“A week from today, we will know – hopefully – the outcome of the election. And we believe Mitt Romney will be the next president of the United States,” said Romney campaign Senior Advisor Russ Schriefer, told reporters this afternoon.
It was an odd way to start a press conference. Campaign advisors aren’t supposed to suggest that anything other than a clear victory is in the cards. But the campaign may have been frazzled by the release of a numbers of polls showing the Obama campaign still leading in a number of battleground states.
Schriefer insisted that “this race is exactly where we had hoped it would be a week out. It is a close race, as we always thought it would be. We have lots of states in play. More importantly we have an incumbent president who is stuck well below the 50 percent threshold in almost mark you can take, whether it is the national polls or state polls. And 50 percent or under 50 percent is not a happy place to be if you are an incumbent one week out.”
Pollster Neil Newhouse told the reporters not to put too much weight in the latest polls, arguing they were flawed.
“Bottomline: You’re a bunch of smart people. You’ve been spun by the best. Step back, take a look at the big picture,” he said. “The race comes down to independents. We lead among independents. So, you take a step back, you’ll see a very tight race that is very far from being decided right now.”
The call was mean to buttress the campaign’s claim that it was going strong going into the final week, but it is never a good sign when it is telling reporters to look at a bigger picture. It means they don’t want you to look at the details.
For example, political Director Rich Beeson told reporters that while their number of political “get out the vote” offices in the states were fewer than the Obama campaigns they still got the job done. “Our operations in the state, though significantly smaller, make an equal number of contacts out on the ground,” he said. Maybe, but more office would still be better. They have friends in the state though.
On the various states, he said:
Florida: “Only” 39,000 or so more Democrats than Republicans have cast early ballots in the state, down from a 134,000 vote lead at this point before the last election. “They are way behind where they need to be.” He promised a “double-digit” win in Florida for team Romney.
Ohio: Beeson argued that the campaign was out-performing turnout in the 35 McCain-friendly counties from 2008. He also said 20 of the last 26 polls in Ohio have shown Romney winning independents. In the last five major state-wide elections in Ohio, the candidate who won independents won the state he said.
Iowa: “We have never had a (voter) registration advantage in Iowa until this year,” he said.
Virginia: “Turnout right now is over 70 percent in absentee ballots in the counties John McCain carried. It’s just about 63 percent in counties President Obama carried,” he said.
North Carolina: He claimed they had a 100,000 in early and absentee votes in that state and claimed they will “win big” on election day. “North Carolina continues to move further and further away from them as evidenced by the fact the president hasn’t been there since the convention.”
Colorado: He claimed they were ahead in early and absentee ballots in that state too and “we will win election day turnout in double digits.”
Nevada: Beeson said they had an edge there too, arguing the Obama campaign needed to win Clark County by 80,000 votes to carry the rest of the state. “It’s looking to be well under 70,000 at this rate,” he said.
Newhouse concluded: “There is no question we have an intensity advantage. And you know what? We don’t even need to prove this to you in terms of campaign interest or all of these other pieces of data. All you need to do is to look at Obama’s job approval numbers.”
The problem with that is those numbers show Obama’s approval number around 50 percent, and overall modestly positive.