After recent polls had showed President Obama with a healthy leads over Mitt Romney, Gallup began its daily tracking survey Monday – and showed Romney up by 2.
That seemed to bear out Joe Scarborough’s prediction Monday that we’d see a “natural tightening” in the polls. And several members of the Morning Joe panel on Tuesday didn’t sound surprised that we might have a close race.
“There’s only six percent of the vote that’s in play here,” said Lawrence O’Donnell, host of msnbc’s “The Last Word.” “It’s going to close at 2 or 3 points, and it’ll tighten.”
O’Donnell said it isn’t worth worrying too much about the polls’ fluctuations between now and November. “Some of these movements within 4 points are just margin of error movements,” he said. “Pollsters will tell you it’s actually no movement at all.”
Melody Barnes, a former top policy adviser to the Obama White House, agreed. “This is going to come down to the wire,” she said. “It’s going to be a very very tight race.”
But Donnie Deutsch, the founder of ad agency Deutsch Inc., argued that things are still looking very good for President Obama.
Deutsch pointed out that only twice in the last 100 years has an incumbent been defeated. And in both cases, 1980 and 1992, it’s been “because there’s been a dynamic opponent – Clinton and Reagan – and the economy was going south,” he said. “That’s not happening.”
It’s true that the economy appears to be on the upswing, but almost no one would call it strong. Indeed, Romney has been trying to narrow Obama’s lead among women voters by noting that women have accounted for 92 percent of job losses under Obama.
TIME’s Mark Halperin pointed out that, though technically true, the statistic is misleading. Men made up most of the job losses during the part of the recession that occurred under President Bush, when male-dominated industries like construction were hit hardest. So by the time Obama came in, he said men "were sort of cleared out.”
Mika Brzezinski was even more dismissive of Romney’s claim. “It’s almost insinuating that this administration has been targeting women to maybe ease them out of the workforce more, which is just ludicrous,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid. It shows the desperation, does it not?”
And indeed for all the talk about the race tightening, a different poll released Monday, this one by CNN, showed Obama up by nine. The race may well be tightening, but for now, the incumbent still seems to have the upper hand.