As a general rule, one should never believe anything said by a campaign insider about the state of an election. Even if it’s obvious that their candidate is going to lose, they will pretend that it’s going exactly how they want it to go. And no matter how obvious it is that they will win, they will pretend that it’s really a dogfight. But I think David Axelrod gets it spot on here:
“In my view we have got the lead and the ball and now it is a matter of executing the final 10 days of the campaign,” David Axelrod said in a telephone interview.
“Governor Romney profited from that first debate primarily by recouping those voters who he had lost in his dismal month of September when they had such an uninspired convention and when the 47 percent tape came out,” Axelrod continued. “But that is all that happened. We’ve had two debates since. I haven’t seen — in the things that I have looked at — I haven’t seen momentum since that time. I think the race has settled in, and it has settled in with us with a small but durable and discernable lead in these battleground states both in the aggregate and individually. The question is how does he change that dynamic now? There is no big intervening event.”
I think this is exactly right. The first debate was a very bad thing for Obama and it clearly tightened the race considerably. At the end of September, it was looking like a cakewalk for the incumbent. Now it’s a nail-biter. But with only a week to go, Obama still has a persistent small lead in the all-important state polls and his path to 270 is considerably easier than Romney’s. It all comes down to a handful of states: Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida (which I’m giving to Romney), Nevada (which I’m giving to Obama), Iowa (which I’m giving to Obama). This is what my map looks like right now:
But that’s assuming Ohio is still a tossup, when Obama has had a small but very persistent lead in that state. The real tossups to me are Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado. And if Obama wins Ohio, it’s over. Romney cannot win if he doesn’t win Ohio, but Obama can win without winning that state, though it will be harder.