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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Race Tightening on Day of Debate? Only in Spinland

You may have heard MSM hype today about how the presidential race is tightening just in time for tonight’s debate, based mostly on NBC/WSJ’s latest poll showing Obama with a mere 3-point edge in LVs. But the “tightening” meme has the smell of manufactured suspense, as Steve Singiser notes at Daily Kos:

…That “tightening” meme is paper-thin…the balance of the polling looks pretty middling, at best, for the GOP contender. Worse still for Romney, the national polls look positively boffo compared to the state polls, which today are pretty much a universal disappointment for the Republicans (Texas would seem to be the only poll that they could stick on the refrigerator).
The GOP can point with some happiness downballot, but even there we can see a lot of potential disappointments for the red team coming in five weeks.

Singiser then presents a truck load of recent polling data to illustrate his point, and adds,

Is the race tightening? Only by the most charitable of definitions.
Among likely voters, what was an Obama lead of 50-45 is now a lead of 49-46. So, by that standard, sure…there has been some movement. But, among the larger pool of registered voters, the movement was in the other direction. What was a 50-44 lead for Barack Obama is now a 51-44 lead. That seven-point edge among registered voters is actually the largest lead the president has enjoyed over his Republican rival in an NBC/WSJ poll in 19 months (a February 2011 poll gave him a double-digit edge).
What’s more, when the other candidates are thrown into the mix, the margin among likely voters is…five points. Which would indicate no movement at all, actually.
As for the other national pollsters, the movement is far from uniform. PPP moved a single point in Romney’s direction (from Obama +5 to Obama +4), while Quinnipiac moved a single point in Obama’s direction (from Obama +3 to Obama +4). National Journal’s movement cannot really be tracked accurately, because their previous poll (in April) was of all adults, where this survey has a (ridiculously large) likely voter screen.
As for the trio of daily trackers, the day-to-day movement was equally muted. Ipsos/Reuters didn’t move at all (holding steady at Obama +5), Rasmussen went two points in Romney’s favor (from Obama +3 to Obama +1), and Gallup went two points in Obama’s favor (from Obama +4 to Obama +6).
Again, as we noted yesterday, if there is a “tightening” of the race nationally, it is incremental, at best.

Singiser goes on the crunch statewide poll numbers, none of which offer much encouragement, trend-wise, to the Romney campaign and some of which should bring smiles to Obama’s strategists. All in all, as Singiser, says “Mitt Romney ‘needs a game changer'” in tonight’s debate.

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