The disappointment with Obama was impossible to miss. And it was perfectly acceptable to talk about. Yet these undecideds who voted for Obama in 2008 do not want to see the president criticized too harshly; another way to say it is that they do not want their own judgment criticized too harshly. They prefer to have their disappointment reinforced.

The president has only himself to blame. “Obama’s problem is not what he’s done, but what he promised he would do,” Luntz told reporters after the session. With disappointment so widespread, the question is whether Romney can capitalize on it. After a summer of campaigning, after a carefully-staged Republican convention, he’s made progress, but he’s still not there. But he has a great opportunity to get there by Election Day. “If Romney proves in the debates that he’s not a bad guy,” added Luntz, “he wins the election.”

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