I cannot figure out why this race is close

I cannot for the life of me figure out how or why this Presidential race is even close.  It should be a blowout.

President Obama should win in a landslide.

Mitt Romney should have this wrapped up.

Mitt Romney has to be one of the most inept politicians I’ve ever seen.  He seems to have no . . . feel. A good politician should be able to read a room, take its temperature, moderate his remarks accordingly.  Romney, for all his genuine accomplishments and abilities, consistently feeds the perception that he’s a clue-less rich guy, insincere and willing to say anything to get elected.  His recent trip to Europe was embarrassing.  A few days before the Olympics, when asked how he thought the British would do, that’s a slam dunk.  You say, “I love the Olympics, I’m sure they’ll do a great job.”  You don’t offer a critique, however well-meaning.  He’s a good guy.  But he has yet to give anyone a reason to vote for him, as opposed to voting against the President.

President Obama should be ten points up.

Any election in which there’s an incumbent has to be, to some extent, a referendum on his incumbency.  And the economy is still struggling.  My wife and I went to see her uncle this past weekend, and we had the usual family conversation–how are the kids doing, who’s doing what?  Over and over, it was the same–‘they’re struggling in this economy,’ ‘they’re fine for now, but need something more permanent,’ ‘they’ve survived another layoff, fingers crossed.’  Everyone, everyone, knows someone having a hard time.  To be sure, President Obama inherited a huge mess.  But after four years, it just doesn’t work anymore to say ‘it’s the other guy’s fault.’  I happen to think the stimulus did some good–kept things from being even worse.  I like Obamacare, and I like the auto industry bailout–the two real accomplishments he can take credit for.  But in this economy, the incumbent should be in huge trouble.

Mitt Romney should be mopping the floor with the President.

What Romney has to sell is this argument–‘in a tough economy, you need a businessman, you need someone competent, a good manager, to grow small business, to create new jobs.’  That’s a compelling argument.  And Romney can say, ‘I have a plan to revive America.’  The problem is, that plan is complete nonsense.  The Tax Policy Center, a widely admired, painfully non-partisan economic think tank just did their usual very careful analysis of the Romney plan.  It was damning.  As Paul Krugman has pointed out, the numbers don’t really add up for either guy’s plan.  But the Obama tax plan would probably add 80 billion annually to revenues–Romney’s would lose half a trillion.  Romney’s response to the TPC report: he dismissed it as a ‘liberal’ study.  It’s not.  Who knows what Romney really believes on economics (or anything else), but he’s selling himself as Mr. Economic Growth.  But when he offers specifics, you realize, he has no new ideas, no workable ideas; that, as bad as things are, he’ll make them appreciably worse.   

Why has Obama not put this guy away?

The single biggest issue in American politics today has to be legislative gridlock.  Nothing seems to get done in Congress, in part because of ideological polarization.  To be sure, the Republicans have practiced a level of obstructionism previously unknown in my lifetime.  They announced that they would do anything to destroy the Obama Presidency, and they’ve thrown up every roadblock.  Why reward them?  Because we actually do need to get things done.  A budget for starters.  Republicans control the House, and considering the Senate races in play, could very well win the Senate back.  Maybe it makes sense to vote for Romney, and put both branches in the same hands.  Let them fix the problems caused by eight years of Bush.  As a liberal, I have to admit that I might be wrong about things.  Adopt the Ryan budget and see what happens.  Either that level of conservative extremism is good for the country (which would be great) or it’s so disastrous nobody would ever self-identify as a conservative again. Could be win-win.

Should be an easy win for Romney.

Obama should win easily.  Romney should win, again easily.

Helps explain why it’s actually a tie. 

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