Last week, I wrote about the standings in the presidential race and said it looked like a long, hard slog through about a dozen clearly identified target states, much like the contests in 2000 and 2004. Call it the 2000/2004 long, hard slog scenario.
But I said there were other possible scenarios. I can think of three.
The 1964/1972 scenario: Challenger disqualifies himself. Barry Goldwater and George McGovern were idealistic, intelligent senators who took positions on issues that made them unacceptable to most voters in years favorable to incumbents.
This could happen to Mitt Romney this year. And it might well have happened if some of his primary opponents had won the nomination. But he doesn't seem to be the kind of candidate who would disqualify himself. Chances for this scenario: less than 5 percent.
The 1988 scenario: Affluent voters break strongly Republican. Vice President George Bush was 17 points behind Michael Dukakis after the Democratic National Convention. But he came back to win by a 53 to 46 percent margin.
One reason is that his "read my lips, no new taxes" promise solidified his support among affluent suburbanites. His margins in suburbs enabled him to carry metro Philadelphia, metro Baltimore, metro Detroit, metro Chicago, metro Los Angeles and the surrounding states.
Since then, affluent non-Southern suburbanites have trended Democratic. And big city crime and welfare rolls -- cause for complaint in 1988 -- have declined.