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Hullabaloo


Saturday, October 13, 2012

 
Don't panic. Organize and fight.

by David Atkins

Here at Hullabaloo we try not to dig too much into the horse race, preferring to focus on the increasing right-wing drive to insanity, and the policy problems that both sides are often ignoring as the climate burns, the slide toward greater economic inequality continues apace, militarism increases unchecked, etc. Many readers couldn't care less whether the Democrat or the Republican wins the presidency.

But for those of you who do care and are fretting nervously about the latest poll numbers showing an increasing probability of a Romney victory, Charlie Cook has a gentle reminder for you:

A postdebate Ohio survey for CNN put Obama ahead in that state by 4 points among likely voters, 51 percent to 47 percent. Before the debate, the incumbent had been leading by 5 to 8 points in private polling, so the debate would appear to have had some impact but possibly not enough. Given how bad both Michigan and Pennsylvania look for Romney, he desperately needs a breakthrough in Ohio; for a Republican to win the White House without Ohio (it’s never been done), Michigan, or Pennsylvania would be the equivalent of drawing a royal flush in poker.

A WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll showed that the swing state had narrowed from a 15-point spread for Obama, 52 percent to 37 percent last month, to 6 points, 47 percent to 41 percent, postdebate. Few pros on either side gave the slightest credence to Obama having a 15-point lead before; it’s difficult to take seriously the suggestion that the president’s lead actually dropped 11 points. My guess is that last month’s WMUR poll was an outlier; that Obama’s lead was probably in the high single digits then; and that the 6-point figure now is probably right, and maybe even a point or two high. A Selzer & Company poll (the same firm also does The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg News surveys) for the University of Denver shows likely Colorado voters giving Obama a 4-point postdebate edge, 47 percent to 43 percent, perhaps a little closer than before but not a collapse.

The problem with state polls is that most are in the extraterrestrial category; robo-polls are often all over the map. Aficionados would be well advised to focus on state-level polling offered by NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist University; CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac University; and by ABC, CNN, Fox News, and other brand names that specifically use live interviewers calling voters with landlines as well as the 30 to 40 percent of voters (mostly young people and minorities) who have only cell phones. Although poll aggregators have a good technique in averaging data, be advised that a lot of dubious information goes into those averages; it’s wiser to focus on the brand names with the more traditional (and very costly) methodology.
Assuming the President comes out even or better in the following debates and the race stays fairly stable in its current condition, this entire election is going to hinge on turnout. It's old hat to say it, but it's still true.

Which means that every second spent frantically checking TPM and RCP for the latest numbers; every second commenting on some blog about what the President or Democrats need to do differently now to win the election; every second spent yelling at the TV--all of them are precious seconds not being used to get Democrats to the polls or help sway the few wavering undecideds left.

There are battlegrounds all across the country in races big and small, from the Presidency on down to city council. If the President loses, keeping control of the Senate is crucial to prevent repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Every House seat puts the gavel closer to Nancy Pelosi and weakens Boehner's position. Every statehouse seat claws back Republican gains.

Now is the time to make a difference in the battle that appeals to you most, and modern technology allows access to at least phonebanking in just about any of the big battles going on across the country.

Don't panic. Organize and fight.

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