observations and opinion
An interesting divergence is opening-up between professional polling analysis and professional reporting. The former, best exemplified by Nate Silver’s “fivethirtyeight” blog and Sam Wang’s “princeton election consortium”, interpret polls and other data to produce probability estimates on election results. Tonight, Silver has Obama at a 74% chance of re-election; Wang has him somewhere above 95%. These are statistical analyses, not partisan predictions.
But reporters say something else. They see only Romney signs across parts of Florida and say Obama will fold there, maybe tomorrow. They see big, high-strung, passionate crowds at Romney events – more energetic than the smaller groups gathering for the President or his surrogates. They report sudden Obama campaign advertising and events in sure-thing states, like Minnesota, and wonder if it signals worry. They “feel” momentum for Mitt, which the polls do not reflect. And with the Obama campaign now at a standstill due to the hurricane, they can’t “feel” anything at all there.
This divergence is palpable and confusing. One possibility is a massive Bradley effect: that people when polled say they’ll vote for Obama, but aren’t sincere or enthusiastic. The opposite view is that the Obama vote is rock solid, the Romnoids know it and are spinning the press, really well. It may also be that the people who want the President out are louder and more committed than his supporters (probably true) but ultimately, less numerous.
Who’s right, the pollsters or the reporters? we don’t know.
And then there are the two biggest things to hit America in the late campaign: Hurricane Sandy, followed by Republican Gov Christie’s effusive and repeated praise for President Obama’s response to the disaster (which continues with their joint tour Wednesday). Mix in Mitt’s stupid red meat pandering “kill FEMA” nonsense from the primary season, and suddenly a whole new element blows in with only five campaign days left before E-Day.