And so perhaps it behooves us to listen to what the Obama campaign is saying about the race right now.
Obama aides insist they are either tied or winning in all the battlegrounds — and that Romney has succeeded in locking up nothing. And they say the early vote continues to bode well for an Obama victory.Much of this is in response to the lie the Romney campaign is trying to spin that they have momentum and are therefore winning. The truth is, the media gave them that opening by their irrational reporting following the first debate in Denver.
“Anybody who thinks those states are in the bag is half in the bag themselves,” top Obama adviser David Axelrod said of North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida. “We have added millions to TV spending in each of these states. We are doubling down. We are not pulling back at all. We believe that Florida is an incredibly competitive state. North Carolina is a competitive state. Virginia is a competitive state. These are states Republicans were expecting to have wrapped up and they’re battling to hold on to them.”
Yesterday Alex MacGillis joined Kevin Drum in being one of the few pundits to take on the lie of that particular narrative. MacGillis rightly points out that up until the first debate, the media was longing for a more compelling story about the election. And how on October 3rd - they got it.
But then: our mile-high salvation! Denver, O Denver. As the dynamic of the first debate began to register just a few minutes in—the crisp and hopped-up Romney against the wordy and listless president—we sang our relief across the Twitterverse. The true partisans among us, the Maddows and Sullivans, rent their garments, but most of us were barely able to suppress our glee: we had ourselves a story. Never mind that the debate had produced no great knockdowns, or that, as some noted in the days following, Obama had actually made a decent substantive case in some areas, if not others. No, we had our story...Those who suggest that the media has either a liberal or conservative bias miss the whole point. Their bias is towards a compelling story that attracts eyeballs and clicks and the Denver debate-as-turning-point was ready made for those purposes. After all, how boring would it be to listen to folks like Nate Silver and David Plouffe when they're basically saying that the state of the race is still stable? What kind of eyeballs actually pay attention to that kind of thing? ;-)
And lo, in the days that followed, the power of our story bore out across the land. Romney surged in the polls, in a post-debate bounce unlike any ever recorded. Never mind that closer inspection suggested that his rise had begun just before the debate, as Obama’s prior bounce abated. As we like to say in private company, this story was too good to check.