WASHINGTON — Against the backdrop of a sharply polarized nation, the long and mean-spirited 2012 presidential contest is barreling toward the finish with the outcome still in doubt.A nice piece, except for that quote from Andrew Kohut, the progressive hack.
President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remain statistically tied in national polling, as they have been for much of the campaign. But the Democratic incumbent is clinging to a marginal advantage in enough key states to make him a slight favorite to gain reelection in a race that could still go either way.
Analysts in both parties expect Tuesday's vote to more closely resemble the tight 2000 and 2004 elections, which came down to a single state, rather than Obama's expansive 2008 victory. After years of weak economic growth and stalemate in Washington, opinion surveys show an electorate that is more divided than ever, especially along lines of race, age and party.
"We are deeply divided, and that has made a contribution to the closeness of the race. But the public is also divided about these candidates," said independent pollster Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. "They look at Romney now as a somewhat acceptable candidate, but they still have doubts about him personally with respect to trustworthiness and with respect to how empathetic he'll be to people like themselves. They also have doubts about Obama and about his ability to turn things around."
The future of a divided Congress is also up for grabs. Republicans are virtually certain to keep their majority in the House of Representatives. But barring a late GOP surge at the top of the ticket, Democrats are expected to retain control of the Senate, despite a potential loss of seats.
Romney has sought to frame the election around Obama's handling of the economy, and an uptick in the unemployment rate going into the final weekend of the race allowed the Republican to tell voters that joblessness is worse now than when the president took office. At 7.9%, unemployment is also the worst for any incumbent seeking reelection since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Anyway, that image is from the Looking Spoon, "Obama and Romney's Views On The Economy Make The Right Choice Crystal Clear."