Yes, it's only February. Eight months from election day. And so it's true that it is ridiculous to suggest this race is really over. But as of this moment, it does not look good for the Republican party caught up in a messy primary battle that often looks more like a circular firing squad.
And as ABC News Political Director Amy Walter points out, Mitt Romney's ugly win in Michigan last night didn't help matters. Sure, a win is a win. But the Romney campaign's greatest strength has been eviscerating opponents, not making a strong case for Mitt Romney. "They figure out what the weakness is of their top opponent, they go in there spend a lot of money and do a lot of negative ads, and exploit whatever that weakness is. The problem with that is they don't' ever build themselves up," Walter says.
The Republican primary battle in Michigan was so ugly, ABC's Rick Klein points out, that this critical battleground state seems to have tilted back to the Democrats. All the talk of the auto bailout, opposed by each of the Republican candidates, and the divisive social issues, did damage to the party in Michigan and perhaps more broadly as well, Klein says. "Now you've got Ohio coming up (on Super Tuesday next week). You've got another state that's a lot like Michigan. If the same kind of battle happens over the next week, then they have to worry about another big state potentially tipping to the Democrats."
The Obama campaign benefits from the protracted Republican primary, but also from an improving economy. As Yahoo! News' David Chalian points out, that not only helps the president but also steals the thunder from Romney's main campaign theme. "If Mitt Romney is Mr. Fix It on the economy, but the guy who's sitting in the Oval Office is actually fixing the economy right now, then where does Mitt Romney go from there?"
All that being said, election day is still a long eight months away. A lot could happen in the economy, in international news, here at home and, of course, on the campaign trail that could impact all of this.
- Mitt Romney