling of the American Jobs Act, Obama has hammered home the “fairness” of raising taxes on high income earners. This rhetoric has made its way into almost every speech from the president, and is a key part of his second term agenda. According to Pew, it seems that Obama’s persistence has had an effect—by two to one, 44 percent to 22 percent, Americans say that raising taxes on the rich would help rather than hurt the economy:
Nate Silver has an excellent post this morning on the Romney campaign’s reaction to the attacks on Bain Capital. The short story is that Romney might be overreacting to the controversy; he continues to equivocate and go on the defensive, despite the thin evidence that these attacks are having an effect on the race. Both Obama and Romney are roughly where they were three months ago, when the general election began in earnest, and polls taken since the attacks began have been inconclusive on the effect of anti-Bain ads.
Is Bain a problem for Mitt Romney’s narrative? Andrew Sullivan says yes:
Romney, in other words, doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He has been running a campaign against the “Obama economy” insisting that the president own every single month he has been in office in order to condemn his economic management all the more - despite at least a first year in which Obama cannot really be held responsible for the fallout of an economic collapse he inherited. So Romney insists on maximal responsibility for Obama and the economy.
Former Bush official and conservative pundit David Frum has a harsh and critical take on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign:
The hope for many of us was that a Republican president could do a better job constraining them than Barack Obama has been able to do - especially if (as I personally also hoped) the very act of electing such a president would deflate the radicalism of the congressional GOP and revive a more constructive spirit.
Over the last week, Mitt Romney has struggled to deal with revelations over his tenure at Bain Capital and the extent of his involvement from 1999 to 2002. He insists he retired in 1999—and thus is not responsible for Bain’s conduct afterward—despite the fact that documents from a variety of sources show Romney as the owner, CEO, and sole shareholder, who continued to sign documents, sit on board members, and may have had a small role in managing the firm.
One ongoing theme in this election is the extent to which political observers are simply bored with it. Last month, Politico’s Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns expressed frustration with the “small scale” of the election, and today, TheNew York Times’ Peter Baker echoes the concern, with a piece on how the campaigns are relitigating the past rather than articulating a vision for the future:
The past 24 hours have been abysmal for the Romney campaign. Not only has it scrambled to deal with revelations regarding Mitt Romney’s “shadow years” at Bain Capital, but further digging has led to more serious questions—and accusations—about Romney’s conduct. Put another way, you know you’re in trouble when even a friendly piece—by Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler—has to tackle the question of whether Romney broke the law.
A few days ago, I noted that the fundamentals of this election are still on the president’s side. According to most models, Obama is projected to win a small majority of the vote on account of relative economic growth and a sufficiently high approval rating. On that note, political scientist Alan Abramowitz has released the first forecast from his “Time for Change” model, which uses June approval, second quarter GDP, and incumbency to project the president’s share of the two-party vote. Because of intense polarization in the electorate, Abramowitz added that as an additional variable.