CINCINNATI — Is it over?
A wave of new polls show President Obama leading nationally and in key swing states such as Florida, Virginia and here in Ohio, where the president spoke Monday. Dissension in Mitt Romney’s campaign is dominating attention in Washington, as advisers are blaming one another for some of the campaign’s missteps. A demographic divide in the electorate has hardened that makes Romney highly dependent on white voters, as he is losing the non-white share of the vote by more than 60 points. Only a small sliver of voters (less than five percent in some polls) remain undecided.
Fifty days before the election, the president is now a strong favorite, with Romney needing to find some way to alter the race. And many of the traditional ways that candidates can shift an electoral dynamic have failed for the former Massachusetts governor: neither his selection of Paul Ryan, the Republican National Convention nor a series of reports showing lackluster economic growth have put Romney ahead of the president.
Republicans are now urging Romney to specifically detail his agenda on the economy and other issues. But it’s unlikely this will make the difference. Many of Romney’s proposals, such as cutting taxes on everyone, including upper-income Americans, and dramatically overhauling Medicaid, are unlikely to draw huge enthusiasm from American voters. That’s why Romney spends much of his time now attacking Obama’s proposals.
The debates offer a huge audience (more than 50 million Americans are likely to tune in to each of them) for Romney to make his case, but the viewing pattens from the first party conventions (Fox had a huge audience during the RNC, MSNBC during the DNC) suggests many partisans are tuning into these events simply to have their views reinforced.
To be sure, Democrats are relying on blocs of voters (blacks, people under 30, Hispanics) who largely stayed home in 2010 and aren’t as consistent at turning out to vote as the elderly, the majority of whom back Romney. But polls show blacks are very excited about this election. In a state like Ohio, the president can probably win with a very strong black turnout, a decent performance with college students and avoiding a total blowout among white voters. And a victory here would almost guarantee the president’s reelection.
Follow Perry Bacon Jr. on Twitter at @Perrybaconjr.