Almost all of the opinion polls taken in the week following the Democratic National Convention have all pointed in the same direction: Barack Obama has a small, yet significant lead in his battle for re-election. These polls have depressed many Republicans and nothing the Mitt Romney campaign has been able to do in the past few days has relieved the sense of gloom in certain precincts of the right or diminished the glee being expressed in much of the mainstream liberal media.
At the root of this conservative depression is a sense that this is an election they couldn’t lose and they have reacted to the strength being shown by the Democrats with shock, disbelief and by tossing blame at the Romney campaign. These unrealistic expectations have endowed the president’s lead with a greater importance than it might otherwise have since even the most optimistic evaluations of his chances for re-election still put the race within pollsters’ margin of error. Yet rather than wasting time carping at Romney’s Boston headquarters or the candidate’s supposed missteps, the GOP needs to realize that all along they’ve been looking at this race through the wrong end of the binoculars. Instead of being shocked by the results, they ought to be somewhat encouraged or at least not be dejected by the numbers. Contrary to the right’s skewed view of the election, the president has huge advantages that, despite his failures, always gave him a leg up. The wonder is not that Romney isn’t ahead by 10 points, but that even liberal pollsters show him virtually even with Obama.
The strength shown by the Obama campaign and its ability to use its ace in the hole — a sympathetic mainstream liberal press — to help push public opinion in their direction on key questions, such as the blame for the economy, or about the character of the GOP positions on entitlement reform, should not have been a surprise. Nor should it shock anyone that an incumbent president, let alone one whose historic status as the first African-American in the White House renders him invulnerable to personal attacks such as those routinely used against Romney, should be winning.
It is true that the president’s record is generally one of failure at home and abroad. His only domestic achievements, the passage of a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus boondoggle that didn’t help the economy and his signature health care plan, are both unpopular. The recovery from the recession — dubbed the “Great Recession