Campaign 2012 has become a rare contest — a referendum on the challenger. Our smart screens are beaming loads of dumb stuff at us these days, as pols, pollsters and pundits micro-think the meaning of those essentially meaningless initial post-convention public opinion surveys.
Never mind that we all know the bounces and blips in those initial numbers usually last about as long as an out-of-shape pundit can pedal a news cycle.
Missed in all of this is the real significance of this post-convention period: 2012 has morphed into a most unconventional election. It will require a rethinking of the conventional wisdom that says U.S. presidential elections are mainly a referendum on the incumbent’s performance as a leader.
The 2012 presidential race has become a flip-side presidential campaign — a referendum not so much on the incumbent but on the challenger.