Much ado has been made this week of the “Romney-surge”. This surge has been pointed out due to the tightening of the race in states such as Virginia and Florida and the disappearance of the massive 15+ point leads President Obama held in August. While it is true the race has tightened, the sweeping Romney surge is likely just a combination of the natural propensity races have to tighten closer to Election Day and the media trying to conjure up viewership through sensationalism.
I won’t sugar coat it. It’s a lot closer than it would have been thanks to President Obama’s less than stellar performance at the first debate.
That debates influence over the surge has died down at this point though. Voters have internalized four debates and are now trying to decide who to vote for in the critical swing states. (Although the amount of undecided voters left has dwindled significantly.)
While polls aren’t perfect, they do give a general idea of what is trending in the race at the time they are taken. Below I’ve linked a chart compiling eight major polls which Nate Silver of the New York Times compiles weekly.
As you can see from Silver’s data compilation, last week Romney was trending upwards slightly picking up small gains in the national polls and some state polls. (Namely Florida and North Carolina)
This week, following a rather boring debate, these numbers are starting to reverse back towards the President. The President gained in five of the eight surveys with only one showing a gain for Romney. The newest array of state polling reflects a similar trend with President Obama gaining 1 to 2 points in most surveys.
Why then is the Romney surge being hyped away as the next great story?
It makes a great story to draw audiences, simple as that. Think about when you go to a baseball game. Are you more likely to watch a game that is 7-7 in the eighth inning or a blowout 10-0? We like suspenseful races and games.
Sensationalizing the race is an effort on the part of the media to keep the war weary viewers clinging to pundit shows and “Special Reports” which would be ignored for the World Series or football otherwise. Another reason for this surge being clamored behind is that it serves the Romney campaign to promote a narrative which benefits itself. Much like Democrats seize on positive talking-points the Republicans are quick to do the same here. (Even if it isn’t real in this case, but Romney has never had a problem with the facts) Combine that with the aforementioned love of a good show and you have a match made in heaven for the hyper-quick cycle of one minute news we now live in.