Judging the effectiveness of both campaigns necessitates the use of a historical lens. Historically, incumbent candidates are difficult to oust—only Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush lost re-election bids since 1960. Yet, the American economy under Obama has stagnated and anemic job growth has created a level playing field that has negated a large part of Obama’s incumbency advantage.
That said, on the surface Obama’s campaign has done a better job thus far. Although not as successful as the Romney campaign in wooing large contributions—34 percent of OFA’s money comes from donations of $200 or less, versus 18 percent for Romney—the Obama campaign has developed a large grassroots campaign to combat the rush of Republican Super PACs to the fray. With tepid job recovery this summer and Obamacare the major accomplishment of his presidency, the Obama campaign ably turned the conversation around to Romney’s business record and turned the election into a referendum on how we treat the American wealthy. This populist rhetoric has done well for Obama, helping him stay afloat in an economic climate that would spell doom for any sitting president. While Election Day may yet see him ousted, Obama’s campaign has put him in a good position to win—the New York Times’ Nate Silver puts his odds at 67.6 percent—come November 6.