Back in July, we wrote about the terrible secret about the U.S. Presidential and U.S. Senate race in Ohio: that the polling numbers at the time indicated that Obama and Brown were both heavily favored for re-election based on the history of public opinion polling in Ohio’s election:
We’ve tried to find an example of a statewide race in Ohio in which an opponent in either an open seat or incumbent-challenger race was in the position of Josh Mandel is in 100 days out and yet won. It’s never happened. Never. Ever. Happened.
It’s still 100 days out, and there is certainly a chance of some kind of unpredictable bombshell changing the landscape. In recent history, though, this just hasn’t happened.
Earlier this week, we wrote about Josh Mandel exaggerating the size of his, um, bounce in the polls:
There has been no poll in Ohio that is publicly available that suggests that Josh Mandel has managed a 13-point swing. None. So at best, Mandel’s bounce is +4, not +13. But Mandel wouldn’t be the first guy to exaggerate the size of his, um, poll numbers.
In fact, even with the polls showing a narrowing of the race, Brown still enjoys a lead near 50% and beyond the margin of error of all polls except Rasmussen, the University of Cincinnat’s Ohio Poll and the Dispatch poll.
According to our end-of-July post, Real Clear Politics had a polling advantage that was +5 for Obama and +9 for Brown. Since then, we’ve had both political conventions, a host of political ads (including Romney’s “carpet bombing” of ads in swing states like Ohio), and countless visits by both campaigns. What does Real Clear Politics have as its polling average for Obama now, only 52 days out?
4.2. The average polling gap has only narrowed by .8 pts. since the mark of 100 days out. Obama still enjoys a lead within striking distance of 50% and beyond most polls’ margin of error. In fact, Obama’s polling average on the head-to-head has gone up over a point.
But what about Mandel and his claim of closing a 13-point gap? Well, we should have pointed it out in the post on Wednesday, but back at the end of July, Brown’s polling average lead was only 9 points, not the 13 point lead that Mandel had claimed to closed. But since then, there have been three polls that showed Mandel tied with Brown, right? The Dispatch poll, the University of Cincinnati poll, and Rasmussen, right? Well, two out three did. One used to.
Earlier today, Rasmussen threw cold water on Mandel’s claim of his poll surging enough to make this a tight race: Brown 49%; Mandel 41%. Rasmussen showed it going from tied to 8 point race in a matter of a few weeks. Rasmussen is also in line with this week’s Public Policy Polling (D) poll we reported on Wednesday and the recent NBC/WSJ/Marist poll. So in the entire history of polling of this race, all but the Dispatch poll and the U.C. Ohio poll have shown (and is showing) Brown with an above the margin lead. The Dispatch poll has a documented history of being an inaccurate poll. The U.C. poll’s crosstab indicated a smaller than it typicaly used sample size that seriously undersampled African-American and independent voters.
Plunderbund has obtained this exclusive video of the Mandel campaign explaining what happened to Mandel’s supposedly surging poll numbers:
As of today, Real Clear Politics shows the average margin in the U.S. Senate race is +7.2 in Brown’s favor. For all the talk over the past few weeks of Mandel closing a 13 point gap (suggesting a 13 point surge in the polls), Mandel’s only actually closed the gap an average of 1.8, not 13. I hear some men have a problem with admitting to the size of certain things. I guess Mandel is one of them.
The conventional wisdom in Ohio is that the race has tightened because all the third-party negative ads have brought Brown’s numbers down. And yes, if you look at Brown’s approval rating in the polls and other measures, you would see some erosion on Brown’s numbers. But his average, head-to-head number against Mandel has actually increased by 1.2 points. The reason the race has really tightened is that Mandel’s average head-to-head number against Brown has gone up 2 points. But he’s still only averaging 41.3% against Brown according to Real Clear Politics. And Mandel is underwater on his favorability numbers. In short, Mandel is still too toxic, is polling too weak, and is running out of time. If Mandel wins, it would be historic! We said in at 100-days out: no statewide candidate, polling where Mandel was, has has ever won. It still applies today nearly only 50-days out.
All the talk about Mandel suddenly surging into a competitive race is just that: talk. Based on the most recent polling from multiple pollsters this week, this race has not really substantively changed enough in the past month and a half to justify such a claim.
Yes, it’s still possible for Mandel to win. Just like it’s “possible” that Obama will carry Texas, or Romney could wind up carrying California.