(POLITICO) In early August, with our Republican analysis of the POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll, we wrote “… this election will remain close until the final weeks of the campaign. There will be ups and downs for both campaigns throughout the next 13 weeks, but the basic dynamics that are driving this electorate and framing this election remain well in place.” Two conventions, and tens of millions of campaign dollars later, we continue to hold that belief. While there have been dozens of polls released during the past six weeks that have had Mitt Romney up by as much as 4 points and Barack Obama up by as much 8 or 9, those variations have had more to do with sampling variations than with real movement in the campaign.
Yes, there have been gaffes on both sides that have been the focus of both the news media and opposing campaigns, but the dynamics that have been the real drivers of the campaign, the economy and deeply negative feelings about the direction of the country, have not changed. There have also been negative stories about the internal operations, messaging and strategy of both presidential campaigns. In August, leading into the Republican convention, there were multiple stories about the Obama campaign operation and internal fights about both message and strategic direction that led one to believe the wheels were coming off. Now it is the Romney campaign’s turn.
The past several weeks have been filled with news stories, editorials and columns heaping criticism on the tactics and strategy of the Romney campaign. Many of these opinion pieces even suggested that Romney’s only hope for winning is to make substantial changes to his campaign. Much of this analysis is based on the premise that Romney is out of touch and has not been making an affirmative case to middle-class voters. His comments at a private fundraiser in May were pointed to as an illustration that he could never identify with and win the support of many middle-class voters. We took a special look at middle-class voters, and middle-class families in particular, in this latest POLITICO-George Washington University Battleground Poll and found that not to be the case. In fact, on every measure it is Romney who is winning the battle for the support of middle-class families.