William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






THE RACE FIVE DAYS OUT – AT 8:44 A.M. ET:  All you get at this stage are last-minute polls and last-minute punditry.  They can be summarized as follows:

The RealClearPolitics average of presidential polls, popular vote, is deadlocked, at 47.2% each.  We see this, with caution, as potentially good for Romney, because the incumbent can't get out of the mid-forties five days before election day.  But remember, this isn't election day.

On the more important electoral vote, no one is sure of anything, but I notice a slight worry on the faces of Romney spokesmen that "it might not be enough."  There was a surge for Romney, but that effectively ended with Obama's solid performance in the second debate – an event that has not been given enough weight.  But now we're told that there is a renewed surge in some states, like Michigan and Minnesota.  I can only report what I hear.

The polling process itself has become controversial, with many on our side complaining that most polls are oversampling Democrats.  We'll know if that's true on election day. 

In the key state of Ohio, virtually all polls have Obama ahead by small amounts to as many as five points.  Republican Governor John Kasich was on Fox last night, and he sounded a bit worried.  He believed that race was about even, and stressed the importance of Romney voters coming out on election day.

Hurricane Sandy froze the race for a few days, but the candidates will both be back to full-time campaigning today.  Gallup will also resume polling today. 

All elections depend on turnout, but this one will be especially sensitive to turnout.  It's assumed that, because of greater enthusiasm, the Romney forces have the edge.  I'd say that's true as of today.  But watch one factor:  the black vote.  Minority communities are very susceptible to scare tactics, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a last-minute scare campaign to bring the black vote up, something that could have a dramatic effect in Florida and Virginia. 

We remain guardedly optimistic, but there are no sure things here.

November 1,  2012