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Presdiential Polls 2012: Karl Rove is Wrong, Polls Show Obama Will Win

Trick or Treat? On October 31, Karl Rove’s Wall Street Journal treat to Mitt Romney was likely just another political trick. The WSJ published Rove’s final column leading up to the election in which Rove predicted that Romney will win 51%-48% with Romney carrying at least 279 Electoral College votes.

According to Rove, “There have been 31 national surveys in the previous seven days. Mr. Romney led in 19, President Obama in seven, and five were tied. Mr. Romney averaged 48.4%; Mr. Obama 47.2%.”

Rove is looking at “hard data,” so this all must be pretty believable … if you’ve been paying attention the past month, you will have seen both teams decry the biased nature of the polls and then cry to the heavens about their new bump in the polls.

After months of trailing in the polls and no momentum, Romney’s team is clinging for dear life to its paddle board in hopes of riding the wave from the first debate. Jonathan Chait over at NYMag argues that no matter how many times the Romney camp says he’s winning – it’s a bluff.

According to Chait, “Karl Rove employed exactly this strategy in 2000. As we now know, the race was excruciatingly close, and Al Gore won the national vote by half a percentage point. But at the time, Bush projected a jaunty air of confidence. Rove publicly predicted Bush would win 320 electoral votes. Bush even spent the final days stumping in California, supposedly because he was so sure of victory he wanted an icing-on-the-cake win in a deep blue state. Campaign reporters generally fell for Bush’s spin, portraying him as riding the winds of momentum ....”

The boisterous bluff is good ground game. Everyone wants to vote for a winner.

The national polls may have had Romney ahead, but Obama is going to win

While there is no such thing as hard data when it comes to polling (particularly with a race this bloody close), there is no harm in trying to read the tea leaves. Looking at the top 10 national polls taken in the last 10 days, Obama has a slight infinitesimal edge with a +0.1% spread. In other words, it’s a dead heat. (On November 1, 2004, Bush was beating Kerry by +1.5%.)

However, the state polls may be telling a different story. Mark Halperin claimed on “Morning Joe” this week that Republican “elites are starting to think, in the last 24 hours, that these [state poll] leads are, as the Obama campaign has said for a LONG time, small but persistent and consistent.”

Meanwhile, Sean Trende over at Real Clear Politics crunched the numbers and found that while the national surveys point to a Romney win, the state polls point to an Obama win. Trende reverse-engineered a national poll from the state polls and found that “after adding the totals up, the results were plain: If the state polls are right, even assuming Romney performs as well as Bush did in the states without polling, Obama should lead by 1.18 points in the national vote.” He concludes that one group of polls will converge upon the other in the next week, and we’ll get a better idea.

When Trende published that article on October 31, the RCP average had Romney up by 0.8 points. As of November 2, Obama is up by 0.3 points. And, these polls have yet to fully take into account the likely “Sandy” bump for Obama given his presidential appearance throughout the storm and new super fan New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Last minute celebrity boost:  Powell, Christie, & Bloomberg

Over in New Jersey this week, Obama has toured the state alongside the popular Republican Gov. Christie. With Obama praising Christie and Christie praising Obama, the Washington Post has described their newfound relationship as a “love-in” and Fox News has just been plain confused: 

Far from affectionate, Christie described Obama recently as “blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue.”  

That said, Christie has no clear love for Romney either. In his speech at the RNC earlier this fall, Christie did not mention Romney once in the first 16 minutes of his speech instead highlighting his own story:

Is this bipartisanship at its best or serious planning ahead on Christie’s part for 2016? With Romney flailing during the primary, the GOP made repeated calls for Christie to jump into the race. Christie entertained the idea, but seems to have opted for a future play. No matter Christie’s motives, the perceived endorsement from the fiery governor is bound to benefit Obama in light of the tight polls.

As of this week, Barack Obama now has four of the nation’s most powerful and charismatic political personas singing his praises: Big Dog Bill Clinton (ok not new, but he’s on fire), self-identified Republican Colin Powell (just released ad highlighting bipartisanship), Loser-Snookie-is-not-from-Jersey Gov. Christie, and the no-colors-dreamboat New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No matter how Rove massages the numbers, my bet is on Obama. 

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