Perhaps a Mini (or Micro) Trend
We are still five or six weeks away from the point when polling begins to become predictive, but I am beginning to sense what might be called a mini-trend. (Okay, maybe it’s a micro-trend.)
Call it what you want, but for the past few weeks Barack Obama has been inching upward, not only in the relatively meaningless national polls, but more significantly in polls of the 8 to 10 battleground states that will decide this election.
While the major accumulators and analysts of those state-by-state counts—Nate Silver’s splendid Five Thirty Eight blog and the widely watched Real Clear Politics—are not quite ready to award him the 270 electoral votes he needs to win, the movement is decidedly in that direction. (Silver suggests the ultimate count will be more than 290, but it’s not yet a prediction. Meanwhile, the astute analyst Michael Tomasky is talking electoral “landslide.”)
Constant readers may recall that a couple of months ago I virtually awarded Ohio to Obama, and thereby near-certain re-election; current polling indicates he is actually doing better in Ohio than in some bluer states such as Michigan.
Even Romney’s closest insiders agree he is behind now in at least 8 battlegrounds where Obama’s commercials have been trashing their guy because of his relationship to Bain Capital and, more recently, his refusal to make public several more years of income tax returns.
Team Obama’s success in defining Romney as a secretive, vulture capitalist seems to have finally shut up all those loudmouth Democrats and their media allies who criticized the populist attack as a losing strategy. No need identifying all the loudmouths, but some were as Wall Street oriented as any Republican, while others are still jealous because those Obamian upstarts beat their candidate, Hillary Clinton, four years ago.
But the Obamians proved themselves again to be unparalleled campaigners, despite their problems as communicators once in office. They put on one of the great campaigns in American history in 2008 and might manage an even greater feat this year by re-electing a president while the unemployment rate is above eight percent. (Full disclosure: my long friendship with Obama’s guru, David Axelrod, is a matter of record. Tomasky is also a pal.)
Effective as the campaign has been, Obama would not be looking as good today had Romney not been such a stiff. There is nothing as helpful as a self-immolating opponent.
Still, it is far from Democratic celebration time.
The economy’s micro-trend is positive, but still shaky. Europe’s as yet unabated slide can bring us down with it. Benjamin Netanyahu could yet strike Iran and mire us in another war.
Romney’s veep selection lies ahead. If it’s Senator Rob Portman, it might be costly in Ohio. Obama will be outgunned financially by about 15 percent, possibly rehabilitating Romney’s image. Onerous new voter identification laws could cost a couple of key states, though I suspect some, such as Pennsylvania’s, will be overturned.
Danger lurks everywhere in the next 90 days, but I would still rather be sitting where Obama is now. So would Romney.
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer
image Miniskirts were a trend as well