I once heard a professor announce rather brazenly that he could predict with radical certainty whether the incumbent would win or lose the presidential election just by examining the state of the economy during the summer before the election (see this study for a similar claim). If the claim has any real punch behind it, then Romney should surely have the presidency in the bag. And yet, based on this week’s media hubbub, this seems not to be the case.
Following Romney’s bad last couple of weeks, Obama’s lead has grown even bigger according to nearly all media polls (5 or 6% now, believed by some to be a guarantee of victory). And this is especially bad for Romney because this lost ground has been occurring in several swing states (specifically Florida and Ohio) that Romney must win if he is to have a shot at winning the election. In addition to the economy and the budget deficit, a crucial issue for these states appears to be the medicare issue, a seeming boon for Democrats who argue that a Romney-Ryan administration would end medicare in favor of “voucher care”. The polls (see link above) appear to indicate that voters in swing states favor the Democrats on the medicare issue. Republicans have challenged the legitimacy of the opinion polls supporting Obama, arguing that the media has been skewing the data to favor the president. They claim that if one looks at the unskewed polls, one will find that Romney actually leads by 7.4%. For those who enjoy playing the guessing game, the table is open…
Something to look forward to this coming week: the first presidential debate! If we are to believe political scientists, the debates will probably not make any real impact on either candidate’s victory prospects, but they ought to at least facilitate some good national discourse. The debates will be moderated by Jim Lehrer and are slated to be about economic and domestic issues.