This is not great news for the president, not necessarily because Americans are psychic, but because expectations often shape reality.
In particular, a widespread belief that Obama will lose could widen the already problematic “enthusiasm gap“ for the president.
It’s a tricky balance for the White House. Many of the president’s natural supporters are not feeling especially fired up this time around - particularly compared to the white-hot intensity seen among Republicans. The Obama campaign clearly believes they must do something to energize their base and create a sense of urgency.
To that end, they have been sounding the alarm that this will be a hard-fought election. Last week, top strategist David Axelrod said the election would be a “titanic struggle.” Today, in an interview with ABC News, Obama himself actually agreed that the odds were against him and called himself the “underdog.”
But it’s also possible to take this strategy too far. If Obama’s supporters become overly pessimistic about his chances of winning, then that could make them LESS likely to turn out to vote (“if he’s going to lose anyway, what’s the point?”). And having just 37 percent of Americans think you will win may be more discouraging than it is motivating.
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