With two deeply flawed candidates -- political C players who have by now squandered whatever capacity they might once have possessed to affect events -- the outcome of the presidential race will depend on those events, most importantly in Europe. If the ECB and the Germans, in their infinite wisdom, allow the EU to plunge into depression, and if that, in turn, washes over our shores in noticeable ways, then Romney probably wins. If that doesn't happen, then Obama probably wins.
In a nutshell:
Romney's brand is now set. He is the plutocrat who only cares about rich people, and he only wants to get elected to serve their interests. There is nothing he can now do to shake this branding -- and he doesn't even have the sechel to try.
Obama's set, too. He cannot be a credible economic crusader for the middle class, because he cannot be a credible crusader. In the past I have lamented his failure to emulate FDR's "I welcome their hatred." What was I thinking? This man cannot become a believable emotional presence -- cannot deploy his feelings as a political force. He can utter populist-sounding words, but the chance for his feelings to be believed by most people on any subject has passed. It's not just that he has betrayed most of the principles and policies Democrats hold dear -- which he has -- but that he has disappeared as an actor, in both senses of the word. He has hidden in plain sight for his whole life, and now on the big stage for the past four years. We no longer credit him with caring enough about anything to fight for it. When he tries, it doesn't take.