Mitt Romney’s pollster has a message for voters, donors, and the journalists covering the presidential race: Don’t believe the polls. At least not the recent ones that indicate President Barack Obama has opened a lead over the Republican nominee following his party’s convention.
In a memorandum this morning circulated by Romney’s campaign, Neil Newhouse, his public-opinion whiz, offered this admonition on the state of the race: “Don’t get too worked up about the latest polling. While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly.”
Offering little in the way of data — the coin of the pollster’s realm — to back up his assertion, Newhouse added: “The reality of the Obama economy will reassert itself as the ultimate downfall of the Obama presidency, and Mitt Romney will win this race.”
Newhouse implicitly acknowledges in his memo what many polls that he does not cite are showing: that after weeks of an essentially deadlocked race, Obama appears to have opened an advantage over Romney after his party’s Sept. 3-Sept. 6 confab in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls — which have shown a virtual tie in recent weeks — both recorded a five-point advantage for Obama. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released yesterday found that 47 percent of likely voters back Obama, compared to 43 percent for Romney.
Romney’s advisers note that the race is still tight, as indicated by statewide polls that show a close margin between Obama and his Republican challenger. And Newhouse notes that Romney earns higher marks than Obama from likely voters on the central election issue of the economy, beating Obama 51 percent to 45 percent on handling the topic in a CNN/ORC International survey conducted before the Democratic convention began. That poll found the two candidates tied, with 48 percent supporting each.
Newhouse’s arguments are designed to reassure fretful Romney supporters and persuade waverers who have yet to make their choice between him and Obama that the Republican has a chance to win. They’re also a reminder of the reality for both campaigns of a close contest entering its critical final phase: that any high — even sugar-induced — is welcome.