As President Obama's postconvention bounce grows, so too does the uneasiness among Republicans. The latest sign of Obama's momentum: A new CNN poll showing the president up six points over challenger Mitt Romney among likely voters, 52 percent to 46 percent, compared with a 48-48 tie before the Democrats' convention in Charlotte, N.C. On Monday, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse issued a memo urging Romney supporters not to "get too worked up about the latest polling." Some voters "will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions," he added, but "the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly." It's never a good sign when a campaign sends out a "don't panic!" memo, says David Bernstein at The Boston Phoenix, and this particular bit of spin from Newhouse surely "spells trouble." A top Romney adviser tells National Review's Rich Lowry that reports of Team Romney panicking are "horseshit," and that "nobody in Boston thinks we're going to lose." Is Romney's campaign right to urge calm, or has something fundamental shifted in the race for the White House?
Romney is in trouble: Between Obama's national and swing-state polling uptick, his August fundraising edge, and Romney's weak TV interviews last weekend, no sane analyst could claim that Romney is in good shape, says Mark Halperin at TIME. Even the roundtable on Fox News Sunday "sounded like a postmortem explaining a Romney loss." The "congealing conventional wisdom" may prove wrong — Romney could still shine in the debates, and will surely spend millions on attack ads — but his campaign's "death stench" is now an existential threat to Romney's White House hopes.
This is no time for GOP panic: This is a problem created by the Obama-kowtowing political press, says Jay Cost at The Weekly Standard. In truth, the race is much closer than Democrats and the media want you to think, and "after the convention bounce fades... we should see a tightening of the race, and with it an adjustment of the conventional wisdom." They call them bounces for a reason, after all. "By the time of the debates, we will be back to precisely where we were in August — both candidates essentially tied and stuck 3-5 points below 50 percent."
"Did Obama really win the summer?"
Still, Boston may need to change course: "The media is focusing incessantly on Obama's relatively small move upward in the polls," and that's causing panicked GOP sniping, says Byron York at The Washington Examiner. "But here is Romney's practical problem with his Republican critics: They may be right." Team Romney genuinely, even stubbornly, believes Obama can't win in "today's terrible economy," and its whole "faith-based campaign" rests on that assumption. Does Obama's mini-surge demand a course correction? This is Romney's biggest test, "and he has to live with the consequences."
"With GOP jittery, Romney faces test of resolve"