Mitt Romney is poised to have the best months ever in his political career. If he plays his hand well, and it's a fairly easy hand to play, he will gain tremendous momentum in the race and gain the upper hand in the perception of who will win— which is often, pollsters will tell you, a leading indicator of who will win. Here's what to watch for:
1. How fast does Romney's personal positive rating exceed his negative?
Much has been made of the damage done to Romney in the primary. But how fast will memories fade? Simply consolidating the Republican base will bump Romney's favorables. That will create several rounds of stories about Romney's growing strength, which will feed more poll increases. And remember President Obama's favorables are pretty much stuck, or at least much less elastic than Romney's.
2. When do the pre-ponderance of polls show Romney with a lead over Obama?
Again, like the previous question, the upside is all with Romney. He is losing now in most polls despite having upside-down favorables. When they turn the right way for him, polls will start to show him ahead.
3. How effectively can Romney, by himself, or with the party's deep involvement, build a social media/grassroots infrastructure to compete with Obama's state-of-the-art operation?
This is quite possibly the question the campaign will turn on, where it will be lost or won. After the big shifts are made and the race settles, it will truly be every vote counts. Can Romney get his vote out?
4. How fast can Romney raise money for himself and his allied groups?
This could matter greatly when it comes to question No. 5 and Romney's ability to combat an early Obama assault— if it even materializes.
5. Will Obama be able to define Romney and slow his turnaround, or will he be resource-constrained?
The only— ONLY— reason not to hit Romney now is because you don’t have the money. But money has a way of following success in politics, and funders will not be inspired by watching Romney gain strength. The irony is they could help prevent Romney's advance now — for less than it will cost later.
In short, it is going to be a lousy few weeks for Obama. His campaign is hardened and knew that this Romney surge was coming and inevitable. Apparently, they don't allow bed-wetting in the Obama campaign, to quote David Plouffe. My only advice is, leave the night-light on, at least for the next few weeks.