Few were predicting that Mitt Romney would win the first presidential debate against Barack Obama, but apparently he did. It's throwing many politically pundits who were already writing him off for a loop. Like pigeons roosting peacefully on the lawn, they were startled by the loud noise and are now frantically flying around cackling about the significance of this new development, and how it could change the dynamics of the race. But the fact is that Romney can win all the other debates, and it still won't change the final outcome of the election in November.
When you scratch below the surface, many of those so-called "undecided voters" aren't really that undecided. Most people will vote along party lines in this election because neither candidate has dazzled them enough to make them want to switch sides. Like frustrated spouses, they are stuck in the loveless marriage with their candidate and won't stray because there simply isn't anything better for them out there. The reason they don't admit this to the pollsters is because they just don't want to give their candidate the satisfaction of knowing they're sticking with him - until they absolutely have to at the booth.
Objects at Rest
Apathy will keep voter turn-out low, and this very lack of enthusiasm for either candidate will give Obama the edge and allow him to keep his White House address for four more years. He's a known element while Romney is not, so voters would rather play it safe.
Ironically, while Romney has been trying desperately to chip away a small piece of Obama's sizable lead among minority and the women voters, his real best chance would have been with the more conservative (AKA extreme) elements of the Republican Party, including churches and anti-abortion advocates. Today, these groups are reluctant to vote for him because they don't trust he'll come through for them, and since they're definitely not voting for the other guy, they'll just stay home on election night. Romney's vice presidential running mate Paul Ryan had been brought in to woo this segment of the population, but his policies were so drastically different from Romney's that he lost his credibility in trying to sound as if he and Romney's views were in fact similar. So he lost Romney more votes than he won.
Romney also made the economy a foundation of his criticisms of Obama, but many voters know that Obama inherited an overwhelmingly difficult task of turning the economy around - they don't buy the idea that Romney could come in and do a better job of speeding up its recovery. In any event, there are now signs that the economy is recovering on its own, with or without Obama's assistance. Voters may feel that bringing Romney in at this critical junction to tinker with the recovery process could do more harm than good. If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?
And that means four more years for Obama. His honeymoon with the American people may be over, but they're still not ready to give up on the marriage; and so, come November, they'll once again put a ring on it.