I actually imagine that the White House comes pre-draped, and doesn't get redone with each incoming President. I could be wrong. Nevertheless, the point stands. While it's certainly too early for Republicans to be second-guessing Romney, as they started to do last week, his outlook isn't any better at 4 months than it was at 5 or 6, and Obama still seems like a noticeably better than odds-on bet. Here's where we are currently with the daily "poll of polls" from Real Clear Politics:
Over at the prediction market site Intrade, the Obama re-election contract is looking like this:
On the Electoral College front, if we take all the states where an average of recent polling shows Obama ahead we get (map courtesy of RealClearPolitics):
Now, I don't really buy this, given that some states have had rather spotty polling and there are months to go. If we took the much more conservative expedient of giving Romney all the states Obama leads in but is projected to have lower (less than around 65%) odds of carrying by 538.com's model, the map would look like this (assembled with the "create your own map" function from RCP):
To sum up, several different kinds of predictors all show Obama to be more likely than not to be reelected, with a numerical outlook largely unchanged from a month ago or two months ago. Granted, most of the big political event news (Romney's VP pick, the conventions, the debates) haven't happened yet. But consider what has: Obamacare has spent more weeks publicly going through the wringer. Several months of lackluster economic news have come and gone. Romney has been outraising him. But still the dynamic persists.
And as for the argument that early Summer is too early to tell, well, it certainly is. Here's something interesting to consider, though. Take a quick look at where the race is now compared to where it was over the same period (boxed in black) in 2004 and 2008:
Obama, at this point, has been more consistently ahead than he was in 2008, and much more consistently than Bush was in 2004. In fact, if you refer back to the graph at the very top of this post, you'll see that over the last year, Romeny has had the lead for a total of less than two weeks, and not at all, for even a single day, since early October. Obama 2008, while usually on top, had much more volatility, and Bush and Kerry traded leads regularly in 2004.
Will it get bumpier for him? Certainly. In fact, he's probably due for a rough week or two right about now, given that Romney was taking lumps last week. And it will, as I said last time, be close the whole way. In fact, I was pleased to see that Gallup agrees with my observation from last month that 1976 and 2004, two close races that were competitive until the end, are probably our closest parallels for this year. But if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the RCP average, Intrade and 538.com are on to something.