It's What You Can't See
Ben Domenech: Are we looking at an undertow election? He describes perfectly the feeling I've had since the Denver debate:
The polls are more sophisticated twelve years later, but they still can only tell us so much. And what they have to tell isn't the whole story. A wave election is something you can generally see coming, rising above the surface, crushing everything in its path. But an undertow election isn't something you can see. It pulls underneath the surface with sudden strength, sucking away a base of support thought to be reliable, the ground evaporating underneath you as you claw to stay afloat. It's maddening for campaigns when voters you had counted as baked in to your models decide they have something better to do on Tuesday. Bush experienced this because of a news story. The Obama campaign may be experiencing something similar now – which may explain their strategic flailing over the past few weeks.
But it goes deeper (no pun intended) than just that. The Tea Party, so visible in 2009 and 2010, has largely gone underground to work on GOTV and real grassroots, nuts'n'bolts political operations. It matured away from pep rallies and the like with remarkable speed, thanks to big assists from FreedomWorks and to the remarkable acuity of some of its leaders. Tea Party voters are, I can tell you from many firsthand accounts, probably the least likely to respond to pollsters.