Yknow just saying, this is an economy election, not a Kerry-Nixon-Amnesty election.
In 2004, the number one issue to voters was national security (I know! I was not happy about that either). Bush consistently outscored his opponent on this issue, god knows why, doesn't matter why, but its the fact. Polls were similar to where they are now but late deciders swung towards W.
This year the economy is the #1 issue to voters. On this issue Romney is consistently outscoring his opponent. The closer the election gets, the better Romney's numbers are. Any Democrats dismayed about the race today are going to be even more dismayed when Gallup and PPP switch to a likely voter model.
Romney also has a much better campaign than Kerry did, and Obama's got a worse campaign than W. did.
The immigration question, how to put this... I understand that Dems find it to be an important part of the campaign, but its... not. There is no "social redemption" campaign going on outside the liberal mind. This is not a social issues election. One wise strategy pursued by the Obama campaign is to try to stoke racial tension in the hope they can gin up at least a few of their 2008 minority votes. The wise counter strategy is also being employed by the Romney campaign: to let Obama keep arguing with himself in public about an economic non-issue that's far off the political radar. The result is an Obama campaign that's left to campaign against itself. Point Romney. To swing voters in this news cycle, all they see is a president who continues to focus on issues far outside what they prioritize in a president.
Best phrase to describe the question: false comfort, for Dems. Best topic to compare it to: the "divisive/damaging" GOP primary. In the same way that conservative voters dismiss the notion that we're any less likely to vote for Romney after the primary, we also dismiss petty fights the president wants to pick as non-stories. The less our candidate engages on them, the better. We don't want Romney veering away from his economic message to spend much time giving credence to the president.
Obama may want to take the fight into social territory in a desperate hope to find a subject where he hasn't exhausted his credibility, and with the particular hope that he can get the spotlight on demographic issues that may help salvage his candidacy. Our side is not about to lend him this helping hand.