In the battle of the campaign spin the Romney camp made political director Rich Beeson, pollster Neil Newhouse and senior adviser Russ Schriefer available for a media call this afternoon. As you might expect they think they are, in Schriefer’s words, in a “very, very good place.” He and the other Romney advisers point to Romney’s lead in favorability, the intensity of Republican voters (reflected in part in early voting in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio) and Romney’s lead among independents. In Florida they predicted that they would triumph among Election Day voters by double digits and that combined with strength in the Panhandle, the Interstate 4 corridor and Jacksonville and among Jewish and Cuban voters Romney would win that state.
Pollster Neil Newhouse insisted that it is a “stretch” consider the political environment to be as favorable to Obama as it was in 2008. He sees an intensity gap of 8 to 10 percent in Romney’s favor.
Romney’s advisers implicitly acknowledged that Romney has been going easy on the president during the Sandy recovery. Schriefer nevertheless promised that tomorrow we would see him “engaging” as you would expect six days before an election. He was careful not to criticize New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s praise of the president, saying that the Republican “is doing exactly what he should be doing.”
What to make of all this? Well, both campaigns are trying to put their best foot forward. Obama’s team will point to state polls. Romney’s team discounts some of these because they reflect an electoral balance seen in 2008 but not likely to repeat itself. Early voting suggests that Romney is more right than not in that regard. What we know is that some subset of public polls is wrong. The trick is discerning which ones.
But in fact the race is close with enough electoral votes in play for each side to see a path to victory. Romney’s path requires that he keep his lead with independents and keep his base fired up; Obama’s hoping that lightning strikes twice and a massive Democratic surge lifts him to victory. We’ll find out who is right next week. In the meantime, Romney-Ryan are heading to Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin this week. That’s where the race will be won or lost.