There is high anxiety in the Republican universe today over the momentum and trajectory of Mitt Romney’s campaign. A new round of bad polling would have been a catalyst for near-panic among Republicans in Washington. Yet the news from the countryside, in the form of a recent group of polls, is reassuring to those who are consumed with the day-to-day combat between Romney and President Obama.
I mostly avoid talking about the head-to-head numbers in today’s polls, just because I don’t think today’s polls mean much. It’s July, and as I said earlier in the week, fewer real voters are paying attention than insiders believe.
Anyway, both campaigns can learn something if they look closely at this recent round. The Romney campaign can also learn from Carter’s post. They should study it carefully, and they should dwell on the bad news. Good news has a way of taking care of itself; bad news need attention. Carter points out that, “on the question of who cares about the problems of everyday Americans, Obama leads Romney by 8 points.” On the other hand, the polling reveals a red light glowing brighter on Obama’s dashboard: In most battleground states, and in the national polling, Obama never gets to 50 percent. That’s a warning sign for an incumbent. No matter what he says about Romney, Obama can’t escape the drag of the bad economy and how this affects voters’ willingness to give him another four years.
It appears that Obama sits at around 46 or 47 percent in head-to-head polls with Romney. That’s right on the cusp of not just having a warning light, but having a fire in the main engine. An incumbent at 45 percent, even if he is leading in the polls by a few points, usually loses. It means he has a ceiling, and he’ll never get to 50 percent.
We’re still a few weeks away from the polls really being relevant, but right now, by any measure, Romney and Republicans everywhere should be at peace with what the numbers and the poll internals are saying.