With just 10 days to go until election day 2012 finally arrives, President Obama and Mitt Romney are in the final sprint, and the latest presidential polls reveal the race is a dead-heat. According to Gallup's daily tracking polls, Romney leads 50 to 47. According to Washington Post/ABC, Romney leads 50 to 47, including a national lead of 9 points on who would better handle the economy (52 to 43).
President Obama has long been considered the favorite to win election 2012, but these starting numbers beg the question: Could Romney actually win this thing? In short, the answer is yes.
It can be extremely difficult to sift through all the polling data, because depending on who you ask, Obama is winning or losing. That is, political biases very much shine through in analyses of who's winning. For example, NY Times' Nate Silver gives Obama a 73% chance of winning and argued on Friday that the move toward Romney has "stopped." Silver said, [W]e can debate whether Mr. Obama has a pinch of momentum or whether the race is instead flat, but it’s improbable that Mr. Romney would have a day like [Wednesday] if he still had momentum." Meanwhile, just hours later, ABC's Gary Langer countered that Romney has all the momentum in the race, "[T]he momentum on underlying issues and attributes is Romney’s. Romney’s gains are clear especially in results on the economy."
Rather than look at what the media is saying about each candidate, then, it is instructive to investigate what each campaign is saying about their chances. According to Politico's Playbook with Mike Allen, Romney's political director Rich Beeson has said this about Romney's strategy and chances: “Florida is like an aircraft carrier: Once you start turning it, it's hard to stop, and it's been turning now for about the last 10 days. … We're ahead of where we were in '08, and … our Election Day turnout is going to be very strong." Romney camp is confident that Republicans can pull it together in the key swing states.
Beeson said, “Virginia is a lot like Florida: It's starting to head the right direction. ... We're holding our numbers in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William. We will win Loudoun and Prince William counties. Then, as you go down to Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach, those Obama defense cuts are really starting to undermine him." He continued, "New Hampshire, … we were tied there before we went and bought the TV, and [are] going up with a heavy, heavy radio buy. … Wisconsin is a tie. There's no two ways about it, and the good news for us there is where we have room to grow is, the further north and the further west you go, those places where we cut up Santorum in the primary, we can still get some Republicans to come home. Nevada has been the toughest nut for us to crack, but having said all of that, we're still within a couple of points in Nevada. I think it was two weeks ago that people were asking if we were going to have to pull out of Ohio, and now … it is a tie in Ohio … [T]hey're counting party registration as a vote for them."
Clearly, the Romney team is banking on Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire to win the election, and they realize they are likely to los Nevada.
Meanwhile, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina had this to say earlier this week about the Obama strategy and chances, "We are outperforming our early vote margins in key states, compared to 2008. We’re ahead of where we were against McCain, and more importantly, we’re ahead of Mitt Romney. Romney may be winning more raw votes than McCain did at this point, but … the numbers tell a very clear story. The electorate is bigger this year, and our vote margins are, too. ... In fact, more people are going to vote early this cycle than in 2008. And more of them will vote for President Obama in the states that will decide this election.
"Romney hasn’t been unable to knock us out of a single battleground, but we’ve forced him to continue to spend significant resources in states like North Carolina that the Romney campaign said they wanted locked up a long time ago. By contrast, we’ve gotten him to pull resources out of states like Michigan, Pennsylvania … and New Mexico. … The Romney campaign has bet that young people and minorities won’t turn out. The early vote numbers are already proving the folly of that gamble, and the wisdom of our plan. "Minority voting is going to reach an all-time high this year, projected as high as 28% of all voters in the ’12 Election. Most new registrants over the past three months are under 30, and nearly all—four in five—are youth, women, African American or Latino. … [T]hese are all groups that strongly support the President’s re-election."
The President's campaign is clearly banking on the youth and minority vote in order to secure relection for Obama.
What's clear here is that several key states are very much at play in this election, and Obama is not clearly winning in any of them. The race will come down to the wire. Take each tracking poll with a grain of salt and don't believe the media bias in favor of either candidate. This election could be historically close.