Maybe a focus group reaction to this ad helps explains why Obama is not acting like a winning candidate:
“Almost everyone in the group said they voted for Obama in 2008,” reports Scott Conroy of CBS NEWS, “but they were about evenly split between Obama and Mitt Romney in the 2012 race, with several still undecided.”
The group watched “more than a dozen negative TV ads funded by both presidential campaigns and outside groups”; a majority singled out the above spot “as the most effective ad of the current cycle.” Via Mary Katharine Ham who notes that “only four of the 23 swing voters found ads from Obama and his allies more convincing than those from Romney and his allies.”
The National Review’s Daniel Foster, who watched (what I believe was) this focus group in action, reported their reactions to the two major-party presidential candidates:
When asked to describe Romney in one word, they said things like “stiff,” “experienced,” “educated,” “accomplished,” “articulate,” “untrustworthy,” “a leader,” “successful,” “privileged,” “question-mark,” and “ethical.” A mixed bag, right? Sure, but look at what they call Obama: “narcissist,” “polarizing,” “trying,” “having hope,” “incapable,” “lost,” “polarizing,” “socialist” (!), and most damning of all, “disappointing.”
Starker still: Almost all of them voted for Obama in 2008. Almost none of them are committed to doing it again.
The Weekly Standaard’s Michael Warren, however, found that sentiment toward Romney was “cautiously ambivalent“:
They want to know if they can trust him. They want to see if he can prove he understands their lives. They want to see records of his tax returns—not, they insist, because they believe he has done anything illegal. “The IRS would have already caught him by now,” says a man in the back.
That does seem to raise the stakes for Romney’s speech Thursday night; it also suggests that they are open to his appeal.