Reality is now impossible to see through the electoral and meteorological storm of the campaign’s final week.
The truth, always subject to interpretation in politics, is now a completely partisan commodity. The campaign's operatives and supporters can no longer distinguish it from spin. Nowhere is the fog thicker than on the question of who is going to win.
For me, an Obama victory would defy political physics; no incumbent has been reelected with an economy this weak. For many months, Romney's weak candidacy masked this reality; now it is reasserting itself. Romney has become either: A) a viable alternative who could win handily next Tuesday; this is the dam-breaks scenario for Obama; or B) Romney is almost viable but not quite, resulting in a narrow Obama win, perhaps in a split decision.
Where is my evidence? Well, it is possible to find signs of despair and hope for Obama. On the worrisome side, Gallup and Rasmussen show national polling leads of 5 and 2 points, respectively, for Romney. Other polls have Obama with a slight lead or tied, but here's what is disturbing to me about Rasmussen and Gallup: They believe that the electorate will be different in 2012 than 2008 in ways that clearly favor Romney. They see evidence in their polling that more people are identifying themselves as Republicans.
This only seems logical; Republicans are energized; Democrats somewhat depressed. It may be that Gallup and Rasmussen are weighting their samples to more accurately reflect actual Election Day turnout. Moreover, Obama is much weaker with independent voters today than he was in 2008.
The rays of hope for Obama may be found in some of the analysis of early voting. Obama is apparently running up a substantial advantage in early voting in Iowa, Nevada and Ohio. (Republicans dispute any claimed advantage on early voting in Ohio.)
This lead also seems logical to me; it is perhaps the result of having had four years to build the type of organization in these states that can deliver. And Obama can take comfort from polls showing that his lead among Hispanic voters remains overwhelming. This may compensate for the drop in support from other demographic groups, and account for a margin of victory in states likes Nevada and Colorado. And then, if that's not enough reassurance, there is always Nate Silver, a motivational psychologist for Democrats, who puts the president's odds of reelection at 74.6 percent.