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Fri Oct 26, 2012, 02:13 PM

David Axlerod: Trajectory of Race is Set [View all]

WASHINGTON -- The Obama campaign sees no major event that can now alter the trajectory of the election, the president's top adviser told The Huffington Post in an interview Thursday. And with President Barack Obama holding slim but discernable leads in several critical battleground states, there is a continued sense of confidence that a second term is in the offing.

"In my view we have got the lead and the ball and now it is a matter of executing the final ten days of the campaign," David Axelrod said in a telephone interview.

"Governor Romney profited from that first debate primarily by recouping those voters who he had lost in his dismal month of September when they had such an uninspired convention and when the 47 percent tape came out," Axelrod continued. "But that is all that happened. We've had two debates since. I haven't seen -- in the things that I have looked at -- I haven't seen momentum since that time. I think the race has settled in, and it has settled in with us with a small but durable and discernable lead in these battleground states both in the aggregate and individually. The question is how does he change that dynamic now? There is no big intervening event."

"I'm doubtful as to whether [even the October jobs numbers] will be a defining event," he added.

The aura of cautious optimism is one that both campaigns are hoping to project, with each able to muster a slate of statistics to make their case. On Friday, for example, an ABC/Washington Post tracking poll showed movement towards Obama, with the contest settling in at 49 to 48 percent in favor of Romney. But that narrative turned just an hour later, when the Gallup tracking poll showed Romney expanding his lead to a five-point margin among likely voters, at 51 to 46 percent.

Axelrod and others in the Obama campaign see all this as largely irrelevant noise. For them, the electoral landscape has always been defined by certain states. And the campaign's entire operation -- a massive, expensive Get Out The Vote enterprise -- has been constructed to work within these confines.

Prior experience is the Obama campaign's not-so-secret weapon. In 2008, they had to put a ground game together in a matter of months. They've been building for this election over the course of five years. And while the Romney campaign has made major progress from where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) left off in 2008, there is a benefit to having this be your second rodeo.

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