172 Days to Go: Romney's Odds Improve

The zeitgeist: After a bruising and often demoralizing primary season, GOP insiders are starting to feel much more optimistic about Mitt Romney's chances this fall. The uptick in enthusiasm is driven by, among other things, strong polling numbers for the GOP nominee-to-be in traditionally blue states like Wisconsin; a strong April Federal Election Commission report by team GOP; and the lack of firepower on the Democratic super PAC side.

This isn't to say that GOPers are confident of a Romney win. But there was a time  not so long ago when many GOPers were confident that Romey wouldn't/couldn't win.

For their part, Democrats remain cautiously optimistic. They still see Romney's record at Bain Capital as a huge liability and consider their own ground game far superior. And, as we saw with the Jeremiah Wright/super PAC flare-up this week, there are plenty of opportunities for the Romney camp to get thrown off stride and off message.

Gut Check: It feels like we have hit a turning point in the campaign. Not that long ago, both sides saw Obama as a heavy favorite. Today, it is dawning on Democrats and Republicans alike that this thing is going to be a nail-biter.

Numbers of they Day: 44.6 percent  to 44.5 percent. That is the Pollster.com aggregate of Obama -Romney match-ups in the most recent national polls.

Electoral College Update: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are currently in the lean Democratic category, but my gut says they are closer to a toss-up. White, working class voters have always been a tough demographic for Obama. Now add a bad economy that hits noncollege educated workers hardest, and you have a recipe for serious erosion for the president in this group. Furthermore, Romney can perform better in the Philadelphia-burbs than someone like a McCain or Bush. Unless, of course, the Obama campaign succeeds in painting him as an "extremist" on issues like contraception, abortion and other hot points  on the social-cultural front.

The two states that will decided this election: Colorado and Virginia.

Week Ahead:

Sunday, May 20: Presidential campaigns and most of the big super PACs are required to file their fundraising reports with the FEC. Though, as we've seen in recent months, most wait until late in the day - or late at night - to get their reports in.

Tuesday, May 22: Voters are still voting the GOP primary.

Kentucky - 45 delegates ; Arkansas - 36 delegates

There aren't enough delegates on the table to put Romney over the top. That is still likely to happen on May 29 with the Texas primary.

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