Election Day Dispatches
Entry 9: Has the Romney blame game already begun?
Photograph by Justin Sullivan.
I've made my way from Philadelphia to Washington, so I'll naturally shift my interests from battleground tactics to palace intrigue.
Since most Election Day leaks are almost always designed to make one side's prospects look stronger, the report earlier this evening from CNN’s Peter Hamby that Romney's final internal tracking polls showed him behind 5 points in Ohio is being treated as news. We'll know soon how those numbers accord with the voting reality, but I wonder if that poll leak was the first move in the inevitable post-election blame game.
Politico's Maggie Haberman and Emily Schultheis appropriately located pollster Neil Newhouse at the center of a looming storm about Romney's strategy. It is apparently his surveys that have undergirded the Romney campaign's optimism about its prospects in recent weeks, and more importantly the timid strategy that has carried Romney through the past two years. Leaking polls that showed Romney behind in Ohio, even while voters could still cast votes there, serves one interest above all: It puts down a marker that the pollster wasn't at fault.
If Romney loses, much of the inside-baseball conversation will be: Did Newhouse give Romney bad numbers, or did his strategists read them wrong?
Sasha Issenberg is the author of The Victory Lab about the new science of political campaigns.