Mona Charen
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"I don't know," a very wise and skeptical Washington political analyst confided to me on Sunday as I limned the Romney victory I foresee. "I'd like to believe it," she said, "but I have to overlook a lot. If you're right, then a whole lotta state polls have to be wrong."

Very true. But I'll climb all the way out onto a limb and assert that the state polls are wrong -- or at least misleading.

Every four years we complain that the press covers the presidential contest as a horse race. This year sets some sort of new standard. This is the year that polls ate the campaign. I can't recall a presidential election that featured so many surveys or so much analysis of polls. We've been so focused on the numbers, the poll sample sizes, the partisan mix of respondents, poll biases and what we've all learned to call "the internals" that we've almost forgotten what the election is about. Every ad, slip of the tongue and peanut butter sandwich has been polled about. If married, white women in the suburbs of Philadelphia react positively to words like "bipartisanship," we've heard about it. People who cover politics are more familiar with the names Pew, Gallup, Rasmussen and Susquehana than with the names of their own children.

We awake on Election Day to the knowledge that the RealClearPolitics average of national polls has the two candidates in a virtual tie. Obama is up by .4 percent with 47.8 percent; Romney trails at 47.4 percent. Yet, in the 10 battleground states that will decide the Electoral College, and therefore the outcome, Obama is just slightly ahead in all but two.

I'm comfortable on this limb because it's possible to see the race uncluttered by polling flak out here. The polls are so close that they don't yield enough information no matter how cleverly we massage the data, examine the internals or parse the turnout projections.

Let's instead look back at how actual voters have behaved since 2009. In the first year of the Obama presidency, blue New Jersey and purple Virginia (which had gone for Obama in 2008 by 15.5 and 6.3 percent respectively) held gubernatorial elections. A New Jersey newspaper described a Corzine rally that Obama addressed on November 2, 2009: "'I'm going to need you to knock on doors. I'm going to need you to make phone calls. I'm going to need you to do the same thing you did last year.' The crowd, which Corzine's staff estimated at 6,500 people, was on its feet for Obama's entire speech, cheering and occasionally interrupting him with shouts of adoration."

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Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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