Throughout this cycle, much more so than in 2010, I’ve avoided the give-and-take of individual poll reporting. One reason for this is that we have a lot more polls for the presidency than we did for Congress, so each new data point matters less than it did two years ago.
But a bigger reason is that the relative surfeit of polling data makes it much easier to offer “big picture” theories about the election, and those are a lot more useful — and enjoyable — to write about than doing a cross-tabs dive into the latest Pew poll.
One theory I’ve had about this election is particularly relevant right now. I call it “Barack Obama vs. gravity.” The basic idea is this: Team Obama has had one overriding goal this cycle — to keep the president ahead of Mitt Romney in the polls.
The reason is simple: Obama is, and always has been, something of a bandwagon candidate. A major theme in 2008 was always that supporting Obama enabled the voter to be a part of history, encouraging others to join in the process. But for that theme to work, the perception had to be that Obama was, in fact, going to win.
So every time there was a real or potential setback, Team Obama was ready to change the subject. I don’t mean this as an insult. Rather, I simply mean it as descriptive of some smart moves by the Obama campaign during the last campaign and, I think, this campaign.