Why, wonders Beth Reinhard of National Journal, is Team Obama airing a new television ad with claims already rated by Politifact as “pants on fire” false?  The ad in question, “Troubled,” claims Romney wants to make all abortions illegal, even in cases of rape an incest:

The ad from the Obama campaign said Romney “backed a bill that outlaws all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.”

The Obama campaign provides virtually nothing to back that up, however. It has no evidence that Romney explicitly opposed the exception for rape and incest. While he supported the “human life amendment,” there are many versions and the most recent ones allow abortion after rape or incest. And it’s worth noting that in 2011, Romney declared that has said he supports those exceptions.

In its effort to appeal to women, the Obama campaign has twisted Romney’s position to a ridiculous degree. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.

So why run yet another ad with the same ridiculous claims?  Reinhard says the key is in swing-state polling — which shows Barack Obama’s big lead among women shrinking substantially:

A look at the dwindling gender gap in just one of the states where the ad is running gives it away. In Virginia — ground zero for the so-called “war on women” because of anti-abortion initiatives in the state capitol — Obama was running ahead of Romney in Quinnipiac University polls in March and June, largely because of monster leads among women. The gender gap was 13 points in March and 16 points in June.

Then came July’s survey, which found the candidates deadlocked at 44 percent each. The gender gap had shrunk to only 5 points.

In the latest week-long survey results (July 16-22) from Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll, which sampled 3500 likely voters, the gender gap has fallen to five points (48/43) — but it’s only down to two points in today’s three-day rolling average (46/44).  Meanwhile, Romney has a 13-point lead among men, 54/41, in today’s result, and a nine-point edge from the previous weeklong results, 50/41.  When leaners are included in the three-day rolling average, Romney has a twelve-point lead among men, 55/43 — and a tie among women with Obama at 47/47.  Among those women “certain” of their vote, Obama only has a one-point edge, 38/37.  Among men certain of their vote, Romney leads by 14, 47/33.

Romney also leads the tracking poll overall by five points, 49/44 — and that was before today’s GDP report.

It seems that Team Obama has good reason to hit the panic button, and not just in Virginia.  They need to scare women back onto the Democratic reservation, and setting their own pants on fire looks like their only option, now that “Julia” has been banished to the Island of Misfit Political Mascots.