More incisive, and more indicative, than any presidential polling at the moment is that which lurks in this opening from Politico's Jonathan Martin:
Poll after poll indicates the presidential campaign is a dead heat, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to many Republican professionals. If you gave them truth serum, they would tell you they think Mitt Romney will lose.
Yet as Martin's story proceeds, it's evident that the ministration of truth serum wasn't necessary. Their gloom is palpable, specific, and volunteered, and it emerges from a conspiracy of Obama's incumbency, an improving economy, factional resentment toward Romney, and dread of the latter's underlying moderation, which will never fly among hardcore fanatics.
To me, that last semi-causation of Romney's total doom is the eminent one. Yet GOP professionals fear something else--something more than anything else--and one must admit that this something else is also eminently destructive, as well as "not fixable," as Martin characterizes it, for Romney:
[H]is string of gaffes demonstrated how difficult it will be for him to connect to the general electorate.
For Obama, of course, Romney's ineffable bungling is a string of pearls--a priceless intangible that all the president's men could never invent. It's a gift, a subsidy, a bounty of blessed fortune that in presidential politics occurs maybe once every hundred years; and in Romney's case it is so bizarre, it can only be the product of Obama's deep prayer.
As his friends and family must repeatedly assure the nation, Romney is in reality a relaxed, cuddly, carefree, good-natured, prank-playing, devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky plutocrat whom everyone who knows him just loves to pieces. And for all we know, he is all those things. But that's not how the game is played; our suspicion that he couldn't possibly be even half as clumsy, as witless, as mildly sinister and immensely awkward as he actually appears doesn't count for much. In politics, a candidate is what he appears to be.
Perhaps most reassuring is the human psychology in play here--that the harder Romney tries to seem relaxed, cuddly, etc., etc., the more awkward his efforts will be.