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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 03:17 PM ET, 10/26/2012

On November 6th, we’ll find out who’s bluffing

Nate Silver assesses the state of the race today: He looks at the averages of the state and national polls and calculates that Mitt Romney’s momentum has stalled — and that Obama is still ahead in the electoral college. Silver:

Barack Obama maintains a narrow lead in the polling averages in states that would get him to 270 electoral votes. Mr. Obama also remains roughly tied in the polls in two other states, Colorado and Virginia, that could serve as second lines of defense for him if he were to lose a state like Ohio.
The day featured the release of 10 national polls, but there was little in the way of a consistent pattern in them. On average, the polls showed a tied race....
Among the 10 [state] polls that provided for a comparison to another poll conducted after the Denver debate, Mr. Obama gained 1 percentage point, on average. The past week of polling suggests that Mr. Romney is no longer improving his position in the race.
Whether Mr. Obama has any momentum of his own, such as because of this week’s debate in New York, is less clear. To me, it looks more like a gradual reversion to the mean than anything all that assertive. At the same time, Mr. Obama has led in the polling averages all year in states that would allow him to win the Electoral College, and that remains the case now.

It’s striking to contrast this analysis with the extensive case for a Romney victory that Romney political director Rich Beeson made to Mike Allen’s Playbook this morning. Beeson simply asserts that Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire are all tied. The polling averages show Obama ahead in all these states; as Silver notes, the averages show him leading in enough states to get past 270. Beeson doesn’t cite any polls in defense of the argument that those four key states are tied. So perhaps Romney internal polling shows this.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has argued that Obama is tied or leading Romney in all of the battleground states. That is a bit out of sync with the averages, which show Romney leading in North Carolina and Florida.

However, this basic fact should be noted: The Obama campaign’s claims about the current state of the race are far more in sync with what the state polling averages say than the Romney camp’s claims are. This doesn’t mean the polling averages are right and that the Romney campaign’s internal polling is wrong. It’s very possible that Romney’s team has it right and the Obama team — and the polling averages — have it wrong.

It’s also possible that one side is bluffing. If so, as David Axelrod said the other day, “we’ll know who’s bluffing and who isn’t in two weeks.” Actually, we’ll know in 11 days.

*********************************************

UPDATE: Let me be even clearer here. The Obama camp claims he is tied with or leading Romney in all the battleground states. The state averages show that Obama leads in Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, Iowa, and (less so in) New Hampshire; they show ties in Colorado and Virginia; and they show leads for Romney in Florida and North Carolina.

That means the Obama camp’s claims are in sync with the state averages in seven out of nine battlegrounds.

Meanwhile, the Romney camp — see political director Beeson’s interview — is claiming the race is tied in Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and New Hampshire, and that Romney leads in Florida and North Carolina. It acknowledges being a few points behind in Nevada.

That means the Romney camp’s claims are only in sync with the state averages in three of the nine battlegrounds.

Again, it’s possible the Romney team is right and that the state averages are wrong. It’s also possible that the state averages could change before election day. But right now, the Obama team’s assessment of the race tracks much more closely with what the averages show than the Romney team’s assessment does.

By  |  03:17 PM ET, 10/26/2012

 
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