The Vetting! The Vetting!

I noted earlier today some signs of panic from the GOP ranks based on multiple tracking-poll evidence that Obama had gained a net benefit from the Convention Fortnight.

Now there’s a fresh non-tracking poll out, from CNN/ORC, that shows Obama pulling out to a 52/46 lead among likely voters, the universe that normally provides a few extra points for GOP candidates.

You can stare at the numbers yourself, but there’s virtually no good news for Mittville in this survey, which shows Obama building a big advantage in personal favorability (57/42 versus 48/47), and Democrats expressing more enthusiasm about voting (and far more “positive” voting for their candidate) than Republicans.

Again, this is one poll eight weeks from the Big Day, and even though Nate Cohn of TNR argues that from a historical perspective this is an especially important moment in the cycle, there hasn’t been a lot of normalcy in recent political developments.

But in anticipating a possible intensification of the GOP panic attack, particularly if the CNN poll is echoed by others this week, I am beginning to wonder if the answer to my question about the origin of Republican jitters might just be a fear of a fresh resurgence of movement-conservative demands that Romney junk his cautious, economy-based approach (to the extent he has been allowed to pursue it) and get down and dirty with a culture-based “vetting” of Obama the Kenyan anti-colonialist Alinskyite baby-killing Christ-hater.

There is zero evidence “the vetting” would work, but if Team Mitt looks to be heading into a ditch, you’d best believe the wingnutosphere will begin raising a deafening cry for a big change of direction, particularly since said wingnutosphere still doesn’t trust Romney to be the kind of president they crave, and so seeks every excuse for forcing him to bend the knee.

So as you watch the polls roll out, recall that good news for Obama is bad news for Mitt not just because he’s trailing, but because he could soon lose control of his own campaign strategy and message.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.