In fact, where Ohio and Virginia used to be concerned crucial to Mitt Romney's victory, conservatives are now trying to figure out how to do it without those states.
[Real Clear Politics:]
“Their biggest concern right now is: How do they win Ohio and Virginia?” one GOP strategist said, echoing comments made by several other national Republicans outside of the Romney campaign. “They’ve got an issue with those two states.”
Obama leads in Ohio by 4.8 percent and in Virginia by 4.7 percent, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling averages.
There are many reasons why Romney’s climb looks steeper in these two states than it does in other battlegrounds, but at the heart of the matter is a perception that the economies in both are rebounding faster than is the case elsewhere.
The problem is that, without Virginia and Ohio, the math is actually worse.
There is a scenario whereby Romney could eke out an Electoral College win while suffering defeats in both states, but he would have to run the table in the other six tossups, including Wisconsin, which had been viewed as leaning firmly in Obama’s direction until native son Ryan was added to the GOP ticket. (The president currently holds a 6.4 percentage point lead there, according to the RCP Average.)
A more likely strategy for Romney to survive, should he lose Ohio, would be for him to hang onto Virginia and then pick off either Iowa or Wisconsin -- states Obama won by double digits in 2008.
The problem there is a Marquette University poll out yesterday that shows Obama surging to a 14-point lead in Wisconsin. So yeah, probably not. Iowa is much tighter, so some hope there.
None of this is to say that Mitt Romney is doomed. In fact, his best hope may be a Tortoise and the Hare sort of race, where Democrats are so complacent that they stop volunteering and contributing -- or even fail to show up to vote. It's still a very close race nationally, but those swing states where Mitt looks competitive are becoming fewer and fewer. And the math is becoming more and more difficult.
"The question for the past week-plus has been whether President Obama’s convention bounce and a series of stumbles for Mitt Romney have recast the 2012 race," writes the Washington Post's Aaron Blake. "Some national polls say yes, and a few say no. But more and more, the data at the state level point to some real movement in Democrats’ favor. At least for now."
So Obama would seem to have an advantage at present and he's clearly the better politician -- Barack Obama has never lost an election and Mitt Romney has won exactly one. The candidate most able to capitalize on that advantage has it and the candidate least able to overcome disadvantage is currently the underdog.
Caution is advised, but optimism is far from unwarranted.