‘We definitely lost four or five points between the storm and Chris Christie’

November 8, 2012

So says "one of Romney’s biggest fundraisers, who requested anonymity to speak candidly." But it's not true. 


Was this handshake all it took to doom Mitt Romney? (Jewel Samad -- AFP/Getty)

Hurricane Sandy hit the United State on Oct. 29. According to Real Clear Politics, Mitt Romney led the polls that day by 0.8 percent. As of Election Day, Obama led in the polls by 0.7 percent. So even if you attribute the entire drop to Sandy and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), there's no 4-5 point swing to explain.

And you probably shouldn't attribute the full tightening of the polls to Sandy. As Nate Silver wrote at the time, there were a host of possible explanations for Obama's slight rise in the polls:

  • Mr. Obama was adjudicated the winner of the second and third presidential debates in surveys of voters who watched them.
  • The past month has brought a series of encouraging economic news, including strong jobs reports in October and last Friday.
  • The bounce in the polls that Mr. Romney received after the Denver debate may have been destined to fade in part, as polling bounces often do following political events like national conventions.
  • Democrats have an edge in early voting based on states that provide hard data about which party’s voters have turned out to cast ballots. Some voters who were originally rejected by the likely voter models that surveys apply may now be included if they say that they have already voted.
  • Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney have been running lots of advertisements, which could have some effect, especially in the swing states.
  • Mr. Obama’s voter-targeting operation may in fact be stronger than Mr. Romney’s and may have begun to show up in the polls.
  • Mr. Obama’s approval rating is at 49 or 50 percent in many surveys, a threshold that would ordinarily predict a narrow re-election for an incumbent.
  • Some elections “break” toward one or another candidate at the end as undecided voters tune in and begin to evaluate their decision.

Republicans have some tough questions to answer about this election. But if the plan is to try and tell themselves that everything would've worked out if not for that meddling storm, they're not going to end up with very useful answers.

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Sarah Kliff · November 8, 2012