Confirmed: Despite Recycled DNC Speech, Obama Gets Poll Bounce

Guy Benson

9/10/2012 1:19:00 PM - Guy Benson

At least the man is consistent.  From failed jobs programs to major speeches, he's always inclined to go green.  The Republican National Committee has produced a new video comparing Obama's acceptance speech in Charlotte to the rhetoric he employed on the campaign trail in 2008.  Similarities abound:
 


I understand why they wanted to limit the clip to under a minute, but I'm confident the RNC had much more material to work with -- especially if they'd cast a wider net to include the president's tired bromides of the last four years.  As I wrote last week, there was virtually zero new material in Obama's remarks.  Despite an underwhelming speech on Thursday and a convention marred by damaging economic news and procedural embarrassments, Obama's enjoying a polling bounce.  I suspect much of it is attributable to effective prime time speeches delivered by the First Lady and former President Clinton.  At the moment, both Gallup and Rasmussen show Obama with a five-point national lead.  (Democratic pollster PPP indicates Obama holds a similar edge in Ohio..assuming record Democrat turnout).  Prior to the conventions, Rasmussen's daily tracker put Obama ahead by two, and Gallup's showed a one-point Romney lead, so Obama's bounce is somewhere in the four-point range.  Romney saw increased favorability after Tampa but didn't see much of a head-to-head poll jump.  More people watched the DNC than the RNC in the key primetime hour.  It remains to be seen if and when Obama's meh speech and the August jobs report will drag his numbers back down -- plus, pollsters have yet to measure the effects of Romney's new ad onslaught.  In an attempt to quell concerns about tracking polls, the Romney campaign has issued a memo from its top internal polling guru.  Bottom line?  The fundamentals of the economy and the race haven't changed (via the campaign):
 

Don't get too worked up about the latest polling.  While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly.  The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama Presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.  The Obama Economy: The stakes are very high in this election, and voters understand the future of our country is on the line.  This may be lost on those living within the hyper-political world in and around the Beltway, but it is not lost in communities in battleground states.  In short, the Romney-Ryan campaign understands Americans struggling in the Obama economy will determine the outcome of the race, and once the preponderance of information about the President’s failed policies – combined with Mitt Romney’s vision to strengthen the middle class – are communicated, our nation will move in a different direction. All Signs Point to a Tight Race: Those watching the daily tracking polls know that, while the President has seen a bounce from his convention, his approval has already begun to slip, indicating it is likely to recede further.  In eight states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts the margin between the two candidates at less than three points, virtually guaranteeing a tight race.

Next, the battlefield has actually expanded, not contracted.  Note that Wisconsin is now in play and our campaign is now up with ads in that state, while the latest poll numbers from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico show the race closing there.  And this tightening is not an anomaly.  Consider the traditional Democratic strongholds of New Jersey and Connecticut, won by President Obama in 2008 by margins of 15 points and 22 points, respectively.  In both states, Pollster.com’s reporting of the most recent statewide polls puts Obama’s lead at only seven points in each of these states. In North Carolina, fresh off of hosting the Democratic National Convention, the Obama campaign is laying the groundwork for a stealth withdrawal.  In a state the President won by a mere 14,000 votes in 2008, all one has to do is look at the Obama campaign’s television buy in the state to understand how they view their chances there.  The Obama campaign’s North Carolina television buy has dropped 35% compared to June, and they have run more than twice as much advertising over the past two weeks in Rochester, Minnesota (hitting a small slice of Iowa), than they have in any North Carolina market.

Historical Data: Political campaign historians will recall President Jimmy Carter led Ronald Reagan by a near double digit margin late in the fall in 1980.  In that race, the voters made their decision based on the key issues confronting the nation and it determined the outcome.  On the economy, the most important issue of this race, Mitt Romney leads by 51%-45%, according to the most recent CNN/ORC poll. Targeted Campaign: The Romney-Ryan campaign is running deeply local and targeted efforts in each of the states focusing on the voter groups that will make the difference on Election Day.  Anyone asserting a “one-size-fits-all-campaign” effort is being put forward is simply misinformed, as evidenced by the 15 different ads released by the Romney Ryan campaign this past Friday and now running in nine states, including Wisconsin. New Money Advantage: All of this is not possible without resources, and the Romney-Ryan campaign and the Republican Party have a real advantage.  In August alone, the Romney Victory effort raised more than $111 million, marking the third straight fundraising month of more than $100 million, putting us on a very strong financial footing for the final two months.  

Energy and Enthusiasm: CNN/ORC’s most recent polling shows that 62% of Republicans are “extremely” or “very” excited about this election, while only 56% of Democrats report being “extremely” or “very” excited.  This Republican enthusiasm advantage has manifested itself in an unprecedented and historic grassroots effort that will have a significant impact on turnout in battleground states on Election Day.  For instance, as of today, Victory volunteers have already knocked on more doors than during the entire 2008 campaign. (2.72 million in 2012 through September 8 compared to 2.43 million overall in 2008.) Romney's Ground Game: During last weekend’s “Super Saturday,” we crossed the 20 million volunteer voter contact threshold.  Also, the Romney campaign knocked on more doors last week than in any week during the 2008 campaign.  More than 55,000 volunteers have knocked doors or made phone calls for Victory this year and that number is growing by the week.  And volunteers have collected person-to-person identification information on nearly 1.7 million swing voters in battleground states thus far. And the numbers are even more startling when one looks at individual states.  For instance, in Ohio alone, five times more phone calls and 28 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008.  This past Saturday, more than 100,000 doors were knocked on by Victory volunteers in the Buckeye State.  And in Wisconsin, five times more phone calls and 72 times more door knocks have been made than at this time in 2008.  And the list goes on and on.


That's all well and good, but the real question is whether the new polls actually reflect a temportary "sugar high," or whether as more people tune into the race, they're more inclined to just stick with the guy they view as more likeable.  Niall Ferguson, an Obama critic, believes the president is leading the race, suggesting "it's the economy, stupid" might not win the day in 2012:
 

The economy isn’t the No. 1 issue, despite what people say. The more I watch of this election, the more I incline toward this last explanation.  True, when asked to rank issues, voters mostly put the economy at the top of the list. And yet when asked to make a choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, their choices don’t seem to be economically based.  Many people subscribe to the view that Romney just isn’t likable. They can more readily imagine having a beer or shooting hoops with Obama.


This could be the ultimate dynamic of the 2012 election: Do voters see it as a policy choice between disparate economic visions for the country, or as a high school popularity contest?  Romney wins under the former scenario; he loses under the latter.  The remaining three weeks of September will likely be a slog, with few prospects for a game-changer in either direction.  The first presidential debate is schedule for October 3rd in Denver.  It will be interesting to see whether Romney makes up any ground between now and early October, or if he'll need to rely on dominant debate performances to shake things up.  A weeks-long holding pattern would be a troubling development for Team Romney.


UPDATE - I discussed the new unemployment numbers and Obama's speech on the Friday edition of CNBC's Kudlow Report:
 


UPDATE II - It looks like Obama's convention bounce was far less pronounced in the battleground states.