- CRITTER TALK
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For the last week or so, we have been hoping to decode a confusing polling landscape. President Obama still appeared to hold a narrow Electoral College lead on the basis of state-by-state surveys, while national polls were suggestive of a tie or perhaps the slightest edge for Mitt Romney.
If the current polls hold, predicting the election outcome will boil down to making a series of educated guesses about the relationship between state and national polls, and between the Electoral College and the popular vote.
There have been plenty of elections before when the outcome was highly uncertain down the stretch run or on Election Day itself. But I am not sure that there has been one where different types of polls pointed in opposite directions. Anyone in my business who is not a bit terrified by this set of facts is either lying to himself — or he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
There are three ways out of the stalemate. First, the state polls could move toward Mr. Romney. Second, the national polls could move toward Mr. Obama. Or third, we could receive more emphatic evidence that the difference between state polls and national polls in fact reflects a potential difference between the popular vote and the Electoral College. (This latter case, importantly, would require evidence that Mr. Romney was running well in noncompetitive states along with evidence that Mr. Obama was performing well in swing states.)