2012 Election | Barack Obama | Mitt Romney | Nate Silver | News

Nate Silver: Mitt Romney Has Lost So-Called Momentum


The media has been spinning a yarn in recent days that Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has "momentum". This is based on analysis of daily polls and tracking numbers.

Yes, the numbers saw Romney leading, but as Nate Silver points out, moving up a few points does not momentum make. Looking over the eight daily polls from yesterday, Silver sees that Romney lost ground in five of them, and that on average Obama gained one point. This undercuts the media's "momentum" narrative.

This is the closest that we’ve come in a week or so to one candidate clearly having “won” the day in the tracking polls — and it was Mr. Obama.

The trend could also be spurious. If the race is steady, it’s not that hard for one candidate to gain ground in five of six polls (excluding the two that showed no movement on Wednesday) just based on chance alone.

What isn’t very likely, however, is for one candidate to lose ground in five of six polls if the race is still moving toward him. In other words, we can debate whether Mr. Obama has a pinch of momentum or whether the race is instead flat, but it’s improbable that Mr. Romney would have a day like this if he still had momentum.


Part of the confusion (and part of the reason behind the perception that Mr. Romney is still gaining ground in the race) may be because of the headlines that accompany polls.

As it stands, Silver's forecast gives President Obama has an edge: 71% likelihood that he'll win the electoral college.

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  1. Well! That's that!

    What exactly do you plan to do with Nate on November 7th when it once again is shown the person ahead with likely voters on Gallup in October has never lost?

    Posted by: MarkUs | Oct 25, 2012 12:22:14 PM

  2. Momentum requires mass (momentum = mass x velocity) and Romney hasn't got any.

    Posted by: tominsf | Oct 25, 2012 12:35:19 PM

  3. If the race wasn't close, no one would tune in. Last time they did the same thing. OMG IT'S SOOO CLOSE! It was decided by 8PM central time that night. Obama will win, and the evangelicals and Uncle Tom's Cabinners and tea baggers will go in a corner and cry. Case closed.

    Posted by: AJ | Oct 25, 2012 12:37:53 PM

  4. @Markus, more importantly, after Romney gets his ass handed to him November 7th, can you please find another blog to torment? Or better, another bridge to lurk under... Troll

    Posted by: RONTEX | Oct 25, 2012 12:39:23 PM

  5. The fact that the media are trying to create the impression that Mitt Romney has MOMENTUM, when the polls show he does not, suggests that the corporate owners of media outlets are getting involved in the campaign on Romney's behalf.

    Posted by: dancobbb | Oct 25, 2012 12:47:25 PM

  6. @markus, do you just cream in your pants writing snarky comments? What's the motivation to constantly try to discredit each post?

    Go ahead, waste your vote for Myth Romney, no one here cares. You are likely not a woman who can be raped and forced to have a baby because a white man says so, enjoy that privilege.

    Posted by: FD | Oct 25, 2012 12:50:07 PM

  7. @Markus, your facts are incorrect. Gallup has a record of being a very poor prognosticator when its result are inconsistent with other national polls, as is the case here.

    Posted by: grench | Oct 25, 2012 12:59:20 PM

  8. The overall popular vote might be close, or Romney might win, according to the polls, but the electoral college at this point is not even close. Essentially, union power in Ohio is enough to prevent Romney from winning, which is essentially the only swing state that matters.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 25, 2012 1:10:18 PM

  9. Snarky? This blog chooses to be political and does nothing but present every one sided article it can find on Obama and ignore everything else. Yes I'm sure the Republicans will legalize rape and heat up the nazi ovens. A lot of posters here are typical liberal nut jobs. And I'm not going anywhere, believe it or not I've been reading/posting for over 5 years now here.

    Posted by: MarkUs | Oct 25, 2012 1:14:40 PM

  10. The media has a vested interest in this being a "close race." They are never going to say, "Nothing to see here, move along" because they want people to keep watching for their next breathless update.

    It's why Ann Coulter KEEPS getting invited despite the fact she's a vile and brainless c*nt who doesn't do anything but throw bombs.

    It's the same reason they keep inviting virulent homophobes like Tony Perkins on to discuss gay rights, despite that fact that ALL he has to offer to the debate is, Well the BIBLE says.... So far as they're concerned conflict makes "good TV" so they pretend there are two valid sides to every issue, even when it's not true.

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 25, 2012 1:15:12 PM

  11. AJ hit the key point here: the mainstream media has EVERY incentive to collectively manipulate their reporting to show that the race is tight, because it increases viewership and ratings. Such manipulation need not be deliberate, or even conscious.

