Carol Platt Liebau

Today's ABC/Washington Post poll will help assauge the panic that was rising among some Republicans given the Obama post-convention bounce -- it has Obama up only 1 over Romney (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-and-romney-close-in-poll-among-likely-voters/2012/09/10/e57318ea-fb79-11e1-b153-218509a954e1_print.html).  And the Investors Business Daily/Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll shows a 2 point lead for Obama (down from a 7 point lead in August) (http://www.tipponline.com/presidency/news/presidency/race-tightens-as-obama-advantage-narrows-to-2-points).

So nobody on the right should be gnashing teeth or rending his (or her) garments.  On the other hand, the polls all show Obama to have a lead, albeit a slight one, so don't decide it's unnecessary to contribute or work. The problem is that we're not really going to know which pollster is right until Election Day, because polling is as much art as science.  Some of the factors that will inform this race include:

(1) Turn-out: The young and minorities still strongly favor Obama (albeit by significantly smaller margins than in 2010).  The elderly strongly favor Mitt Romney.  Generally, the elderly are a more reliable voting bloc than the young; what's more, unemployment is very high in the youth and minority communities.  Will young people, Latinos and blacks turn out in droves to vote for four  more years of the same?  Commentary's Jonathan Tobin points out that the TIPP poll referenced above shows Obama getting the smallest share of the Jewish vote since Carter (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/09/10/poll-shows-obama-getting-lowest-jewish-support-since-jimmy-carter-vote/).  Will that trend hold?

(2) The Bradley Effect: There was much discussion in '08 about whether polls might be overstating support for Obama.  As it turns out, whatever overstatement there was was minor (just a little over a point) (http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2008/11/the-list-which-presidential-polls-were-most-accurate/). On the other hand, it was much easier to convince voters to support Obama in '08, and thus, his supporters played the race card much less frequently and with less vigor.  This year, could voters be more aware of the "bigot" label being hung on the President's detractors and thus much less likely to admit to voting for his opponent?

(3) The Unexpected:Drudge notes that Moody's is threatening the US with another downgrade because of its debt.  Not good news for the President. On the other hand, if Obama comes to an eleventh-hour "rescue" of Israel from Iran's nukes, will that boost support for him in a "rally 'round the flag" effect? And at this time last year, the McCain-Obama race was still quite competitive . . . the economic meltdown hadn't yet occurred.

To paraphrase one of Ronald Reagan's quotes, we needn't believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do . . . there's no reason to panic.  But we should all believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.  So talk to your neighbors, share information, contribute, work and vote.


Carol Platt Liebau

Carol Platt Liebau is an attorney, political commentator and guest radio talk show host based near New York. Learn more about her new book, "Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Hurts Young Women (and America, Too!)" here.