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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

See-Saw Polls No Reason for Dems to to Panic

During the last week, many Democrats have succumbed to poll-induced panic syndrome in the wake off the first presidential debate. But Douglas E. Schoen and Jessica Tarlov have a soothing balm for the malady in their Daily Beast post, “Stop Panicking, Obama Supporters!” As the authors explain:

This has been a race of extreme narratives. Before last Wednesday’s debate, commentators were confident of an Obama victory. Now, the media have gone from riding high on Obama to previewing a Romney win. The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, for instance, is arguing that Obama may have forfeited the election with his debate performance.

Tarlov and Schoen review all the latest polls indicating trouble for Obama, including the Pew Research poll, which has caused so much weeping and gnashing of teeth among Dems. In addition, say the authors,

But while these numbers are painful for Obama supporters, the election is close to a tie overall. The Pew survey is just one poll, capturing one moment in time. Consider Monday’s Washington Times/Zogby poll, which showed Romney and Obama in an effective tie, with Romney slightly ahead by 45.1 percent to 44.5 percent. If you factor in libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, Obama is actually ahead by half a point, 45.5 to 45 percent.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen’s tracking numbers also show a tie, with both candidates at 48 percent. The Gallup numbers put Romney only slightly ahead at 49 to 47 percent. And yesterday, Rasmussen reported that 55 percent of likely voters still think Obama is probably going to win in November.
The electoral map also continues to shape up in the president’s favor. Although Romney is ahead by 1 in Ohio, according to the latest ARG survey, he trails by 3 in both Pennsylvania (PDF) and Virginia (PDF).

As Schoen and Tarlov conclude, “In other words, we are not looking at an assured Romney victory. We are looking at a very, very close race.” Greg Dworkin’s pundit round-up at Daily Kos reaches similar conclusions.
You really have to put alarming poll numbers into broader perspective. Dems should remember that the presidential race always narrows in October. If you absolutely must worry about polls, save it for the last couple of days before the campaign, when polls actually have some value in predicting the election outcome.
After all the spin is spun, and regardless of what the polls say, in a close race, it’s who shows up to vote that counts. Stay focused on what Democratic rank and file, as well as campaign workers need to do to get registered voters to the polls. With voter registration deadlines passed in most states this week, it’s time to get involved in preparing a GOTV mobilization of unprecedented proportions.
Residents of states that are pretty much decided should get involved in GOTV to either build and strengthen the Democratic Party in their own state, join in GOTV phone banking campaigns in other states or help out with fund-raising for Democratic candidates. For fund-raising, check out ActBlue. To get invloved in phone-banking and other GOTV action projects click here and/or here.

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