With new GDP numbers out and Mitt Romney in command of the nomination, my Plum Line post today looks ahead to the general election. Key point: Mitt Romney is shaping up to very much be a generic Republican candidate, and the out-party candidate just doesn't matter all that much against an incumbent president.
That said, I think there are two things I'd add. One is that I'd recommend forgetting all about Romney's weaknesses within the GOP. Once he clinches, I don't see anything that would keep the party from rallying around him. His weak polling numbers now just don't matter much. On the other hand, it's worth noting that "generic Republican" these days includes some fairly unpopular positions on public policy. Romney has endorsed the House (Ryan) budget from last year and taken other ideologically driven positions (and that's before we get to the party platform, which is sure to offer the Democrats more ammunition). We do know that perceived ideological extremism is a general election negative, and Obama should be able to push public perceptions of Romney's positioning, even if it won't be as effective as it would have been against Rick Perry, or for that matter Michele Bachmann.