Guy Benson
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Extreme confidence from the Obama camp, because beating Romney's going to be a cinch, apparently:
 

First, in the view of the Obamans, Romney is still a weak candidate. His stump skills continue to be uneven at best, with speeches plagued by awkward jargon and passionless rhetoric. They believe his tenure as head of Bain Capital and his term as governor of Massachusetts conceal vulnerabilities yet to be unveiled. “No one’s ever looked at Romney’s record, and there’s a lot there,” said one senior campaign official. “He developed this set of values at Bain about what the economy is all about … Whatever it took to make money … He took that same philosophy to Massachusetts [as governor].” Obama’s team is sitting on a multimedia treasure trove of research about both phases of Romney’s career and expects to launch powerful missiles at key moments throughout the campaign, discombobulating the Republican each time. Second, they maintain, their research suggests Romney has exactly one rhetorical path to victory, as a can-do businessman able to fix what’s broken. Chicago intends to focus as much of its formidable firepower as necessary to dismantle Romney on that front and prevent the election from becoming a referendum on the President’s economic tenure.

Third, the Obama team argues, Romney has taken many positions to the right of public opinion. The President’s team plans to throw two years’ worth of provocative statements in Romney’s face, using sophisticated micro-targeting to impacted demographics. On an unrelenting messaging loop, Hispanics will hear about Romney’s ties to the country’s most controversial anti-illegal immigration leaders and laws. Senior citizens dependent on Medicare will be told again and again about Romney’s backing of Paul Ryan’s House budget plan. Women will be warned about the threat to reproductive freedom. And on and on. Fourth and finally, presidential politics, in the end, is all about the Electoral College. The Obama campaign’s analysis, matching recent media number crunching, indicates that Romney has a paper-thin margin of error to get to the magical 270. The map is littered with states the Republicans must take from the 2008 Democratic column in order to win, and in many of them, such as Ohio and Virginia, they are behind.


This approach boils down to three easy steps: Demagogue the hell out of Mitt Romney, rinse, and repeat.  Chicago admits they'll employ this strategy to avoid an economy-focused election.  (Gosh, I wonder why).  The crux of this slash-and-burn campaign will be attacking Romney's record at Bain Capital.  Similar criticisms from fellow Republicans during the primary seemed to catch the Romney Camp off guard, but I'm told by a very senior Romney source that they'll be much better equipped to play defense and counterattack on this front in the general.  That's an encouraging thought, but I'll hold my applause until we see the new strategy.  But here's the thing: Romney is just emerging from an at-times divisive and ugly primary fight.  He's at a huge cash-on-hand disadvantage, and the president has been running around to swing states on, ahem, "official business" for months.  And even Romney's staunchest supporters admit that he isn't exactly Mr. Excitement.  With all of his profilgate campaign spending, rigorous "micro-targeting," and exploitation of an adoring news and pop culture media, you'd think Obama would have built a formidable lead by now, especially with low-information voters.  And yet:
 

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a dead heat in the presidential race six months before the election.  Mitt Romney edged out President Barack Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters, a number well within the margin of error, as Republicans rapidly consolidate behind the likely GOP nominee. The former Massachusetts governor has opened up a 10-point lead, 48 percent to 38 percent, among independents in a poll conducted Sunday, April 29 through Thursday, May 3 and a 6-point lead among those who describe themselves as “extremely likely” to vote in November. Obama led Romney by 9 points overall in POLITICO’s February’s poll.

The GOP has taken a narrow 45 percent to 43 percent lead on the generic congressional ballot, according to the poll, and 65 percent believe Republicans will continue to control the House majority after the election. Forty-one percent believe Democrats will keep the Senate majority. The president’s job approval rating stands at 48 percent, down 5 points from February and a number now equal to the percentage of voters who disapprove of Obama’s performance. The results signal that as the general election phase of the campaign gets under way, who will win the presidency is a jump ball.


Gallup's battleground state poll shows a similar tightening (this, Ed Morrissey notes, comes despite decreased GOP enthusiasm), and Quinippiac's numbers published last week pegged Romney even and leading in Ohio and Florida, respectively.  The Politico/GWU stats can't be especially encouraging for the Obama people -- down by 10 with independents?  Down six with the likeliest voters?  Trailing Romney by a hair in swing states?  Nevertheless, the Obama campaign continues to project this bizarre cockiness, perhaps best exemplified in this recent Buzz Feed report:

"To say that the [Obama] campaign doesn't fear Romney is an understatement -- he's viewed as almost a joke," the Web publication BuzzFeed reported this week in an inside look at Obama's Chicago headquarters. As evidence of how hilarious the campaign finds Romney, BuzzFeed reported, Obama staffers have named their building's elevators after cars in reference to the planned car elevator in Romney's California home.

I'd invite the Obama campaign to maintain this attitude over the next six months.  Seriously, please do.  Pay no heed to your boss' failed record and unpopular policies, guys.  And don't worry, the Romney campaign will be just as gun shy and slow-footed as McCain's was four years ago.  Yep, this fall is pretty much guaranteed to be 2008: The Sequel.  I'll leave you with two items from the Romney camp.  First, their latest web ad, which focuses on -- surprise! -- the economy (they're strangely uninterested in dogs, car elevators, and other sideshows for some reason), followed by a hard look at this president's policies have had on the well being of the middle class -- an issue on which he leads in the Politico survey:




ABC News also describes Obama's extra opponent: His own rhetoric and 2008's promises, some of which he's trying to make again this cycle.  Carry on, Obamaphiles.  This thing is so over, right?


UPDATE - With all the "it's early" caveats in place, RCP's last six polls show: Tie, tie, Obama +3, Romney +1, Romney +1, and Romney +5.

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography