Several recent polls claim to show Obama enjoying a post-convention bounce, and back on top over Romney. There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical of what RedState's Erick Erickson characterized yesterday as "the cymbal clashing wind up monkeys of the Gang of 500," as certain sympathetic media outlets attempt to declare the election a done deal before a single voter has cast a ballot.
After we move past distracting nonsense from nationwide polls (when it's the electoral college results that matter), and polls of adults or registered voters (as opposed to likely voters), there are a number of external factors that will affect the vote in November that are not fully reflected in the polls from the past few days. The Romney campaign released a memo this morning from their pollster, Neil Newhouse, on the current state of the race. Newhouse makes a number of points that should give Republicans hope:
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Neil Newhouse, Romney for President Pollster
RE: State of the Race
DATE: September 10, 2012
Don't get too worked up about the latest polling. While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly. The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.
In his acceptance speech, President Obama did not offer any solutions for the millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed. But his convention speech was not the only big letdown to voters, as Americans also dealt with yet another dismal jobs report last week. President Obama is the only president in modern American history to stand before the American people asking for re-election with this many Americans struggling to find work. The key numbers in this election are the 43 straight months of 8% or higher unemployment, the 23 million Americans struggling to find work, and the 47 million Americans who are on food stamps.
Today, there is no question: Americans are not better off than we were four years ago, and that is why President Obama has struggled in this race. The truth is that some of President Obama’s allies are claiming victory, but others are acknowledging the unsustainable position in which they find themselves. This is evidenced in a recent quote in The New York Times by an Obama Administration official saying, “It’s certainly not what I would call the position we wanted to be in at this point in the race…He’s going to have to make the case that we wouldn’t even be at 8 percent if it weren’t for him.”
Consider the following points:
- The Obama Economy: The stakes are very high in this election, and voters understand the future of our country is on the line. This may be lost on those living within the hyper-political world in and around the Beltway, but it is not lost in communities in battleground states. In short, the Romney-Ryan campaign understands Americans struggling in the Obama economy will determine the outcome of the race, and once the preponderance of information about the President’s failed policies – combined with Mitt Romney’s vision to strengthen the middle class – are communicated, our nation will move in a different direction.
- All Signs Point to a Tight Race: Those watching the daily tracking polls know that, while the President has seen a bounce from his convention, his approval has already begun to slip, indicating it is likely to recede further. In eight states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts the margin between the two candidates at less than three points, virtually guaranteeing a tight race.
- Next, the battlefield has actually expanded, not contracted. Note that Wisconsin is now in play and our campaign is now up with ads in that state, while the latest poll numbers from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico show the race closing there. And this tightening is not an anomaly. Consider the traditional Democratic strongholds of New Jersey and Connecticut, won by President Obama in 2008 by margins of 15 points and 22 points, respectively. In both states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts Obama’s lead at only seven points in each of these states.
- In North Carolina, fresh off of hosting the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign is laying the groundwork for a stealth withdrawal. In a state the President won by a mere 14,000 votes in 2008, all one has to do is look at the Obama campaign’s television buy in the state to understand how they view their chances there. The Obama campaign’s North Carolina television buy has dropped 35% compared to June, and they have run more than twice as much advertising over the past two weeks in Rochester, Minnesota (hitting a small slice of Iowa), than they have in any North Carolina market.
- Historical Data: Political campaign historians will recall President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan by a near double digit margin late in the fall in 1980. In that race, the voters made their decision based on the key issues confronting the nation and it determined the outcome. On the economy, the most important issue of this race, Mitt Romney leads by 51%-45%, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll.
- Targeted Campaign: The Romney-Ryan campaign is running deeply local and targeted efforts in each of the states focusing on the voter groups that will make the difference on Election Day. Anyone asserting a “one-size-fits-all-campaign” effort is being put forward is simply misinformed, as evidenced by the 15 different ads released by the Romney Ryan campaign this past Friday and now running in nine states, including Wisconsin.
- New Money Advantage: All of this is not possible without resources, and the Romney-Ryan campaign and the Republican Party have a real advantage. In August alone, the Romney Victory effort raised more than $111 million, marking the third straight fundraising month of more than $100 million, putting us on a very strong financial footing for the final two months.
- Energy and Enthusiasm: CNN/ORC’s most recent polling shows that 62% of Republicans are “extremely” or “very” excited about this election, while only 56% of Democrats report being “extremely” or “very” excited. This Republican enthusiasm advantage has manifested itself in an unprecedented and historic grassroots effort that will have a significant impact on turnout in battleground states on Election Day. For instance, as of today, Victory volunteers have already knocked on more doors than during the entire 2008 campaign. (2.72 million in 2012 through September 8 compared to 2.43 million overall in 2008.)
- Romney's Ground Game: During last weekend’s “Super Saturday,” we crossed the 20 million volunteer voter contact threshold. Also, the Romney campaign knocked on more doors last week than in any week during the 2008 campaign. More than 55,000 volunteers have knocked doors or made phone calls for Victory this year and that number is growing by the week. And volunteers have collected person-to-person identification information on nearly 1.7 million swing voters in battleground states thus far. And the numbers are even more startling when one looks at individual states. For instance, in Ohio alone, five times more phone calls and 28 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008. This past Saturday, more than 100,000 doors were knocked on by Victory volunteers in the Buckeye State. And in Wisconsin, five times more phone calls and 72 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008. And the list goes on and on.
...ENOUGH with the damn poll watching. Polling is an artifact of the campaign, it's the result of what candidates do and say. We and Romney should spend more time trying to move the conversation and not worrying as much about the horse race aspect. If you have solid ideas and make your case for them, you will move the needle.
That's the lesson of Reagan and Clinton, the last two challengers to unseat an incumbent. Yes, they pointed to the failures of Carter and G.H.W. Bush but they also created a vision of the future, a pro-active reason to vote for them. Reagan had restoring American pride and Clinton had an appeal to youthful energy and vision...
The good news is the first point Team Mitt makes in their memo...historically people break late for a challenger. Its a two step process for voters, deciding they really don't like the incumbent and then later deciding the challenger is an acceptable risk (better the Devil you know and all).