Is Romney over reacting to the Bain charges and actually making things worse for his campaign? Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight thinks so. Silver points out that in spite of the questions Obama and the Democrats have raised about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, the polls have not changed that much. Obama has maintained the same 2 point or so lead he has had for the last few weeks. It could be that most Americans aren’t paying that much attention either because they are busy with summer vacations and/or they have already made up their minds—most have.
Silver notes that most incumbent presidents since WWII have won by about 7.5 points. Obama’s 2 point lead is thus mediocre in comparison. But, says Silver, a 2 point lead is consistent with the high unemployment and weak economy. Silver makes the point that there is NO STATISTICAL CORRELATION between the unemployment rate ON ELECTION day and the outcome of the election. However, there IS A STRONG CORRELATION between the growth rate in the economy — as measured by G.D.P., jobs, income and other indicators — and the election result. Silver says: “The recent rate of growth — about 2 percent across an average of indicators, which is below average but not recessionary — points to a below-average but not necessarily losing position for Mr. Obama. Mr. Obama may also be helped somewhat by the fairly low rate of inflation, which receives some weight in [Silver’s forecasting] model — and, we think, also, in voters’ perceptions about how the economy is performing. It’s a little easier to adjust to a new but mediocre “normal” if grocery prices aren’t rising every time you go to the supermarket.”
So, the race seems to be about where one would expect it to be given the state of the economy, which at this point neither Obama nor Romney can do much to impact. Additionally, the Bain story so far does not seem to have caused much movement in the polls except perhaps to turn Romney’s Bain experience from a plus to a neutral.
Silver says Romney’s response to the Bain attacks such as his appearance on five major news networks last Friday to defend himself may be doing more harm than good for his campaign since it gives the impression that he really has something to hide—which he does, of course. Keep a watch on the polls over the next few weeks. Looks like the Obama folks have turned Romney’s Bain advantage into a Bain neutral. Let’s see if they can turn it and Romney’s tax problem into a Bain/tax disadvantage. Hope so.