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How You Know A Campaign Is Losing

According to Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for the 2004 Bush/Cheney re-election campaign:

“The first thing happens is, don’t believe — the public polls are wrong. That’s the first sign of a campaign that’s about to lose. The second thing, we’re going to change the nature of the electorate, and you’re not seeing it reflected in the polls. And the third thing is, the only poll that counts is Election Day. When you hear those things, you know you’re about to lose.”

That’s been a universal truth from my observation, and there’s only one campaign saying this.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kevin McKague says:

    You have a typo in the last sentence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  2. al-Ameda says:

    @Kevin McKague:

    You have a typo in the last sentence.

    I’ve called 9-1-1. God willing, we can download a spellcheck patch, and everything should be okay.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  3. stonetools says:

    Every one of the ABC’s This Week roundtable , including George Will and Cokie Roberts, gives the election to Obama:

    George Will: Romney 321, Obama 217, with Minnesota making a surprise defection to the red column.

    Cokie Roberts: Obama 294, Romney 234. Colorado swings to Romney, but it’s not enough.

    Matthew Dowd: Obama 303, Romney 235, with Obama edging out the challenger by less than one point in the popular vote.

    Ron Brownstein: Obama 288, Romney 250, as Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio put the president over the top.

    Meanwhile, over at Face the Nation and MTP, its a “toss up” , based on “feelings”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    Ron Brownstein: Obama 288, Romney 250, as Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio put the president over the top.

    I watched that, and I’m more with Brownstein and Dowd on the numbers. Cokie and George were not so convincing to me. I thought Will was sandbagging a bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. stonetools says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I’ve called 9-1-1. God willing, we can download a spellcheck patch, and everything should be okay.

    I’m not sure if that’s sufficient to save us against this mortal threat to the Internet. I kid, I kid . Thanks for spotting the typo, Kevin. Doug, do your stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. MBunge says:

    “George Will: Romney 321, Obama 217, with Minnesota making a surprise defection to the red column.”

    So, did Will explain why he thinks we’ve experienced the worst and most flawed polling in generations. ‘Cause, Will is not only saying that Obama is going to lose every known swing state but that Romney is going to win 4 or more other states that literally no one on Earth thinks he’s going to get. I mean, just winning CA, NY, IL and WA gets Obama to 116 electoral votes.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. commonlogic says:

    However, the electorate has dramatically changed since 2008. It’s a fact.

    GALLUP party ID in 2008: 54 D to 42 R when including undecideds were pushed to chose one or the other. + 12 D in 2008

    GALLUP party ID in 2012: 49 R to 46 D when undecideds were pushed to chose one or the other. + 3 R in 2012.

    This information was gathered from almost a month, starting Oct. 1 of large scale sampling and in depth studies of the electorate and likely voters and yet look at the samples of most polls, battle ground or national, most have a much higher D% and some as high or higher than 2008. ???? Also, most of the averages are still within the MoE, so they could go either way. Also remember 2010, did all that just evaporate? We’ll see I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I have to say, I am not at all cocky about winning this thing. We don’t know what effect Democratic lack of enthusiasm will have. We don’t know what effect Republican voter suppression efforts will have.

    The people we are up against have not the slightest hesitation about corrupting the system and if closing black precincts down, making sure that Hispanic districts have long lines, stealing absentee ballots and tearing up voter registrations are what it takes, they will do it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 7

  9. PJ says:

    @commonlogic:

    This information was gathered from almost a month, starting Oct. 1 of large scale sampling and in depth studies of the electorate and likely voters and yet look at the samples of most polls, battle ground or national, most have a much higher D% and some as high or higher than 2008.

    For an answer perhaps you should read what you wrote above it.

    when including undecideds were pushed to chose one or the other.

    When undecideds were pushed to chose, more chose R. That’s why there’s a lot more D than R in most polls, because they don’t push undecideds/independents to choose.

    Also remember 2010, did all that just evaporate? We’ll see I guess.

    2008 was a presidential election.
    2010 was a midterm election.
    2012 is a presidential election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  10. john personna says:

    Sarah Jones clearly has a liberal perspective in:

    Proving He’s Not Fit to Lead, Romney Blames Others for His Failure

    Still, I thought these paragraphs were strong:

    It’s sort of like when you break up with someone because you just don’t trust them, and after you break up with them they prove you more right than you could have imagined.

