by Bob Grundfest
Well, where does the time go? Not only should this report have come out on August 6, there are only three months left until the election. Summer doldrums indeed. The silver lining is that a slew of polls have been released in the past couple of days that haven’t actually defined the race, but are giving us some idea of where the election will be won or lost.
Last week’s jobs report had mixed numbers for both candidates. The topline job creation report looked good, but a look deep into the report showed that the economy is just not sustaining much momentum, even though President Obama will be able to say that all of the jobs lost in the early days of the recession have been gained back.
As for the political numbers, Obama holds a 47.8-43.9% lead in the latest RealClearPolitics average, mainly on the strength of a Reuters/Ipsos poll which has him up 7, and a Pew Research poll from July which had him up 10. The daily tracking polls have come back to Obama in the last two weeks with Rasmussen showing a tied race and Gallup having Obama up 1. As I’ve been saying for a few months, we are at the point where touchstone events will begin to define the race more specifically. Mitt Romney will choose his running mate (and could reshape the race) and the Republican Convention is a mere two weeks away. Expect Romney to get a sizable bounce out of Tampa and to recharge his campaign with a more focused message and more national media coverage. In early September it will be Obama’s turn at the Democratic Convention, and he needs to counter Romney’s bounce with one of his own. A swing towards the president will signal a very close race. A small bounce will signal a possible GOP landslide in November.
The latest state polls are firmly in the news today, with a New York Times/CBS News/Quinnipiac poll garnering the most attention. It shows Mitt ahead in Colorado and Obama leading in Virginia and Wisconsin. Pollster’s Mark Blumenthal has an excellent analysis here, with his main points being that there are questions about the demographics in the poll, and that they don’t move the race much, though partisans on both sides will want to do just that. Nate Silver, of the Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, essentially says the same thing and notes that the poll is probably overstating both candidates’ positions. Nate Cohn of Electionate weighs in here, while Charlie Cook is nowhere to be found.
Other polls also echo the Times as Rasmussen gives Obama a 48-46% lead in Virginia and Marquette University has Obama leading in Wisconsin by 50-45%.
What we can say at this point is that Obama is ahead in enough states to give him the 270 electoral votes either candidate needs to win the election. RCP bucks that trend, giving Obama a 247-191 lead, but the New York Times (302-236), Pollster (281-191), electoral-vote.com (332-206), and Election Projection (332-206) all seem to show solid Obama leads.
The Congressional ballot shows that the Republicans will most assuredly keep control of the House of Representatives, though their margin could be cut back, and the Senate seems to up for grabs with close races in Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida, Massachusetts, and Virginia to name just some of the toss-up races. There are more. Check your local listings.
By this time next month the campaign will be in full swing, children will be back at school and the NFL will kickoff both its season and its first concussion controversy. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer and make sure you’re registered to vote in time for November.