Just going by body language, the Romney campaign is on offense. They are expanding the map well into Obama’s so-called firewall states and are right at the margin of error in states where polls give the Democrats percentage and turnout advantages that don’t square up with reality. In order for Obama to win states like Ohio and Iowa, he would have to be more popular in them now than he was four years ago, Republicans would have to be less enthused to vote for Romney than they were to vote for McCain, and undecided independents would have to defy history and break for the incumbent rather than the challenger. None of those appear to be likely. Additionally, the Republicans and allied super PACs will be spending the same as or more than their Democratic counterparts this time. They were outspent heavily last time, thanks in part to Obama’s broken promise on rejecting federal spending limits.
Beyond these facts, Karl Rove looks at what’s happening on the ground right now in Ohio.
Adrian Gray, who oversaw the Bush 2004 voter-contact operation and is now a policy analyst for a New York investment firm, makes the point that as of Tuesday, 530,813 Ohio Democrats had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot. That’s down 181,275 from four years ago. But 448,357 Ohio Republicans had voted early or had requested or cast an absentee ballot, up 75,858 from the last presidential election.
That 257,133-vote swing almost wipes out Mr. Obama’s 2008 Ohio victory margin of 262,224. Since most observers expect Republicans to win Election Day turnout, these early vote numbers point toward a Romney victory in Ohio. They are also evidence that Scott Jennings, my former White House colleague and now Romney Ohio campaign director, was accurate when he told me that the Buckeye GOP effort is larger than the massive Bush 2004 get-out-the-vote operation.
Add to this another fundamental change in voter attitudes. Despite the fact that the big three networks have largely ignored the Benghazi scandal, a Fox poll suggests that the story has broken through and it is hurting the president’s image. Benghazi has joined the economy as twin problems for the president. Nearly half believe that the president misled Americans on Benghazi, and 49 percent of independents agree. Overall 47 percent disapprove of the way Obama has handled Libya and 45 percent believe that his policies on that country and Egypt have “mostly failed.” Worse, 55 percent believe that Obama has been “too soft” on radical Muslim terrorists. At the same time, the president is losing the argument on the economy by 52-45. That roughly mirrors the Gallup national poll’s results on relative support for Romney over Obama.
Five days out, the race for president is far from over, but once you get past the oversampling of Democrats in swing state polls, the fundamentals and the campaigns’ body language point toward a Romney victory on Tuesday. Tomorrow’s jobs numbers may be the president’s last chance to change the trajectory of the race.