The conventions are over. The post-convention "bounces" ( if indeed they ever existed) have vanished. Polls now show the race as basically a dead heat, well within the margin or error.
Ah, the polls, these damned, infernal polls. They also show that Obama remains personally popular, his "likability" above 50%. Yet at the same time, a solid majority of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track. They have no confidence in Obama's ability to manage the economy, and Obamacare remains very unpopular. So how to explain this dichotomy?
The "Bradley effect" was developed to explain the stunning loss of Tom Bradley in the 1982 California gubernatorial race. Bradley, an African-American, was substantially ahead in all polls right up to election day, yet lost the election. Even exit polls indicated a comfortable Bradley win. However, the swing between final polls and actual results was over 20%.
Pollsters believe that voters purposely lied to them, as they did not want to risk being labeled racist for not supporting Bradley.
In 2008, many wondered if there would be a similar pattern. However, the campaign played out differently. Obama successfully marginalized the Clintons by raising the issue of race in the primaries. During the general election, McCain/Palin came out of the GOP convention with a significant lead in the polls, which rapidly vanished.
Obama's poll numbers rose steadily, and by election day, the result was apparent. Even those Democrats who perceived anyone as racist who would not vote for a black Democrat, couldn't raise the issue when Obama's numbers were steadily rising.
Obama's win in 2008 was a perfect confluence. The country was fatigued by years of war. The Dems and the MSM had successfully demonized Bush for years. (An alien visiting earth back then would have thought that the president's name was George Miserable Failure Bush.) McCain ran an awful campaign; indeed one can posit that the primary win over Hillary was more difficult for Obama than the general election.
And yes, a great many Americans, especially younger, newer voters, and independents, were enamoured of the idea of electing the first black president, to show that they, and America, had finally erased the stigma of racism. Ater all, Michelle Obama had told us that for the first time in her life ( and by extention, ours)..she, and we, could be proud of our country.
In the three decades since Bradlety lost, the Democrats and the MSM have perfected the race card, beating Republicans over the head with it at every opportunity, and mostly doing so successfully. After all, who knew that in 2012, "Chicago" would be deemed a code word?
But this decades of playing the race card have convinced a great many Americans to keep their opinions to themselves, to express them only at the ballot box. And even after voting, to conceal their votes from the exit pollsters.
So, back to today's polls. Opinions on the direction of the country, the economy, and Obamacare, these are hard, fixed, and overwhelmingly bad for Obama. Most importantly, they are NOT going to change to any great extent in the next 7 weeks.
Obama's popularity, OTOH, is a soft number. I firmly believe that a great many people who voted for Obama in 2008..the more than seven million that Artur Davis spoke of, and to, brillantly and eloquently at the GOP convention, will NOT vote for Obama again in 2012, yet are loath to tell this to the pollsters.
So how does this translate to an 8 point Romney win? (Note: For simplicity, I'm expressing these numbers as a percentage of the general election total.
The undecided vote (at least those that publicly proclaim that they are still unsure) is about 6%.
Historically they break against the incumbent. So let's give that group to Mitt, 4-2.
Obama's support among independents is down 20-30% from 2008. Let's translate that into a 2% drop.
Obama benefitted greatly from a huge increase in yoiung, first time voters. Enthusiam among that group is markedly down. Let's give Mitt another 2% gain here.
And remember that the GOP base is energized, and motivated far beyond 2008 levels. Turnout will be huge.
Remember the "broken glass Republicans" of 2000? Those GOP voters eager to extinguish any residue of the Clinton/Gore years..to sweep them out of power.
Those people who, each day and night during the endless recounts in Florida, drove Gore nuts by standing outside the Naval Observatory and yelling "Get out of Cheney's house!"
They're back, in the millions, and they are called the Tea Party. And the Democrats are playing ostrich..pretending they don't even exist.
So, it all points to at least an 8 point win for Romney. And the "Bradley effect" will be renamed the "Obama effect."
Chris Matthews and the rest of the inmates at the MSNBC asylum will commence a four year jihad against a "racist" nation.
And Michelle Obama will once again fail to be proud of America.