The New York Times reports that "A Mood of Gloom Afflicts the Romney Campaign," which sounds about right if you've been reading major press accounts of the train wreck that is the Romney campaign.
Grim-faced aides acknowledged that it was an unusually dark moment, made worse by the self-inflicted, seemingly avoidable nature of the wound. In low-volume, out-of-the-way conversations, a few of them are now wondering whether victory is still possible and whether they are entering McCain-Palin ticket territory.
Who can blame them? Over the past few weeks, hasn't Romney been skinned alive for piping up too quickly after the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya? Hasn't he been unmasked again and again as a guy who doesn't care about "the very poor" and even "the 47 percent of Americans" who pay no federal income tax? Didn't he make his dog ride on top of his car once? Isn't he a Mormon, a religion that means 18 percent of Americans won't vote for him under any circumstances? Don't 58 percent of Americans believe Obama would kick Romney's ass in a fist fight?
Jeepers, Mr. Romney! It's bummers all the way down, man.
Except for this from Gallup:
According to Gallup, 39 percent of Romney voters and 38 percent of Obama voters have locked their votes. Twenty-two percent of swing-staters might still change their votes. Overall, Gallup's daily tracking poll (September 11-17) gives Obama 47 percent to Romney's 46 percent.
Then there's this from Rasmussen, which shows Romney at 47 percent and Obama at 45 percent:
And over at RealClearPolitics, the single-best place to track all election polls (and to get a buttload of commentary and opinion pieces), the average of major polls taken September 8-17 show Obama ahead of Romney at 48 percent vs. 45 percent.
These numbers don't factor in the release of Romney's taped comments about "the 47 percent," but it's far from clear that's going to turn out to drive his numbers down substantially (especially if it's true, as so many in the commentariat report, that voters have known all along that Romney hates the poor when he isn't completely ignoring them).
What might explain the lack of a sustainable bounce for Obama from the Democratic National Convention? Why is Romney still in this thing at all given his self-evidently awfulness (created the model for Obamacare, has flip-flopped on just about everything, is pro-stimulus spending, an on and on)?
The short answer: Obama's record. Which - like high levels of unemployment, broken promises on civil liberties, job creation, foreign policy mastery, and just about everything else - isn't going away any time soon. Which means this race should stay tight up through November. Not because Romney is any good, but because Obama has been so bad that voters are willing to consider an alternative. (Would that they check out this guy named Gary Johnson.)
We'll be releasing results this week from the latest installment of the Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey, so stay tuned for that.