Right direction for Romney?

  • 7 November 2012
  • From the section US & Canada
  • comments
Romney supporters at Boston Republican HQ (6 Nov)
Image caption Romney's supporters are waiting to see if the numbers add up for their man

The music died when the first results came into Romney HQ in Boston - not metaphorically, but literally, as the jazz band that had been serenading Republicans stopped playing.

The chat died too as everyone watched the first results come onto the screen flanking the stage where Mitt Romney will at some stage appear.

The people here have been living and breathing the electoral numbers for years. They won't have been surprised by the Republican gain in Indiana or President Obama holding on in Vermont.

More chewy is Virginia for the Romnulans. As is the case in so many swing states, it's a place that President Obama can afford to lose, but that Mitt Romney really has to win if he is going to put his curtains up in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Republicans would have been looking for a clearer indication that they are going to take the Virginia - a state that Mr Romney has visited repeatedly over the last few weeks. A dead heat is not good news.

For a first clue as to why this election may not swing Mr Romney's way, look at the ABC/Washington Post exit polls, not on voting intention but on the "track" question - whether voters think the country is going in the right direction.

A year-and-a-half ago, when I was talking to a pollster, he said that it was that number that gave the clearest indication of the trouble Barack Obama was in.

In September 2011, a whopping 77% said that the US was one the "wrong track". By July this year, it was 69% - still enough for people to be seriously unhappy with the president.

But by the end of October, it had plummeted to 55% and on election day - 52%. The mood has changed, quite possibly just in time to save President Obama.