Do they even know what momentum means?

Ahhh, more reason to hate on Chris Cilizza.  He should just go work for Politico already.  There’s been plenty of nice pushback against the idea that Mitt Romney currently has momentum.  Cilizza defends the idea that Romney has momentum because he’s much better in the polls now than he was three weeks ago.  The fact that Romney got a nice bump after the first debate is not evidence at all that he is continuing to gain ground.  Which would be actual momentum.  Nate Silver had a nice piece on this, but Mark Blumenthal is a little more recent:

Collectively, the trends of the past week provide a reality check to two myths that have emerged in recent campaign coverage.

The first is that Romney has been “surging” since the first debate. While the debate certainly boosted Romney’s standing in the polls, trends over the past two weeks have been negligible, with the leader seesawing nationally within a range of roughly one percentage point. Over the same period, the standings within the key battleground states have also remained constant. Other poll tracking models have shown the same patterns.

All the evidence right now points to a stable race with Obama having a very narrow, but real, lead in 270+ E.V. worth of states.  That could change, but to suggest that there’s meaningful evidence that Romney continues to gain ground is to simply blind report the spin from Romney’s campaign.

Not entirely related, but also worth noting Blumenthal’s second point:

The second myth is that the national and battleground states polls have produced widely divergent results. If we use the state estimates produced by the Pollster tracking model in the nine key battlegrounds (Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Virginia, Florida and North Carolina) to create a combined total vote based on the turnout in each state in 2008, we show Obama leading in across all nine states by a slim 0.6 percentage point margin (47.8 to 47.2 percent as of this writing; the estimated margin would be 47.9 to 47.2 percent if based on the 2004 turnout).

Romney does slightly better in the national popular vote estimate, of course, but his 0.2 percentage point advantage there is only slightly better. The net gap is less than a percentage point.

As the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman writes on Twitter, simply subtracting 4 percentage points from Obama’s 2008 margins in each state produces a similar result: “He’d lose Popular vote by 0.7% but still win w/ 272 EC votes.”


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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