Now that Mitt Romney has finally effectively slain the Rick Santorum beast, it's time to reconsider whether he's totally doomed against President Obama, right? Sure, Sen. John McCain said on CNN Wednesday morning, "Mitt has a lot of ground to make up," but it's going to be "a very spirited campaign." Sure, The National Review's Jonah Goldberg says, Obama modeled Obamacare on Romneycare, but while "Romney might be inconsistent to attack Obamacare, at least on the mandate, but there’s no basis in reality to say he 'can't' attack it nonetheless." Fine, The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol admits, the 2012 campaign looks a little like 2004 or 1996, "But the good news is that Romney is cold-blooded and hardheaded. He didn't put himself through all this to run a respectable losing general election race."
Obama looked like toast a few months ago, and now that the economy is doing better, everyone thinks he's going to win. As The Washington Post's Michael Gerson writes, "Commentators tend to exaggerate current trends, so Obama is now generally viewed as invincible. But his Gallup approval remains south of 50 percent -- a traditional indicator of vulnerability." But compared to past presidents, he doesn't look that vulnerable. The New York Times' Nate Silver posts this nifty chart (at left) showing that incumbent presidents who get reelected fit a surprisingly similar pattern: an approval rating in the high 80s to low 90s within their party, and a general approval rating around 50 percent. George W. Bush had a 91 percent approval rating among Republicans and a 52 percent approval rating among everyone; Bill Clinton had an 86 percent approval rating among Democrats and a 54 percent approval rating nationally; Richard Nixon had an 82 percent approval rating among Republicans and a 54 percent approval rating nationally. Obama's approval rating was 84 percent among Democrats and 46 percent nationally last week. Other recent polls have showed a higher approval rating. Ipsos's polling director Clifford Young gives Obama a chance of being reelected between 85 percent and 99 percent based on approval ratings and analysis of 187 elections in 35 countries.