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Matthews: Elections are all about the incumbent

Lots of talk tonight about this new poll number that shows Obama six points ahead of Romney in a face-off.I would be careful with that number.  People love

Lots of talk tonight about this new poll number that shows Obama six points ahead of Romney in a face-off.

I would be careful with that number.  People love talking about elections being a choice.  The way you hear it is that it's not going to be a choice between the president and the Almighty, but one between Barack Obama and the alternative.  In other words, it's going to be easier to beat someone than to beat the deal.

If that prospect gets you - the voter - through the night, fine! But if that prospect gets you - the president and those working on his election - through the night, it's better you stay awake and hear this.

Elections are about the incumbent.  Think of a Major League Baseball game and you're the manager.  You keep your eye on the pitcher and see how he's doing.  If he's throwing hard, mixing up his pitches and getting them out, you keep him in.  If he starts letting the other side scatter some hits, you get a little jittery.  If he gives up some runs, you get him warming up in the bullpen.  If he looks like he just can't get the other side out, you walk out there and take the ball from him.

That's what good managers do - and we American voters are good managers.  We don't keep pitchers in the game when they can't finish the job.  Look at Gerald Ford.  Look at the senior George Bush.  We "yanked" 'em!  We liked them but, when it came to it, we had no problem pulling them.

Why?  Because it's not about who's in the bullpen.  It's not how hard that guy out there is throwing.  It's about the guy on the mound, the pitcher in the game.  If we figure he's got the stuff to get the job done, we keep him; if not, we don't.

So it's not about Romney or anyone else who gets to run against the President.  It's about the President.  And just as we've said Romney's solved his Newt problem and now has to solve his Mitt problem, the President has to meet his own challenge before focusing on Romney.

President Obama will be re-elected if he convinces a majority of voters that he's got the stuff to finish the job and get this country up there on its feet again.  Will he get us back to the kind of economy, the kind of employment outlook we had before all that happened in the last administration? 

People want it back.  If Obama looks like he'll get it back for us, he'll get re-elected.  If it looks like he can't, he won't and the country will put a reliever like Romney in there. 

It's not about the challenger or the match-up.  It's about the incumbent.