Yes, the polls show a tighter race than ever. And sure conventional wisdom has it that undecideds this late in the game tend to break for the challenger. Add to that the fact that David Cicilline’s detractors continue to throw almost every accusation in the book at him. But the progressive incumbent still has one big advantage with less than a week to go before the election.
At least he isn’t a Republican.
University of Wisconsin political science professor Tom Holbrook postulates in this post that the reason Mitt Romney isn’t faring better despite what he sees as favorable political and economic conditions for taking on an incumbent is because the Republican brand is so badly damaged.
One thing that may be benefiting Obama could have little to do with the standard indicators of national conditions and may have even less to do with either of the candidates or their campaigns. Simply put, I think a case can be made that the Republican brand name is acting as a drag on Mitt Romney’s candidacy.
Is this what’s keeping a president with tepid approval numbers and a still-sluggish economy afloat? If so, would there be any payoff for Obama to run not just against Mitt Romney but also against the Republican Party in the closing days of the campaign?
Certainly this has been Cicilline’s strategy all along – and why not; us Rhode Islanders don’t generally like Republicans.
If this dynamic is playing out in the Ocean State as Holbrook says it is nationally, then it would likely be reflected in the “wafer thin lead” Cicilline still enjoys … but it might mean that remaining 8 percent of undecideds might break for the Democrat – or the non-Republican – rather than the challenger, as might more typically be the case.