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Cause for Concern

7:00 AM, Aug 2, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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A savvy friend, a Romney supporter who has an excellent track record of reading election trends, emails:

romneysubway

“I worry that some of our friends are reassuring themselves by challenging the merits of yesterday’s Quinnipiac swing state polls and others, focusing on the partisan split in the samples and other explanations. But are almost all the swing state pollsters making mistakes—and in the same direction? Here's what I think is happening.   

“The national numbers aren't changing much because Romney is actually gaining in the states that are not being bombarded with media. Yesterday’s Connecticut poll has Obama by only 8 for example. And red states seem to be getting even redder. This is happening because the daily news is about the economy, Washington problems, etc. and that is the main message getting through. So, polls in these states reflect how voters who only see national news and national advertising (to the degree there is any) respond.

“But.

“In the swing states they are being assailed with ads and campaigning, as well as the news. And here Obama seems to be building a bit of a margin. He now is ahead by solid margins in the most recent surveys in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. It's very close in Colorado, and Romney has a slight lead in North Carolina.

“One can draw a lot of different conclusions here—but doesn't it seem likely that the Obama attack on Romney is working where it is deployed in full measure? I think many analysts have erroneously concluded that because the national tracking has not moved, the Obama attack on Romney's wealth, Bain, taxes, etc. is not effective. The results in these states suggest otherwise. (And the partisan splits in the polls may be following the ballot test in these states—if you're turning away from Romney, you're less likely to self-identify as a Republican. So the polls aren't necessarily bad. The real trends could well be bad.)

“Team Romney needs to consider this possibility. I don't think it will be enough for them merely to continue the passive approach they are taking. Romney needs to stand for some things the voters want.”

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