Matthew Dowd is onto something:
From this trip, and from looking at things over the last six months, I am beginning to get the feeling that voters are shrugging their shoulders about politicians, no longer believing that they can fix the economic problems. Americans have reset their expectations about how political leaders can change the dynamic. After watching basically no growth in real wages over the past decade, no real growth in private-sector jobs, and a stagnant unemployment rate, people don’t think that a president (or a governor, for that matter) can do much to change the situation…
This “reset” on the country’s economic and leadership outlook of what might be a new normal could actually benefit Obama to a small degree. If Romney tries to make too many grand promises about what he will do as president, he could be viewed as untrustworthy and as a typical politician. At the same time, Obama could be hurt if he tries to make big flowery speeches about the great things he has done and what he’ll do in a second term.
We’re entering that blissful period when people not that interested in politics – the sane majority – look up and examine what’s on offer. I suspect they are not as dumb as the Romney campaign seems to assume they are; and not as happy as the Obama campaign would like them to be. Candor and concrete proposals and character are the three things people are looking for. Romney has none of them. Obama has all three but a still-shitty economy obscuring all of it. Hence Romney’s fixation on Obama’s core weakness, and Obama’s constant interruption of a referendum campaign with new proposals and initiatives – this time extending Bush’s tax cuts for those earning under $250,000 for one more year. I suspect this is a pattern that will hold for a while. Unless events interrupt them.
H/t to Andrew Sullivan.