5 signs that Mitt Romney can still win

The Week

Things are looking pretty bleak for Team Romney right about now. But look a little closer, or a little differently, and the situation is sunnier than it first appears

Things are so bad for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that Bloomberg View columnist Josh Barro, not exactly the world's most liberal commentator, has declared confidently that "Romney just lost the election." The fatal blow, in Barro's view, is a secret video of Romney talking to wealthy donors in May, in which the candidate essentially writes off 47 percent of voters as tax-dodging, government-dependent Obama supporters. And the video is just the latest blow to the Romney campaign. Indeed, it caps weeks of bad news and worse omens for Team Romney. Still, not everything is gloom and doom. Here are five reasons for Romney and his supporters to feel good about where the campaign is, and why Romney might well be the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.:

1. The polls aren't as bad as they seem
Romney trails in the polls, but Obama's convention bounce is flattening out and, more importantly, most of the surveys are skewed toward Democrats, says Mytheos Holt at The Blaze. The polling models are based on 2008 voter turnout, and Obama simply isn't going to get the same +7 Democratic advantage this year. Right, "take away the happy-shiny models, and the Obama lead vanishes," says David Weigel at Slate. It's worse than that for Obama, says Dick Morris at Real Clear Politics. He has to get unrealistically high numbers of black, Latino, and young voters to the polls, and since he won't, "Romney will win."

SEE MORE: Politico's 'devastating' Mitt Romney campaign exposé: 5 revelations

2. The electoral math isn't as bad as it seems
As we memorably learned in 2000, the popular vote doesn't determine the next president, the electoral college does, says Tyler Talgo at Neon Tommy. In many swing states, Obama is polling under 50 percent, and I bet undecideds will go heavily for the challenger. My prediction: "Obama will not win any of the swing states in which he has a Real Clear Politics polling average below 49 percent and within three points of Romney, or states in which he does not have more than a five-point lead overall. This includes all the swing states except Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Michigan." Advantage: Romney.

3. The economy is still lousy
If Romney can "keep the focus on the biggest issue of the election, which of course is our ailing economy," then Obama will be a one-termer, says former Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) at The Hill. Mitt needs to keep on beating his economic message like a bass drum, "until we all get sick of hearing about it." No diversions into social issues like abortion or tax returns. Mark my words: "Romney will win as long as he doesn't let the Obama campaign succeed in distracting the voters." Surely "Americans are not dumb enough to re-elect a president who has created more food stamp recipients than jobs," says Neon Tommy's Talgo.

SEE MORE: Anatomy of a campaign ad: 'The Romney Plan'

4. Conservatives are more fired up than liberals
Put simply, Romney "will win because conservatives know what is at stake and we know we can't afford to lose," says Karin McQuillan at American Thinker. Republicans are more enthusiastic and more engaged this year, thanks largely to the Tea Party fervor that swept us into power in 2010. And the reason is clear: "When one side realizes they are fighting for their lives and their country, and the other side thinks Obama is a nice, middle-of-the-road guy handed a hard problem, who will win?" The Right side, of course.

5. Many campaigns have "September swoons"
Let's not sugarcoat this: This month has been a dreadful one for Romney, says Dan Balz at The Washington Post. But "September swoons are nothing new in presidential politics." You don't have to look far back in history to find a campaign similarly struggling with sinking polls, circular firing squads, and bad press. Remember Obama in 2008? And with the economy growing anemically, conservatives' massive money advantage, and "the Middle East awash in protests," Romney "already has what many Republicans regard as a golden opportunity to defeat an incumbent." If he can beat Obama in the first presidential debate Oct. 3, Romney could easily be on track for the come-from-behind victory Republicans are expecting.

SEE MORE: Mitt Romney's botched Libya response: Could it cost him the election?

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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