Think back to how you thought this election would go a year ago. Regardless of your political leanings, Obama was teed up for whoever ran against him; he had everything going against him, save for a scandal. His accomplishments were unpopular, his dazzling charm was gone, and his base didn’t care. Surely the Republican nomination was a fiasco, but they came out with the “Massachusetts moderate.” Everything was in place for a clean November victory, so long as a smooth summer followed.
Fast-forward to late October. The economy still sucks, Obama napped through a debate, four diplomats were killed in a, err, terrorist-attack-demonstration-type-thing, or whatever it was. Conservative SuperPacs got every commercial, billboard, and yard sign that money could buy. In short, the situation every challenger dreams about. Yet polls still show the race to be neck-in-neck. Hell, British bookies and swing-state projections think Obama’s a relatively safe bet.
David Axelrod has to be credited with making the race a marathon, not a sprint. Romney got destroyed over the summer—fumbling over tax returns, Bain Capital, and gaffes—and while they’ve won October, enough voters made up their minds early on to keep this close. Romney, given the current political atmosphere, could have won this race quite handily. Even if he wins by a narrow margin, you still have to say Obama ran a better campaign.