    Romney has never been a good candidate. Not only was he never loved by his own base and not only did he have to steal wins in the primaries, but he has completely changed what he stands for in the interim. He’s a constant and chaotic rewrite that his own campaign couldn’t keep up with.

    Romney never did release his tax returns (we got bits and pieces of two years of amended returns or returns they admitted were manipulated to pay more in taxes). He never did do the math for his Bush on steroids tax plan. He was outed as holding half the country in contempt. He made Sarah Palin look like a knowledgeable candidate on his summer foreign relations disaster tour.

    Romney won’t give interviews or answer questions. During his entire summer of gaffes tour, he only answered 6 questions from the press. His campaign shut down all that “access” when the candidate proved his own worst enemy.

    It is true that Romney has largely been hiding in plain sight, using bland and uniform stump speeches to hide that he’s adding nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  11. Geek, Esq. says:

    Another one from Dowd’s Twitter feed:

    The polls don’t reflect the enthusiasm we see on the ground

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. commonlogic says:

    @PJ: “Pushed” may not be the right word. They “encouraged” undecideds to “lean” to “pick” and not just as you say for the GOP but for Democrat as well. Some undecideds broke for Democrat and some for Republican and that is how it ended up favoring Republicans this year. It is a huge swing from the same GALLUP study done in 2008. Even leaving out the undecideds, the swing was still huge in favor of Republicans. Sorry if it discouraged you. It is what it is. I guess we’ll see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  13. MBunge says:

    @commonlogic: “GALLUP party ID in 2008: 54 D to 42 R when including undecideds were pushed to chose one or the other. + 12 D in 2008. GALLUP party ID in 2012: 49 R to 46 D when undecideds were pushed to chose one or the other. + 3 R in 2012.”

    1. Obama beat McCain 53 to 46 in 2008, a result that put him 1 point down and McCain 4 points up from GALLUP’s party ID. If the same patters repeats itself, Obama will beat Romney 49 to 48.

    2. Those “pushed” undecideds are probably among the folks who get screened out by likely voters models.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. legion says:

    @MBunge:

    So, did Will explain why he thinks we’ve experienced the worst and most flawed polling in generations.

    Yeah – he waved his paycheck in the air and did a little dance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Stonetools says:

    Uh, should have written ” most of the rountable. ” George Will is really off in cloud cuckoo land ! At least he put it out there without waffling.

    Sadly, after he is loved wrong, no one will call him on being dead wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. Stonetools says:

    That’s proved wrong. iPad auto correct fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. PJ says:

    @commonlogic:

    “Pushed” may not be the right word. They “encouraged” undecideds to “lean” to “pick” and not just as you say for the GOP but for Democrat as well. Some undecideds broke for Democrat and some for Republican and that is how it ended up favoring Republicans this year. It is a huge swing from the same GALLUP study done in 2008. Even leaving out the undecideds, the swing was still huge in favor of Republicans. Sorry if it discouraged you. It is what it is. I guess we’ll see.

    You, or the text you quoted from used the word push.
    Thing is, a lot of people who used to identify themselves as Republicans now identify themselves as Independents. Thus, if a pollster asks for party ID and doesn’t allow Independent as an answer, there will be more Republicans added than Democrats.

    If you are unable to understand this, then I can’t help you…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. Just Me says:

    I generally agree with the premise that complaints about the polls usually mean somebody is losing.

    Although I also think Obama doesn’t appear very positive at the moment, which makes me think he isn’t so confident he has this in the bag.

    I do think there is something to having a discussion about just who is going to turn out on Tuesday to vote and that it is possible some of the polls may have oversampled one party over the other or polled with a very loose likely voter screen.

    I am not convinced this election is the cakewalk some of you here seem to think it is and I do think there is a chance that there are errors in some of the state polls with regards to who is going to turn out to vote and that Romney very well may win.

    I still think Obama has the edge and I think he has too many high electoral vote states in the bag (there is nobody in their right mind who imagines California, New York are voting Romney) he just has a lot of electoral votes he can afford to lose with a lot more paths to victory open to him. Obama could afford to write some states off while Romney can’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Jr says:

    Yeah, the signs do show that Romney is about to lose. The Jeep ad, a run for PA, bad polling. Never say never, but Dowd is likely right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  20. LCaution says:

    @john personna:
    All true. But, still, about 50% of the country will vote for him including a lot of women who should know better.

    I wish somebody could explain these voters to me. N.B. In 2008,
    I did not ask this question about McCain supporters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0