And it is also possible that bad economic news will be a sodden blanket that weighs down Obama's support among all groups. Job growth is historically weak. At the August pace of job creation, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute, America will reach 6 percent unemployment in 32 years. Under normal circumstances, this would recommend a presidential pivot to an aggressive job creation agenda. But Obama's convention speech was pivotless. He offered a stay-the-course message in a faltering economy. These objective conditions may place an upward limit on Obama's support — a ceiling somewhere lower than 50 percent of the vote.
This remains a close presidential contest, in which Obama has significant vulnerabilities. But Romney does not appear to have a route to victory that allows him to coast. If he plays not to lose, he seems likely to lose.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.