The pundits are heavily invested in the idea that it's neck an neck. After all, "The election remains a foregone conclusion, details at 11," isn't a very effective way to get people to tune in at 11:00.
Campaign spokesmen say that their candidate is winning a close election for the record; loyal ones say the same thing off the record. But how do the politicians act?
Sure all the speakers at the DNC gave raves to Obama -- most of them were politicians with a future, and they might need an Obama endorsement sometime in the next 20 years (maybe the next 30 years in the Castros' case). Christie was more interested in running for the nomination in '16 than he was in getting on Mitt's good side. This showed that he thought that:
1) There would be a Republican nomination fight in '16 -- and thus not a Republican incumbent running.
2) Romney would have little influence on the party in '16.
He not only thinks that they'll lose, he thinks that they'll blame Mitt.
Scheduling a "mystery surprise speaker" at your convention is not something you do when you're concerned with maintaining a slim lead -- much less a speaker planning to speak extempore. It's a "Hail Mary." So this one bombed; so what? It was, at least, an attempt to change the discourse. (Of course, Eastwood did succeed in changing the discourse, just not in a way that the planners wanted. For that matter, he was a surprise, and he was a mystery, a greater mystery after the speech than before.)
The Democrats, on the other hand, were acting like people who had the election in the bag. The platform wasn't designed to win votes; it was designed to be something you could point to and say: "Well, this is what the American people voted for."
A woman's right to choose
"The Hopey-Changey thing" in Palin's famous words.