I'm not finding comfort in the polls


The presidential polls are all over the lot right now; every time it looks as if a trend is developing, something else happens. This morning, Real Clear Politics is giving President Obama a poll average of plus 4 percent. But Rasmussen, which tracks likely voters, continues to show a much closer race - a tie, this morning.

Rasmussen does traditionally show Republicans doing better, so maybe that's why its numbers are out of line with those of other polls. But regardless, I had expected to see better numbers for Obama, given Mitt Romney's stunning comments about the attack on the Libyan consulate and the revelation of his opinion about Americans who get government benefits.

The poll numbers from the swing states have stronger numbers for Obama, but there's a problem in that. If Obama win the electoral college but loses the popular vote, or if he wins both but by razor-thin margins, he'll start his second term with a deeply divided nation and a deeply divided, and angry, Congress.

On this point, by the way, see EJ Dionne's Washington Post article, “Can This Election Settle Anything?”

"Obama's ability to govern in a second term," Dionne writes, "thus depends not simply on his own triumph but also on the decisive defeat of those who have been obstructing him. If he wins but they win, is there much chance that the obstruction will stop?"