I was pleasantly surprised while watching Romney's remarks at the Alfred E. Smith dinner. Was this the same Mitt Romney whose uptight, stuttering style during the Republican primaries made me wince? Clearly not. It's kind of like the awkward kid at high school transformed into the class president. This Romney was calm, confident, commanding, and... human, hardly a distant figure who has trouble connecting with people. He was equally at ease with taking a jab at himself as he was with cracking a joke at the president ("...it's nice to finally relax and to wear what Ann and I wear around the house.") He dominated the night with a natural, amicable sense of triumph. Quite a contrast to the style of victory once projected by the "sort of a god" version of Obama with his Greek columns and ecstatic followers who supposed that he would henceforth cover their mortgage payments and gas bills.
Romney has good reason to be confident. The polls are breaking in his favor all across the board. He's up in the 9th inning, and it looks like some of the opposing crowd is leaving the stands and heading home. You can't help feeling a little excitement and anticipation, even if Romney has left you yawning or cringing in the past.
That said, I wouldn't plan an election-night party just yet. One thing still worries me: Team Obama has probably known for a long time that their campaign was in trouble, so I find it hard to believe that they have just been sitting back and preparing for the worst or crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. It's getting close to November 6th, but I wouldn't rule out a late-October surprise, or even a post-election surprise à la Al Gore-style recounts. It's still critical that we get out and vote on election day (skip early voting if possible, funny things can happen to early ballots). And please do not sit this one out, we are still up against the Chicago machine and need to rally our forces to the polls if we want to drink a toast to President Romney on Inauguration Day 2013.