It certainly feels like the race for President 2012 has taken a definite turn over the last 3 or 4 days. With the bad unemployment numbers released on Friday, the continuing fears about Europe, and the dismal performance of the stock market, you get the feeling that Romney now has the electoral momentum on his side.
After a long primary season in which Romney kept plugging along like the Little Blue Engine That Could, despite being constantly challenged by new candidates throwing themselves at him like Japanese kamikazes, Romney has emerged victorious and, while slightly scarred, seemingly in good shape. He's raising money in truckloads, and it's now projected that he'll raise more than Obama for the general election, primarily because of the banks and corporations backing him instead of the President.
He now also seems much more in control of his image than he was in the primaries, and he is using that to good effect. He is subtly molding his image as the competent manager and leader, the saavy businessman, the faithful husband and devoted father, and the devout and godly Mormon. And while it is true that the Obama campaign has not yet trained their 'big guns' on him in ads, what they have done has largely fallen flat, such as with the attacks of Bain Capital.
Obama won in 2008 for largely four reasons: (1) he was able to ride a general sense of revulsion with 8 years of Bush/Republican rule; (2) the economy crashed smack in the middle of the fall campaign, and Obama naturally benefited as the candidate of the party out of power; (3) McCain picked Sarah Palin as the Veep, someone whom many in his own party had serious doubts about; and (4) Obama was able to effectively project an aura of hope and change around himself.
None of these four reasons any longer exist. Obama is now the one in charge, who can be held responsible for whatever gripes people have about the economy (and there are many), and Romney is almost surely going to pick someone as VP who will be seen as competent and acceptable.
In other words, despite the fact that there is a certain edge that comes with incumbency and that Obama is perceived as largely successful in foreign policy, it seems that he will now have an uphill climb to the finish line in November.
Everyone is saying that the three fall debates will play a big role in deciding the election. What will most likely happen is that neither man will stumble badly in those debates (both Obama and Romney seem to be very capable in the debate format), and therefore other factors already mentioned will play a larger role.
We as Americans are fortunate that both Obama and Romney are smart, well-educated, capable, experienced, moral, and pragmatically moderate politicians. Although the fringe of the right-wing has tried to portray Obama as an alien and foreigner to America, and while the left-wing will try to paint Romney as the candidate of the 1%, both of these men are responsible and capable Americans. And so, while I definitely favor President Obama, my guess is that the nation will be in basically good hands with either of them.
It's the paralyzing dysfunction in the Congress, and the neanderthal Supreme Court that worries me more.