Slatest PM: The Unskewed-Undone Edition

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 28 2012 5:55 PM

Slatest PM: The Unskewed-Undone Edition

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***NOTE: We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. Friday's edition is below. You can sign up here to receive the Slatest PM in your inbox daily before it is published online.***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

AWKWARD: As we explained yesterday, the logic at the foundation of those "unskewed polls" that some on the right are waving around of late is—to be kind—a little less than sound. But let's set aside the validity of those rejiggered surveys for a second to look at the outcome of unskewer-in-chief Dean Chamber's latest effort.

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THE POLL IN QUESTION: A Fox News-sponsored survey released yesterday that shows President Obama up 5 points, 48 percent to Mitt Romney's 43.

THE 'UNSKEWED' VERSION: Obama up 2 points, 46 percent to 44 percent. You read that right: The president is now in the lead even by Chambers' math. While the margin is obviously less than the gap the Fox News poll showed, it's nonetheless noteworthy because it's a major departure from the past dozen of so of Chambers' reworked polls that showed Romney well on his way to a historic victory.

THE TAKEAWAY: It remains to be seen whether Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport's detailed explanation of why the doubters are wrong will bring a halt to the unskewed chatter. But that may not matter a whole lot if Chambers' current models are unable to shift the numbers far enough in Romney's favor to keep him in the lead in the reworked polls. Ultimately, "Yeah, but if you use our models, Romney's winning big" doesn't quite rally the base in quite the same way as "Yeah, but if you use our models, Romney's isn't losing as badly as you say."

HAPPY FRIDAY. You made it; we all did. Welcome to the Slatest PM, where your afternoon host was flying mighty high this morning after dominating @KenJennings' weekly news quiz—only to have Farhad Manjoo steal his thunder on the Slate email chain.

Here's the unofficial Slate office leader board: 1) @fmanjoo 483; 2) @JoshVoorhees 476; 3) @davidplotz 430; 4) @thekibosch 429; 5) @dbhaglund 411; 6) @stevensonseth 408; 7) @mattyglesias 379; 8) @RachaelBL 378; 9) @abenedikt 365; 10) @vselbo 308. (Dis)honorable mention: @DanKois 305. Console your host about his upset loss by following @JoshVoorhees on Twitter or emailing him at josh.voorhees@slate.com.

WHAT, YOU WANT MORE POLLING? Your wish is our command. The New York Times' Nate Silver took a look today at whether Romney's now-viral 47-percent comments did actual damage to his campaign. While it's difficult to dig down deep enough into the polling data to say with certainty that the MoJo-published video is dragging the GOP hopeful down, it sure looks that way.

Silver: "By Sept. 17, the date when the video of Mr. Romney’s remarks was released and received widespread attention, the momentum from Mr. Obama’s convention appeared to have stalled ... Since then, however, Mr. Obama has gained further ground in the polls. As of Thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points ... a gain of 1.6 percentage points since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public. It’s hard to tell whether this recent gain for Mr. Obama reflects the effect of the '47 percent' comments specifically. But the most typical pattern after a party convention is that a candidate who gains ground in the polls cedes at least some of it back."

SPEAKING OF THAT VIDEO: Mother Jones has another tape of Mitt Romney that it wants you to see. Here's the more-than-two-decade-old quote in question: "Bain Capital is an investment partnership which was formed to invest in startups and ongoing companies, then to take an active hand in managing them and, hopefully, five to eight years later, to harvest them at a significant profit." Watch the video here.

Analysis: It's unlikely that the new/old tape will cause nearly as many headaches for Romney as the last one unearthed by the magazine. But given how the business-jargony phrase "harvest them" may sound to non-MBA types, it no doubt provides Team Obama and its allies with more ammunition as they seek to rile up their base by portraying Romney as a greedy capitalist who put profits above all else.

HOLMES UPDATE: Via the Associated Press: "The suspect in the Aurora movie shooting case mailed 'burnt currency,' along with a notebook, to his psychiatrist before the attack. He threatened a professor and was banned from a university campus before withdrawing from its neuroscience graduate program. His defense team has added a psychiatrist. Those were the few tidbits of information in hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted court documents released Friday, which serve as the best chance the public has to understand what happened before James Holmes allegedly opened fire at a midnight screening of the new Batman movie more than two months ago."

NOT EXACTLY BREAKING NEWS: We still don't know where Jimmy Hoffa's body is. The Christian Science Monitor: "The latest attempt to end the 37-year mystery involving the disappearance of former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa started Friday at a suburban work shed outside Detroit. Following a tip suggesting that a body might have been buried there decades ago, local investigators drilled 10 feet below the surface Friday morning to retrieve core soil samples. There were no visible signs of remains, but the soil samples will be analyzed by a forensics lab at Michigan State University in East Lansing. If test results show human remains, excavation would start next week."

CHECKING THE TRAPS—

NYT: "The Obama administration notified Congress on Friday that it intends to give Egypt’s new government an emergency cash infusion of $450 million, but the move immediately encountered resistance from lawmakers wary of foreign aid in general and of Egypt’s new course under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood."

WSJ: "Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $2.43 billion to settle claims it misled investors in its 2009 acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co., as the lender continues to deal with the consequences of the global financial crisis."

Reuters: "President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought on Friday to ease tensions over how to deal with Iran's nuclear program, presenting a show of solidarity on the ultimate goal of preventing Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb."

SLATE QUICK HITS—

Enjoy your weekend. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe here or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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