President Obama’s supporters are obsessed with being “on the right side of history.” This is, after all, the essence of progressivism — history progresses, always upward (don’t ask about the Dark Ages), and progressives exist to speed up that “progress.” This, in turn, informs the view of this election presented by the Democrats and the media. Bill Clinton gave an effective (if highly misleading) speech at the Democratic convention, a tape emerged of Mitt Romney’s unfortunate remarks at a fundraiser, and — voila! — history has spoken: Obama’s reelection is inevitable. He and his supporters have once again, as Obama likes to put it, met “history’s test.”
Only, history hasn’t spoken, and neither have the American people — at least not where it counts, in the voting booth. Moreover, it’s not yet remotely clear what they are going to say.
So far, Obama, his party, and his primary super PAC, have outspent Romney, his party, and his primary super PAC, by about 15 percent — according to the New York Times — and Obama has a lead, it appears, of somewhere between 1 and 4 percentage points. But the incumbent won’t similarly be able to outspend Romney from here on out. Instead, the tables will likely be turned, as Romney, his party, and his primary super PAC, have more money on hand than Obama, his party, and his primary super PAC — by a ratio of about 4 to 3, according to the Times.
Moreover, if one really wants to look at “history’s test” (in the proper sense of looking backward and learning from the past), Jay Cost writes that, from President Eisenhower onward, the challenger has gained an average of 3.7 points on the incumbent between Gallup’s mid-September polling results and the actual Election Day results. In the ten Gallup polls taken from September 8 through September 23, Obama was ahead by an average of 1.6 points. Similarly, Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics writes, “Indeed with the exception of 1992 — a difficult race from which to draw conclusions given Ross Perot’s on-again/off-again participation in the race — every contest with an incumbent has broken at least three points toward the challenging party from this point in the race through Election Day” (italics added). In other words, history isn’t on Obama’s side.
To be sure, Romney has his work cut out for him. According to state-by-state polling from Rasmussen Reports, if the election were held today, Obama would win by an electoral-vote tally of 313 to 225. But if, by Election Day, Romney were able to swing the margin his way by even 2 points across the board — or even just in the 9 key swing states, where Obama has particularly outspent Romney (but where Romney will presumably be turning the tables soon) — then the GOP nominee would move into the lead in Rasmussen’s polling by a tally of 256 to 247 (with Florida and Nevada undecided and the election hinging on the Sunshine State). If Romney were to improve by just 1 more point from there (so by 3 points in total), he would win by a tally of 291 to 237 (with Wisconsin undecided).
Suffice it to say, nothing is inevitable here — not remotely. This race is extremely close and will likely go down to the wire — unless, that is, Romney starts talking more assertively about Obamacare, in which case he may be able to give his victory speech in prime time on November 6.