In the final two-week sprint towards Election Day, Mitt Romney's campaign is boasting a surge in momentum and even brazenly telling media outlets and voters that they'll win. Last night's foreign policy debate was another clue to Obama and Romney's different campaign strategies - the Obama camp acting as though they had more to prove in what they view as an extremely tight election, and the Romney campaign prematurely declaring victory. While Obama's latest fundraising email began, “I don’t want to lose this election," the Romney campaign is announcing a win and exaggerating any projected leads in the polls. An anonymous Romney advisor told Politico, “We’re going to win...Seriously, 305 electoral votes.”
According to Jonathan Chait, the Romney camp is messing with voters' minds. Chait writes,
"Romney is carefully attempting to project an atmosphere of momentum, in the hopes of winning positive media coverage and, thus, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over the last week, Romney’s campaign has orchestrated a series of high-profile gambits in order to feed its momentum narrative. Last week, for instance, Romney’s campaign blared out the news that it was pulling resources out of North Carolina. The battleground was shifting! Romney on the offensive! On closer inspection, it turned out that Romney was shifting exactly one staffer."
What Romney is hoping to accomplish with this technique is campaign reporters falling for the spin so the apparent momentum will pave the path to victory. But perhaps the Romney team should take a look at the numbers - this presidential race is actually very close with Obama leading in the electoral college. Numbers from both Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium and the New York Times' Nate Silver indicate that Romney surged after the first debate, but after Oct. 12, the momentum shifted to Obama. He's ahead by at least a couple points in enough states to keep his job as president, and if current polling trends come to fruition on Election Day, Obama could add Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin to his "win" states, giving him 271 electoral votes.
Earlier today, Mitt Romney confidently told a group of supporters in Nevada that the presidential debates have energized his campaign:
"My guess is you had the chance to watch that debate last night, maybe a couple of debates. And these debates have supercharged our campaign, there's no question about it. We're seeing more and more enthusiasm, more and more support."
Although the Republican ticket claimed momentum was on their side in the Silver State, the updated NBC News battleground map now places Nevada in the “Leaning Dem” category. That leaves just 89 electoral votes and seven remaining states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin) in the “toss up” category.
Although Obama's lead has widened since Oct. 12, there could be some shifts in polling over the next 14 days. At least we can be happy about this: the president isn't playing mind games, and likely won't declare victory until the polls actually close on Nov. 6.