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With Weeks Until Election, What's Next?


Now that the Democratic convention is over, polls show President Obama pulling ahead of Mitt Romney, not by so much, but the change did show up in several surveys. Let's talk about that and more with Cokie Roberts, who joins us most Mondays.

Cokie, good morning.


INSKEEP: Any surprise in the polls over the weekend?

ROBERTS: Yeah, I think so. Everybody was saying, including the Obama campaign, which was trying to dampen expectations, that they didn't really expect bounces out of conventions anymore, that, you know, that wasn't the nature of the beast. But in fact they do seem to have a little - a little leg up, particularly in Ohio, and of course that is such a key state - no Republican having won the presidency without having won Ohio.

The Democrats had a good convention. It really was strikingly cohesive. It was my 12th Democratic Convention, 20th convention, and seeing how on focus they were, how disciplined they were, with the exception of, you know, kerfuffles over the platform, I think that they really did get something out of it.

It now is kind of up to Governor Romney to get something else to knock his campaign loose, and I guess that's why he's spending a lot of time preparing for the upcoming debates.

INSKEEP: Well, given that Romney's argument is that the economy's going in the wrong direction, wouldn't you have expected him to get something out of the jobs report on Friday which was seen as disappointing?

ROBERTS: Well, and that could still happen. But look - really what we saw at the Democratic Convention was the strategy of the Obama campaign to go after demographic groups rather than after policy issues, and that is an effective strategy. I mean, regardless of the jobs numbers, the president is going to get an overwhelming African-American vote, and I think if he can get them out, he will also get an overwhelming Hispanic vote.

You know, civil rights turned the black community from Republicans into Democrats, and I think now that you are seeing the same thing with immigration and with voting rights with the Hispanic community. And in 1992, when it was the economy, stupid, the minority vote was only 12 percent of the electorate. In 2008 it was 26 percent. It's expected to be 28 percent this time around, and if that's true, President Obama doesn't need to get more than about 38 percent of the white vote.

And so that - and that's the vote that's being fought over. So I think that his strategy is one that's going to be very difficult for Mitt Romney to be able to overcome.

INSKEEP: We've got just enough time to try to sort out something that Governor Romney said over the weekend, trying to explain where he stands. He says, of course, that he would immediately get rid of President Obama's health care law, but he also contends he is for parts of it, and on "Meet the Press" David Gregory asked Romney what his current position is on the president's health care reform.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cokie Roberts was one of the 'Founding Mothers' of NPR who helped make that network one of the premier sources of news and information in this country. She served as a congressional correspondent at NPR for more than 10 years and later appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition. In addition to her work for NPR, Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.