Chuck Todd: Why isn’t Mitt Romney already ahead?

On Wednesday’s Charlie Rose show, Chuck Todd asked, “Why isn’t Mitt Romney already ahead?” It’s definitely a good question to ask at this point. If this election is a referendum on President Obama’s handling of the economy – as stated by EVERY conservative pundit – then shouldn’t Mitt Romney have a strong lead by now?

Sometimes I look at this political landscape and the economic landscape and I say, “how is the president ahead?” And so I actually look at this, I always ask another question to try to figure out what’s wrong here with Mitt Romney: “Why isn’t Mitt Romney already ahead?” And the fact is, I keep coming back to a couple of things. One, he’s not ahead because I think that he hasn’t articulated who he is and he’s losing his values argument to Obama. But the second thing…I actually think that the Republican brand is still a mess with the middle of the American public, the independents and the sort of center-right, center-left folks who might be persuadable, and that is serving as more of a drag on Romney than I think any of us talk about. – Chuck Todd

Speaking of what we don’t talk about, how about Obama taking the election in a landslide. Could it happen? Michael Tomasky writes on The Daily Beast, “Liberals don’t want to jinx it. It terrifies the right. And the press would prefer a nail-biter. But the fact is that finding Romney’s path to victory is getting harder every day.” The fact is that 4 of the last 5 elections have seen the popular vote go to the Democrat. In case you are confused, remember Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000 even though he lost the electoral college vote and ultimately the presidency – via a brief Supreme Court detour – to George W. Bush.

There’s a secret lurking behind everything you’re reading about the upcoming election, a secret that all political insiders know—or should—but few are talking about, most likely because it takes the drama out of the whole business. The secret is the electoral college, and the fact is that the more you look at it, the more you come to conclude that Mitt Romney has to draw an inside straight like you’ve never ever seen in a movie to win this thing. This is especially true now that it seems as if Pennsylvania isn’t really up for grabs. Romney’s paths to 270 are few.

Sure, something big could happen to alter the dynamic completely. But we’ve watched these guys go, what, six or seven rounds now (out of 15). After seven rounds, you can pretty well tell some things. All the supposedly game-changing events of the last few weeks haven’t changed much of anything. This is a paradoxical situation that has little or no modern precedent, which makes it hard for people to accept. Liberals are too nervous to think it, reporters too intent on a “down to the wire” narrative, and conservatives too furious and disbelieving, but it’s shaping up to be true: An extremely close election that on election night itself stands a surprisingly good chance of being not that close at all. – The Daily Beast

Tomasky is correct, liberals are too nervous to think it, including the liberal writing this post, but if you look at the electoral college path to victory for Romney, his chances of winning in November (barring a game-changing event) seems slim. Add in Todd’s “Republican brand” factor, and incumbent advantage, and it looks like a huge challenge for Mitt Romney to persuade enough voters to believe he would be a better president than Barack Obama. / photo by mnassal

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