From this week’s Pew poll:
Levels of engagement and enthusiasm in the political bases are particularly important factors in 2012 given how few voters are open to persuasion. Nearly eight-in-ten registered voters say they have made up their minds about who to vote for this year with “no chance” that they will change. Just 21% say they are undecided about their vote choice or that they may change their mind before Election Day.
The relatively small size of the “swing” vote is typical of elections that involve incumbent presidents; in June of 2004, 21% of voters were also swing voters. By comparison, in both 2000 and 2008, about a third of voters were identified as swing voters.
The swing vote comprises three groups: the 9% of voters who either just lean to Obama in their vote preference (3%) or support Obama but say there is a chance they might vote for Romney (6%), the 7% of voters who either just lean to Romney in their vote preference (3%) or support Romney but say there is a chance they might vote for Obama (5%), and the 5% of voters who have no preference between the two candidates at all.
Pew goes on to note what we know to be true: The vast majority of opinions about Barack Obama are well formed. There is little chance to change those views one way or the other for the vast majority of the electorate. On that front, they note good news for Obama and Romney.
As some of us have been saying for a long time (since 2010 kos has been correctly touting the Harry Reid reelection as the real bellwether), this is a base turnout election. There aren’t that many folks who are truly on the fence. The key to victory is turnout of the Democratic base. Like Harry Reid did despite having a tidal wave of negative numbers against him.
It should be repeated that this election is looking like 2004 at this point: a somewhat weakened incumbent president driving through a sharply divided electorate for a close victory. Turnout of his base was the key to George W. Bush’s close victory over John Kerry.
But there is the other component to that kind of campaign: making one’s opponent an unacceptable alternative. George W. Bush didn’t just campaign that he was the best person to keep the country safe even after it had been successfully attacked on his watch. He also convinced a majority that a noted war hero and foreign policy expert was the wrong person for the job. Similarly, the Obama campaign has to destroy Romney’s credibility on the economy, which is the one area where Romney continues to outpoll the president.
On that footing the Obama campaign seems to be stepping up the aggression (finally). After spending some time on flip flopping and Romney’s core values during the GOP primaries, they’ve finally zeroed on Romney where it counts: his business record at Bain.