More on the Romney Momentum Meme

by John Sides on October 26, 2012 · 5 comments

in Campaigns and elections

Brendan Nyhan brings this graph and has more.  Again, the point here is not that Romney didn’t gain ground after the first debate or that he will lose the election.  He did gain ground, and he certainly could win.  The point is that there was no change in the polls that would have justified either the Romney momentum narrative in the news media or the current “Slow Mo” narrative either.  Since the race became essentially tied after the first debate, any movement in the polling margin in the graph above is indistinguishable from statistical noise—which polling averages reduce but do not eliminate.

My earlier thoughts are here.

{ 5 comments }

Chris October 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Allow me to suggest the idea that the “momentum” narrative isn’t entirely about polling. It’s more based around the idea that a glass ceiling has been broken and it’s hard to imagine Democrats surpassing Republican enthusiasm enough to make up for what right now looks like a moderate difference in support among Independents.

This theory may be *completely* wrong, of course, but I think trying to turn this into a purely empirical, poll-driven question misunderstands what a lot of conservatives are actually suggesting. I get the impression it’s more of a “The Russian is cut!” kind of thing.

John Sides October 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Chris: So that theory basically says that the polls are underestimating Romney because of the enthusiasm gap and how the remaining undecideds will break. That could be true! But if that is true, it was true before, during, and after the “Romney momentum” and “Romney slo-mo” stories. I just see no correspondence between these stories and anything that has actually changed.

Chris October 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Oh, if you’re just talking about the timing of the stories, then I dunno. Maybe process stories are a lagging indicator? Maybe some of them didn’t go up until everyone felt confident Romney had actually changed the baseline, and it wasn’t just a blip/bounce? Dunno. But I agree that they were writing these things a solid week past the point at which it made any sense.

Joe Bruns October 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Any narrative build around national polling numbers are just spin. It’s entirely possible that Romney will win the popular vote, but lose in the EC. Looking at the swing states, Obama seems to be holding a small but consistent lead in sufficient states to finish at 274+ Could still change, of course.

Driller October 28, 2012 at 10:50 am

The undecided voters clearly will either not vote or vote against Obama. He’s not picking up any fans, despite what kinds of data various slanted poll questions might create.

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