The weekend media has reported the presidential race as virtually dead even and challenged the two campaigns — what are your plans now?
But while the election is close, it is very important to underscore that President Obama and the Democrats have a clear–and in some respects powerful–advantage in the race. This is reflected in the surveys we completed at the end of last week.
The public poll averages reported by RealClearPolitics and others are biased by the daily role of Rasmussen and Gallup, which are systematically biased in favor of the Republicans. Nate Silver has analyzed these and compensates for that bias, but the other polls report that Obama has about a 1 or 2-point advantage over Romney. That is wrong. Our poll for Democracy Corps at the end of last week showed Obama with a 4-point lead – consistent with the Wall Street Journal poll which put Obama’s lead at 6 points. We are sure Obama has a lead of at least 3 points in this race.
But much more important is the brand advantage that structures this race. In every area, the sinking Republican brand has created advantages for Democrats in the race for President and Congress. It matters when President Obama has an 11-point advantage over Romney on people viewing him favorably — and the same is true for the Democratic Party over the Republican Party. Look at the Democrats’ party identification advantage in the public polls and you will see some of this.
The weakening economy has hurt and made this race much closer than it should be. That may already be reflected in these numbers — as people have already lived the first half of the year with a contracting economy. Further contraction will hurt and make this a very close race but, absent that, Obama and Democrats have the advantage. The two campaigns are not beginning at parity.