The news will be taken as a relief by the Obama campaign. It will allow Obama to continue making the case that the economy is healing — and it will undercut Mitt Romney’s closing argument that only putting him in charge will bring about a “real recovery.” However, today’s numbers are unlikely to impact the presidential race in a dramatic way. It solidifies the fundamentals that have persisted for many months now — this is a weak recovery, but it is a recovery, which means a very close presidential race, with a narrow advantage to the incumbent.
What these numbers really mean is that the last remaining catastrophe that could have derailed Obama’s reelection effort didn’t happen.
Meanwhile, there are signs Mittens is in panic mode. Alex Seitz-Wald says that Romney campaign ads are getting more desperate. As I wrote yesterday, he’s trying to tie President Obama to Fidel Castro. He’s doubling down on the lies about the auto bailout and has brought back the ads claiming that Obama “gutted” the welfare work requirement. In other words, he’s trying to stampede as many low-information voters as he can to the polls.
Also, Jonathan Capehart comments on a Romney super-PAC ad that reminds black voters Lincoln (a Republican!) freed the slaves! Yeah, that’s gonna work.
Mitt also has been “expanding the map” at the last minute, going into states in which he doesn’t have a prayer. Seitz-Wald:
Now take a look at where Romney is campaigning in the waning days of the campaign. There’s no bigger weapon in the campaign’s arsenal than the candidate himself, so where it sends him is a good sign of where its priorities are. The Romney campaign has been insisting that it’s in such a strong position that it’s expanding the map by making a play for mostly safe blue states like Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan and even New Mexico (where Obama won by 15 points in 2008). And indeed, both campaigns or the super PACs supporting them are now up with ads in these states.
But Romney isn’t going anywhere near those states. He’s doing three events in Virginia today, which he should have put away weeks ago so he could concentrate on other states. Tomorrow he heads to Wisconsin, where’s he’s still the deep underdog, and after that Ohio, which he absolutely needs to win, but is still down. Then it’s to Colorado, where he may win but Obama has been making a mini comeback. Then he’s off to Iowa and New Hampshire, where he’s down, but could really stand to win.
More likely, the “expand the map” strategy is about his campaign and their allies having more money than they need in the real swing states and a desire to “keep the ‘momentum’ storyline going,” as Amy Walter notes, even if it’s no longer true.
Romney must believe he has Florida already, or else he’d be spending half of his time there. If he loses Florida it’s probably all over for him. But the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll has Romney and the President dead even in Florida. Nate Silver gives Romney a slight edge in Florida, but calls it a tossup.
Steve Kornacki thinks the “expand the map” strategy is a sign of both desperation and incompetence. At the last minute, Romney is pushing his campaign into states he has been ignoring for months and which are all but sewed up for Obama. He might be competitive in those states now, Kornacki says, if he had been campaigning in them all along. But he didn’t, and he’s not.