Politics: Is Dick Morris right that Romney is really winning?

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Monday September 24th, 2012

Dan Calabrese

By DAN CALABRESE - He makes a pretty compelling argument.

Sometimes I think Dick Morris is a little too willing to embrace the most optimistic take on behalf of his own favored candidates, so when I saw that he had done a piece asserting that Romney is doing much better than the media says, my initial reaction was a little bit of, "Well, that's Dick Morris."

But I delved into it, somewhat because of a very strong sense of my own that the media are trying hard to manufacture this narrative of "Obama's winning/Romney's stumbling." The horrendous economy doesn't support the notion that people are enthusiastic about re-electing Obama. And Romney's supposed stumbles? They seem like the kind of stuff that gets pundits' attention but that no one else really cares about.

So it turns out Morris makes a pretty compelling argument, based on two primary points:

1. Most of the polls have been using a 2008 voter turnout model, which is massively overstating likely Democratic turnout. The one pollster who is consistently not doing this is Rasmussen. He uses a combination 2004/2008 model and most of his polls show the race even or Romney slightly in the lead.

2. In an election involving an incumbent up for re-election, undecideds almost always break massively for the challenger. Morris reminds us that Carter led Reagain 45-39 in a Gallup poll as late as October 27, 1980. We all know how that turned out.

I am not an election prognosticator. Don't claim to be. You'll never see this column offering predictions because I am not interested in making them and I don't think there's any value to you if I try.

But it sure seems to me that the media are on a mission to sell this Obama's-Gonna-Win narrative, perhaps to discourage wavering Romney supporters, perhaps just because they don't really know how to do anything but write what they want to believe. Every time I see a story that insists Obama's got it in the bag, it just strains credulity. No president with Obama's record can be sailing to re-election. And the narrative that Romney is this bumbling candidate who can't get out of his own way doesn't ring true either. I think it's more a matter of: Any candidate, making nonstop campaign appearances, is going to make some mistakes or some statements that the media can twist into a big deal - and whenever he gives them one, they run with it for days on end, while ignoring things like Obama pretending not to know how much the national debt is, or the administration's collapsing spin on the situation in the Middle East.

They're trying pretty hard to sell the narrative, in the hope, I guess, that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Morris is right, they're going to look pretty foolish come election night.