By Tim Montgomerie
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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
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.
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.