Andrew Sullivan is not pleased with the results of the latest Pew Poll....and with good reason.
The Pew poll is devastating, just devastating. Before the debate, Obama had a 51 - 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 - 45 lead. That's a simply unprecedented reversal for a candidate in October. Before Obama had leads on every policy issue and personal characteristic; now Romney leads in almost all of them. Obama's performance gave Romney a 12 point swing! I repeat: a 12 point swing.
Emphasis in the original.
Romney's favorables are above Obama's now. Yes, you read that right. Romney's favorables are higher than Obama's right now. That gender gap that was Obama's firewall? Over in one night...
...Seriously: has that kind of swing ever happened this late in a campaign? Has any candidate lost 18 points among women voters in one night ever? And we are told that when Obama left the stage that night, he was feeling good. That's terrifying. On every single issue, Obama has instantly plummeted into near-oblivion. He still has some personal advantages over Romney - even though they are all much diminished. Obama still has an edge on Medicare, scores much higher on relating to ordinary people, is ahead on foreign policy, and on being moderate, consistent and honest (only 14 percent of swing voters believe Romney is honest). But on the core issues of the economy and the deficit, Romney is now kicking the president's ass...
It does not get any better as it goes on. Sully is positively despondent over the results.
The thing is, so far Pew is more of an outlier. For starters, Pew actually over-sampled Republicans by a smallish margin. The knock that the GOP has had with many of the previous polls is that the pollster over-sampled Democrats by anywhere from 8-12%. This poll oversampled GOP voters by 5% and while that is somewhat close to what GOP turn out was in 2010, you can not compare that election year with a Presidential election year. We had back to back wave elections, 2008 for the Democrats and 2010 for the GOP. The reality of the electorate is probably not at the peak of EITHER wave, but it is probably still closer to the GOP wave crest. They also over-sampled cell phone users - a statistic that historically helps the Democrats as those calls are almost always younger voters.
Sully throws out some advise to Team Obama that they would be wise to follow...
How can Obama come back? By ensuring people know that Romney was and is a shameless liar and opportunist? That doesn't work for a sitting president. He always needed a clear positive proposal - tax reform, a Grand Bargain on S-B lines - as well as a sterling defense of his admirable record. Bill Clinton did the former for him. Everyone imaginable did what they could for him. And his response? Well, let's look back a bit:
With President Obama holed up in a Nevada resort for debate practice, things can get pretty boring on the White House beat right now. Pretty boring for Obama too, apparently. "Basically they're keeping me indoors all the time," Obama told a supporter on the phone during a visit to a Las Vegas area field office. "It's a drag," he added. "They're making me do my homework."
Too arrogant to take a core campaign responsibility seriously. Too arrogant to give his supporters what they deserve. If he now came out and said he supports Simpson-Bowles in its entirety, it would look desperate, but now that Romney has junked every proposal he ever told his base, and we're in mid-October, it's Obama's only chance on the economy.
Or maybe, just maybe, Obama can regain our trust and confidence somehow in the next debate. Maybe he can begin to give us a positive vision of what he wants to do (amazing that it's October and some of us are still trying to help him, but he cannot).
...but will likely ignore. Sully doesn't think a turn-around is likely....
A sitting president does not recover from being obliterated on substance, style and likability in the first debate and get much of a chance to come back. He has, at a critical moment, deeply depressed his base and his supporters and independents are flocking to Romney in droves.
I've never seen a candidate self-destruct for no external reason this late in a campaign before. Gore was better in his first debate - and he threw a solid lead into the trash that night. Even Bush was better in 2004 than Obama last week. Even Reagan's meandering mess in 1984 was better - and he had approaching Alzheimer's to blame.
While I don't think we are done with the roller-coaster ride, reality is, early voting has begun or is about to begin in several states. There is little turn-around time left.
This is a telling column. Andrew Sullivan has always been high on President Obama. For him to be this down on the campaign.....it really must not be looking good at all. While I am cautiously optimistic about the polling, I am also not ready to light the celebratory candles yet either. We have a very long 30 days left of the campaign....a lifetime when you have three debates still to go. Let's wait to see what plays out in the next few days.