It’s a fool’s game to guess whose momentum is greater. But Romney is peaking at just the right moment.
Ah, yes. The Great Election of October 13, 2012. I remember it well.
Wait a minute.
The subject of “political momentum” is a favorite among political pundits. I will guess that John Dickerson and David Brooks (“David Brooks – now with Ro-mentum!“, October 25) might not have found high school calculus to be their favorite subject. I wonder how they did in it.
Here is one particularly skeptical comment, noticed by Rick in Miami:
“Wow, Dickerson, when I saw the headline I expected this article to be so much fluff, devoid of actual evidence for the existence of Mittmentum, and filled instead with entertaining anecdotes about campaign rallies. But you surprised me! Instead, the article was so much fluff, devoid of actual evidence for the existence of Mittmentum, and filled instead with deadly boring anecdotes about campaign rallies. Well done, sir.” -SPG
I am curious about what momentum could possibly mean. I think pundits are trying to capture the science-y mojo of Newton’s First Law, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object with this tendency has “momentum.” If so, they might mean that when opinion is moving in one direction, it will keep moving that way. And Dickerson reports seeing a high level of energy at Romney rallies.
However, that energy does not imply that Romney’s support is growing. His supporters could be enthusiastic but stable in number. I note that even that is not true, as evidenced by the recent EV history (see the top of this post).
I said that Romney peaked on October 13th. That was based on state polls. But he might have peaked as early as October 5th, as based on national polls, which are done more often than in most swing states. As I wrote on Sunday (“Anatomy of a bounce,” October 21), Romney got a 5-point bounce within a single day of Debate #1 – and it’s subsided a bit since then.
It is certainly true that Romney supporters are far more enthusiastic than they were before Debate #1. This may account for why the race has not bounced back to where it’s been since June, an average of Obama +3.1+/-1.3% (measured through Electoral College mechanisms using the Meta-Analysis).
Today, the Popular Vote Meta-Margin is Obama +1.8%. His November 6th re-elect probability is 90%. To the extent that I anticipate change, it is in the direction of President Obama. That much is apparent from the recent history.
Finally…lest you think that I have it in for all pundits, here is a nice piece by Robert Wright. It captures the current state of the race very well, entirely in words and with no math.