Memo from Romney campaign pollster: Mellow out about the bad polls lately

posted at 4:44 pm on September 10, 2012 by Allahpundit

Erick Erickson’s exactly right about this. Two simple points. One: Needless to say, the race isn’t over. O got his bounce — he’s up to 50 percent and a five-point lead today in Rasmussen — but it’ll fade. In fact, it looks like he’s already leveling off in Gallup’s tracker, with his job approval now down two points from its peak of 52 percent four days ago. Things will tighten up. Even your friendly neighborhood eeyorepundit thinks so.

Two: For the moment, though, Romney’s behind. Cue the pep talk from Romney pollster Neil Newhouse:

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…

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.

Follow the link for the familiar litany of why-Romney-will-win arguments: Huge fundraising, higher Republican enthusiasm, the pitiful Obama economy, the 1980-ish late break among undecideds after the debate. A “top Romney advisor” is putting on a brave face for Rich Lowry too:

It’s horses**t. Nobody in Boston thinks we’re going to lose. We’re in a tight race. We had a 4-5 point bounce after our convention and it evaporated when they had theirs. Now they have a 4-5 bounce. It’s going to evaporate in September. We feel good about the map. We’re up with advertising in Wisconsin and I think North Carolina is going to come off the board. On Ohio, they’ve been spinning for months now that it’s out of reach…

I actually think the other side is in a panic. You look at New Mexico closing up. And they’re not above 50 in any of their target states. Look, we’re raising money, they’re raising money, and it’s tight. This is a dogfight. But the numbers actually point to a romney win barring something unforeseen.

My chief worry here is that Romney’s still betting big that despair over Obamanomics will drive undecideds towards him at the last minute, with the October and November jobs reports potential gamechangers if they’re especially dismal. Could be, but it also could be that the worse the economy looks, paradoxically the more Obama is inoculated from public opinion on it. I remember writing last year that voters could end up being convinced that the financial crisis and its fallout were so horrendous that realistically no one could have brought the country back in four years, even though the whole point of Obama’s 2008 campaign was that he was a messianic figure capable of unprecedented achievements. That was, in fact, the crux of Bill Clinton’s speech at the convention — that the Great Recession was just a bit more unprecedented and impressive than the Unicorn Prince was, so we need to give him more time to repair it. If that’s what undecideds are thinking, then two more terrible jobs reports might not shake loose the votes Romney needs to put him over the top. On the contrary, they could reinforce the impression that while O deserves some blame for the state of the economy, this mess has been so awful and protracted that it’s beyond any one would-be demigod’s power to fix.

And yes, needless to say, it is troubling that a president might be excused for a disastrous record partly because it’s disastrous, but that’s Hopenchange for you. Some swing voters foolishly believed the myth four years ago and a critical chunk of them will be reluctant to admit that they were suckered. (That’s why Romney’s been careful to frame his attacks on O as disappointment, not anger: As an advisor told Byron York recently, they don’t want to be seen as rubbing disillusioned Obama voters’ faces in their mistake.) They’re looking for reasons to think they made a good decision in voting for him the first time, and “no one could have fixed this economy” fits the bill nicely. None of which is to say that Romney can’t win anyway; there are lots and lots and lots of Republican attack ads to come. It’s simply to say that the biggest weapon in his campaign arsenal might not be as big as we think, which might help answer Powerline’s question of why this election, which should be a cakewalk, is so close. If even perennial Democratic doomsayer Doug Schoen is now writing posts like this, a bit of eeyorism may be in order.


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