No incumbent is ever hopeless.
Herbert Hoover was close, but he still got almost 40 percent of the vote. Read that again. In the Great Depression, a major party did no worse than forty percent of the vote. Only the split in the GOP between Taft and Roosevelt or Dole and Perot drove the vote totals lower for a major party.
We know Mitt Romney will get 46% of the vote. How? John McCain, after yelling at us to get off his grass, got that percentage in the worst GOP year of my adult lifetime.
We know President Obama will get at least 41% of the vote, because Mondale got that percentage against Ronald Reagan.
If you are Democrat, you must concede that 2012 is a better year for the GOP than 2008 and Romney at least as a good a candidate as John McCain. If you are a Republican, you have to admit that Romney is no Reagan, at least yet, and that this year isn’t as favorable to the GOP as 1986.
President Obama faces an unhappy nation that believes we are on the wrong track. Most of us personally like our President, he is no Jimmy Carter, but Americans are open to change. We don’t have much hope of change, but we will consider it. President Obama can win, he has a potent base and the power of the incumbent, but he will almost certainly lose. (My guess is 52% to 48%.)
First, the economy is bad and he is President. Forget whether it is his fault. If Romney were President right now, then he would almost certainly lose. Things are not great.
Third, Romney is either beating Obama now in polls, is close, or tied. As an incumbent running against a less known commodity coming out of a tough primary, Obama should be winning. He rarely polls more than the Democratic base plus one or two percentage points.
Fourth, Obama and his team are overrated as campaigners. Anybody on the Democratic side would almost surely have won in 2008. I would argue that Obama underperformed his chances. There are many reasons for this, some of them having to do with the evils of racism in America, but some due to a bloated campaign. Obama outspent McCain in swing states by many times . . . and overall by two to one. Did they really get their money’s worth?
Fifth, Romney will not be outspent. Campaign finance laws have changed. Romney is a great fundraiser and will run at parity with the President. Outside groups will give Romney an edge on spending overall.
These factors will all cost the President the six percentage points he needs to win. Swing state polls change after national polls, but if he loses by four (as I think likely) . . . then Romney will coast in the electoral college.
This is much work to do, but you should bet on President Mitt Romney this January.