7:50 a.m. E.T.
From “Morning Joe,” more on my sense of where things stand, including the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll:
JOE SCARBOROUGH: If I were President Obama’s team, I’d feel a lot better at 48, 49 percent, than 46, 47 percent. He’s not closing the deal.
MARK HALPERIN: Well, and people, in that poll, people say they want to see changes in a second term agenda from him and he’s not talking about a change. He’s saying, give me four more years to finish what I’ve started. If you’re Chicago, what gives you confidence is you still think you’ve got the better candidate to close over the last two weeks.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: And, by the way, while you keep talking, let’s put up, Alex, let’s put up that part of the poll. I thought this was one of the most fascinating questions. Even if the President is re-elected, do you want him to make dramatic changes in the second term? The numbers are up, what? In the 60s.
MARK HALPERIN: That is, to me, the biggest number in the poll. People can obsess over the horserace number but there’s other things to look at: Romney’s likeability, whether Romney understands the middle class. But the number in there that says people want a changed Obama agenda is a huge number. It’s higher than what people wanted for President Bush at this point in 2004. And, I say again, the President is not offering people that. He’s saying, I want major changes, 62%. That, the President, I still think, needs to address that because he’s not promising major changes. He has said, I think, in the last debate, give me four more years to finish what I’ve started. That number suggests people don’t want him to finish. They want a change in direction.
MARK HALPERIN: I think it’s pretty simple. This doesn’t mean Governor Romney is going to win but we said for months, as did the President’s advisers, they can’t win on the President’s record. They must destroy and eliminate, as a viable alternative, the other guy. Romney, in the two debates — even in the second one, looked presentable, acceptable enough that he’s in a position to win simply by being acceptable.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mark, let’s talk about the map because you follow the map very closely, as closely as anybody. What’s it looking like to you after this weekend, going down the home stretch. Because the electoral map, we’ve always said, is a big advantage for the President. That advantage, you said, about a week or two ago, has been sort of marginalized. Where do we stand this morning?
MARK HALPERIN: [Romney] needs the McCain states plus Indiana, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and one more. And, as of today— and one more of the five. As of today, if you talk to the most optimistic people on the Republican side, who are looking at a lot of polling data, they think they’ll win substantially more than that. They think they may even win some states we’re not talking about. But they don’t need that. All they need, again: McCain states plus Indiana, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and one more.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don’t want to get too far in the weeds. I really do believe now he’s going to win Florida. He’s going to win Florida, North Carolina. He’s going to win Virginia. I think he’s going to win Colorado, possibly going away. But let me ask you about one other state. Other than Ohio, Nevada, the President is maintaining a stubborn lead there. One of the worst economies in America. What’s going on? Nevada could be the difference.
MARK HALPERIN: It may be Romney’s worst of the nine battleground states.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Aren’t there a lot of Mormons there?
MARK HALPERIN: There are. And there’s Hispanics. There’s Harry Reid’s machine on the ground. There’s labor.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’m surprised that Mitt Romney is— that this is a state, even if he wins Ohio, this is a state that could cost him the election if it’s really close.
MARK HALPERIN: It could. But, if you look at their Electoral College calculations, he’s more likely to win Colorado than Nevada. So, he doesn’t need it, assuming he gets Ohio. It all pivots on Ohio. You can talk about New Hampshire, Wisconsin, maybe even Pennsylvania or Michigan, maybe. But it all— it doesn’t really matter. If he wins Ohio, by virtue of winning Ohio, he will win at least one of the other five.
Watch the video above.