The Cycle | October 11, 2012
>>> about, obama is going to get on it. i imagine [ bleep ] is about to get real.
>> i'm barack obama and i approve this message.
>> it's me, big bird .
>> big, yellow, a menace. mitt romney knows it's not wall street you have to worry about, it's sesame street . [ cheers and applause ]
>> so we're not moving on.
>>> big bird was the big story during last week's debate, at least according to the democrats. now the battleground polls are out telling us whether mitt romney 's comments ruffled any feathers among voters. according to our latest nbc poll obama holds a one point lead. ohio the gap is down to six. in virginia it's slipped for one to obama and up one for romney . the president is still ahead but nationally mitt romney has actually taken the lead. ten days ago obama head a four point lead in that average. today mitt romney leads by more than a point. but when you look at just the swing states , president obama is leading almost every one of them albeit by a reduced margin. these are numbers just from the last states . let's put them through the spin cycle. guys, all of this raises an interesting possibility that i have resisted and that political science tells us shouldn't be happening. political science says generally speaking if there's movement nationally, there will be similar movement in the swing states . if there's movement in swing states will be mirrored in other states . mitt romney has not pulled ahead in swing states . look at a state like ohio , virginia , iowa , new hampshire, these are critical states mitt romney needs to get ahead. it raises questions about what could possibly be going on here. one possibility, swing state polls for whatever reason, they're wrong. the national rates have it. romney is ahead. the national rates -- maybe the swing state polls are right, obama is well ahead and the national polls are mixing it up. the other possibility is there are two elections going on in the country. what we see nationally in the eight or ten critical battleground states and then there's what's going on in the battleground states . the political science research said there won't be much difference. there won't be much of a difference. we have one example. i wanted to point to this. there is one example in recent presidential history that suggests there can be two different elections. this is 1980 . this is 24 years ago. this is bush versus dukakis. that is a coast to coast , just a --
>> beautiful thing.
>> betsy loves that. that is a great republican landslide. but look at that in the middle of the country. iowa , minnesota, wisconsin , three states in the middle of a republican landslide that were stubbornly resistant. what's interesting is in the mid 1980s there was the farm economy which basically collapsed in the midwest. what you had was a much worse economic environment in those states and the rest of the country, you had a republican in the white house , two terms of reagan. the voters seemed to take it out on the incumbent party in a way that didn't happen anywhere else. i'm looking at, for instance, a state like ohio where obama has been consistent. the economy is better in ohio than it is around the country. you have the auto bailout that obama put in place has clearly helped that state. could it be that he has a leg up in a state like ohio and a few others like iowa that he doesn't have anywhere else in the country and there are two separate elections? i'm seriously wondering.
>> there's a point to what you're making partly because if we go against steve on the numbers we're going to lose.
>> who would do that. never.
>> there is definitely noise in the national number because there are states in the south and appalacia where obama 's numbers are depressed and other states where it's closer. all of that factored into the national numbers doesn't factor into the states . when you just look at ohio which romney has to have, there is a path to victory for romney without ohio , but it is very difficult. obama is still up despite all the volatility and all the movement of last week, obama is still up one to three points depending on the pole in ohio . if obama gets ohio he is basically on the one yard line and romney would have to win wisconsin or nevada and iowa . in wisconsin obama is over 50% up 2 poi.5 points. in iowa up three points and gallup's approval number for obama is 52%, which is extremely healthy. there are still extremely strong and healthy numbers for obama throughout to look at.
>> steve , i want to direct your attention to a couple of other numbers. one as real clear politics points out, erin mcpike story, the early and absentee voting numbers are looking good for romney . republicans are surpassing democrats in half of those key states . republicans request for early and absentee ballots are up in colorado and florida and north carolina so i think maybe you could see some tightening over the next couple of weeks that the polls haven't been able to account for. what i want to ask you about are two indications that independents have changed their minds a little bit. in virginia , according to that nbc journal marist poll, in virginia which has been deadlocked for independents has independents up for romney 50 to 42% and in ohio which romney has been down, romney leads among independents 49 to 41. what do you think that means like a group of independents in a swing state flip-flops, you know, a matter of eight points or something in a matter of two weeks?
>> yeah, i think the rate is two possibility. the obvious one is the independent voters are changing their minds. this is what i talked about with the median narrative takes hold. romney 's had a winner's narrative. maybe that sways these voters. the other thing is we talk about this in the show a lot where you have this term independent voters. it's frequently misunderstood. a lot of them are republicans. they're really democrats. they like to call themselves that. what we've seen in the last week is there's a lot more enthusiasm now on the republican side than there was before. it may be that there's more independents who are republicans who are saying --
>> when you see this kind of flop among independents , do they generally commit or can they flop back?
>> no. to the extent that this is related to enthusiasm, what you had was the republicans leading the enthusiasm game over the summer. they improved in september from the enthusiasm standpoint. maybe now shifting back.
>> crystal, what have you got?
>> well, going back to what steve was saying about how the local economic numbers are having an impact in the battleground states , i would say that the local campaigns that are being run are also making a difference. if you take a look at those latest swing state numbers in ohio , there was almost one in five voters who had already cast their ballots in ohio and the president had a large margin, a large lead among those voters, 63 to 37%. that on the ground campaign matters. now it looks like the president is running a stronger on the ground campaign while romney has been doing reboot after reboot and trying to find out what his message is, the president has been banking voters. they've been holding these get out the vote rallies. michelle obama spoke at one recently and let's take a listen.
>> here in ohio it is already election day . [ cheers and applause ]
>> already election day . early voting starts today! today!
>> she then went on to actually a marching band led the crowd down the street to the polling station , which is sort of amazing. so they are banking votes. and i think maybe that's giving them a sense of confidence despite the president's lackluster debate performance, that they've already locked in some of the lead that they've enjoyed.
>> no, that's interesting. a personal editorial comment here. i'm all for making it easy to vote. this early voting thing, it's gotten out of control. make it a little tighter closer to the election.
>> i don't want people voting before the debates are held.
>> i'm with steve .
>> i thought you were being sarcastic, steve ?
>> how are you for expanding the franchise?
>> i'm all for it but i think we can do it in a way that -- you know, let's have these debates, then let's have people voting. they can still vote early.
>> but there are so few people who are undecided anyway. you're not going to change your mind because of the debates.
>> something good happened in the last month.
>> you didn't change my mind. straight ahead in the guest box, a former lawmaker goes a long way back and tells us what to expect with joe biden , the debater. live coverage of the vice presidential debates continues here on