After two weeks of turbulence and furor over highly contrasting measurements of the presidential contest—not just by polls, but via CW—today’s new WaPo/ABC and Politico/Battleground/GWU national surveys arrive today with the sodden weight of superficial authority. The former puts Obama up by 3 points (49/46) among LVs; the latter has him up 49/48. But perhaps more importantly: In both cases, the numbers are virtually identical to those taken by the same firms before the first presidential debate.
The powerful suggestion is that the “Romney surge,” at least in national polls, is over, and we’re looking at a contest in which Obama maintains a small lead—not one in which excited conservatives are about to snake-dance to the polls to lift Mitt to a smashing victory over a dispirited president and his demoralized troops.
As a result, Kilgore warns, “there will be enormous pressure on media types to pick a winner tomorrow night and then frantically ensure the public agrees with that assessment. This in turn will prime spotlights to find a ‘zinger’ or some sort of ‘defining exchange’ that can be used to encapsulate the event and help viewers avoid any deeper assessments of what they just saw.
“In other words, get ready for some serious political and media malpractice.”
Clearly among the punditry, a tie will not be allowed. They’ll pick a winner based on their ideology if they’re complete hacks or upon ratings-bias if they aren’t. I suppose this puts Obama in a better position, since nothing drives ratings like drama and nothing provides drama like a big, back-from-the-dead change of fortune. But you really never know. There’s a big herd mentality and everyone in the chattering class is less concerned with being right than they are with not looking wrong. Once enough have chosen a winner — no matter how arbitrary that choice is — that will become the consensus.
In any case, buckle up. Things are going to get stupid.