Why isn’t Mitt Romney doing better in his quest for the presidency? That’s the question a lot of pundits, left, right and center, are asking. Given the weak economic recovery and the president’s tepid approval ratings, one might expect Romney to run away with this.
The answers usually come back to those offered up Friday by Charlie Cook, the dean of Washington psephologists: Romney is a weak candidate; Romney’s advertising has been weak; Romney didn’t reach out to Latinos; Paul Ryan was a poor veep choice.
I’ve expressed agreement with many of those criticisms to varying degrees
. But there are two important things to bear in mind. First, summer polling has been amplified by the 24/7 news cycle, yet it is of limited utility. The correlation between summer polls and fall outcomes is weak; one need only look at years like 1980 and 1976 to reach this conclusion.