The Obama team is showing signs of stress. VP Joe Biden is out gaffe-making again. The president goes on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and says, “When four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.” (Oh. My. Goodness.) He is falling behind in state and national polls. So is it time for Democrats to panic? Well, many signs point that way.
Mitt Romney is now leading President Obama nationally in the RealClearPolitics average. He is over 50 percent in Gallup. No candidate over 50 percent in Gallup this late in the race has lost. His favorability rating (favorable to unfavorable) is higher than Obama’s. In electoral votes, when you average recent polling, he leads 206 to 201.
Romney’s team is “done” ( i.e. feels it has comfortably) with North Carolina. Although polling is still mixed, the Romney team believes it is ahead in Colorado, Virginia and Florida. If you are counting electoral votes that puts Romney’s total up to 257. A win in either Ohio or Pennsylvania would put Romney over 270. Alternatively, if he grabs New Hampshire and Iowa, plus either Nevada or Wisconsin, he’ll win the race.
What Obama needs is a game-changer, something to jolt the race and knock Romney off his glide path. The debate could do it if Romney makes a horrid gaffe. But short of that, is there anything else? It is hard to think of something, jokes about “Wag the Dog” and October Surprises aside. Right now it is Team Obama that is making the gaffes and mistakes, resorting to trivia and grousing about polls.
In short, it is not the current gap but the momentum in the race and the campaigns’ relative performances that suggest to Democrats that, yes indeed, it just might be time to panic.