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It’s Still a Horse Race

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A quick survey of the post conventions political battlefield would seem to indicate that neither had much of an effect on the race; the candidates remain locked in a horserace likely to continue neck-and-neck right down to the November wire.

A look at the pundits’ analyses of post convention results, not surprisingly, indicates the usual partisan split. We see the Huffington Post eagerly seize on the results of the Gallup Daily Obama Job Approval Poll today, the day after the Democratic National Convention, 52% approve, (but based on a three day rolling average), saying the rating is, “the highest approval percentage reported for Obama on the Gallup tracking poll since May 2011, just after the killing of Osama bin Laden.”

Across the aisle, today’s Rassmussen poll (also a three day rolling average) gives Romney a one point advantage over Obama.

Other poll results published on Real Clear Politics:

  • CNN/Opinion Research Tie 48
  • CBS News Obama +1 46/45
  • ABC News/WaPo Romney +1 47/46

Although Obama got a bit more of a bounce from the Democratic convention than Romney received from the Republican fest, Obama’s appears to have been largely offset by the disappointing jobs news released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In its report, the BLS indicated, “Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 96,000 in August. [but] Since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 139,000 per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.” The small gain in non-farm employment produced the slight decline in the so-called U-3 rate, to 8.1. The BLS noted, “Both the civilian labor force (154.6 million) and the labor force participation rate (63.5 percent) declined in August.”

In a speech on the campaign trail in Portsmouth, NH today, the president admitted the jobs report was disappointing, saying the country was losing 800,000 jobs a month when he first took office, and that this is the 30th month in a row of job gains.

“But that’s not good enough,” he said. “We need to create more jobs faster. We need to come out of this crisis stronger than when we went into it.”

Romney, campaigning in Iowa on Friday, said, “The disappointing jobs growth – and continuing high unemployment – are signs the country is going in the wrong direction.”

American presidential campaigns often are close right up to election day, and in that respect this one isn’t unusual, but this election season does look like it will be a little more suspenseful than most.

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About Clavos

Raised in Mexico by American parents, Clavos is proudly bi-cultural, and considers both Spanish and English as his native languages. A lifelong boating enthusiast, Clavos lives aboard his ancient trawler, Second Act, in Coconut Grove, Florida and enjoys cruising the Bahamas and Florida Keys from that base. When not dealing with the never-ending maintenance issues inherent in ancient trawlers, Clavos sells yachts to finance his boat habit, but his real love (after boating, of course) is writing and editing; a craft he has practiced at Blogcritics since 2006.
  • Deano

    I wish they had agreed to do the science issues debate live…the “write-in” version the candidates contributed read like so much vanilla PR speak.

  • Igor

    Remember, even women are allowed to vote in secret, and thus out of the reach of their menfolk.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clav –

    There’s many people who aren’t yet paying attention. IIRC, there’s going to be three presidential debates, one of which will be on foreign policy, one of which will be on internal affairs, and I can’t remember what the third one will be about.

    But much of the population will be watching, and when – when – Obama points out that no matter what Romney and Ryan may say, the no-abortion-even-in-case-of-rape-or-incest plank is still in the GOP official platform, and when he points out the various anti-abortion efforts by GOP-controlled states, there’s many nominally-Republican women who will think twice about him. In the minds of the female populace, there will be no issue bigger than this one…and there will be no issue (including the economy) that will be more important when it comes to the female vote.

    I can only hope that this new awareness will translate down to the state-level votes.

  • Baronius

    Dread, that’s a good point come mid-October. But there’s still time for overall trends to count a lot. A two point change across every state can change the electoral vote dramatically. Targeted ads, down-ticket elections, or unusually good ground teams can change the tally in a particular state but a campaign is still looking for an across-the-board boost, even at the last minute.

    There’s also the problem of the accuracy of state polls. You need a good amount of data to pull off a tracking poll. If you’re checking for things like post-convention bounce, you’re better off casting a wide net, unless there’s some reason to believe that a particular state would be more affected by the event. (I’m thinking of Rubio boosting Romney in Florida as an example.)

  • Zingzing

    Doc, I assume you know what a merkin is.

  • Your vote counts. Long live the USA! Doesn’t Paul Ryan have good abs? … We now bring you a double viewing of Housewives of Pittsburgh followed by a couple All American baseball games.

  • What’s fascinating to me is that the media (and, presumably, the (non-apathetic) population at large) are consistently hung up on national opinion polls, as if they were any indicator of the election result.

    Almost like something you’d find in some dystopian novel about indoctrination, isn’t it?

  • True enough, Clav. There are a few fairly significant states (e.g. Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado and of course everyone’s favourite, Ohio) that could go either way and carry a lot of electoral votes with them. The two sites I mentioned will update their forecasts as events and polls change, and as I said they usually get it pretty much right.

    Nate Silver’s 538 used to be good too (especially if you’re one of those folks who like their stats sliced, diced and fricasseed in dozens of different ways), but it got taken over by the New York Times so that might mean its quality and/or objectiveness has been compromised.

  • Clav


    Good point regarding the state-by-state polls, but they, too are subject to the vagaries of the world, events at home, and most importantly, the condition of the economy. Don’t you think that, absent a significant improvement in the next few weks (not currently on the horizon), the economic woes might cut into even that electoral vote lead, particularly if the Independents become more restless than they already are?

  • What’s fascinating to me is that the media (and, presumably, the (non-apathetic) population at large) are consistently hung up on national opinion polls, as if they were any indicator of the election result.

    Because of this weird electoral college system you Merkins have, what they really should be paying more attention to is state-by-state polls. There are several websites that track such polls. The two best are ElectoralVote, whose webmaster is a Democrat, and Election Projection, which is run by a Republican.

    Both have very good track records of accurately predicting election results based on state polls (although ElectoralVote usually gets it slightly more correct than its rival). Currently, both have Obama with a fairly comfortable lead in electoral college votes despite the closeness of the national polls, and that probably won’t change much over the next couple of months.