Monday, October 15, 2012

Romney Surges

My article from the October 10, 2012, issue of Front Page Magazine:

Romney Surges

By Matthew Vadum

What a difference a week makes.

Before Republican candidate Mitt Romney gave President Obama a historic shellacking in the first presidential debate of the season last Wednesday, some prominent GOP operatives were reportedly close to striking the colors in the battle against Obama.

It was just a few days ago more than a few GOP-leaning pundits were claiming Republican power brokers were on the verge of abandoning Romney in order to salvage the party’s effort to capture the Senate.

But now even Obama idolator Andrew Sullivan, who previously called the president “the Democrats’ Reagan,” and wrote an article titled “Why Are Obama’s Critics So Dumb?” has fallen into a deep pit of despair.

Romney “is kicking the president’s ass,” Sullivan wrote earlier this week. New polls show that “[o]n every single issue, Obama has instantly plummeted into near-oblivion.”

Sullivan wrote that he had “never seen a candidate this late in the game, so far ahead, just throw in the towel in (sic) the way Obama did last week.” The president, he opined, has been “too arrogant to take a core campaign responsibility seriously. Too arrogant to give his supporters what they deserve.”
Sullivan is hardly alone in his bitter disillusionment.

Other signs portend electoral disaster for Barack Hussein Obama, who, incredibly, reportedly left the debate stage believing he had cleaned Romney’s clock.

For the first time, Romney has taken the lead in the much-watched Real Clear Politics poll average, scoring 48.0 percent to Obama’s 47.3 percent at press time Tuesday night.

According to Scott Rasmussen, the most accurate pollster in the 2008 race, as of yesterday Romney was ahead of Obama by 49 percent to 47 percent in the critically important 11 swing states won by President Obama four years ago and considered to be competitive in the 2012 contest.

Representing 146 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory, those states are Colorado (9), Florida (29), Iowa (6), Michigan (16), Nevada (6), New Hampshire (4), North Carolina (15), Ohio (18), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), and Wisconsin (10).

Not surprisingly, Romney also appears to be leading in states that in recent decades have backed Republican presidential candidates. Those states, worth 172 electoral votes, are: Alaska (3), Arizona (11), Arkansas (6), Georgia (16), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), Utah (6), West Virginia (5), and Wyoming (3).

If Romney wins the 11 swing states identified by Rasmussen and the traditionally Republican states, this brings the former Massachusetts governor’s Electoral College total to 318 votes and he will be sworn in as the 45th president of these United States on January 20.

Of course a lot could happen between today and Election Day but it’s safe to say that with the debate last week Obama’s media-created aura of invincibility evaporated.

The voters’ overwhelming belief that the country is on the wrong track, coupled with the president’s mediocre approval ratings, have long suggested that the American electorate has been open to the possibility of new national leadership.

But it took a televised 90-minute debate to sell voters on Romney — assuming that is indeed what is underway in the nation.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign keeps “losing” the news cycle.

Every day brings new revelations of official incompetence in connection with last month’s attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. There is credible evidence that the Obama campaign has been illegally accepting contributions from abroad. (Only donations from U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents are allowed.) Reports indicate that the Obama campaign is engaged in an eleventh hour campaign management shakeup.

Across America there is anecdotal evidence that Obama supporters believe their candidate is losing as Romney-Ryan bumper stickers and yard signs are defaced. The bettors at the Intrade predictions website put Romney’s likelihood of unseating Obama at 38 percent last night, dramatically up from 21 percent before the debate.

The bad news for Obama goes on and on and on.

All the president’s campaign can do is strike out at straw men and fictional characters, hoping to distract the public from Obama’s failed policies.

In August we heard endlessly about the Republicans’ “war on women” and how expensive birth control supposedly was. In September we heard endlessly about the Romney “47 percent” video, which, even though it showed the candidate matter-of-factly discussing strategy, was twisted into supposed proof that the Republican candidate was an unfeeling monster.

Now in October, it’s Big Bird. Over and over and over again.

In the debate Romney slammed useless government spending on public broadcasting.  He said “I love Big Bird,” referring to the large yellow bird character from TV’s “Sesame Street” show, adding that taxpayers shouldn’t be borrowing money from China to pay for its on-screen exploits.

As Obama himself mockingly raised the Big Bird comment in speeches, his campaign started running a bizarre, politically tone-deaf TV ad, that suggested Romney’s priorities were out of wack.
In what could have passed for an ad parody on “Saturday Night Live,” the ad showed images of ├╝ber-embezzler Bernie Madoff and corporate crooks.

Then in a jab at Romney a narrator says ominously, “And the evil genius who towered over them?” as Big Bird appears.

“You have to scratch your head when the president spends the last week talking about saving Big Bird,” Romney said during a campaign stop in Iowa yesterday. “I actually think we need to have a president who talks about saving the American people and saving good jobs.”

If the latest polls are to be believed, the American people are beginning to agree.


  1. Like many conservatives, you make the claim that Rasmussen was the most accurate pollster in 2008. There is no basis in fact for this claim.

    FACT: In 2008, Obama won by a 7.3 margin 53/46. (52.93/45.65)
    FACT: CNN/ORC & McClatchy/Ipsos nailed it with a 7-point margin, 53/46.
    FACT: Rasmussen underestimated Obama with a 6-point margin, 52/46.

    See RCP listing of pollsters' final predictions:

    See the official final election results from the FEC:

    Conservatives often back up their claims about Rasmussen with analyses that were done shortly after the election. These were all based on incorrect PRELIMINARY results of a 6.5 or less margin for Obama.

    One analysis by Fordham University was done in 2009, and is actually based on the correct final election outcome. This report found that eight pollsters were more accurate than Rasmussen.

    Please do a little more research before making the claim again that Scott Rasmussen was the most accurate pollster in 2008.

  2. I appreciate your comment, D_Vargas.

    You posted more or less the same comment at Front Page Magazine when this article was published there.

    Of the big name national pollsters the conventional wisdom among conservatives seems to be that Rasmussen is the most accurate.

    What is your interest in this? Are you in the polling industry?

    You should disclose your role in all this.

  3. Thanks for your reply.

    For me, this goes back to 2009, when I encountered a conservative who insisted that Rasmussen was the most accurate pollster of 2008, based on a study done by Fordham University. The Rasmussen website also prominently cited this study as evidence of their accuracy. I decided to take a closer look.

    The initial Fordham report was dated November 5th, 2008, the day after the election. It stated that the findings were based on an “estimate of a 6.15-point Obama margin in the national popular vote.” Major problem: Obama won by a margin 7.28.

    The initial Fordham report went on to say “Pre-election projections for two organizations’ final polls—Rasmussen and Pew—were perfectly in agreement with the actual election result…” Rasmussen and Pew had projected an Obama win by 52 to 46 percent. Major problem: Obama had won by 53 to 46 percent.

    It was obvious this initial Fordham report was done immediately after the election and had used preliminary information that was incorrect. In other words, its findings were worthless.

    Fordham did a final report in 2009, this time based on the official 2008 election results, and found that eight pollsters were more accurate than Rasmussen.

    If there were any questions about the actual results of the 2008 election, they were laid to rest in July of 2009 when the FEC released its election outcome report. Yet Scott Rasmussen, a numbers man, cited the worthless Fordham study until at least December of 2009, when Fordham released its final report. At some point thereafter, all Fordham citations were removed from the Rasmussen website.

    As recently as last week, Scott Rasmussen appeared on Fox News Channel with Megyn Kelly. At one point, Kelly quoted from the outdated, invalid Fordham report, saying that Rasmussen was “number one.” Instead of correcting her, Scott Rasmussen just nodded his head and smiled. Perhaps Fox News didn’t do their homework, but Rasmussen must be fully aware of the findings of the final Fordham report. His behavior was dishonest, in my opinion.

    You say that conventional wisdom among conservatives seems to be that Rasmussen is the most accurate. Why? On what do conservatives base this “wisdom?”

    And no, I’m not in the polling industry. I'm just an interested observer who did my homework several years ago and I’m shocked to see the “Rasmussen is most accurate” myth still making the rounds.

  4. I don't know why conservatives hold this belief. I hear it over and over and over again. Maybe it's because what you call the "worthless Fordham study" made a tremendous impact on them.

    If Pew and Rasmussen projected an Obama win of 52 to 46 percent in 2008 I don't see it as a "[m]ajor problem" that Obama in fact won the popular vote by 53 to 46 percent.

    A one-point difference is not a big deal in the scheme of things but I do get your point that Rasmussen may not be the MOST accurate. He's still fairly accurate in the art of polling (I would argue it's not a science at all).

    For what it's worth, I'm not in awe of Rasmussen. He sometimes says things that not only smack of hubris but are in fact wrong.

    For example, in
    he writes, "Voters are not better off than they were four years ago — but they're not worse off, either."

    This is patently false. Voters are demonstrably, objectively worse off by almost every measure. Perhaps he meant they don't feel they are worse off but that's not what he wrote.