The PJ Tatler

Romney Campaign's Internal Polls Show a Lead in Ohio; Tied in Other Swing States

The Romney campaign says it completed some internal polling Sunday night that suggests the Democrats could be in for a rough night.

Internal campaign polling completed last night by campaign pollster Neil Newhouse has Romney three points up in New Hampshire, two points up in Iowa and dead level in Wisconsin and – most startlingly – Pennsylvania.

Internal poll show Romney trailing in Nevada, reflected in a consensus among senior advisers that Obama will probably win the state. Early voting in Nevada has shown very heavy turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County and union organisation in the state is strong.

Romney is to campaign in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on election day, reflecting the tightness of the race in Ohio and the tantalising prospect of success in Pennsylvania, which has not gone Republican in a presidential campaign for 24 years.

Nearly all public polling put Obama ahead in Ohio by whisker at least. The RealClearPolitics average of polls there gives the president a 2.8 per cent advantage. But the Romney campaign insists that pollsters have their models wrong and are overestimating Democratic turnout and underestimating Republican enthusiasm.

Campaigns tend to discuss internal polls to either shore up wavering supporters, to depress the other side or to bat back at some meme that’s out there in the media.  There’s probably a mix of all three reasons in this. It’s true that most of the pollsters have probably overestimated Democratic turnout this time. It’s not 2008 and Obama can’t run as the airy challenger when he has a dismal record that he’s barely bothering to defend.

It’s difficult to fight a media meme based on numbers, even if the numbers are based on erroneous assumptions about turnout. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have changed remarkably over the past four years and certainly in the past two, but just to look at one example of how badly the media may be misreading this year’s electorate, look at the LA Times electoral map wigdet. It’s one of those online maps that allows users to war game the electoral vote count. But everything regarded as “leaning” one way or the other is locked down. WI and PA are definitely in play now, but that map was published in May at a time when they didn’t seem to be. So the Times‘ map doesn’t even let users see the effects of reallocating their electoral votes. They’re locked in Obama’s orbit, despite the fact that both states represent very winnable contests for Mitt Romney.