The road to a Romney victory is really, really rocky. Ezra Klein sums this up in the following piece. A few excerpts:
On the presidential level, where everyone running campaigns is very, very good at their jobs, campaign infighting and incoherence tend to be the result of a candidate being behind in the polls, not the cause of it. Romney is behind and has been there for quite some time. According to the Real Clear Politics average of head-to-head polls, Romney hasn't led the race since October 2011. The closest he came to a lead in the polls this year was during the Republican National Convention, when he managed to ... tie Obama...This year, it was the Democrats who made the biggest gains from before to after the conventions. Obama is leading by 3 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, about double his lead before the Republican convention. If that doesn't fade by the end of the week or so -- that is, if it proves to be a real lead rather than a post-convention bounce -- then there's simply no example in the past 15 elections of a candidate coming back from a post-convention deficit to win the popular vote.This is about the point where I'm supposed to write: That said, the race remains close, and the debates are coming soon. It's still anyone's game. But the most surprising of Erikson and Wlezien's results, and the most dispiriting for the Romney campaign, is that unlike the conventions, the debates don't tend to matter. There's "a fairly strong degree of continuity from before to after the debates," they write. That's true even when the trailing candidate is judged to have "won" the debates. "Voters seem to have little difficulty proclaiming one candidate the 'winner' of a debate and then voting for the opponent," Erikson and Wlezien say.
Gallup agrees. The august polling firm reviewed the surveys it did before and after every televised presidential debate and concluded they "reveal few instances in which the debates may have had a substantive impact on election outcomes. "The Romney campaign tends to point to two elections to show how its candidate could win this thing. There's 1980, when Jimmy Carter supposedly led Ronald Reagan until the debates, and 1988, when Michael Dukakis was leading by 13 points after his convention. In fact, Reagan led going into the 1980 debates. And although Dukakis's convention bounce was indeed large, it was wiped out by Bush's convention bounce, which put him back in the lead.