Posted on | October 7, 2012 | 20 Comments
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) October 7, 2012
Ed Driscoll’s favorite Insta-phrase “preference cascade” (describing the sudden shifting of opinion) could be the best understanding of what we might — I emphasize, might — be beginning to see in the aftermath of Wednesday’s debate:
A new poll shows a slight change in the presidential race immediately following Wednesday night’s debate in Denver, with a 4-point lead for President Obama the day before the debate becoming a 1-point deficit the day after his uninspiring peformance.
On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C.-based Clarus Research Group surveyed 590 likely voters and found Obama leading Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 45 percent. On Thursday, Clarus found, in an identical number of interviews, that Romney had inched ahead by 1 point, 47 percent to 46 percent.
Caution is necessary for several reasons:
- Polls are a lagging indicator;
- Any one poll may be an anomalous outlier; and
- Presidential elections are fought on a state-by-state basis, and the ultimate key is not what any national poll shows, but rather how the battle shapes up in the dozen or so “swing states” where both campaigns are concentrating their efforts.
Having been skeptical about polls that showed implausibly bad results for Romney — who will certainly not lose Ohio by 10 points, no matter what numbers any damned pollster reports — I am not going to abandon skepticism now, just because the poll numbers are more in line with my beliefs or preferences.
Nevertheless, for several months, I had been saying that I thought the outcome of the election would hinge on the debates, and the one-sided ass-whupping Romney put on Obama may have triggered a decisive shift that the polls are already beginning to detect.
If you check the Real Clear Politics national average, you see that Sept. 26/Oct. 1, Obama held a lead of four or more points after having been tied with Romney just a month earlier. According to Gallup’s tracking poll, Obama had led by 6 points most of the way from Sept. 19/Oct. 2. Both of these key indicators now show a trend toward Romney, who has closed the gap to 3 points in Gallup and 1.6 points in the RCP, which is mirrored in recent state-by-state results for Florida, Ohio, Colorado and Wisconsin.
However, to emphasize again, polls are a lagging indicator. What is important in studying election polls is to follow the trendline, and we don’t yet have enough results from different firms to be able to say (on Oct. 7) that Romney’s looking like a definite winner for Nov. 6.
In the short term, however, Mitt has gained ground and, if we extrapolate the current trend another four days, by the time Joe Biden walks into Thursday’s debate with Paul Ryan, Biden will know that he and Obama are behind the eight ball: Already trailing in most national polls and no better than even in the key swing states.
C’mon, be honest: Does anyone in either party think Biden can win that debate with Ryan? The human gaffe machine versus the top Republican budget wonk? Word out of the Romney camp is that, leaving nothing to chance, Ryan is being debate-prepped within an inch of his life. Now imagine the cool, smart and well-prepared Ryan facing off against a Joe Biden who knows that the polls are already showing Romney pulling ahead.
Joe’s gonna be under heavy pressure, sweating like a pig, and if he cracks under the strain, a decisive Ryan win Thursday could add another two or three points to Romney’s poll bounce. Extrapolate that trend a bit further . . .
Well, best not to get too far ahead of ourselves, piling one hypothetical contingency atop another. But it is possible to imagine a scenario where Mitt Romney comes into the Oct. 16 debate sitting on a 4-point lead in the national polls with just three weeks to go before Election Day. And if I can envision such a scenario, you know that Democrats must be imagining the same possibility with a sense of Fear and Loathing.
Complete panic may sweep through the Democrats and, as Pete Da Tech Guy likes to quote General Sheridan, “Ride Right Through Them — They’re Demoralized as Hell!”
Don’t get cocky, but here’s just a bit more encouragement from Ohio: Not a lot of love for Obama in Cleveland lately.
Finally, check out this campaign message sent out Saturday night by the Romney campaign:
To: Interested Parties
From: Gail Gitcho, Communications Director
Date: October 6, 2012
Re: President Obama’s $5 Trillion Falsehood
There was wide agreement on Thursday morning that Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate of the general election. Why? Because he laid out the clear choice voters face this November between a real recovery or four more years like the last four years.
Middle-class families have been devastated in the Obama economy. Twenty-three million Americans are struggling for work. Median incomes have declined by more than $4,500 since President Obama took office. Today, nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. That’s clearly not the real recovery our nation needs. And since President Obama has an indefensible record on the issue voters care about most – the economy – he’s been forced to resort to diversions, distractions, and outright deceptions about both his own record and Governor Romney’s proposals.
The most glaring example was his accusation that Mitt Romney is proposing a “$5 trillion tax cut.” But Jim Lehrer had barely thanked the audience for watching Wednesday’s debate before the fact checkers swooped in and declared President Obama’s claim to be false. By Thursday night, even the Obama campaign itself had to admit its charge was untrue. Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter admitted the falsehood saying, “Well, okay, stipulated, it won’t be near $5 trillion.” In fact, multiple independent studies confirm that Mitt Romney’s tax reform plan will stimulate economic growth. This growth together with a broader tax base – these studies conclude – mean we can lower tax rates without increasing the deficit.
But what is even worse than President Obama’s deception about Gov. Romney’s proposal is the truth about his own. To be clear: the President has already raised taxes 21 times during his first term in office. And his only plan for a second term is to raise even more taxes – $2 trillion worth, in fact. Middle-class families and small-business owners will suffer most as a result, since his tax plan will subject nearly one million business owners to higher taxes, threaten more than 700,000 jobs, and cost the United States $200 billion in economic output. A study conducted by the independent and nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute (AEI) calculated that the annual cost of the debt President Obama has already racked up and the new spending he has proposed would amount to $4,000 per year in higher taxes on the middle class. And nearly five million middle-class Americans will be subject to a tax hike once Obamacare’s individual mandate is fully implemented.
Clearly, the Obama campaign was in full damage control mode at the end of this past week. Given such a devastating record, it’s no surprise Barack Obama will say and do anything to avoid talking about his middle-class tax-hike plan. And with 31 days to go until Election Day, we fully anticipate Mitt Romney will be hit by many more baseless attacks in the weeks to come as President Obama continues to avoid talking about his failed policies.
All we can do is fight back with the truth, plain and simple: Our country can’t afford another four years like the last four years. Mitt Romney has a plan to create 12 million jobs and turn our economy around, and he is the candidate who will deliver meaningful reforms to achieve the real recovery Americans need and deserve.