Ross Douthat is keeping Romney’s hope alive. He points out that Obama has, objectively, had a bad last few weeks, but has benefited from media coverage that has focused instead on Romney’s stumbles and woes. Is this an example of media bias? Yes, in one way:
But no, in the sense that Romney could have avoided almost all of his current difficulties, media bias or no, through the simple expedient of running a modestly more competent and creative campaign.
Instead, the Republican nominee seems to be running to prove two points about political science and the presidency. First, that every presidential campaign is actually a referendum on the challenger as well as on the incumbent, and second, that it’s entirely possible for voters to ultimately reject a challenger even when they think the incumbent might deserve to be defeated.
In the second point, though, lurks the only remaining hope for the Republican ticket: Their dislike for Romney notwithstanding, voters really are still open to the possibility that Obama might not deserve re-election.
Read Douthat’s analysis of the numbers to see why Romney still has a chance. It’s all coming down to the debates.
Anything can happen in those debates, it’s true. Still, unless there’s a major Obama stumble, it’s hard for me to imagine what Romney might do that would turn around the settled narrative of him as an unlikable, polymer-based rich guy. Remember, Romney has been running for president for seven years. People know him, or think they do.
The problem with Obama? Four more years of barely-competent drifting. The problem with Romney? Four more years of George W. Bush, without the, um, charm.