Michael Barone

Obama has not sewn up any of these 11 states, which have 144 electoral votes. Without them, and without the 11 in Indiana and one in Nebraska he carried last time, he would have only 205 electoral votes, 65 short of the needed majority.

And 2008 is not the only possible benchmark. In the 2010 congressional elections, Republicans carried the popular vote for the House in all 11 of these states. They went into the election with only 56 of these states' 126 House seats and came out with 82.

Voters' issue focus this year looks more like that of 2010 than 2008. Even polls showing Obama ahead also show most voters rate him negatively on the top issues, jobs and the economy. Neither the stimulus package nor Obamacare evokes positive feelings.

The president has been reduced to trash-talking the Supreme Court, leaving his press secretary to tidy up afterward. He has been spending a week playing up the Buffett rule, a tax proposal raising capital gains rates on very high earners that would net little revenue.

That polls well in a vacuum. But more extended surveys, like one recently conducted for the moderate Third Way group, show most voters prefer limiting government and putting economic growth ahead of "an economy based on fairness."

That's closer to Mitt Romney's view than Barack Obama's. Obama and his party have bet everything on the notion that economic distress would make Americans favor a bigger government. That turned out to be a losing bet.

Romney and his party are betting that voters are ready for market-oriented reforms. Despite his political tin ear, Romney has been making progress in honing this message.

Meanwhile Obama is flailing. That's not the behavior of an incumbent president confident of winning re-election.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM