How the Presidential contest looks five days away from first debate

By Dave Andrusko

Pro-Abortion President Barack Obama and Pro-Life Mitt Romney

Next Wednesday is the first of three presidential debates between pro-life Mitt Romney and pro-abortion Barack Obama. Five days out and if we are to believe the “mainstream media,” Romney is trailing Obama by such a substantial margin, nothing short of a overwhelming Romney performance five days from now can save his candidacy.

Notice how one false assumption builds on another. Romney must be positively Lincoln-esque, if he trails in battleground states by what many of the most recent polls conducted for media outlets are saying.

But is Mr. Romney falling further and further behind? We’ve had this conversation before, and we will have it again. The usual suspects want Obama to win and pretend as if only “partisans” could doubt their results.

However, the criticism is nothing more than an expression of commonsense. For starters, when you hear that Obama is no longer roughly even with Romney among Catholics but suddenly miles ahead, you have to ask yourself how that can be? The answer is it can’t.

Let’s return to familiar territory: the basics. Whereas the recent surveys of the Washington Post and CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac find Obama up from 4 to 9 points in Florida and Ohio, Rasmussen Reports finds, “In the 11 swing states, the president and Mitt Romney are tied with 46% support each. Four percent (4%) are not sure, and three percent (3%) are undecided.” (When “leaners” are included, Romney is up one point.)

How can there be that much vast difference? For the same reason, there has been a difference for months: the composition of the audience polled. As Jim Geraghty, writing at National Review Online, argues

“First, the basics: Most Democrats are going to vote for the Democratic candidate, most Republicans are going to vote for the Republican candidate, and the independents are usually going to split somewhat evenly. So the proportion of the three groups more or less determines which candidate the polls are going to show ahead.

“No one claims to be able to predict, with absolute certainty, what the partisan makeup is going to be on Election Day. But we do have a range from recent history — from even in 2004 and a seven percentage point advantage for Democrats in 2008. If a pollster believes that the electorate will be even more heavily Democratic in 2012 than it was in 2008, I’m willing to hear those arguments, but I think it’s a tough case to make. The last presidential cycle was a perfect storm for Democrats …”

Most of those who are suspicious are not saying that pollsters ought to have exactly as many Republicans in their surveys as Democrats [although you could make a case for that], but should have a sample that is half-way between the Democrats’ banner year of 2008 and 2004 when President Bush won re-election.

How can Obama for much of the year be seen as winning almost all Democrats and Romney be seen as winning almost all Republicans AND holding a lead among independents, yet be behind? Because “Obama is winning almost all the Democrats, and Democrats make up such a large share of the sample,” Geraghty writes. He adds,

“Possible? Sure, anything’s possible. But if a pollster is going to offer a hypothetical electorate that looks different from everything we’ve seen before, I’d like to know why they think this is the case.”

Please keep that in mind over the next five weeks as you will be told over and over and over again that Mr. Romney didn’t {fill in the blank} and because he was so far behind, he’s lost his final chance.

It simply isn’t true but rather is an expression of what Geraghty calls a “confirmation bias.” Reporters are convinced Obama will win so why should they question that the electorate “is going to be more heavily Democratic this cycle than it was the previous historical high.”

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