The past few weeks have not been good for Ezra Klein. The Washington Post’s ace blogger botched the date of the Janesville, Wisc., auto plant closure. He falsely accused Mitt Romney of canceling an ABBA performance at Bain Capital because the band’s music is too angry. He claimed, absurdly, that Romney’s paeans to American opportunity amounted to a “You Didn’t Build That” moment.
On the presidential level, where everyone running campaigns is very, very good at their jobs, campaign infighting and incoherence tend to be the result of a candidate being behind in the polls, not the cause of it. Romney is behind and has been there for quite some time. According to the Real Clear Politics average of head-to-head polls, Romney hasn’t led the race since October 2011. The closest he came to a lead in the polls this year was during the Republican National Convention, when he managed to … tie Obama.
Romney is also behind in most election-forecasting models. Political scientist James Campbell rounded up 13 of the most credible efforts to predict the election outcome: Romney trails in eight of them. He’s also behind in Nate Silver’s election model, the Princeton Election Consortium’s meta-analysis, Drew Linzer’s Votamatic model and the Wonkblog election model.
Goodness, that sounds grim! Republicans may as well just pack their bags and go home.
Of course, as Klein knows (or ought to know), the Real Clear Politics average of head-to-head polls counts two-week-old polls just as much as new ones. It counts partisan polls just as much as non-partisan ones.
Why, if Romney is in such serious trouble, is he 2 points ahead of President Barack Obama in the Rasmussen national tracking poll, published earlier this morning? Why do the most recent non-partisan polls show Romney and Obama running essentially even in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia?
Don’t believe the anti-Romney hype from Klein and his fellow travelers. This race is a dead heat.