A walk through the RealClearPolitics average of polls is an exploration of parallel universes. This morning, the overall RCP average shows a tied race between Obama and Romney. While this itself is an ominous sign for Obama's chances at reelection, his actual standing is likely far weaker. Propping him up are a gaggle of polls, led by Investors' Business Daily, that are clinging to fantasies about Democrat turnout.
Factoring into the RCP average are three media polls showing Obama with a 3-point national lead over Romney. These polls are sponsored by ABC/Washington Post, the Hartford Courant, and Investors' Business Daily, whose daily tracking poll provides a constant distortion of the RCP average.
Why do I say distortion? Because all three live in a bizarre world where Democrats will apparently replicate the turnout advantage they enjoyed in 2008. All three use a D+7 polling sample, meaning that on election day, they assume Democrats will have a 7-point edge over Republicans. When it happened in 2008, it was the biggest turnout advantage for Democrats in modern history. Does anyone paying attention to politics really expect them to match that feat this year?
There are common sense reasons to think that's daft. In 2008, an economic crisis was exploding at the height of the campaign. GOP voters were dispirited after eight years of Bush and recorded their lowest levels of voting enthusiasm. Hundreds of thousands of voters who supported Bush's reelection in '04 simply stayed home. Add to the mix an almost messianic campaign for Obama who, with no actual record, was the receptacle for every voter's hopes for change.
Today we have a very weak economy that is teetering on the edge of recession. Obama has a record that, being most charitable, is mixed. He suffers under a long litany of broken promises and the things he has accomplished are deeply unpopular.
Virtually every poll shows GOP voters more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats. The edge Democrats enjoyed in early voting in 2008 doesn't exist today. At this point four years ago, McCain was running low on cash and pulling out of critical swing states. This year, Romney has a cash advantage for the final two weeks.
Yet, IBD would have you ignore all of this and just pretend that it's 2008 all over again. Now, IBD is a great paper, and its editorial page provides some of the most full-throttled defense of capitalism around. But its news division, like the Wall Street Journal, is buying into a fantasy. And even this fantasy isn't working. In 2008, when the electorate was D+7, Obama won by 7 points. In a reply, his lead is only three, and well under 50%.
Every poll in the RCP with a more realistic assumption about the election shows Romney with a slight edge.
Keep in mind, again, that IBD's poll is a daily tracking poll. So, the paper is providing a real-time distortion of the state of the campaign. I pray that the people doing polling for IBD don't also oversee their investment advice. If so, its long past time to short IBD.
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