This election was supposed to be all about the economy. People put out all of these historic charts showing how incumbents with unemployment rates around where our country is now usually lost, and Mitt Romney was supposed to be the guy that would highlight that and sell himself as the economic turnaround artist our country needs to come roaring back. But it hasn't come to be. People are scratching their heads as to why, and Newsweek's Niall Ferguson penned a decent example of how I think many of them are grasping at artificial straws.
The fourth straw he grasps at in the piece is that the economy might not be as primary of an issue as polls make it out to be. What he doesn't want to see, perhaps because he's not a fan of Obama, is people don't see Romney as a whole lot better of an alternative in trying to pull the economy out of the dregs.
He touches on this a bit in his third point, that people might be voting prospectively rather than retrospectively. I don't really see how this is even worth mentioning though. Obama has a record now, so of course people are going to look at that to determine what sort of president he'd be the next few years. But he's also running against someone who's platform is radically different, so of course they'd also try to project which they'd think would be better.
I think the polls are spot on. If Obama and the Democrats hadn't done such a poor job with their stimulus, Romney would be several points back, rather than within potential striking distance.
But they didn't. Obama, Reid, Pelosi and company ignored the will of the American people to such a degree that they made sure that they couldn't keep getting almost all they wanted and ushered in the lesser evil of split government in the midterm. Swing voters would love to see a decent alternative to Obama, and if Romney were a decent alternative, he'd be the one leading in the polls right now.
Obama is winning by a handful because more of the centrists and moderates that make up the swing vote in the handful of swing states that will decide this election see him as, and they're telling pollsters that they're still willing to vote for, the lesser evil.
If Romney loses, which is where the smart money would be right now, the reason will be because he did a horrible job of listening to what the wider voting public wanted, and thought he could rise a wave of economic discontent and Republican base support into the Oval Office.
Obama is not Jimmy Carter, Mitt Romney is a far far cry from Ronald Reagan and no amount of spin will convince the American people of either. This election is about "the economy, stupid", and Romney and company passed up a ticket into the White House by playing right into the hands of the Democrats' talking points on offering an alternative to liberal excesses with even more out of touch ideas on the right side of the spectrum.
Unless they've got an October surprise of historic proportions up their sleeves, or Obama makes a mistake of similar scale, I don't see how we're headed toward anything but a second term of mediocrity from Obama and company.