Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sullivan Unhinged

That's how I describe Andrew Sullivan's most recent lengthy post on the President's campaign. The post was sparked by the latest Pew poll which shows Romney leading by 4 points after Pew had Obama ahead by 8 points a few weeks ago. Here's some of Sullivan's rant:
Look: I'm trying to rally some morale, but I've never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in the way Obama did last week - throw away almost every single advantage he had with voters and manage to enable his opponent to seem as if he cares about the middle class as much as Obama does. How do you erase that imprinted first image from public consciousness: a president incapable of making a single argument or even a halfway decent closing statement? And after Romney's convincing Etch-A-Sketch, convincing because Obama was incapable of exposing it, Romney is now the centrist candidate, even as he is running to head up the most radical party in the modern era.
OK, let's start by discussing that Pew poll in more depth.

The Pew poll is upsetting to many in large part because it is a pollster with a good track record and credibility. This top line caused Andrew Sullivan to descend into italics and exclamation points.
Before the debate, Obama had a 51 - 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 - 45 lead. That's a simply unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October. Before Obama had leads on every policy issue and personal characteristic; now Romney leads in almost all of them. Obama's performance gave Romney a 12 point swing! I repeat: a 12 point swing.
Exclamation points!!! Italics too!!!

I've been arguing that the Romney bounce from the debate appears to have been about 3 points and that it appears it may be receding from that high. That still seems about right. One thing to notice about the Pew poll is that it was in the field on Oct. 4 to Oct. 7. But, as Mark Blumenthal points out, almost all of those interviews were on Oct. 4 to Oct. 6, when the Romney bounce was at its peak:
According to Pew Research, 1,046 of its 1,201 interviews were conducted on Thursday through Saturday. Just 155 interviews were conducted on Sunday. The full sample had a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, with a 3.4 percentage point margin of error among likely voters.
So, this Pew poll is likely overstating Romney's actual support at this moment.

Also, it is one poll! Rasmussen has the race even (even this morning). Gallup has the race roughly even among likely voters. But beyond the polling, let me make a larger point about Andrew Sullivan's absurd reaction. If you are someone who thinks that 90 minutes of bad debating is going to cancel out 4 years of a record worth defending and months and months of bad campaigning by Romney, then you are someone who believes there isn't sufficient wisdom and virtue among the people for self-governance.

The polling (beyond the Pew Poll) doesn't suggest the race has been "thrown away." Get a grip Andrew.


Recovering political scientist said...

Good post. I was appalled by Sullivan's post and his "Romney's the favorite" quote. I fired off an email pointing out all the models that still show Obama leading by a bunch in terms of probability. he didn't reprint it, but it sounds like he got a lot of mail similar to it...

Larry Becker said...

I'll have more to say about this later or tomorrow but Kos (who I don't particularly care for) does a fantastic job of showing the bouncy-ness of Romney's bounce. See ... http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/09/1142135/-The-fundamentals-of-the-race-are-still-in-our-favor

Russ deForest said...

Unhinged indeed. Sullivan has always had a tendency toward strong convictions on limited evidence. On the other hand, stronger evidence is coming in:


It remains to be seen whether Romney's managed to close the comfortable gap.