It seems to happen every few weeks. The race tightens or widens or simply continues on exactly as it's been and some pundit or reporter declares it a staggering humiliation for the burgeoning universe of political quants. This week, it's Nate Silver's turn.
In endorsement after endorsement, the basic argument is that President Obama hasn't been able to persuade House or Senate Republicans to work with him. If Obama is re-elected, it's a safe bet that they'll continue to refuse to work with him. So vote Romney!
The most important fact of the 2012 election is that the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010; it just hasn’t been fully implemented yet. If President Obama is reelected, the bulk of it will roll out on schedule in 2014.
Obama’s biggest television ad advantages are in Florida, Wisconsin, and Nevada, but he also leads Romney in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia. Romney is even with Obama in North Carolina and actually opened up an advantage in Ohio last week. The idea that either campaign is conceding any big swing state just isn't true.
The 2012 presidential and vice-presidential debates covered a lot of ground. They just skipped over... the two biggest economic issues of our time, the biggest environmental crisis facing the planet, the most important decisions the next president will face... you know, the small stuff.
What you're seeing from the campaigns are two very different views of base psychology. Boston fears scared Republicans won't vote and Chicago fears confident Democrats won't vote. And so, in this final stretch, Romney wants Republicans confident and Obama wants Democrats scared.
Political junkies and campaign reporters pay close attention to Intrade, a betting market that purports to predict the 2012 presidential election. But these markets are also occasionally prone to wild swings. That might have happened on Tuesday, when a brief burst of trading, amounting to $17,800 all told, caused Mitt Romney's electoral chances to surge. At least for a bit.
They say that to know who won a debate, you should watch with the sound off. But how about if you want to know how many times Iran was mentioned versus how many times China was mentioned? Or how America's military spending looks compared to the defense budgets of our nearest competitors? For that, you need some graphs.
"The plan proceeds from a strategic worldview that more is better," says Heather Hurlburt, director of the National Security Network. "But if you want to get more detailed about what they'd do with those troops, they just haven't really said."
The "currency manipulator" question made a lot of sense in 2000 or 2004 or 2008. It doesn't make much sense in 2012. But the political conversation on this issue, as so often happens, hasn't quite caught up to the facts.
After tonight, there are no obvious moments where one campaign or the other can change the underlying synamics of the race. World events can still matter, but it's out of the two campaigns' hands. That raises the stakes. If one candidate or the other underperforms tonight, there's no opportunity to make it back in the next debate.