To Carter’s point, the quality of the campaigns matter, and in a close race, the quality of the campaign can make the difference. In 2008, I was a strong supporter of Sen. John McCain, but I was haunted by the realization that the candidate with the most money, who makes the best presentation and the fewest mistakes, often wins. Hence, it was clear in the early summer — before the conventions — that things were headed Obama’s way.
There is no chance that a bad economy and world unrest will help Obama when the alternative is a credible, serious figure like Mitt Romney. Romney is clearly credentialed, doesn’t frighten anyone, and while his performance isn’t as good as Obama’s, it’s not inadequate for the task ahead. His biggest threat is an artful Obama campaign that can effectively deliver vicious negative blows that make Romney unacceptable.
If you had to bet today, you would bet on Obama’s reelection. But I believe that has more to do with his personal goodwill and the power of incumbency than anything else. I’m not ready to concede that the Obama campaign is invincible, particularly ingenious, or any more than a one-hit wonder. Time will tell.