Neil King in the Wall Street Journal assesses the Battlegrounds following Mitt Romney’s post-debate surge. But before we get to that let’s get the disclaimers about King out of the way first. He is the opposite of Jon Ralston below. King is a lefty hack who does consistently partisan reporting in what are supposed to be news stories. This one is no different. After President Obama threw up all over himself in the debate and is hemorrhaging support, King writes a piece on the state of the race and every section is a glass-half-empty scenario for Romney despite the overwhelming weight of evidence that Obama’s campaign is reeling in the polls, in the news cycle (Benghazi) and in fundraising (he spent 3 days fundraising in California rather than campaigning in mid-October — not good). As for positive mentions of Romney, no where is there a mention of the dramatic increases in voter registration in most every state relative to Obama’s overwhelming advantage in 2008. I redacted as much of the tripe as I could leaving in some of the factual nuggets but it really is an embarrassingly partisan effort. But that’s nothing new for Neil King, Democrat Advocate.
Now to the article: King sets up a dichotomy: Mitt Romney leads in the national polls — he is ahead or tied in 7 of the last 8 national polls according to Real Clear Politics. But Team Obama argues they are leading in the important Battleground states which is how the race is ultimately won so they are in better shape than the national polls would indicate. Let’s leave aside that state polls lag national polls, are polled less frequently and therefore fail to quickly capture meaningful changes in the electorate like the disaster that was the first Presidential debate. No matter, Obama is leading in a majority of the Battlegrounds according to the Real Clear Politics averages (even if over 50% of those polls unrealistically over-sample Democrats) so at least at the moment they can make an argument that the electoral college favors them. King writes:
With the Republican challenger now surging to a slim lead in national polls, can the president’s lead in the swing states be sustained?
The Central Battlegrounds
[Among the Battlegrounds] Florida, Ohio and Virginia [have] the largest, second-largest and fourth-largest swing states by Electoral College clout. Yet, after months of heavy campaigning and a combined $250 million in TV advertising, plus millions from outside groups, neither candidate can claim a decisive hold on any of them.
FLORIDA & VIRGINIA: Mr. Romney has pulled abreast of his rival in Florida [ed. -- No mention that "abreast" doesn't mean "lead" and Romney leads by 2 in the RCP average] and Virginia since his strong performance in the first presidential debate. Most of his gains have come by eating into Mr. Obama’s margins in suburban neighborhoods and widening the Republican’s support among white voters and independents.
OHIO: For months, Ohio has presented the Romney campaign with its most stubborn challenge. Mr. Romney has lagged behind in Ohio by a wide margin until recently, when he has narrowed the gap with Mr. Obama in a running average of state polls. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll this week, though, found him behind by six percentage points. [ed. -- The Real Clear Politics average in Ohio is Obama +1.3 and that laughable NBC/WSJ poll cited is by far the greatest outlier]
Colorado, Iowa and Nevada—are drawing attention in part because Mr. Romney would need to win these and others, should he lose Florida or Ohio. [ed. -- of course, not because Obama desperately needs them as well]
NEVADA: This week, the main super PAC backing Mr. Obama bought TV ad time in Nevada for the first time in the general election, a signal of the state’s status as an intensifying battleground. Housing and unemployment problems in Nevada have made many voters receptive to Mr. Romney’s message of charting a new course to economic growth. The Obama campaign is hoping to gain a boost from its strong ground operation and support from unions and Latino voters.
COLORADO: Colorado is a rare swing state in which Republican voters outnumber Democrats. But the GOP lead is slight. Mr. Romney has made late strides in the state, spending parts of eight days there since the political conventions.
IOWA: Mr. Obama has maintained a small lead in Iowa, a state where unemployment is well below the national average. “Iowa is a state that ought to be favorable toward Obama, because, if it’s all about jobs, we don’t have a problem with jobs,” said Steffen Schmidt, a political scientist at Iowa State University. [Note: this isn't true. Iowa is deeply concerned about the national debt more than jobs which is why both campaign tailor messages on spending and national debt in the state...awesome reporting guys] At the same time, social issues are in the news there, with voters being asked whether to retain a state Supreme Court justice who voted to allow same-sex marriages. That fight could draw Republican-leaning voters to the polls. [ed. -- A rare positive anecdote for the GOP] In Iowa, the Obama campaign has made a strong push toward early voting, which began in late September. More than 101,000 Democrats have voted early, either by mail or in person, versus just more than 50,000 Republicans, as of Wednesday, according to data from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. [ed. -- No mention that this is behind the rate of 2008 or that in 2010 Republicans dramatically closed similar gaps]
Wild Cards [ed.-- or dead heat races?]
Two wild cards: Wisconsin [RCP average Obama +2.3], which wasn’t seen as competitive before mid-September [ed. -- 100% false. Even the Obama campaign listed this state as a battleground in June/July and when Ryan was put on the ticket in mid-August it was guaranteed to be in play], but where the race is close, and New Hampshire [RCP average Obama +0.7], Mr. Obama had built up a strong lead in New Hampshire before the Oct. 3 debate, and super PACs have pulled their ads from the state. Since then, Mr. Romney appears to have made up some ground, and the president plans to visit on Thursday.