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Democrats’ Crisis of Overconfidence

Most Americans say President Obama will win reelection (58 percent) over Mitt Romney (36 percent), according to the latest Gallup poll. These numbers are basically indistinguishable from the same survey taken in May. While this measurement has been decent at predicting the winner since Clinton vs. Dole, there are some details that should worry Obama more than Romney:

Of course, Americans’ beliefs about who will win are influenced by their preferences. Those who say they would vote for Obama if the election were held today overwhelmingly believe he will win, by an 86% to 9% margin. One reason Obama has the edge in overall predictions about the election is that Romney voters are less positive that their candidate will prevail, with 28% saying Obama will win, compared with 65% who believe Romney will win.

It’s no surprise that partisans are more optimistic about their own candidate’s chances. But the numbers are still wildly lopsided — just 14 percent of Democrats think Romney is going to win. Compare that to 35 percent of Republicans who think Obama has the better shot.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls shows the race at a dead-heat. While polls of general Americans tend to be more favorable toward Obama than polls of likely or registered voters, this survey still seems overly rosy for Obama under the circumstances.

Obama’s star power has faded since 2008, and Democrats know they’re going to struggle to bring out the same number of supporters to the polling booths. That’s why they’re investing so heavily in get-out-the-vote efforts. But if a whopping 86 percent of Democrats believe Obama has this contest in the bag — despite his mediocre poll numbers and the widespread economic dissatisfaction — then there’s much less of an incentive for them to show up on Election Day.



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