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Romney is in contention because he's not the grotesque caricature of Democrat propaganda

By Tim Montgomerie
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About a month ago we asked Tory members who they'd support in the forthcoming presidential election. I was heartened and surprised that Mitt Romney enjoyed just over 40% of respondents' support. In recent years - because of the Iraq war, because of gay rights issues, because of the Cameron love-in and because of the Obama stardust effect - it was all the rage to be an 'Obamacon'. Not so much anymore it seems. Less than a quarter of British Tories would now vote for America's incumbent president. All that fiscal red ink and class war have finally ended the love affair.

The two presidential candidates go head-to-head for the second time tonight. Debates don't normally make a big difference in US elections but when the two men are (at the time of blogging) separated by just 0.4% in the poll of polls this and the third debate might well matter. Mitt Romney will be hoping for a repeat of the first encounter when three-quarters of viewers gave him victory over a somewhat lifeless Obama. My theory is a simple one. Romney wasn't spectacular three weeks ago but he turned up and looked a reasonable, competent and not unlikeable guy. The attempts by the Democrat machine to demonise him were OTT and in ninety minutes of prime time TV Romney confounded the grotesque caricature.

The heavily-unionised Democrat get-out-the-vote machine (particularly well-organised in the battleground states) probably means that Romney will need a 2% to 3% lead in the national opinion polls to actually win and at the moment he's short of that. If I had to bet money I would still bet on Obama therefore*. But time and time again the President cannot get above 50% in the crucial approval ratings. This suggests at least half of the country don't want to re-elect him. If Romney can reassure tonight and in the final debate - if he can convince viewers that he'll be president for 100%, not 47% of Americans then he can win. Obama's economic policies have clearly failed. It's now a question of whether enough Americans are ready to trust Romney with their jobs, their medical care and their futures.

* The number-crunching Nate Silver still gives Obama a 64.8% chance of victory.


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