Republicans are trying hard to force reality to bend to their will, but they aren’t having a lot of luck. Earlier today, a poll commissioned by Ohio news organizations found that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were locked in a dead heat in the crucial state of Ohio. Aha, Mittmentum at work!
I’m sure Team Romney fired off emails to every news organization with any audience at all, because this was big, big news earlier today. Meanwhile, Romney surrogates took to the air to repeat the word “momentum” as often as humanly possible.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key surrogate for Mitt Romney, noted that a new poll showed the race in his key swing state tied.
Portman, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said that showed momentum was on the GOP candidate’s side. A few polls in the last week have shown a tie race between President Obama and Romney in the Buckeye State, though several others also gave Obama a lead.
“The energy and enthusiasm’s on our side this year,” Portman said. “It’s really interesting to watch. Look, we were down probably five to 10 points before the debates. After the debates, we’re about dead even, and it’s moving our way.”
Sadly, Team Romney’s talking point died a very public death later in the day, as the graphic above shows. “With two new polls out today (and possibly more coming) President Obama’s margin in Ohio ticks up to 3.3 percentage points,” reports Josh Marshall.
Of course, a tie in Ohio is really exciting, so the media grabs up that headline and runs with it. When later polling shows the tie to be the result of an outlier, the media’s pretty quiet about that. All in all, a great example of how you should avoid stories with headlines like “LONE POLL SHOWS SURPRISING RESULT; RACE TURNED ON ITS HEAD!”
Romney’s going to want to cherrypick polls, the press is going to want to cherrypick polls — which means that you’re going to want to watch polling averages.