"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know, we don't know."
Things for watch for in the next few weeks...
Disclaimer: Be aware that the worth of polls is not as meaningful in terms of a head to head race as they will be in October. The campaigns although well underway, have not hit full stride yet and many potential swing voters have not formed a complete assessment of the race yet. In other words - a lot can still change!
Polling is showing a national race that is basically tied, therefore...wait, we do not have a national vote for the presidency (remember it is 51 independent state elections that determine the outcome), so my main interest are the swing state polls.
What I am looking for are likely-voter poll models and consistency in the results of separate polling organizations. Right now these generally show a small advantage for Team Obama, but Romney is withing striking distance in most swing states. The majority of each campaign's time and resources will be expended on the 15 or so swing states. In most of them, the shift of a few points either way will determine the November 6 outcome.
The National Party Conventions:
In a month each party will have nearly a week of FREE media coverage. During this week they hope to craft a carefully coordinated coronation (the four Cs) to highlight why their candidate is the only one who can save the nation and the opponent as the next coming of Sauron - please excuse the Tolkien reference, but I can't resist!
All of this is contingent upon there being no major candidate (or candidate staff) gaffes that the media will run with and distract from the party message. Additionally, watch to see if Ron Paul's delegates (yes he is still lurking about) create any mischief for Romney in Tampa.
Romney's VP Selection:
See my previous post - expect a selection in the next two weeks, probably after the conclusion of the Summer Olympics. I still think Jindal or Portman is most likely, but time will tell...
Other What Ifs...
- Candidate Gaffes - President Obama's "You didn't build that" and Mitt Romney's criticism of the UK on the eve of the Olympics are the gifts that keep on giving. In the Age of Twitter, expect to see more of these.
- The Presidential Debates in the fall - probably the most important game changer/game breaker remaining.
- Congressional gridlock - the looming "debt cliff" may well impact voter perceptions of the parties - and probably not in a good way.
- The July Employment Report and other continuing economic indicators - the latest economic news is hurting the Administration. If things continue to be weak, Obama's reelection becomes increasingly difficult. If they turn around, he will be the clear favorite.
- New policy/initiatives: Does President Obama announce new major initiatives similar to the immigration and same sex marriage actions?
- Foreign Policy crisis: Iran, Syria, European economic meltdown, pick your poison.
Look for this space to be updated on an increasing basis in the near future. This may be a good time to peek in on the Massachusetts Senate race.