Neil Newhouse memo: Romney camp dismisses Obama lead in polls

Two Polls: Obama Up by 5 Points

Two Polls: Obama Up by 5 Points

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Sept. 10 2012 4:42 PM

Romney Camp Says Don’t Panic Over Poll Numbers (Does That Mean It’s Panicking?)

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Mitt Romney signs a car with a Romney/Ryan '12 logo before the start of a NASCAR race in Richmond, Virginia

Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images

With less than two months before voters head to the polls, two daily tracking polls out Monday give President Obama five-percentage-point leads over Mitt Romney, reports USA Today. Gallup’s latest daily tracking poll shows Obama maintaining his largest margin over Mitt Romney since early July, 49 percent to 44 percent.  For its part, the Rasmussen daily tracking poll also has Obama ahead, 50 percent to 45 percent.

There’s no need to panic though, insists Romney pollster Neil Newhouse in a state-of-the-race memo sent out Monday morning. Although some voters “will feel a bit of a sugar-high from the conventions, the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly,” he insists. Yet, as the Business Insider notes, “The bottom line is that people don’t send ‘don’t freak out’ memos unless people are in fact freaking out.”  

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Of course, national polls are not that significant if you consider that both candidates know they have to worry about specific states. Still, Mitt Romney is finding that he’s not coming out ahead in the states he needs in order to replace Obama at the White House, reports the Wall Street Journal. One poll released Sunday, shows Obama five percentage points ahead in Ohio, while Florida and Virginia are pretty much tied. Obama’s apparent momentum is good news for Democrats at the moment because taking previous elections into account, “where candidates stand in mid-September can be a good indicator of the final result.”

The race for president has narrowed to a core nine states, points out Politico: New Hampshire, Nevada, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. President Obama won all of them in 2008. Looking at the polls compiled by RealClearPolitics, Obama is leading Romney in all of them except for North Carolina, although the vast majority are within the margins of error.

In his memo, Newhouse essentially says that the economy is still bound to doom President Obama. And even though it’s a plausible theory, “it’s clearly not one that the Romney campaign believes any longer,” writes Adam Sorensen in Time. When Romney picked Paul Ryan as a running mate, the campaign clearly made the race about choice between two different styles of governments, and not just a referendum on Obama. Indeed, a new poll for the Hill notes that 61 percent of likely voters see the election more as a choice than a referendum on the president’s tenure.

Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod quickly responded to the memo on Twitter: "Anyone else find it odd that Mitt's pollster put out a state-of-the race memo this morning that was almost entirely devoid of polling data?"

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.