State of the Race

5:58 a.m. E.T.

Neither Chicago nor Boston is conceding anything, to say the least.

The overall polling trend in Romney’s favor has not diminished the Obama campaign’s professed belief that the President still has a superior ground game and more paths to 270 electoral votes.

The challenger’s camp contends that the incumbent is going to have trouble reaching 50 percent of the popular vote, that he has no second-term message, and that the enthusiasm gap will be pronounced.

It is that last point that gateways to the real difference in perspective between the two sides — and the discrepancies between some of the national and battleground state polls. Defining what a “likely” voter is makes all the difference right now.

More specifically, at what rate will ordinarily low-propensity voters turn out? Will the Hispanic, young, African-American, and single female voters, who the President needs to dominate, come out in large numbers? Republicans say they believe they will not vote to an extent that they will sufficiently counter balance the large anti-Obama and boosted pro-Romney vote.

The numbers I continue to watch beyond the horserace: cares about people like me; understands the middle class; likeability; and has plans for the country’s economic future.

However, barring some major game-changing dynamic, the polls are mostly a distraction the rest of the way. Romney probably needs to take Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Ohio to win. That’s increasingly plausible. But we will go into Election Day not knowing if he can pull it off.

Related Topics: Barack Obama, florida, Mark Halperin, Mitt Romney, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, 2012 Elections, Analysis, Democratic Party, News, Republican Party, The Page

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