8:08 a.m. E.T.
The danger for the Romney campaign right now is the congealing conventional wisdom that the Republican emerged from Tampa and Charlotte meaningfully behind and is now facing some tough Electoral College reality.
This CW is driven by the post-convention polls showing a bump for the President, prominent Politico and New York Times stories citing key Republicans acknowledging that Boston is behind in Ohio and other must-win states, Barack Obama’s outraising Mitt Romney in August and weak Romney and Paul Ryan answers in interviews on such topics as health care, the U.S. military and the budget. The Fox News Sunday round table yesterday sounded like a postmortem explaining a Romney loss.
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Romney still has the debates, millions and millions of dollars in TV ads and weeks of campaigning to try to turn things around. But he faces the immediate threat of both quiet and loud we-told-you-so’s from Republicans who last year had the very worries they fear are being manifested now. Romney is an awkward, unlikable candidate. The author of Romneycare is ill positioned to attack Obamacare. And Romney’s shifting positions make him an easy mark for an aggressive White House.
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Until Romney breaks this cycle, he is in danger of living out the Haley Barbour dictum: in politics, bad gets worse. Super PACs might start shifting their money from the presidential race to save the House majority and look to pick up Senate seats. Romney’s own fundraising will take a hit. Stories about Romney pulling up stakes in Michigan and other ostensible battlegrounds will add to the death stench. And there will be an avalanche of suggestions and second-guessing from pundits and Republican operatives and politicians about Romney’s tactics, strategy and staff.
A major Obama gaffe, a few key state or national polls showing a Romney rise or some sort of economic crisis could turn the race around. But on the current trajectory, Romney faces more troubled days ahead.