The conventional wisdom in the presidential race is that President Obama is a clear favorite. We hear this from the pundits in the press, we see it in the InTrade odds, and various predictive models built around the polling averages tell us this.
But I disagree.
For starters, I believe it is based upon a historically naïve view of summer political polling. Yes, Obama enjoys a modest lead in the nationwide vote, as well in the swing states, but consider the bounciness of the polling in 1968, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 2000. It is not hard to see that political polling before and after the conventions looks different – in ways that endure beyond the traditional “convention bounces.”
There is another problem with the received wisdom, which is that it is built on the assumption that all voters are equally persuadable. They are not, which is why President Obama’s three-point margin over Mitt Romney needs to be understood in the context of where he actually is in those polls.