We can debate whether those remaining undecideds, ranging from 3 to 8 percent in most of these polls, will break heavily for the challenger. In 2004, George W. Bush and John Kerry split the remaining undecideds roughly evenly. But the one scenario that political scientists deem virtually impossible is one where undecideds who have declined to support the incumbent all year suddenly break heavily in favor of him. For most of the remaining undecideds, the choice is between voting for the challenger and staying home.
The polling currently suggests President Obama has a hard ceiling of about 47 percent, perhaps 48 percent. Let’s take the 50–47 split found currently in the Rasmussen, Washington Post, and Gallup tracking polls. Presume that most of the remaining undecideds stay home, and that the vote for third-party candidates amounts to about a percentage point. Under that scenario, we would see a 51 percent to 47.9 percent popular-vote win for Romney.
Steve M. predicts the result:
I think Obama will win the Electoral College. I can spell out a scenario in which the right then steals the election (by persuading us that 2000 is irrelevant to now, by hypocritically demanding that "the will of the people" be obeyed, by digging into the pasts of obscure electors). But it's not clear that will happen, and maybe it's the kind of thing that even the right-wing noise machine can't pull off.
Nevertheless, if Obama wins a second term in a split election, the media will treat him as a loser who backed into office and doesn't really deserve to be there. That wouldn't be true for Romney if he won the presidency this way, because the press has now decided it likes him more than Obama, and because, well, he's Republican Daddy -- just like George W. Bush twelve years ago. Oh, sure, if Romney somehow wins this way, the press will ask him, very politely, to live up to the tone of his debate appearances and govern from the center -- but if he then charges hard to the right, the press will just sit back and speak with awe of his "bold" moves.
The press, treating a split Obama victory as a loss, will demand that he tack right in response to the circumstances of his win. This is what Obama will face going into his second term.
I'll go further: a scenario like this guarantees President Obama will be impeached. And with the Senate including outright anti-Obama Democrats like WV's Joe Manchin and either Republicans or very conservative Democrats who quietly ran "Obama who?" campaigns this year like Montana's Jon Tester and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, not to mention independent Angus King in Maine, and it's not entirely impossible to come up with a scenario where there are
VP Biden would be asked to resign as a result. President Boehner rises from Speaker of the House. Harry Reid, in a bone to Dems, is named VP. They would guarantee the country that tey wouldn't seek re-election. 2016 becomes wide open...after, of course, "serious bipartisan electoral college reforms" join "serious bipartisan tax, entitlement and health care reforms" and the GOP gets everything they want to maintain power for the next generation, changing demographics or no.
That's where the logical endpoint of this crazy little scenario goes.
So, no, I'm not "relaxed" and "confident". Not with the GOP around.