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Morning Jay: The State of the Race, Four Months Out

6:00 AM, Jul 9, 2012 • By JAY COST
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(4) Romney will have an opportunity to define himself. Team Obama has run hard against Mitt Romney in the swing states for outsourcing jobs, offshore bank accounts, and the like. Team Romney has been notably silent, not committing resources to rebut these charges. One reason might be that the charges are not resonating. Importantly, a new Gallup poll of the swing states shows no statistically significant change in the preferences of registered voters since early May.

It is important to remember that Team Romney will use the Republican National Convention to introduce him to the public. Of course, the Bain attacks are eventually going to damage his reputation, at least a little bit – but Romney has a solid and compelling story to tell. He saved the Olympics. He was a pragmatic governor in deep blue Massachusetts. He’s a loyal family man. And so on. Voters are going to have all the facts about Romney come November – the positive and the negative.

It makes sense for Romney to hold off until the Republican convention to do that, as that will be the time when voters start becoming engaged. By the same token, it is not at all clear that Team Obama is making the right choice to go after Romney so early. If voters are not paying much attention, these attacks might be played out by the fall without ever having had their full effect. Again, the Gallup poll suggests that they have not made much of an impact just yet, and so also does Team Romney's silence. If the campaign thought the Obama ads were having an impact in Ohio, for instance, they'd surely be on the air responding to them. 

So, what does all this mean? Well, I’ll put it this way. InTrade has the odds of Obama winning at 56 percent. Nate Silver has it at 67 percent. Both of those odds look far too high to me. If I were trading futures contracts on this election, I’d sell at both prices. This president is in deep trouble.

UPDATE: Franklin Roosevelt won reelection in 1936 with an economy that was weaker than the current one. I meant to suggest that no president in the postwar era has won in an economy as weak as this one, but neglected to add that important qualifier. I regret the error.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold.

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