It's easy to forget, but ever election cycle, presidential campaigns assure anyone who will listen that they are, in fact, certain to win. Whether they actually believe this is irrelevant -- candidates and their aides always make this bold prediction with great confidence to reporters, donors, and supporters, usually with a straight face.
The trick, of course, is to take the bravado with a grain of salt. Some seem to have forgotten this detail.
As Jon Chait explained, he shouldn't -- the bluster is a "bluff."
Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Over the last week, Romney's campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative.... [T]he widespread perception that Romney is pulling ahead is Romney's campaign suckering the press corps with a confidence game.
Folks who followed the 2000 race closely may recall Karl Rove's "inevitability" gambit. At the time, Bush/Cheney aides told reporters the ticket had already locked up 320 electoral votes and success was inevitable. The tactic was meant to demoralize Democrats, reassure Republicans, and persuade reporters -- most of whom already hated Al Gore -- to cover the race through a Bush-is-a-winner-with-momentum lens.
Yes, Bush was ultimately inaugurated, but he lost the popular vote and needed five justices on the Supreme Court to stop a vote-count in Florida in order to win. "Inevitability" was a con the political world fell for 12 years ago, so Team Romney is trying it again, and with two weeks to go, it's already starting to work on some reporters.
For the record, Romney may very well end up winning. President Obama is probably a very slight favorite at this point, but it's easy to imagine the challenger doing just well enough to succeed. The candidates and their aides sound confident, but they have to sound confident; it's part of the game.
As an objective matter, the notion that Romney has the wind at his back and his cruising towards victory is kind of silly, and it's the kind of hype media professionals should consider suspect.