The Romney campaign held a media conference call this afternoon to address the latest polls and trends. The campaign sounded an upbeat note, with senior adviser Russ Schiefer saying that they’re exactly where they hoped to be with a week to go, expanding the map into Obama territory while shoring up the states believed to be in Romney’s column.
Schriefer said that Gov. Romney has an excellent closing message that is helping him close the deal with independent voters in the swing states: Promising real change on day one of his administration, offering specific plans to bring the economy back, and noting that America cannot afford four more years like the last four years. He added that voters in poll after poll show that they are not happy with how the last four years have gone. They’re looking for change, and Romney is offering that change.
Political director Rich Beeson walked through the numbers state by state. In Florida, he said that 2.2 million votes have been cast so far, and only about 39,000 more Democrats than Republicans have voted so far. That’s a 70% drop from the lead that Democrats had in absentee voting four years ago. Beeson added that their campaign expects to win election day voting by double digits, handing the state to Romney.
Romney is overperforming McCain in Ohio’s Republican counties by 11% in early voting, Beeson said, while Obama is underperforming in his counties compared to four years ago.
In Iowa, Republicans have a registration advantage for the first time. Beeson said that Republicans are overperforming in 71 of the 99 counties because the party base is incredibly motivated and the “intensity factor is breaking things our way.”
Virginia’s turnout so far favors the Republicans as the state trends toward Romney.
Beeson said that in North Carolina, Romney has closed the early vote gap by over 100,000 votes, and that he will “win big” in Election Day voting. He noted that the Obama campaign has all but conceded North Carolina, having not visited there since their party’s national convention.
Colorado, Beeson said, has started “slipping away” from Obama. In that state, Democrats need to win early and absentee voting to have a chance of carrying the state, but as we reported this morning here at the Tatler, Republicans are winning early voting by 3 points so far. Beeson even sounded an optimistic note on Nevada, noting that Obama must win Clark County by 80,000 to carry the state but so far he is underforming that number by 10,000. He also noted that despite the Obama campaign’s claims that Nevada is in the bag, they’re spending significant time and money there this week. Why would they do that, he asked, if they have it won?
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse delivered the campaign’s take on the environment in the week leading up to the vote. “Obama,” he said, “has a political environment problem, an intensity problem, an image problem and a ballot problem.” He noted that Obama’s job approval rating is consistently 8 to 10 points underwater on strong approval versus disapproval, reinforcing the intensity gap that Republicans enjoy over Democrats. Saying that “it’s a stretch” to believe that 2012’s electorate will resemble 2008’s electorate, Newhouse said that several factors that helped Obama do not help him now, including the financial collapse, Bush fatigue and the historic nature of Obama’s first presidential campaign.
The race, according to Newhouse, comes down to independents, and Romney consistently leads among independent voters. In fact, Newhouse said that Romney has led with independents in 20 of the 26 Ohio polls conducted this year. He added that voters have come around to view Romney more positively than Obama, which is part of the president’s “image problem.”
Newhouse also addresses the controversial Quinnipiac poll that came out today, showing a 5-point lead for Obama in Ohio and tightening races in Florida and Virginia. He said that Quinnipiac identified 96% of its registered voters as likely voters, making it a poll of registered voters and therefore inaccurate.