At the end of an informative Hoover Institution conference earlier this week, I asked a few of the conservative think tank’s experts what to make of the conservative criticisms of polls that find a more Democratic electorate than we have usually seen. They responded that there are too many polls showing an Obama lead for skewed sampling to explain it, especially given the incentive of polling firms in a competitive market to get the results right, and that the Romney campaign is acting as though it is behind–trying out new lines of attack or, as one of the panelists put it, throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Two of the people who made these points have worked on Republican campaigns, one of them consulting for Romney.
I’m still not persuaded. The Romney campaign is acting like it’s behind–persistently behind, but not far behind. I don’t think we can infer from any of its behavior that it believes it’s 8 points down in one swing state or 9 in another. Its behavior seems to me consistent with the idea that it’s behind, but in close contention. That’s my gut sense of where the race is, too, and I still haven’t heard a good answer to why we shouldn’t discount polls that show large Obama leads by including historically large Democratic turnout advantages (and also, as Jay Cost points out, show a larger degree of Democratic unity than we have usually seen).