    Noam Chomsky explained as much DECADES ago, in his book "Manufacturing Consent." Media forces are motivated by money, even if they are supposed to uphold journalistic principles. Reporting has always been about what the people want to read about, because the entire model is based on advertising dollars funding the reporting of news. And although the media is (generally) careful to avoid bias through advertiser influence, that does NOT exclude the phenomenon we see in presidential elections.

    The media justify such manipulation (subtle or otherwise) by claiming that it increases voter awareness, but that's just a convenient excuse. These days, voters are already quite polarized--most already know who they are going to vote for. Very few are truly undecided. So there isn't ANY legitimate purpose to playing up the tension or closeness of the race. It's just to get ratings. And that is completely unethical.

    There's a reason why other countries do not permit campaigning until shortly before the election--the media blitz and the scramble for election war chests detracts from getting actual work done.

    Posted by: atomic | Oct 25, 2012 1:17:20 PM

  12. Regardless of what Nate Silver says, we have to make sure that we and all of our Obama-supporting friends VOTE!

    The idea of Romney becoming president is horrifying, and the LGBT community has much to lose if Romney becomes president.

    We need to stand-up & vote! Please vote early if you can! Please ask your friends to vote. Learn more about voting in your state here: www.GottaVote.org

    Posted by: Tyler | Oct 25, 2012 1:20:32 PM

  13. @ATOMIC: Is it just me or has this election been on STEROIDS? I have never seen one so ridiculously inflated as this one. And the coverage started over a year ago.

    Posted by: AJ | Oct 25, 2012 1:33:37 PM

  14. "Mittmentum" ... That's like "Joementum," right?

    Posted by: BABH | Oct 25, 2012 1:34:05 PM

  15. If Romney wins, all the gains for equality for Gay people will go down the drain. In the last four years, Democrats have been there fighting for us. I used to call on the Mormon church and BYU with my job. They live in a white, male dominated heterosexual world. We must win this election for the President.

    Posted by: Rob | Oct 25, 2012 1:38:15 PM

  16. IMO it's more fear mongering (a GOP tactic) by the "liberal media" to scare democrats into voting instead of having voter apathy and low turnout.

    Posted by: Sam | Oct 25, 2012 1:43:36 PM

  17. Don't feed the trolls. Not one of them has come up with a reason to vote for the man.

    Posted by: Michael | Oct 25, 2012 1:43:50 PM

  18. C'mon guys. Cut Markus some slack. Losing his job at the DMV five years ago must have been a serious blow to his ego. It's understandable that he'd need a place to vent his anger, and we should all be big enough to give him space to do that. In the meantime, if anyone can offer Markus a job cleaning toilets, it would dovetail nicely with his primary skill of being a sh*t stirrer.

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 25, 2012 1:46:44 PM

  19. Yes snarky, look it up.

    If Myth and Paul have their way, tell me how you determine whether or not a woman has been raped in order for her to be allowed to have an abortion? Will there need to be proof that a rape occurred for the abortion to proceed?

    How about you let us liberal nut job practice raping you and see under what circumstances it can be detected.

    Posted by: FD | Oct 25, 2012 1:49:17 PM

  20. Mitt hasn't realy lost momentum, It's just shifted in another direction.

    Posted by: Edd | Oct 25, 2012 2:18:50 PM

  21. In 2000, Gallup had Bush up more than 6 points in the likely voter category for much of October. As you will recall, he lost the popular vote.

    Posted by: Sanderson | Oct 25, 2012 4:08:05 PM

  22. If you are in an area with early voting, it's not too early to start asking everyone you know if they have voted yet, and if not, why not.

    Especially ask anyone who is expressing a political opinion if they have voted, and when they plan to.

    Posted by: Lymis | Oct 25, 2012 4:35:11 PM

  23. If Mitt does win, it will be a squeaker. Probably within 5 electoral votes. However, Ohio will have results before 10pm eastern, so expect to be over by then.

    Posted by: anon | Oct 25, 2012 6:01:38 PM

  24. Well well well.

    The Washington Post just joined Rasmussen and Gallup at putting Romney over 50. A number Obama has never seen.

    I know, I know. Nate Silver! Which is the new 'Team America' "Matt Damon! Matt Damon!"

    Posted by: MarkUs | Oct 25, 2012 6:58:58 PM

  25. I like Nate Silver and read his blog regularly, but I'd take his analysis with a grain of salt. He is often overly-optimistic about campaigns and causes he believes in. In 2008 or 2009 he had a chart predicting when each state would have a pro-gay marriage majority. It turned out to be so off-base that he eventually took it off his website and never referred to it again.

    Posted by: Mary | Oct 25, 2012 7:06:23 PM

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