Visual source: Newseum
The polls mean little this early out. Except when they prove my point, of course. It’s way too early. But 67% of the population have already made up their mind (CNN, .pdf). This race is like every other. Except, of course, when it isn’t. Pay attention to every poll. And pay attention to the fact that half of them are Rasmussen.
So, given how crystal clear that is, let’s ask a pollster.
While political junkies will obsess about every twitch in the daily tracking numbers, some caution is in order. The national horse-race polls have greater predictive value now that the Republican nomination is essentially settled, but their historical record is still spotty this far out.
So there you have it.
Nate Silver has his own poll watching advice, starting with: Be patient.
With these economic numbers, Obama is not close to putting this election away, as some people seem to think he has. The current Intrade odds give the president a 61 percent chance of reelection, but the economic numbers suggest a tightening race, fought down to the last couple of points and states.
The common thread among these two surveys and others released in recent days is a slight upward trend for Romney and a modest decline for Obama since March. Those changes are apparent in the latest update of the HuffPost Pollster Obama-Romney chart, based on all public polls.
Even with their modest variations, these four surveys paint a similar picture. Obama is largely holding the minority and college-educated white womenwho comprise two pillars of the modern Democratic base (along with young people.) But he is facing erosion among blue-collar white men and struggling to maintain even his modest 2008 support among the two swing quadrants in the white electorate: the college-plus white men and non-college white women.
For the moment, that division of allegiances is enough to provide Obama an overall advantage (he would lead slightly even in the Gallup track if the minority share of the vote was adjusted to its level in 2008). But it’s not enough of an edge for him to breathe easy-and the fact that most of the white electorate is resisting him at least as much as it did in 2008 suggests he may never entirely get to such a comfortable place before November, even if he remains ahead overall. Check back here Thursday for another snapshot, from the first University of Phoenix/National Journal Next America Poll.
Remember when Obama was going to lose the support of all those Democrats dissatisfied with his weak-kneed compromises? And remember how Romney was going to struggle to win over the base because, like, “Anybody but Romney” was 75% of the GOP?
Well, here it is only April, and the bases are basically unified. In other words, the campaign, if not the last few years of politics, has already accomplished what is usually accomplished months from now.
Party identification: it matters. A lot.
My take? It’s a close race, but Obama is a slight favorite. Or, if you prefer, Obama has a slight lead but it will be a close race.
“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” a gleeful Ann told the backyard full of Florida fat cats, sounding “like a political tactician,” as Garrett Haake, the NBC reporter on the scene, put it.
It’s important when you act the martyr not to overplay your hand. If you admit out loud to a bunch of people — including Haake, who was on the sidewalk enterprisingly eavesdropping — that you’re just pretending to be offended, you risk looking phony, like your husband. (It also doesn’t fly to tell Diane Sawyer that your dog “loved” 12 hours in a crate on top of the car or that it’s “our turn” to be in the White House.)
The candidate, meanwhile, continued to look phony by presenting a completely different side of himself to the wealthy Palm Beach donors who came in fancy cars to eat snapper and hear a snappier Mitt.
That’s why Obama is a slight favorite. Hard to imagine that, when they get around to paying attention, the Republican (trashed brand) phony (Etch a Sketch lives!) that no one likes (worst favorables ever) will win.